[DUBAI, UAE] 12 Things You Must Do in Dubai

Behind the famous skyscrapers and futuristic architectures, Dubai is famously known first for its desert. Indeed, this place can offer the best of both worlds. Once a city full of sand, it massively evolved to a city full of unique buildings of all shapes and sizes. It’s as if everything in Dubai never goes out of style! From the serenity of the desert to its dynamic city, here are the top things you must do when visiting Dubai: 
1. Overview the city from Burj Khalifa 

One way to view the entire city is to visit the world’s tallest freestanding structure, Burj Khalifa. This gigantic structure features an elevator that can bring you up to the 124th floor in just 1 minute as it has the world’s fastest elevator which travels at 10 meters per second. There were tons of people during our visit as it is the peak season for tourists, but upon reaching the 124th floor, the view from the top is definitely worth the queue. 
2. Experience the Desert 

No visit to Dubai would be complete without experiencing the desert. If you want to escape the hustle of the city, the tranquility of the desert will surely take over your mind. This breathless sight is an endless stretch of sand where you can freely run around and take picture-perfect moments. One popular activity to do here is Desert Dune Bashing. A 4x4 car will take you through extreme heights and huge sand dunes that will make you feel like you’re in a roller coaster, so if you must try this, make sure you are not afraid of extreme rides. I also had the chance to watch the sun setting into the desert horizon. Indeed, the golden hour here is simply amazing. It was December when I got to visit Dubai which made the trip to the desert more relaxing as the cold wind blows since it is already the start of the winter season. Nevertheless, the desert is still a must-visit even during summer. Why not beat the heat in the middle of the famous hot desert? 
3. Dine inside the Burj Al Arab 

Describing itself as the “World’s Most Luxurious Hotel”, indeed, Burj Al Arab doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its appearance, facilities, and services. The hotel itself is in a sail-shaped distinction, located on its own island. All restaurants inside are definitely luxurious and posh. I had the chance to have lunch at Junsui Restaurant inside the hotel where the cuisine offered is influenced by Far East Asia flavors of Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, and Korean dishes. To complement the wide range of food selection, the restaurant itself is bathed in Swarovski crystals. My favorites: there is gold everywhere and the Junsui offers the best ice cream I’ve tasted! 
4. Buy at Spice & Gold Souks 
Wander through one of the city’s traditional souks to see what trading and commerce were like back in the day. In Deira, you can find the Gold & Spice souks where you can stroll along the streets filled with stalls and local stores. The gold souk is one of the most renowned gold trading centers in the world, you can find numerous retailers of gold necklace, earrings, and bracelets. As I have learned here, you don’t need to worry about fake jewelry because the government is in control of what is sold here. On another portion of Deira, the Spice souk is located where diverse stalls of spices & herbs from many parts of the world are available such as thyme, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron (most expensive spice in the world) to name a few. 
5. Visit Miracle Garden 
If you happen to be in Dubai during the winter season, you should not miss visiting the Miracle Garden. Their operations are only seasonal, usually around November to a mid-second quarter of the next year. I am lucky enough to have had the chance to visit the world’s largest natural flower garden with a 72,000 sqm park filled with more than 50 million blooming flowers in extraordinary arrangements of all shapes and variety of sizes. 

One of the main attractions here and my favorite is the Airbus A380 Emirates aircraft covered in more than thousands of different flowers making it the world’s largest floral installation. Imagine being inside the world’s largest natural flower garden and witnessing at the same time the world’s largest floral installation, I was in awe. 

6. Shop at Dubai Mall and Mall of Emirates 
Shopping is one of the most famous activities to do here in Dubai as they take it to the next level, just like their other world-renown tourist attractions. So if you’re into shopping, this is the place for you. Visit two of the grandest malls here - Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. The world’s second-largest shopping mall which is the Dubai mall features more than 1,200 retail stores in just 4 floors. Various international brands are found here such as Chanel, Bvlgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Nars, and Off White to name a few. Moreover, Mall of the Emirates known as the world’s first shopping resort features more than 900 retail stores in their Fashion Dome including Dior, Hermès, Jimmy Choo, and Givenchy. 
7. See the Dubai Fountain Show 
Don’t miss and be amazed by the performance of the largest dancing fountain in the world during your visit to Dubai Mall. Submerged in the Burj Lake, the powerful jets dance in harmony and illuminated by colorful lights that make the water dazzle. Some of the famous songs synchronized to the fountain are I Will Always Love You, The Prayer, and Power by Kpop group Exo. Another good thing about this fountain show, watching it is for free! 
8. Encounter Marine Wildlife at the Dubai Aquarium 
Aside from window shopping and fountain show, another free activity you can do inside the Dubai Mall is to watch marine wildlife swim in front of you inside the Dubai Aquarium. Virtually dive with more than 33,000 aquatic animals from over 200 species like rays and sharks available for public viewing from 2 levels of the mall. On the other hand, you may buy the ticket for the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo for a closer encounter of this enchanted marine world. 
9. Spend time at the Jumeirah Beach 
If you thought that Dubai is all about buildings and desert, you thought wrong. Another steal in visiting Dubai’s tourist attractions is to spend time in Jumeirah Beach for free. This public beach is found along Dubai’s coast and just like the usual things to do on a beach, you can relax and sun-bathe here. From the beach, you can see the picturesque full view of Burj Al Arab which is a good spot for taking your photos. 
10. Ride the Palm Monorail  
During our visit, we had a dinner reservation at Kaleidoscope restaurant located inside the Palm Atlantis. To get to the Atlantis, we rode a Monorail which is a transport train that connects the mainland to the famous man-made island. The train ride passes along right in the middle of the trunk of Palm Jumeirah which gives passengers a bird’s eye view of the tree-shaped artificial archipelago which is one of the most mesmerizing developments I saw in Dubai. Upon reaching Atlantis, you can have a photo opportunity of this majestic resort. 
11. Set foot inside Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque 
With such a short travel time of around 2 hours at most, you might as well consider having a day trip to Abu Dhabi. The first stop is one of the largest mosques in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Do note that since this is a religious site, there's a strict dress code to be followed. The easiest way for women is to wear an Abaya but if sources don’t permit, one can wear loose clothing that can cover your whole body and a scarf for the hair. As for men, long pants and a shirt will do. I didn’t expect much upon entering the mosque but I was proven wrong as I saw the facade which is truly a sight to behold. Strolling more inside to have witnessed its pure white beauty, enormous size, and intricate marble wall designs, this architectural stunner can leave one breathless. In addition to the experience, you can walk barefoot on the world’s largest carpet inside the main prayer hall and get to see an intricate large chandelier along the way. The exterior and interior of the mosque are both gorgeous. 
 12. Enter Ferrari World Theme Park 
The second stop in Abu Dhabi is Ferrari World, the first Ferrari-branded theme park. If you are visiting with a child or a fan of cars, they will definitely enjoy visiting this theme park. It houses the world’s fastest roller coaster called the Formula Rossa. Imagine speeding at a 240 km/h at a 2.2 km course, extreme ride lovers will be thrilled to experience this. There are other rides inside more subtle than Formula Rossa that will be fit for everyone. It can also be considered as a museum as you can find miniature and actual size Ferrari cars on display. +

It definitely is a unique experience touring Dubai since the tour spots are one of a kind in this world. Dubai is full of superlatives being home to a number of the world’s largest, tallest, most, and biggest. If you want to encounter and experience some of the world’s best, Dubai should certainly land on your travel bucket list as they keep on proving to the world that they can be the best at what they do.  

Blog and Photos contributed by Kathleen Grace Gomez 
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