I’ve been to Dubai several times already – since it is the closest emirates/travel destination to Doha. Flights are cheap via the several major and local carriers, and hotels are surprisingly low priced (at 220AED/night you can already stay at Ibis Hotel) – compared to Doha, where a decent hotel would start from QR350-QR400 but the location may not be too appealing. Dubai, for me, is the region’s best place to visit for a weekend getaway.
Well, my Doha may look far-off from Dubai but the future looks bright for both cities. Dubai is set to host the 2020 World Expo while Qatar is prepping-up for the its very controversial 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting. While Doha is laying the groundworks for its metro rail as well as major road works, Dubai on the other hand is busy developing cityscapes (Creekside, Marina ,etc) and many upcoming attractions (Dubai Parks, Legoland, etc).
We tried the City Sightseeing Tour for the first time. Priced at DH240 per person for one whole day including their night tour that begins from 6pm-8pm and 8pm-10pm, it also includes an array of discount coupons to popular shops and restaurants. This hop-on hop-off tour bus (aside from the other operator, BIG BUS) is a good alternative to touring the city on a hot and humid day. The maps would give you a guide on the usual spots and places to drop off and catch the next bus after 15 minutes or so. Then, you’re bound to see Dubai’s most talk-about destinations.
RED LINE – will give you a glimpse of Old Dubai. Coming from Deira City Center, the bus is bound straight to the creek side where old museums and old houses can be found. The creek area, being the center of activities in the olden times, still exudes the charm of the old lifestyle and is presently dominated by small wooden boats popularly called ABRA. The most popular amongst tourists is the Gold Souq where you can find a wide array of gold jewelries and accessories. Also, Dhow cruise are available and some operators even arrange a romantic dinner on board especially in the evening.
The other half of the RED LINE is headed towards Dubai Mall where you can transfer to BLUE LINE which itinerary includes the bay side area of Jumeirah.
BLUE LINE – takes you to a trip down the coastal community of Jumeirah beach. A long strip of villas converted to restaurants, cafés, medical clinics, boutiques and other commercial establishments which is a popular destination for young people especially at night. Stop overs include Jumeirah Open Beach with a good view of Burj Al Arab – the world’s 7-star hotel; the Souq Madinat – an indoor place which boast of souvenir shops and resto bars; Atlantis – located in Palm Jumeirah, a manmade island; and the Mall of the Emirates – a luxury mall where you can also find Ski Dubai.
There are also other lines where you can transfer like the YELLOW LINE for a trip around Marina Bay area – home to some of the tallest residential and commercial buildings in Dubai. This is also popular for expats and a hub for yacht and sailing enthusiasts.
The ORANGE LINE wasn’t available during that time since the Miracle Garden is closed during summer. But on a nice weather, one can be delighted by the beautiful parade of colors transforming you to a world of landscaped flower gardens in dream-like settings… bringing back happy childhood memories, especially for girls.
The night tour, unlike the day tour where you can hop-on and hop-off, allows you to sit back and enjoy the 2-hour ride basking on Dubai’s glittering nightscape.
If you want to maximize your weekend and you have few days to spare, a 2-day ticket is ideal so you can get the most out of every destination. For an additional 75 dirhams or so, you can already enjoy Dubai sitting on a double-deck, air-conditioned bus with unlimited supply of cold bottled water and a headset for a guided tour of the city.
For first-timers, it’s impossible not to be amazed by this wonderful emirate. You’ll almost forget that you’re standing right in the middle of a desert, which is now developed into an ultra-modern city. For regular visitors, I’m sure that you can always find a new destination to cover. Even visiting these already familiar places will still leave you in awe.
While staying in Dubai for few months before, I got to experience its people; its expensive yet tiny and crowded flats; fast food meals and Filipino buffet stations; the Metro, the bus, and the Dubai taxi; the comedy bars and other night spots; Tim Hortons and other cafes; Spinneys and Al Maya for popular pinoy pasalubongs (you know what I mean, oink!); the OFW stories… the love stories, ahh why are they so complicated?
Though Dubai is home to many other expats, it definitely has more than meets the eye. While they already have a lot of world records on its belt (for the tallest, the biggest, etc), their activities seemed to be unstoppable. There’s more that’s worth coming back.