Tuesday Travel Review: Dubai, UAE

Hi folks!

In today’s Tuesday Travel Review I will tell you about my trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

dubaiSo I was one of the many lucky people who caught the Christmas 2014 Dubai fare glitch. There was a flight advertised that morning for $187.00 roundtrip to Dubai from NYC (and a few other cities) on Etihad Airlines. I saw quite a few people on some of my social media pages posting about it and I had to check it out myself. Sure enough they were correct. I told my cousins and we all ended up scoring this once in a lifetime flight. We chose a late September date, so that gave us plenty of time to plan everything else.

The time for the trip came around super quick and we were so excited. I purchased an inexpensive flight from Charlotte to NYC and my cousins took a bus from the Washington, DC area to NYC. We met up at JFK for our flight into Abu Dhabi. It was about a 13 hour flight, but luckily it was overnight and they had lots of movies for us to watch as well. The airline was pretty decent and the food wasn’t terrible either. They served us about 2 hot meals and once light lunch during our flight in addition to the normal sodas and snacks on most other airlines.

Our plan for the trip was to stay in Abu Dhabi for a few days and then pack up and stay in Dubai for a few, then head back to Abu Dhabi before flying back home. The only downfall of UAE hotels is that they either come with one queen bed or 2 twin beds. They can add in a roller bed which increases your prices at most hotels but we had no choice. It was either that or pay for another room all together.

Our first full day there we headed to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Talk about one of the most beautiful sites you will ever see. From what I remember we did not have to pay to enter the mosque. They offered guided tours all throughout the day or you could tour on your on. Once you arrived, women must go to a special office to check out the proper attire to be work while on the grounds of the mosque. You simply had to give them you license as collateral for the garment. The line was somewhat long but moved very fast. From there we proceeded back upstairs to catch a guided tour. The tour was very informative and lasted about 45 minutes. Definitely a must see if you are there.

grand-mosqueThat evening we explored some of Abu Dhabi and found dinner along a water front that gave a view of the Grand Mosque as well. On our second day we actually packed up and prepared to head to our hotel in Dubai. We inquired with our hotel as to the best way to get to Dubai. We took a cab to the Abu Dhabi bus terminal and purchased a ticket to Dubai for about $10-12. The ride was about an hour but the bus was very comfortable and was double-decker. Once we arrived at the Dubai terminal we then took a cab to our actual hotel.

Once we were all settled in we headed out to the infamous Dubai Mall. Let me say, you need almost a full day to fully explore this place. It’s huge. In addition to just regular stores they have attractions within the mall that are always packed. My favorite was the fountain. (Which took us a while to find may I add)

duabi-maWe easily spent a few hours in the mall and still didn’t conquer half of it but we were planning to do one of the dinner cruises so we had to get back for that. I found a deal for a dinner cruise online so we decided to try it out. UMMMMM…I can’t say I would do it again but at least we did it. LOL. It was hard to find our correct boat seeing as though nearly 50 boats line up and take off around the same time for the exact same style dinner option. As far as the food it was a buffet style with different middle eastern options. Halfway through dinner they brought out some “interesting” entertainment options for our viewing pleasure. We made the most of it but I can’t say I would suggest that as something you HAVE to see.

We spent our next day traveling around seeing lots of the touristy sites via car. We didn’t really get out to do any real tours of anything though. We also headed back to the mall for a few to go back to some things we were interested in the first day.

That evening was the part of the trip we had been waiting for! The desert safari. I believe we purchased our tickets via viator.com and it included transportation from our hotel,  camel rides, sand duning, and then a dinner show at the safari camp site for around $80. The great thing about the tour was that we were able to pay once we actually arrived at the tour site. It was about a 45 minute ride to the site. We first stopped at a little market like area to use the restrooms or purchase snacks and gifts. Just a heads up, make sure you carry tissue with you to non public places like this. We were caught by surprise when we had to purchase tissue for the restrooms. After the stop we headed back into the vehicle to head out into the desert for the sand duning. Now it you get car sick or experience motion sickness easily this is NOT FOR YOU! It’s a lot of dips and sharp turn but its SOOOOOO AWESOME. We had a couple join us in our car as well and the wife got extremely sick. We had to stop a few times to let her throw up! (EWW) The driver then let us stop to get some awesome photos as the sun set over the desert. (WOW, JUST WOW!) Once the sun actually set, we headed to the camp site to ride the camels and partake in the dinner. The camel ride was short but effective. The dinner was much better than the dinner cruise the night before and so was the entertainment. They also had a Henna artist as well as Hookah to try. Overall I give that experience two thumbs up.

camelWe were heading into our last few days in the country, so we headed back to Abu Dhabi to explore a little more. We booked a really nice room at the Yas Viceroy resort on Yas Island. Yas Island is known for it’s Ferrari race circuit which actually looped right outside of our hotel balcony. We could stand out and watch the cars zip by on the track as though we were watching an actual race. The resort had a shuttle that went to a private beach on the island and of course we took advantage. The beach had day beds that were open on a first come first serve basis. It was super hot out and you literally could only stand to be out in the sun for a few minutes at a time before sitting under some shade. The beach wasn’t that big so we didn’t stay long. Just long enough to get a great tan and some nice photos. We ended our trip with the famous golden cappuccino at Emirates palace and some other goodies. You have to dress up to go into the Palace as it is super fancy! So come prepared with proper clothing for the UAE and it’s rules in various settings.

All in all I am so happy that I was able to experience this. Had it not been for that deal I may have never been able to go. However, I see lots of deals now to UAE all of the time. They aren’t as good as the one we had but they are better than the average full price tickets normally offered. If you ever get the chance to go be prepared to use a lot of money on transportation. There are so many other excursions/must do things beyond the ones I mentioned. I know others have mentioned Yacht parties as well as their Boozy brunches. The culture there is very diverse but as I mentioned there are still traditions that must be adhered to in certain areas.

If  I go back, I probably would only stay in Dubai for the duration and just take the bus into Abu Dhabi. If you have been to the UAE, what were some things that you enjoyed while there??? I would love to hear about them. Drop me a comment and let me know.

Thanks for reading and Happy Traveling!

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