Dubai, the land of man made wonders, glitz, and glamour and opulent luxuries is today the biggest entertainment hub of the world. But there’s more to Dubai than just the gold dispensing ATMs, Lamborghini police cars, and pet cheetahs.
There are some amazing things to do in Dubai that require deeper insight into the city beyond the skyscrapers and wonder islands. There is a delicate balance between old and new Dubai which makes the city truly special. While the modern Dubai gives you an adrenaline rush of great experiences, it is fun only while it lasts. Whereas, the old Dubai gives you the sense of fulfilment, as if you get to experience a piece of history and move past the consumerism of the skyscraper Dubai, to indulge in the most rewarding experiences of the city.
Here’s a list of top things to do in Dubai that allows you to understand the city’s rich culture and take a sneak peek into its soul.
The Dubai miracle garden is the world’s largest natural flower garden and its presence in the desert city of Dubai in such grandeur is not the only thing that makes it so special. The garden is spread over an area of 72000 sq. meters and has 45 million blooming flowers of various different species. Pyramids, igloos, stars, hearts; it’s hard not to get amazed with the variety of designs that dominate the garden. Walk past the mild scent arousing your senses and you’ll reach the butterfly garden. A one of its kind butterfly and insect museum in the world, it welcomes you to the natural inhabitant of thousands of incredibly beautiful butterflies from all over the world.
It is ironic that the city’s most picturesque heritage sites mostly get missed by tourists smitten by the wonders of Dubai. Built in the 19th century and named after the pearl merchants who came and settled in Bedouin village of Dubai, Bastakiya quarters is your chance to take a trip down the history of the city. The era of wind towers that served as air conditioners, the imaginative art galleries, the boutique hotels, the peaceful open air cafes and the whole feel of being in the past is what makes Bastakiya quarters a must place to visit.
You can’t really understand a place without discovering its culture and as a traveler, it’s really important to truly understand a destination. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a must visit place to understand the fascinating Emirati culture and traditions in a truly amazing way. Have a traditional lunch over an illuminating session about the history, traditions, and culture of UAE and take a tour of the ancient Al Fahidi district. It is a must have experience and it will for sure change the way you look at the Islamic religion.
One of the most ancient ways of trading in the Middle east, the traditional souks of Dubai offer so much more than just amazing goods. There are two top souks in Dubai- the gold souk and the spice souk. The bustling souks have an unmatched energy that perfectly blends with the vibrancy of the people. You can sit and do people watching for hours here. The glitter of the gold hanging all over in unimaginable designs and the aroma of spices that literally pulls you to them; the whole experience of visiting these traditional souks makes you fall in love with the city, all over again.
One of the best things to do in Dubai is to enjoy the desert safari tour. Clubbing the best of adventure, leisure, luxury and enjoyment in one experience, the Dubai Desert safari gives you a chance to explore the Arabian desert in a completely different way. Choose a respectable tour operator like Rayna travels and you can enjoy various add-ons like the sunset photography, barbecue dinner and entertainment at a Bedouin-style desert camp, quad biking and even overnight camping amidst the starry blanket of stars.
In spite of the mega projects involved with the further development of the city, the biggest piece of land dedicated to the government in Dubai is not for any skyscraper or a tourist hub but for the Dubai desert conservation reserve. A visit to UAE’s first national park is a must to have a close rendezvous with the endangered animal and flora and fauna species. The entire park area of 225 sq.km (around 5% of the total land of Dubai) is exclusively dedicated to the conservation of the bio diversity and boast of the luxurious Al Mahara desert resort. Not on the top things to do list of many uninformed tourists, this is definitely a place you shouldn’t miss.
Let’s get real, not everything from the world of international brands available at the gigantic malls of Dubai is affordable. So what’s the next best place for shopping? It’s the Dragon Mart. It is your place to be if you love buying souvenirs and other collectibles at great prices. The biggest Chinese mall outside of China, the Dragon Mart is the destination from pins to furniture, all at exciting prices. It has over 4000 stalls and is a great place to hone your bargaining skills. From multi-cuisine restaurants to the food cart, the dragon mart makes tourists of every pocket size, feel like a king.
An exorbitant shopping extravaganza with a carnival-like a feel, the Global Village has 32 different countries representing the best of their food, souvenirs, and entertainment. What originally started as a small fair in the year 1997 is today world’s biggest entertainment project. Fantasy island, thrilling rides, children play zones, fireworks and amazing resonance of varied cultures and traditions are what makes the Global Village a must visit place while in Dubai. But since the Global Village only operates during the months of November until April, it’s better to make plans of Dubai during that time.
Known as the glamorous playground of the rich, Dubai is a lot more than just the glitz, glamour and luxury. The essence of the city lies in the places that go beyond the superficial layer of skyscrapers, shopping extravaganzas, and water parks. The very diversity of Dubai lies in the serene camel filled deserts, expats living in harmony and trying to make the city a better place, and the myriad of experiences of the authentic Emirati culture. That’s what is the real Dubai, the city that formed the base of the world tourism hub.
About the Author – Neha Singh, a postgraduate in Mass Communications, who loves everything about life. An An avid trekker & explorer, traveling is extremely close to her heart and writing came to her naturally. She loves meeting new people & gets attached to their culture very easily. Her ambition is to explore as many places as she can in her life and believes in – “simple living high thinking”.