Dubai was far from being the number one destination on my bucket list. It wasn't even in my top 10. But, circumstances made that with a few of my girlfriends, we chose this city for a girls trip. We were looking for a place to go in the beginning of February, not too far so that we could go for one week, and where it would be sunny and warm.
Dubaï checked off all the items on the list, so we started planning. In the end, we were only two to book and fly off to the UAE, because our other friends changed their plans. Verdict? We spent the most amazing week and while I had some apprehension going there, I (almost) fell in love with the city and look forward going back some day!
As mentioned above, before leaving for Dubai I had some apprehensions about the city and its "over the top" way of life. Clearly if we could rename Dubai as "the city of excessiveness", it wouldn't be strong enough. Over there, the most luxurious, crazy things you could imagine, they did it, and they did it even bigger. But I must say, from the pictures I saw on the internet, I've had this idea of Dubai in my mind of a city filled with Lamborghinis, Chanel bags, arrogance, unsafe environments...and, to my surprise, we did not see one of those things. The cars are normal, people are dressed normally and most of all...people are adorable. I discovered a city that was clean, well frequented and where I felt really safe! Okay, it lacks some authenticity and history, but when you know that 20 years ago half of the city was not even built yet, you can't help but to find it even more astonishing. In the end, when you go to Dubai, you are going for the futuristic experience rather than the cultural experience, that is what you need to be aware of.
I must admit, I did not do my research about Dubai like I did with Bali for example. We decided to go very last minute and the purpose of our trip was mostly to relax. We decided to booke two hotels and an apartment in three different neighborhoods of the city, in order to see it fully.
We started with three nights at the Radisson Blu in what is called "the old Dubai". It's a neighborhood where you can see the souks, but it's principally focused on business, so there is not a lot to do. We then headed to the waterside, where we spent three days in the One and Only Royal Mirage Hotel, a sumptuous hotel by the beach. Our trip ended with three days in an apartment just by the Burj Khalifa. We thus explored three completely different neighborhoods in a little over a week. If you have the chance to do the same, I strongly recommend it! It enables you to do a little bit of everything, without loosing time running around the city. In a following article, I'll talk about all the different hotels and restaurant we went to, to tell you about my personal recommendations.
Being out and about in Dubai is super easy. You can go anywhere by taxi or Uber (Ubers are relatively fairly priced), they are everywhere and super comfortable (way more luxurious than ours!). You can also rent a car or find your way via metro (most sumptuous metro of the world I think). Distances are usually very long and the city is divided into several neighborhoods that are far away from each other. There is also a lot of traffic so you can sometimes spend an hour in the car to go from point A to point B.
Before we left, we looked into what to wear and how to dress in Dubai. When I travel, I always make sure to adapt my clothes to the local culture of the place I am visiting and respect its traditions. For Dubai, everyone told me one thing: "You can wear whatever you want in Dubai!". But a few minutes into our hotel, we immediately understood that it was not the case. We were wearing dresses, nothing shocking at all. But being two blondes, travelling alone in Dubai, we might have given the impression that we were not there for tourism, if you know what I mean... We felt so uncomfortable being stared at, that we immediately went to go change. We thus spent the whole week in trousers and tops with long sleeves, without being able to wear about 3/4 of our packed items.
If I can give you one piece of advice on how to dress in Dubai: if you are in the city or on the streets, it's better to wear clothes that cover your arms and legs. But as soon as you are in a restaurant, hotel or at the beach, feel free to dress as you like. Personally, in order to avoid overheating, I usually opted for light and wide palazzo trousers with long sleeved blouses. At night (especially in February) the temperature is good, but colder. So be sure to have something warm to wear in the evening if you wish to have dinner outside. For more fashion advices, you can check my dressing or even my fashion advices !
Here is a list of all activities you can do and that I recommend. Of course, in a week's time you can't do them all, we only did the safari in the desert and spent the morning in an amusement park called IMG WORLD. Like I said, we were there to relax and favored sleeping at the beach over doing a lot of activities. This leaves us with tons of things to do if we come back one day!
What I did:
To do as well, according to me:
Don'ts in Dubai:
I thought that Dubai was not more expensive than some other cities I've visited before. Of course, it's not Asia where you eat for a dime everyday. Activities are expensive and so is the food, but not more than what we know here. What is really expensive are the accommodations (but you can find great deals on apartments) and alcohol, prices go up very quick!
This article is the first of a series of articles about my trip. I am going to post them gradually during the week. I really loved my trip!! I think it is the perfect destination for some Winter sun: it's not far away, you can go just for a couple of days, the jet lag is not too strong and the weather is more than enjoyable in the Winter!! The atmosphere is good, you can enjoy the whole city, beach, beach-clubs, activities... in the end, there is something to do for everyone and that is the main strong point of the destination! I was also very impressed by the cleanliness of Dubai (we have some catching up to do...). All in all, I really recommend this city, even for a couple of days!
If you liked this article, check out the one I wrote about the amazing hotel we stayed at during our trip there!