8 July 2017

Dubai Diaries | 10 Reasons Why I Will Visit Dubai Again - Part 2

10 Reasons to Visit Dubai
Travel posts are my favourite to read and flick through any time of the year, especially in summer. While we are planning and patiently waiting for our next adventure somewhere far and beautiful, I'm looking back at one of the recent fabulous trips of ours. It's been a long time coming. I guess that's what happens when life happens. Nevertheless, I made you wait long enough for the sequel of my Dubai Diaries | 10 Reasons Why I Will Visit Dubai Again - Part 1. Even though a part of me kind of toyed with the idea of writing a completely different piece, I couldn't abandon the original post with 5 reasons without doubling that number as promised. 
Atlantis The Palm
Without further ado, here are the another 5 reasons why I will visit Dubai again (Part 2). Part 1 is here
I hope this doesn't sound wrong but long gone the days when I used to be "OK" (and "OK" is a very strong word here) with extremely low-budget holidays. Before you judge too quickly, let me explain. By "low-budget" I mean REALLY low-budget as in no housekeeping, springy bed with possible bed buds in it, crappy furniture, no view and awful breakfast. It's safe to say that when it's all you can afford, you take full advantage of not being in by enjoying the beach and local sights. So yeah, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a good travel bargain in a form of a hot deal or a special offer where you still get your 4-5-star holiday for less. When we booked a trip to Dubai, we managed to snatch one of those deals! And boy, we had no idea we would be stepping into THAT level of luxury. To clarify, we know what we love and what we want when it comes to hotels and vacations, and always look for the best, and our hotel, Fairmont The Palm, met every expectation. 
Fairmont The Palm Dubai
Fairmont The Palm Dubai
Fairmont The Palm Dubai
And the luxury part of the trip wasn't limited to the hotel only. Dubai screams affluence. Splendor and high-class everything is practically everywhere: hotels, shops, restaurants, malls. It almost seems as if New Dubai was built to wow the most demanding traveler. It impressed us to the nines even though we expected a lot less from the city. Some people say Dubai feels almost artificial with its skyscrapers, glass and sheen everywhere. I say, before misjudging it, visit the place (or visit it again and at the "right" time of the year - never in July or during the rainy spells) and plan your trip well to make the best out of every hour spent there. It is truly a beautiful oasis in the middle of the dessert. Even if you're super low maintenance, like yours truly, spoiling yourself a little bit has never hurt anyone ;)
The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall
USEFUL TIPS:
  • Just because New Dubai, especially the Dubai Mall, screams luxury, don't feel intimidated and think you'd "fit in" only if you wear this season's Gucci collection. Wear whatever you like but make sure to cover up. 
  • Even police is "fancy" in this city and they drive the fastest cars to catch up with  the local Fast and Furious enthusiasts. 
  • The best location for the hotel would be on the Palm (look up where Fairmont The Palm is located) - that's the sweet spot. You get the beach. You get the view. And it's about 15-20 min away from Downtown Dubai by cab. 
  • Taxi trips are quite cheap. A 13-mile journey would usually cost us about £10. There's never a shortage of cabs and the best place to get a taxi is outside any hotel or a mall.
This is probably one of the most difficult categories to write about simply because there's so much to share (it almost deserves its own dissertation). Even if you are not into shopping, The Dubai Mall is a destination anyone will enjoy to the fullest. Indulge yourself in the selection of food from around the world, check out the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo or the Olympic-sized ice rink! 
The Dubai Mall Denim District
The Dubai Mall Ice RinkDubai Aquarium The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall
As for my shopping gal and guys, you will never want to leave The Dubai Mall! It's got 1200+ world's most popular retail shops and two massive department stores. Let's just say, I got my Magnolia Bakery New York style fix in one of them and picked up my own (Medium) Brown Bag. Yes, there's a Bloomingdale's in The Dubai Mall! There's also The Souk, a gorgeously designed shopping area, full of little boutiques that sell traditional clothing, accessories and other bits and bobs. It's important to mention that there is a separate massive floor (it could be a small department stores on its own!) which is called The Village. It's a Denim District where all your denim problems come to be resolved. 
The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall
The Souk The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall Good Girl Carolina Herrera
This reminds me, I got my Good Girl perfume in The Dubai Mall and here's a review if you haven't read it yet ;)
USEFUL TIPS:
  • The Dubai Mall doesn't host only luxury brands. It's got hundreds and hundreds of shops representing our favourite high-street retailers like ZARA, Diesel, Mango, Topshop, Bershka, Miss Selfridge and many others. Basically, shopping in The Dubai Mall will satisfy any customer.
  • There are other malls in Dubai, including Mall of the Emirates, WAFI Mall, Dubai Marina Mall, Nakheel Mall (they were only starting to build it when we were there but it's finished now). I personally wouldn't recommend the Mall of the Emirates - you won't miss out if you skip that one.
  • Apart from the traditional shopping experience (from the western point of view), you can have a taste of an authentic Arab souk and haggling in Old Dubai. It's not a glamorous part of the city and those souks are outside, which means it is very hot and crowded. It's good to keep that in mind if you like that sort of experience.
I kind of always judge the quality of the hotel not only based on how beautiful and comfortable the rooms are, but also on how good the breakfast is. Foodie through and through here - can't help it. Our Dubai half-board booking didn't disappoint, to say the least. I guess I should've switched my regular double waffle drenched in Nutella for a piece of fruit and some granola. But calories don't count when you're on holiday, do they? 
Waffles and Nutella
The omelette station was probably one of my favourite things for those mornings when I felt like I needed to swap my sugary breakfast for something a bit more healthy. Obviously, apart from the hotel breakfasts, we ate out every night. I admit, Cheesecake Factory in The Dubai Mall was on our menu twice. Not ashamed one bit - I just really love Cheesecake Factory :) Though my favourite restaurant in Dubai has got to be P. F. Chang's in Dubai Marina. Best meal ever! Crispy shrimp tempura rolls for the starter and crispy honey chicken as the main - that's foodie oasis right there.
USEFUL TIPS:
  • Most Dubai restaurants take pride in offering the top-quality food to customers, and the service is beyond excellent. If you are a super gourmet, sophisticated and demanding foodie, Pier 7 is your destination with its numerous upmarket dining options. Dubai Marina and Downtown Dubai are the best places to grab a lovely, yet reasonably priced, meal.
  • The tip is usually 10-15% but, ultimately, the decision is up to you based on how much you enjoyed the food and the service.
  • I can definitely recommend P. F. Chang's if you like Asian cuisine and American Cheesecake Factory if you don't have it in your country. Bread Street Kitchen & Bar is one of Gordon Ramsey's restaurants located in Atlantis The Palm, is another must-visit. Zuma is one of the most popular Japanese gourmet food destinations. Coya is the new hot spot and the favourite among the locals and tourists. 
If you come from a western country, Dubai will definitely be one of those "exotic" and very "different" places you've ever visited. There's obvious difference in the customs and traditions, religion and mindset, rules and regulations. One thing I have learnt in over a decade of traveling the world is to respect the laws and traditions of the country you're visiting, even though they might be opposite to the ones you observe at home. Many people know that PDA is not acceptable in the Middle East. So you might need to reserve the kissing and so on to the privacy of your hotel room. Also, even though it's hot and the last thing you want to do is add layers, you should cover up a little or wear "decent" clothes. A light shawl is a must-have in case you're showing too much skin (uncovered shoulders, for example). Hotel premises fashion is a completely different story, apart from the lobby. Keeping it classy/decent is the best way to go about fashion out and about in Dubai. 
Old Dubai
Old Dubai
Old Dubai
Old Dubai
Old Dubai
As for the actual culture and history of the city...
No matter where you'll stay, you will most likely be given the map of Dubai with all its attractions. A massive part of it is the area called Old Dubai. First, hubby and I hesitated about whether we should go there. I really wanted to see the souks (spice souk and gold souk) so we hopped on our Big Bus at the Dubai Mall and went on a little bus adventure. Not being huge fans of the bus, we actually did enjoy it. Thank goodness for the working AC. And what we saw from our double decker tour coach was very different from what we expected to see. Forget about fancy souk adventures of Carrie and Miranda. Old Dubai is not very glamorous. It's busy, it's crowded, it's hot. But, at the same time, it's full of culture and history. It's a living example of how it all began. 
USEFUL TIPS:
  • Seriously, save the kisses to the privacy of your hotel room. Holding hands is a bit of a grey area. Some people (read: tourists) do it, some don't. Also, be careful with your language.
  • Wear clothes that cover up your shoulders and knees. A mini skirt isn't the best idea neither is a very revealing top. A casual T-shirt is one of the best options, and it's also comfy, to be fair. Pair it up with a midi or a maxi skirt, and you've got a winner. 
  • It's perfectly fine to wear a bikini on the beach but you might get arrested if you take off your bikini top or wear a thong that is barely there.
  • Left hand is considered "unclean" so try not to use it if you want to shake someone's hand, pass something or even open the doors in front of the locals. 
I kind of saved the best for last. This is probably one of my favourite "reasons" why I will be back to this stunning city. Dubai is forever growing, changing, developing and improving. Apparently, the year 2020 will be THE year when Dubai sees through a number of very exciting projects. Many are planned to be completed in the next 2 years. Just before we left Dubai in 2016, the world's biggest indoor theme park IMG Worlds of Adventure opened its doors to the visitors. But, to be honest, I am more thrilled to see places like Aladdin City, Bluewaters Island, Dubai Eye, Dubai Water Canal and the Museum of the Future come to life. Just google any of these places and you will be stunned. It almost reminds me of the fusion I'd like to call "Disney magic meets Future" :)
Dubai Marina
USEFUL TIPS:
  • Dubai is worth visiting for many reasons I have listed in both Part 1 and here. The best time to travel there is late September, October, March, April and early May. Avoid summer months because you might think you've landed on the Sun. In winter it often rains which might spoil your idea of a beach holiday.
  • Visit Dubai after 2020 and see all the magical places I have mentioned come to life. I know we will.
10 Reasons to Visit Dubai
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Hope you enjoyed this travel post, lovelies.
Leave a comment and let me know if you've ever been to Dubai. 
What did you enjoy the most about Part 1 and Part 2 of my Dubai Diaries?
Where are you off to on your next holiday?

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