It is hot most of the year in Dubai, so naturally many of the attractions in Dubai focus on cooling off. There is lots of white sand in the Jumeirah Beach area, along with man-made water attractions such as the Wild Wadi Waterpark with slides and swimming holes aplenty. For more cultural pursuits, the downtown area hosts the attractive Dubai Museum, and for the best in modern Dubai, make sure to schedule a visit to the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building at 828 meters. with an observation deck on the 124th floor.
Hot Tips: Non-Muslims can visit the beautiful Jumeirah Mosque and guided tours are conducted on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday mornings. Other mosques are off limits.
Where to Stay
Your choice of hotels in Dubai is staggering, however they do come with a price tag. Most people opt to stay in the suburb of Jumeirah, where there are good beaches and plenty of hotels and restaurants. The posh Dar Al Masyaf at Madinat Jumeirah is located here, as is the renowned Burj al Arab, the world's only 7 star hotel with prices to match. Other visitors forego the pleasures of being near the beach to stay downtown in the old business districts of Bur Dubai and Deira, where there are souks, bazaars and other attractions.
Avoid: Travel during Ramadan can be very frustrating, as most restaurants and all bars will be closed. It is forbidden to eat in public during daylight hours, not to mention that the holiday usually falls in the summer months which are excruciatingly hot in Dubai. Better to visit at other times.
Restaurants in Dubai range from sheer opulence to streetside fare, and almost all are delicious. Most of the high-end hotels have upscale restaurants serving international cuisines of the finest level. In the ritzy Burj al Arab 7 star hotel, Al Mahara serves top notch seafood and other fare at top notch prices. If you want something far cheaper but perhaps more authentic, try Al Dhiyafah Road where there are scores of small Pakistani, Lebanese, Indian, and Iranian eateries where most of the locals go to dine. You can pick up some tasty local shawarma in pita bread here, or else some falafel.
Take It or Leave It: Non-hotel restaurants are not allowed to serve alcohol.
Be Sure to Sample: Shawarma.
Most of the fancier hotels have bars, such as the trendy nightclub Kasbar in Jumeirah Beach. Other nightlife in Dubai includes the more casual dance bar and restaurant Rock Bottom Cafe, which is part pub, part 1970's diner and part nightclub all rolled into one. Outside of the hotels, you won't find too much alcohol in Dubai, so do as many of the locals and head out to one of the hundreds of cafes that are everywhere, and have a tea accompanied by a shisha waterpipe.
Caution: Remember, it's against the law to drink alcohol in public in Dubai.
Shopping in Dubai ranges from the centuries-old gold souk (which is highly worth a visit even if you have no interest in gold or shopping) to the glitzy Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world, which has just about every brand name shop you could want. For local souvenirs like shisha pipes, head over to the Al Karama market in Bur Dubai where prices are lower than elsewhere and bargaining is de rigeur. Over in Jumeirah Beach, the Mercato Mall is designed in a Renaissance theme and packed with boutique shops and restaurants.
Best Local Souvenir: Shisha pipes, gold, pashmina shawls.