The different neighbourhoods of Dubai provide distinct experiences in themselves. In this extract from Lonely Planet India’s Dubai travel guide, we have pulled out the top highlights for you to explore.
Jumeirah Beach is to Dubai what Baga Beach is to Goa. Not only is it a great place for watersports or simply lazing around, it also offers great views of Dubai’s spectacular skyline. It is also a short walk away from attractions like Wild Wadi Water Park and Madinat Jumeirah.
Bastakiya is where Dubai stops to take a break from its frenzied race to modernisation. Its traditional wind towers, art galleries, curio and spice shops overlooking the stone courtyards are not easily associated with modern Dubai, but yes, such a place does exist.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
You don’t have to be a scuba diver to explore the hidden sea depths – all you have to do is head for the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo at Dubai Mall to get up close and personal with exotic sea creatures. What’s more, you could even swim with the sharks! Around 33,000 marine creatures flit and dart amid artificial coral and behind the ‘world’s largest acrylic viewing panel’, as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. You can view quite a lot for free from the outside or pay for access to the walk-through tunnel. A highlight here is a darkened cave where you can go nose-to-nose with dozens of toothy sharks.
Mall of the Emirates
One of the largest malls in the world, Mall of the Emirates features a 14-screen multiplex, gaming arena, theatre, and believe it or not, a ski slope! The builders of the mall obviously knew what they were doing. With over 520 international brands and 85 coffee shops and restaurants, it will make you shop and shop and never drop.
Nothing is more symbolic of the rise of Dubai than the mammoth 828m Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It has the world’s highest observation deck (At the Top) at 452m, the world’s fastest elevators, the world’s highest restaurant and nightclub; frankly, this list could go on forever. Burj Khalifa is more than architecture – it is a statement to the might of Dubai! The best time to visit is early in the morning, before tourists start pouring in.
Wild Wadi Water Park
While the big wave pools and gentle rides in Wild Wadi will score big with children, the 33m high Jumeirah Sceirah slide will leave even the toughest adventure seeker trembling. If you still feel that things are not exciting enough, try the artificial surfing machine.
Unquestionably the biggest attraction in Dubai, the sail-shaped Burj Al-Arab in Jumeriah is one of the most photographed buildings in the world. The artificial island on which it is built is served by its own bridge! The lobby of this spectacular hotel is so high that the Statue of Liberty would fit into it. But then this sail-shaped building, at 321m, is just a few metres shorter than the Eiffel Tower.