Almost 2 years ago, I migrated to Dubai, UAE for work purposes. Extremely a first timer to travel long haul from my hometown, it has been nerve-cracking and thrilling flight at the same time.
I have arrived in a completely different environment – locals wearing qandouras and abayas, as well as different nationalities with their languages.
As long as you follow the rules and regulations of this country (yes, UAE is strict and is also the home of law-abiding citizens), you will worry nothing and you will find the environment as home–y as your own country. You will even appreciate that it can be safer than any other countries and the crime rate is indeed very low. For instance, we can even jog or walk outside at past midnight without worrying of what will happen to us.
Though the main purpose of my coming to UAE is due to myself being hired by a Company, I made it to the point that every weekend I will visit its gems as follows:
They say you’ve never been to Dubai if you did not even manage to see this building. The tallest as of to date, it is located just beside the Dubai Mall – the largest mall in the Middle East and the second largest mall in the world. It also entertains visitors by having a water fountain show every evening.
How to get there: 15-20 minute walk only from the Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa Metro Station (Red line)
2. Burj Al Arab
Even at the distance, this hotel will never fail to make you fascinated. Just by looking at it far away, you will easily distinguish it as the famous Burj Al Arab hotel. As if it is not awesome enough, the hotel was constructed above the beach waters itself, adding to its fabulous set up.
Compared to the Philippines wherein you need to allot at least 2-3 hours just to get to the beach, here in Dubai you can easily access for free these fine beaches by travelling for 20-30 minutes only. Very close to the Nakheel metro station, you just need to take the tram situated at the station itself and directly it will transport you to the Jumeirah Beach Road, just alight the station 2, and voila! in front of you is a fine beach you will never imagine is located in the heart of the busy city.
There are also a lot of shops – food, clothing, optical, bars, you name it and you’ll see it. In fact, you will never get bored in this place and there are even a lot of one of a kind activities you can choose from, such as Dinner in the sky, jetpack ride, and many more. You can even spot random camel owners for photo opportunities (though I find it a bit overpriced compared ween you go to desert safari – photo op price alone is with a price tag of AED 40/-, wherein in this amount you can get an all in package for a daytour in desert safari with 4×4 Sand Dunes ride). For more ideas, you can check out Cobone or Groupon for affordable promotions.
How to get there: Take the red line and get off the Nakheel Metro Station. Afterwards, transfer towards the Dubai Tram going to Jumeirah Beach Residences (JBR). Alight Station 2 and walk a couple of minutes towards the beach.
4.Palm Jumeirah (Residences)
Though I cannot entirely say that this is somewhere you can visit anytime, I just managed to get inside this high – end residences because of an official business at my boss’ house. (yes, my boss owns a property here). Since this is a private residence area, you can only get inside if you have a permit from the homeowner or an official entry pass.
This man-made island in shape of a Palm tree (where it obviously got its name), oozes with a Western style vibes that you will almost forget that you are currently in a Middle East country. As you can see in the photo, the lake is just behind the villa, where you can even go boating, and not to mention the taking a dip in the private pool.
How to get there: I got there via our private company transportation, as access to this place is off-limits to outsiders.
You will never believe that this European setting is located in Dubai. Riverland houses four different themed places perfect for your Instagram profile. My personal favorite (as shown in the photos above), includes the French Village. Once you enter this village, it will seem to you that you are transported back in the historic architecture of Europe. And the best part is, did I mention that entrance at this park is free?
However, do note that the entrance to other popular theme parks inside (Bollywood, Legoland, Legoland water park and Motion Gate) have a corresponding fee. For more details, please visit their website.
How to go there: Take the red line metro and get off at UAE Exchange (last station). Afterwards, take a cab directly going to Dubai Parks. (A line of cabs are already waiting once you get off the station, so no need to worry about getting lost).
This sanctuary houses the beautiful flamingos and other migratory birds, floras and faunas in the city. You can view them through the use of binoculars in the sanctuary at your heart’s content. Entrance is free, however, I think you need to make an advance inquiry in their website if you are intending to visit at least 2-3 days in advance. As this place is being closely monitored by Dubai Municipality government, this place is strict into protecting the site. Though during our visit which was way back 2017, we only tried walk – in basis, and fortunately, we were given access. I have a hunch that walk – in is allowed for certain number of individuals compared to large groups, in order to maintain and preserve the place. The best time to visit this sanctuary would be during winter, as the flamingos and other migratory birds are active during those times. The sanctuary is open every Saturdays to Thursdays, from 9am until 4pm.
How to get there: This can be tricky though. My friend and I got lost badly even though we followed the bus number indicated in the Wojhati site. From what I remember, we took the Red line and got off the ADCB metro station. Afterwards, we took the bus going to Ras Al Khor and alighted to a Golf or Country Club (which was an epic fail, since the bus stop is entirely located in the middle of nowhere. Just imagine our faces when we got off in the middle of the express way and only some vacant lots around. Good thing we managed to hail a cab and asked to transport us directly to Ras Al Khor sanctuary. However, this place isn’t even registered in the google maps that time, and even lots of drivers are having a hard time finding the place).
Tip: After a late reseach due to our failed ‘thrift’ transportation, the best way to reach the sanctuary is via a water bus from the Dubai Festival City . (To reach Dubai Festival City, take the Green line of the metro and alight off the Creek station and then take the water taxi going straight to Festival City mall).
For Water Bus timings, please refer here.
Madinat Jumeirah boasts of a traditional Middle Eastern setting in the heart of the city. With plenty of souks, restaurants, and shops to choose from, you will be equally amazed and will truly appreciate the Middle Eastern culture.
This place is also extra fascinating during evenings, as there are happy hour timings you can take your time off and you can even go for a chillinh boat ride by the river. After the boat ride and all the shopping, you can take a pick at the Souk Madinat’s popular restaurants such as Tortuga, Pier chic, La Parilla, and many more.
How to get there: From Mall of the Emirates, take the bus 81 and get off the Burj Al Arab stop. From there, walk for around 10 mins to reach the Madinat Jumeirah.
Entrance: Free (Boat rides price is AED 85 per head)
This paradise is only open during winter season (November to March), mainly because the hot weather in UAE especially during summer months would definitely dampen the beautiful floras in this place.
If you love flowers in their different and variety of artistic forms, then this place is a must-go. Almost all of the spots here are picture perfect and IG-worthy that you will have a hard time picking out your best photo to post.
If you have extra time to spare, visit the Butterfly Garden just across the Miracle Garden. Be amazed with the hundreds different species of butterflies fluttering around you. You can even touch them (but careful not to tear their delicate wings!) and be in awe of God’s given creatures.
Like the Miracle garden, the Butterfly garden is only accessible during winter months.
How to get there: During the winter season, there is a specific bus that goes directly to the Miracle Garden and Butterfly Garden from the Mall of the Emirates Bus station.
Entrance: For Miracle Garden –AED40; for Butterfly Garden – AED 50
Similar to the Miracle and Butterfly Garden, Global Village’s opening is always being anticipated annually not only by the tourists but also by the locals and residents themselves. Not only it always shows something new and innovative from last year, but the differnt cultures of many countries which you can experience in one place will definitely keep you going back for more. In fact, you must prepare your feet for a walkathon in order to be able to visit all and each countries’ offer. From street foods, clothings, textiles, shoes, coats, jackets, hats, accessories, souveneirs and even antiques, your eyes will definitely feast on what this place has got to offer. Not to mention the mini shows, performances, rides and carnivals to entertain the visitors, the place is so lively and you can even have a chance to take photo with people wearing the national costume of the country assigned to them.
Global Village is open from 4pm until 1am.
How to get there: Again, like Dubai Miracle and Butterfly Garden, there is a designated bus (bus 106) from the Mall of the Emirates directly to Global Village only during winter season.
Entrance: AED 15
You can never have too many photos in this place. Similar to the Miracle Garden and Riverland, almost all the corners of this place screams IG-worthy. This is a perfect place to unwind after a stressful week, and if you are fed up in always seeing desert safaris, sandstorms and skyscrapers in the city.
The servers were very accommodating, which was an added plus to the ethereal and serene place. The setting is covered with trees, plants and flowers. It is a good thing that my friend and I reserved a week before since this place can be fully booked especially during weekends and holidays. Hence, we were able to get the best spot outside which is overlooking the bridge and creek.
All the ingredients of the food and beverages are organic, thus, the pricelist can be a bit pricey. However, the ambiance is very relaxing and the food is actually superb. We ordered the Orange Chicken Organic Carbonara, Beef Linguine Pasta and Vietnamese Rice wrapper rolls. For drinks , my friend chose the Watermelon Powerbooster while I opted for a Berry Yogurt Smoothie. We were still supposed to order for dessert, however due to their large servings, our tummies cannot manage it already. So, if you want to splurge once in a while, you will not regret going to The Farm.
How to get there : Normally you can reach The Farm either through private transportation or taxi only. However, as it still winter season when we went there, we rode a bus going to Global Village (Al Barari is near Global Village). Then, we rode a cab from there going to The Farm. we only paid AED 20 for the two of us, instead of the estimated cab fare of AED 70-80 if we will not be taking the bus going to Global Village.
Estimated food budget: AED 150 per pax
For more information and reservations, please visit their website.
Dubai Parks and Resorts:
Dubai Municipality – Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary:
Dubai Miracle Garden:
Dubai Butterfly Garden:
The Farm, Dubai:
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