Dubai travel diary

Hello my loves, I’m currently in the sky as I draft the start of this blog post taking my 14th flight this year. I really am truly blessed that travel has become a much more regular feature in the lifestyle section of my content. Where possible I take you all with me on each journey unless it’s a short stint where I don’t really get a real feel of a place. On my recent two day trip to Holland for example, Snapchat was the perfect way to show you the brief sights and sounds of the city including the horse event I was lucky enough to experience. In this instance I’ve decided to compile a complete Dubai diary considering I’ve spent the past week there and we really managed to pack plenty into each day. In terms of airlines there’s a few options, the most popular being Emirates, however, it’s well worth searching Skyscanner for alternative flights and more affordable options. We flew from London Heathrow to Dubai with Royal Brunei for a really reasonable amount; just short of £300 for our return flights with relatively decent travel times. The airline was luxurious and the on flight food and service was amazing. Dubai is 4 hours ahead so we landed at 4am and spent some time in the airport queuing for our Visa. There’s plenty of taxis outside DXB and Uber is an even cheaper option throughout your stay. A 25 minute taxi ride is roughly 80 dirham which is about €20 for example, the Metro is also a super cheap and efficient option.

We stayed in the Grand Midwest Tower Hotel which was centrally located just 25 minutes from the airport and near all main tourist attractions including the beach, main eateries, malls and most excursions. The main reason I flew to Dubai was to attend my friend’s wedding so all of the guests were put up here but there’s plenty of amazing hotels to stay in including the only 7* hotel in the world if your budget stretches. After arriving in the early hours we were upgraded into a lovely suite with an epic balcony view of the city and it’s insane buildings. Weather wise we were a little unlucky; expecting sunshine and daily heat, we arrived after some serious rainfall, so most days, although warm were quite hazy. It’s mild enough at the moment to wear your usual holiday attire and somewhat sunbathe but I certainly wouldn’t consider it tanning weather right now. That being said, the lack of humidity made the trip and our daily workouts and walks pleasant and the 28 degree max temperature still felt like a far cry from home.

I was really concerned about my attire for this trip; between the random weather and culture it was tricky enough to pack for. I would suggest bringing plenty of shawls or light kaftan style tops to cover you for both scenarios. Dubai is very westernised and plenty of people expose their shoulders and legs in public. My main concern was the wedding where family attended so the dress code was strictly covered up, classy and as bling as possible. Unlike a catholic wedding white is perfectly acceptable FYI as the bride has a selection of events and her outfits vary from red and gold to mint and peach. In terms of PDA again it varies; in shopping centres and out and about you can see couples holding hands, but pecks and affection in general isn’t popular. For example while we were in a pool having a brief hug a whistle was blown by the lifeguard to ask us to separate, so if you’re with your other half be cautious and respectful but don’t worry too much. In terms of spending money Dubai isn’t cheap; food, drink and shopping is expensive and we both spent roughly a grand each throughout the week. There are affordable dinner options but most of the highly rated are €150pp upwards.

On Monday after we got a few hours sleep we unpacked and got ready to head to a desert safari. The wedding party hopped on our pre booked taxi which took us roughly 40 minutes outside of our hotel to visit the sand. The day pass is an affordable €50 and includes the safari ride, quad biking, food and entertainment. There are also camel rides and plenty more to see and do. The day ran from 2.30-9.30pm and was a really fun experience especially done with a group. Although I loved the sheer speed and adventure of the safari ride itself after about 20 minutes I started to feel really sick; similar to boat sickness or a rollercoaster ride I had to ask the driver to stop to puke so it’s something to be aware of if you’re of similar disposition. The traditional food consists of lots of BBQ style meat, hummus and rice and most events offer a buffet style all you can eat. The night time entertainment included sit down shisha, belly dancing, acrobatics and amazing fire breathers, a day definitely worth doing.

On Tuesday we wanted to explore ourselves so we decided to walk about 5km to the nearest beach. The main road to Jameira is a little like millionaires row and consists of insane houses with zoos in their garden and the most elaborate walls, entrances and buildings. The sheer wealth in Dubai is quite hard to fathom until you see it first hand, even watching Lamborghinis drive past on the regular is breathtaking. After spending some time by the beach which has white sand and turquoise waters we hit the Souk Madinat which is a stunning arcade style shopping mall. The entrance is like a little Italian quarter with a beautiful bridge, crystal clear water and terracotta buildings. There are plenty of shops, restaurants and attractions so you could easily spend a day here. On Tuesday night we got dressed up and took a taxi to the Burj Khalifa which is the tallest building in the world. Breathtaking to view from below, it’s simply spectacular lit up at night. If you want to really splash out I would suggest booking a table 123 floors up in Atmosphere, the most expensive place to dine in Dubai. The 7 course Amuse Bouche taster menu was an experience in itself, costing just over €250 PP so it’s far from cheap, and that’s without wine. However if you’re a food lover and want an ultra special, once in a lifetime date night be sure to reserve a window seat and watch the city beneath you as you drool and consume the most aesthetic and appetising food you’ll probably ever indulge in.

On Wednesday we took advantage of the morning sun again and hit Kite beach. We brought books, music and bought some beach games to play. The sea is so nice to swim in; no seaweed, clear water and a decent temperature. Wearing bikinis is perfectly fine but sunbathing topless is naturally a no go. If you’re a fan of ice-cream there’s a truck by the beach which offers a make your own cone option, from the base and flavours to the coating, sorbet and toppings which is a nice way to cool down. If you want to save money in the day time be sure to fill up on breakfast and bring a packed lunch. As I was the brides MUA we finished our day around 4pm and hit the hotel so I could get her ready. That evening we had the women’s only Mehndi where the bride is showered with gifts, henna and well wishes and the area is awash with vibrant brightly coloured women dancing. 

On Thursday we went to the water park Wild Wadi which is situated in front of the stunning Burj Al Arab, another attraction worth seeing although you have to reserve a table with a minimum spend to do so. Wild Wadi offers 30 rides and attractions and is suitable for all the family. Themed around the tale of Juha, a known character from the Arabian folklore we had such fun and the rides vary in intensity. I would suggest plucking up the courage and doing the Jumeirah Sceirah last. With two tandem slides, you first climb the 32 metres tower and enjoy a spectacular view of the entire waterpark. Once on top of the tower, two capsules await for two people to ride on at the same time. You then cross your arms and legs as the doors of the capsules close, and the countdown begins, ‘3, 2, 1’ and the floor beneath you opens and you slide down 120 metres at an astonishing speed of 80 km/h. That night we attended another wedding event at the groom’s house in an outdoor marquee where women and men are separated for a ceremony of prayer, dancing and eating.

Friday was one of my favourite days. We woke up early to the warmest weather during our stay and hit Atlantis. After browsing the shops and main attractions we rented a bike and cycled the seafront. After cooling down with a refreshing juice by the pier we then took a taxi to The Westin Hotel to attend the main food and drink event in Dubai, Bubbalicious brunch. Make sure you reserve a table in advance and get dolled up; this event always books out and everyone who attends is really glam. Perfect for a family, couple, or group of friends you can chose from three different wrist bands/price options. We went for the Champagne option which was 680 AED pp and includes endless bites and bubbles from 1-4pm. Sit in the sun amidst an amazing atmosphere, enjoy live music and browse the most amazing selection of every food under the sun from sushi and oysters to traditional delicacies and desserts. The view and vibe is awesome and would be top on my list in terms of attractions. That night we had the wedding reception which was held in the Dubai Creek And Golf Resort; spectacular to say the least. From a camera arm and drone recording the event to a flashmob it’s an event and experience I’ll never forget.

For our last full day on Saturday the weather was rather dull so we saved shopping until last. Even if you don’t have anything in mind to buy the largest mall in the world is worth a visit. There’s endless eateries, superb stores, an ice rink, plenty of tourist attractions, and pretty much anything you can think of all under one roof. If you’re considering buying anything the prices are actually a little more expensive than at home so bar a few small stationery bits I spent my time window shopping and saving my money. You can also see the fountains while you’re here which are stunning. Overall I would highly recommend a visit to Dubai especially if you’re a couple or group of friends. We prefer to eat out at night and get up early to explore rather than party so I can’t review the nightlife but from what my friends have told me it’s another amazing side to the city. If you’re heading away with the girls be sure to avail of ladies nights which offer free entry to clubs most nights, and be sure to check out Pier 7, and the Atlantis water park.

Joanne xoxo