Dubai Top 10 Trips
1. Desert Safari
No trip or stay in Dubai would be complete without heading out and experiencing the majesty and the thrill of the desert. There are lots of companies that offer desert safaris out there- just make sure you use a reputable one with the right insurance. They all follow a basic formula- they will pick you up from your home or hotel mid to late afternoon and drive you out to the desert dunes- usually along the Dubai Hatta Road.
You may be sharing a car with other guests- you can have a private car but this will cost more. You meet up with all the other 4x4's from that company and head out into the desert to dune bash- you will be amazed at what cars can do! It really is a thrilling experience- almost like being on a roller coaster- if you have kids, elderly people, pregnant or scaredy cats with you you can request a more sedate drive!
They usually take you to a date or camel farm out in the dunes followed by watching the sun go down over the dunes and a bit of sand boarding down the dunes. Some amazing photo opportunities! They will then drive you to a desert camp for food- usually a basic but very tasty barbeque with salads and drinks- entertainment in the form of falconry, traditional dancing and belly dancing. There may also be camels to ride, quad bikes to have a go on, national dress to try on and a camp fire. You can see the light of so many stars whilst out in the desert too. After all this excitement they will drive you back to where they picked you up- trips usually return between 9 and 10pm.
The quintessential Arabic desert experience really is a must for all people who come to Dubai :)
The Musandam Peninusula is the top tip of the Norther Emirates and is an enclave of Oman. It straddles the East Coast and the West Coast and has two main tourist destinations Dibba on the East Coast and Khasab on the West Coast. They are both amazing places to visit with stunning scenery and lots to see and do. Don't forget your passports as you will need them to cross the border into Oman (there is a full time border control post on the way to Khasab but the Dibba one is not always open- but its best to have it with you just in case) and if you are venturing out to sea.
The Musandam Peninsula is also known as the Norway of the Middle East due to its amazing rock faced mountains which plunge straight down into crystal blue seas teaming with dolphins, rays and other sea life. To get to Dibba you need to head out on Emirates Road Sharjah direction and you will eventually see a sign for Eastern Territories- take the exit and follow the signs to Fujeirah until you see ones for Dibba. To get to Khasab you need to go to Ras Al Khaimah, take the RAK Cement Factory Truck Road heading for the Tibaat Border post.
Access to the Khasab area by land was virtually impossible until a modern coast road was built, which allows fast access from the UAE, making Khasab a popular weekend destination for people living in the Emirates. The new road also allows access to the village of Tawi, where prehistoric drawings of boats, animals and warriors can be seen in the rock face. Khasab also has a number of modern shopping areas with imported Irani goods and locally created pottery, and a few hotels, including the Khasab Hotel and Golden Tulip Hotel, which sits on a cliff overlooking the gulf.
From both towns you can take traditional dhow cruises for fishing, sightseeing, dolphin watching and even over night stays either on board or on beaches that can only be reached by boat. You will see how local residents have to use boats to get round to the small villages as they are cut off by the towering cliffs of the mountains- it's a whole other way of life! There are some great locations for snorkelling and diving too.
If you're a visitor to Dubai try and do one of the towns Dibba takes about an hour and half to get to from Dubai and Khasab about 3 hours- if you're a resident make sure you get chance to do both while you are here- you won't regret it.
3. Fujeirah/ Fujairah
Fujeirah is a seaside resort on the East Coast of the Emirates. It is famous for its diving locations and relaxed weekend breaks. It is the fifth largest emirate but one of the least densely populated- only Um al Quwain has less residents. The emirate is mainly mountainous and rocky and has more rainfall than Dubai and Abu Dhabi. There are many hotels there from budget to luxury and everything in between. Some of the beaches have black sand- so don't be surprised when you see it!
There has been a lot of development from a tourist point of view which means more facilities. It's great for a weekend break and a new road has opened which means travel time from Dubai is only about an hour and a half now. Go for a fab weekend escape!
4. Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah is another great mini break destination from Dubai- it's only about an hour away straight up the Emirates Road in the northerly direction- you can't miss it- just keep going straight! There are many hotels for you to visit from mid- range to super lux and the pace of life is very relaxed. Ras Al Khaimah's climate is hot and arid with very hot summers and mild winters although snow has been reported in 2004, 2009 and 2012 in the high mountains of Ras Al Khaimah.
Ras Al Khaimah is home to five star hotels and beach resorts including Hilton, Rotana or Banyan Tree. It has a number of 4 and 3 star hotels. In September 2010 the Ice Land water park was opened and more tourist attractions are planned.
Things to see and do in RAK include:
- The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah: housed in the former palace of the ruling Al Qawasim family, it has exhibits on natural history, arts and crafts of the past centuries, and archaeology.
- Dhayah Fort: the only surviving hilltop fort in the UAE.
- Shamal: prehistoric tombs of Um An Nar period, Wadi Suq period and Late Bronze Age (location of tombs in Shamal).
- Sheeba's Palace: ruins of a medieval palace.
- Al Falayah: the former summer residence of the ruling Al Qawasim family.
- Jazirat Al Hamra: an abandoned ‘ghost town’ showing the architecture of earlier decades.
- The Old City and Souq: an opportunity to see both traditional and modern shops as well as artisan’s workshops
- Dhow building station: one of the last traditional dhow building stations of UAE
5. Al Ain
Al Ain is great for a day trip or a weekend getaway- it is so close to Dubai and is known as The Garden City as it is so green and fertile. The two top things to do in Al Ain are drive to the top of the impressive Jabel Hafeet mountain and the Al Ain Zoo.
Historically the area was known as Tawam, Al Buraimi oasis and Al Ain, which means "the water spring". Al Ain has been continuously inhabited for more than four thousand years and is considered central to the cultural heritage of the country. It is the birthplace of Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates.
Al Ain is developing as a tourist destination. the dry desert air makes it a welcome retreat from the coastal humidity of the larger cities. Many Emirati nationals in Abu Dhabi have holiday houses in the city making it a popular weekend destination for families from the capital city. Its attractions include the Al Ain National Museum, the Al Ain Palace Museum, several restored forts and the Hili Archaeological Park site, dating back to the Bronze Age.
Jebel Hafeet, a 1340-metre-high mountain, dominates the surrounding area. It is popular to visit to the mineral springs at the base and to drive to the mountaintop at sunset. Other attractions include the Al Ain Oasis in the city centre, other oases dotted around the area — all cool retreats in the middle of the summer heat — Al Ain Zoo, an amusement park named "Hili Fun City", many well-maintained parks popular with families in the summer evenings, and a heritage village.
6. Big Red
A visit to the Big Red Dune is very easy from Dubai and can be done in a morning or an afternoon. Big Red is also known as Al Hamar Dubai and is a massive 300ft high sand dune with sides the steepness of a black ski run, its red colour comes from its high iron oxide content.
It is located about 30 minutes along the Dubai Hatta Road just follow signs for Hatta/ Oman from Emirates Road or Al Khail Road and drive along the road until you see the dune- it has lots of little tourist shops, quad bike hire places and camel ride places- all with big UAE flags flying- you can't miss it! It gets very busy at the weekend and on public holidays but is great fun to visit. If you fancy a nice lunch carry on down the road for about another half hour until you reach Hatta and pop into the Hatta Fort Hotel.
Oman is a beautiful place to visit including tourist destinations of Muscat and Salalah. You can either drive- it's about 4 hours to Muscat from Dubai or fly- about 50 minutes. Flights to Salalah take 2 hours and to drive around 24 hours!
The sultanate is very green, mountainous and unspoilt- with miles of what seem like untouched beaches. It's great for a weekend or longer break and has many hotels to stay in from the budget to the super luxury of the Chedi. We could go on as we love it so much but take a look at our Oman roadtrip review
and also visit our whole ExpatWoman Oman Website
for more information.
8. Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the Emirates and can be visited in a day or weekend trip. It is very easy to get to- head on the Sheikh Zayed Road in a southerly direction and just keep going- it takes about 2 hours to get to the centre.
Do take care on this road and try to avoid rush hours as the driving can get a bit fast during peak times. You can visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque as well as so much more. We've a whole expatwoman.com website dedicated to Abu Dhabi so take a look there for so much more information. Go To Abu Dhabi Site>>
9. Liwa Oasis
About 2 hours further down the SZR Road from Abu Dhabi is the amazing Liwa Oasis area- home to the largest sand dunes in the world- and not visited yet by many people. Why don't you plan a road trip weekend from Dubai and take a trip to somewhere not a lot of people have been. You'll be amazed by the shifting sands and the majesty of the Moreeb dunes as well as the abundance of farms and historical sites... we've got a whol travel feature on Liwa for you here... Read More>>
Just a 4 hour flight from Dubai is the wonderful city of Beirut in Lebanon. A place where you can ski in the mountains in the morning and sun bathe by the pool in the afternoon- as well as party all night. With the advent of budget airlines a weekend trip or week's holiday to Beirut is even more affordable. There are many hotels to choose from seaside, city central or mountain resorts and the nightlife is second to none. Check out Mono Street and Jamayziya for lots of little bars, bistros and karaoke joints. The big nightclubs are also great fun to visit- try BB09 with the removable roof and you will be amazed! There are lots of designer shops in the Solidere shopping area as well as a couple of other big malls. You can take a drive up into the mountains to visit the hill resorts and see some ancient history. Highly recommended!