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Before I visited Dubai all I really knew about the city was that it is home to 7-star hotels, a gold ATM, high-end restaurants and the tallest building in the world.
Dubai is known as a luxury destination, but could you experience this side of Dubai even on a budget?
If you’ve followed my Instagram (@pommietravels) lately you’ll know that I flew to Dubai to stay at Rixos the Palm – a 5-star hotel on The Palm Jumeirah. The great thing about this hotel is that it offers luxury rooms, a beautiful pool and a stunning beach, but it also has a price tag that isn’t too harsh on the wallet.
Apart from enjoying the facilities at the hotel, I spent my time taking photos, filming videos and experiencing everything that Dubai has to offer. Of course some things in Dubai are expensive. If you want to go for afternoon tea at the Burj al Arab or dine in one of the city’s high-end restaurants, it’s not going to be a cheap affair. But the great thing about Rixos the Palm is that you can stay on a Bed & Breakfast or even All Inclusive basis and save your money for other activities.
Here’s how I would recommend spending 3 days in Dubai. This is a very leisurely itinerary, because that’s what holidays are all about right? Believe me, when it’s 40 degrees in June all you want to do is be by the water, so you can relax in your hotel at the pool and then venture out when the temperatures get a bit cooler.
3 days in Dubai Itinerary
Day 1: Wild Wadi Water Park
I have to admit I’m not usually a theme park/water park kind of person. But when it’s 40 degrees outside Wild Wadi is actually the perfect place to go. What I liked about Wild Wadi is that it’s actually quite compact in size, which means you don’t have to walk too far to get to any of the rides. Best of all, the water park has an incredible view of the Burj Al Arab, so you can lay back on the sun terrace and admire the view!
There’s a lazy river, a surf machine, a shallow wave pool and a number of more exhilarating rides to enjoy. The scariest of all is the Jumeirah Sceirah, which basically involves getting into an upright capsule, then waiting for the floor to just GIVE WAY beneath you. Watch what I mean in my YouTube video; it’s definitely a good one if you’re a thrill-seeker!
From Wild Wadi you can walk to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, which also has the best views of the Burj al Arab hotel (the big hotel that looks like a sail). The beach here is really lovely and there’s a long jetty with a bar at the end of it called 360 Degrees. Take your camera, because the view is really stunning.
If you want to spend the day out on the water but you’re not a fan of water parks, then I’d recommend chartering a yacht for the day. Cozmo Yachts Charter & Boats Rental offer luxury yacht rentals, so you can spend a few hours sailing along the ocean and snapping photos with the Dubai skyline in the backdrop. There’s nothing quite like a beautiful sunset or BBQ with friends onboard a yacht!
Day 2: Burj Khalifa, Barasti & Dubai Marina
On day 2 I’d recommend venturing over to the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – to visit the observation deck. At Level 125, which is 465 metres above ground, you’ll have a falcon’s eye view of the whole of Dubai. Make sure you book your tickets online in advance because they are more expensive on the door. Back on the ground you can also take in the Dubai Fountain – a choreographed fountain show set to music on the Burj Khalifa lake. If you’ve been to Las Vegas you may have seen the Bellagio fountain show; the Dubai Fountain was designed by the same people.
Back towards Dubai Marina and the Palm, Barasti Beach bar is well worth visiting if you want to chill out in the sun, enjoy sundowners at sunset or watch live sports on TV. Before visiting Dubai I’d seen lots of friends posting pictures of Barasti and it’s known throughout the world as Dubai’s best beach bar. The beach bar is free to access (hotels usually charge a daily fee unless you’re a guest) so it’s a great place to spend an afternoon sunbathing, or you can pop along after dark for cocktails and a night out.
In the evening Elle and I met Natasha, a blogging friend of mine who lives out in Dubai. We went to The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residences for dinner. You can stroll along the promenade and there are lots of al fresco restaurants down here – bear in mind that they don’t serve alcohol if they’re not attached to a hotel.
Afterwards we had cocktails at The Observatory, which is on the 52nd floor of the Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel and offers great views over Dubai Marina and The Palm.
Day 3: Desert Safari
One thing you simply must do on a trip to Dubai is a desert Safari. Seeing the sun setting over the sand dunes is a magical experience and the perfect opportunity for some Arabian prince/ princess-style photos.
We were picked up from our hotel at 3.45pm in a very plush 4×4 vehicle and driven out in the desert, where they deflated the tyres ready for our Arabian adventure. We stopped for a quick falcon show, before driving in convoy over the dunes. Honestly, now I know how much fun they must have filming the TV show Top Gear. It was like a rollercoaster ride, driving up, down and all around. Some vehicles actually got stuck almost vertical driving down the dunes!
We pulled up for two photo stops along the way, one before sunset and one just as the sun was going down. The dunes give you a great opportunity to play with perspectives and get some nice silhouette photos as the sun disappears behind them.
After dark, we drove to the camp, where were greeted with Arabic coffee and dates. At the camp they have henna tattoos, sand art, a shisha lounge and camel riding, so there’s lots to keep you occupied. We helped ourselves to a buffet feast with lots of Turkish/Middle Eastern foods and dined at big long tables while watching a man perform a traditional spinning dance.
Definitely an evening to remember – although if you suffer from motion sickness like I do I would recommend sitting in the front of the vehicle! My desert safari was with Arabian Adventures and you can book tickets online.
Is 3 days enough to see Dubai?
3 days in Dubai is a good amount of time, although I’d say you could spend 4 or 5 days here if you want to see and do more things. If I had more time I would’ve gone for afternoon tea and probably visited a mall, such as The Dubai Mall or Mall of the Emirates. I’d also like to have visited the Dubai Old Town to get a glimpse of local life.
A final word…
So that’s it! There are so many things to do in Dubai and if you have more time you could venture to old Dubai, where you can visit the souks and cross Dubai Creek by boat in an ‘abra’. The fare is just 1 Dirham, so if you’re on a budget this is definitely one activity you’ll want on your list!
Have you been to Dubai? Is there something you’d really recommend doing? Leave your comments below!