I always thought of Dubai as a stopover on the way to Europe, so imagine my surprise when Alan said he wanted to spend 5 Days in Dubai. I wasn’t keen on visiting Dubai, to me Dubai was just a large city sitting in the middle of the desert.
After 5 days in Dubai I changed my mind, I was completely charmed by this enchanting city. Here is why Dubai should be on everyone’s list of destinations to visit.
(Update June 2019)
- Things to do during 5 Days in Dubai.
- Dubai Day Tours
- Arriving in Dubai
- Getting Around Dubai
- Shopping in Dubai
- The Dubai Mall
- What to see at the Dubai Mall
- Hotels near Dubai Mall
- Souks of Dubai
- Jumeirah Al Qasr – Madinat Jumeirah Resort
- Visit Atlantis, The Palm Dubai
- The Atlantis Marine and Water Park
- The Mall of the Emirates
- Ski Dubai
- Hotels near the Mall of the Emirates
- Visit the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel
- Afternoon Tea at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
- Last Words on visiting Dubai for 5 days.
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Things to do during 5 Days in Dubai.
Dubai Day Tours
The Dubai Desert Safari Tour
The Dubai Desert Safari Tour will stay with us as one of our most treasured memories of Dubai. We were picked up from our hotel and driven out of the city into the sand dunes of the Arabian desert. The tour gave us a choice of desert bashing in jeeps or camel riding in the desert. I thought the camels looked cute so camel riding it was!
Once there our heads were wrapped in traditional Emirati headscarves, mine was black and Alan’s was red and white. I thought the scarves were a little touristy but later changed my mind once we hit the desert sands.
We had so much fun riding these camels and I quickly learned that the headscarves weren’t as “touristy” as I first thought. They kept the desert sand from getting into our eyes and mouth.
Riding on a camel’s back may sound romantic, I imagined myself a female Lawrence of Arabia galloping through the desert. The reality is a little less glamorous as you rock awkwardly back and forth from such a lofty height. I found myself gripping the reigns tightly as we made our way up and down the sand dunes.
At one point our camel driver told me it was time for me to drive the camel on my own. Looking down a dune almost as deep as the Grand Canyon, I thought he was out of his mind until I caught sight of his cheeky grin.
We continued riding through the desert, the sun began to set across the endless sand dunes turning them a deep orange. A peaceful silence engulfed us, making it hard to believe that something so harsh could be so profoundly beautiful.
Back at camp there were a range of activities to discover. We watched a falconry display, sampled Emirati cuisine, traditional entertainment and had henna tattoo.
We finished the night by lying back on cushions with an apple flavoured Shisha. We gazed up into the night and admired the beauty of the stars that glittered in the ebony skies. It was a perfect end to a magical night!
Arriving in Dubai
After landing in Dubai, we walked out of the airport terminal and were hit by a wall of intense heat. With temperatures over 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) we were glad we pre-booked hotel transfers online.
In no time we were sitting in air conditioned comfort looking out the window and admiring the canyons of tall skyscrapers that lined the sleek modern highway to our hotel.
Getting Around Dubai
With temperatures in the mid to late 40’s (Celsius), even taking a short walk can feel like you are crossing the Sahara. We quickly learnt that at this time of year (May), Dubai wasn’t a city for walking (in fact we soon discovered that even the cities bus stops were air conditioned). So, we found three options that suited our transport needs during our stay.
The Dubai Hop on Hop off Bus
The Dubai Hop on Hop off Bus was convenient for us as it left from the ground floor of the Mall of the Emirates, a short distance from our hotel. Tickets can be purchased online or as you board at one of the many locations along the route. The Hop on Hop off bus has a host of stops, including the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Atlantis, The Palm and the Spice Souk to name a few.
It’s a great way to learn about Dubai’s transformation from the small trading town to the magnificent city you see today. The Hop on Hop off Bus allows you to explore the wonders of Dubai and when it is used in conjunction with the Dubai Metro system you will find yourself covering most of the city.
The Dubai Metro
The Dubai Metro system is a cool, clean and efficient way to get around Dubai. Popular stops include Dubai Mall, Mall of Emirates and Dubai Marina to name a few.
Take a Dubai Tour
Dubai has a large range of tours to choose from. Whether you are looking for a quieter more historic Dubai or ready to soak up the energetic vibe of this super modern city, Dubai has something for everyone. From exotic gold and spice souks to traditional Dhow cruises and Dubai desert safari adventures to glamorous high teas with iconic views, Dubai never disappoints!
Shopping in Dubai
Trying to figure out what to do in Dubai? First stop on everyone’s list should be to go shopping! You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping in Dubai. Whether you like ultra-modern shopping malls or traditional souks you will discover a shopper’s paradise like no other. You could easily spend your whole 5 days in Dubai shopping and not see all the Malls.
Visiting a Dubai shopping mall is one of the top things to do in Dubai. They are very different from the average shopping mall, a place of entertainment and a cool refuge from Dubai’s searing heat. Dubai malls are a feast for the eyes and an unexpected wonder.
The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall is one of the top destinations in Dubai. It’s easy to get lost in this seemingly endless mall, it houses a large range of attractions that will leave you breathless.
The Dubai Mall can be reached by taking the Dubai Hop On Hop Off bus or Metro, via the Burj Khalifa Metro Station (an air conditioned 10-minute walk).
What to see at the Dubai Mall
The Burj Khalifa sits within the Dubai Mall complex and pierces the sky like a giant needle. This sleek silver spire stands at 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) tall and is currently the world’s tallest building, a landmark that can be seen across Dubai.
To experience these dizzying heights, take the world’s fastest lift to the At The Top Burj Khalifa observatory. Located on level 124 & 125, the observatory takes in spectacular 360-degree views of Dubai and the Arabian Gulf.
Continue to At The Top Burj Khalifa SKY on level 148 and visit the outdoor terrace and relax with snacks and a drink at the SKY Lounge. There is a selection of Burj Khalifa tours including the popular Burj Khalifa Bubbly Sunset Experience. Burj Khalifa tours sell out fast so be sure to book early.
For a touch of class head to At.mosphere, the world’s tallest restaurant on level 122 of the Burj Khalifa. Indulge yourself with a decadent high tea and champagne in the Lounge or experience luxury dining and breathtaking views from At.mosphere Restaurant.
At night the Dubai Fountain puts on a show, a dazzling spectacle that blends synchronised music, light and towering jets of swirling water. The Dubai Fountain draws crowds from all over the world so make sure you get there early to get the best view. Evening shows run every 30 minutes between 6 pm & 11 pm.
To get the grandstand views of the Dubai Fountain, take to the water with a 30-minute traditional “abra” water taxi ride tour across Burj Lake. This tour sells out fast so book early to avoid disappointment.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
I can’t begin to tell you how impressed we were with the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo; it is one of the best places to visit in Dubai!
The immense outer Aquarium wall gives everyone visiting the Dubai Mall a chance to enjoy this attraction. With over 33,000 marine animals, don’t just admire the outer wall, go inside and explore! We stayed for hours and found it to be one of the highlights of Dubai.
One of my favourite things to do at Dubai Aquarium is to say hello to my fellow Aussie, King Croc! This massive saltwater crocodile weighs a whopping 750 kg and measures 5 metres in length. King Croc originally hails from Queensland in Australia and you can learn his story at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.
The Dubai Aquarium also has an extensive array of aquatic experiences to choose from, including behind the scenes tour, shark encounters, scuba diving lessons, cage snorkelling and more.
Hotels near Dubai Mall
If you are wondering where to stay in Dubai look no further than the Dubai Mall! The area is home to the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, the Dubai Fountain and the impressive Dubai Mall. The area is littered with some of the best hotels in Dubai, here are our top picks.
Armani Hotel Dubai
Possibly the most stylish place to stay in Dubai, the Armani Hotel Dubai takes pride and place in Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa and has direct access to the Dubai Mall.
The Armani Hotel Dubai has a modern minimalist decor of muted earth tones with gold and silver accents. There are a choice of rooms and suites, some with balconies which take in city or Dubai Fountain views.
The hotel restaurants have a sophisticated range of dining options that include Japanese, Italian and Indian. Take the chance to dine amid the bright lights of Dubai’s soaring skyscrapers.
The Palace Downtown Dubai Hotel
The Palace Downtown Dubai Hotel is an opulent oasis in the heart of bustling 21st century Dubai. Walking into the hotel is like stepping into the Arabian Nights. The Palace Downtown Dubai Hotel overlooks the Dubai fountain and is within 5 minutes walking distance to the Dubai Mall and Dubai tourist attractions.
The rooms are a fantasy of Middle Eastern splendour with a contemporary twist. There are a selection of rooms and suites with lake and Dubai Fountain views. The restaurants serve a range of Argentine, Thai, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.
Address Dubai Mall
Address Dubai Mall is a glamorous, contemporary hotel that overlooks the Burj Khalifa and is attached to the Dubai Mall for easy access to shopping and attractions.
Address Dubai Mall has a modern decor of fresh whites and cream with subtle Arabic accents. Rooms styles include deluxe rooms, balcony rooms, executive rooms and suites with executive lounge access.
The hotel boasts an outdoor infinity pool with views overlooking the Burj Khalifa. The hotel has a chic Al fresco dining area which serves a selection of grills and exotic cocktails.
Souks of Dubai
The Old Souk
The Old Souk is on the Banks of Dubai Creek and can be reached by Metro via the Al Ghubaiba Metro Station 2 or the Hop on Hop off bus. This Souk sells a colourful range of clothing, textiles, decorative plates, shoes and home wares.
The Gold Souk and Spice Souk
Within walking distance to each other, Dubai’s Gold Souk and the Spice Souk are world famous. Nothing can prepare you for the size of the gold souk, a seemingly endless glitter of gold. Be astounded by the craftsmanship of the gold pieces on display and enjoy the colour and smells of the Spice Souk.
Located across Dubai Creek in Deira, the Gold and Spice souks can be reached by the Hop on Hop off bus or by Metro via the Al Ras Metro Station. For a special insight into an older more authentic Dubai, take the historic Dubai tour.
The Historic Dubai Tours
If you are looking for a glimpse into Dubai’s past look no further than the Dubai Culture, Coffee and Souks Tour. A local guide will take you across Dubai Creek to Dubai’s oldest district. Explore the textile, gold and spice souks and marvel at the handicrafts while taking part in an Emarati coffee ceremony.
Dubai is a foodie dream, and this is reflected in the Dubai Private Food Tour. Here is an opportunity to discover the cultural heart of Dubai through its food. With 10 different tastings of a variety of traditional Middle Eastern dishes, it is a truly memorable way to explore the Deira District of Dubai.
Souk Madinat is part of the prestigious Jumeirah Al Qasr – Madinat Jumeirah Resort. The Souk Madinat is a re-creation of a traditional Middle Eastern bazaar. Middle Eastern clothing, traditional crafts, aromatic oils and art are some of the treasures on show as you explore Souk Madinat in airconditioned comfort. Dine in one of the many waterfront cafes, restaurants and bars, some with views of the Burj Al Arab.
Souk Madinat can be reached by Hop on Hop off bus.
Jumeirah Al Qasr – Madinat Jumeirah Resort
Styled and designed as a Sheiks summer palace, the Jumeirah Al Qasr – Madinat Jumeirah Resort is just one of the luxury Jumeirah beach hotels in Dubai . Rooms at this Jumeirah hotel Dubai are decorated in a traditional Arabian style that will transport you to a fantasy world straight out of the Arabian Nights.
The hotel has 2 km of private beach, extensive landscaped gardens and canal style waterways and the shopping of the Souk Madinat bazaar is on your doorstep.
Visit Atlantis, The Palm Dubai
Atlantis, The Palm Dubai is more than a luxurious hotel, it is the portal to a world of fun and enchantment. Atlantis, The Palm stands like a beacon on the tip of Dubai’s world-famous engineering feat, The Palm!
This Dubai Palm hotel features a range of hotel rooms and suites and is often known as the Dubai underwater hotel because of the stunning underwater views from the Poseidon Underwater Suite. Imagine waking to a shimmering blue underwater world filled with marine life.
With a selection of internationally renowned restaurants, shopping and entertainment the Atlantis, The Palm Dubai is a one stop shop for adventure in Dubai.
The Atlantis Marine and Water Park
The Marine and Water Park is located at the top of Dubai’s Palm, impressive man-made islands that fan out into the shape of a palm tree, all made from reclaimed land. This massive water park is in the grounds of the Atlantis, The Palm Dubai. The home to 65,000 marine animals, the Marine and Water Park is divided into four different experiences;
If you love dolphins a visit to Dolphin Bay is an absolute must! Here you can have the experience of a lifetime as you meet, hug, swim or scuba dive with dolphins. A bucket list dream to be ticked off when visiting Dubai.
Sea Lion Point
To learn the mysteries of sea lions and other marine mammals head to Sea Lion Point. Here you can get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures while learning more about their habitat and sea lion conservation.
Lost Chambers Aquarium
The Lost Chambers Aquarium will take you on a Behind the Scenes Tour to discover the extensive range of marine animals that call the aquarium home. The aquarium also conducts PADI Open Water Diver Courses for those who would like to obtain their Scuba Diving Certification and there are a range of Aquarium Scuba Dives to choose from.
The Aquaventure Waterpark is the place to get wet and wild, fun for all members of the family. This exciting water adventure park is home to massive water slides and chutes that will leave you breathless and wanting more.
The Marine and Water Park can be reached by Hop on Hop off bus and Monorail.
The Mall of the Emirates
The Mall of the Emirates has something to please everyone, with a wide range of designer and speciality shops, restaurants and cinemas. The massive Carrefour Hypermarket sells delicacies from all over the world, clothing, furniture, rugs and carpets. It’s the perfect place to pick up that last-minute souvenir.
One of the most unexpected things to see in Dubai are snow and ski slopes in the middle of the desert, but at Ski Dubai that’s exactly what you get! Located at the Mall of the Emirates, not only do you get the chance to ski, you can also meet a friendly bunch of Gentoo and King penguins.
Ski Dubai tour packages include a selection of Snow Park activities such as bobsled rides, skiing and so much more. For those wanting a more intimate penguin experience there are a choice of Penguin Encounter tours. These tours allow you to learn more about the penguin’s unique habitat and watch them at play.
Hotels near the Mall of the Emirates
The Mall of the Emirates houses some of the best shopping in Dubai. It is a pickup point for the Hop on Hop off bus and has Metro links to destinations across the city via the Mall of the Emirates Metro station. This Mall of the Emirates is in Al Barsha, a fantastic area and possibly the best area to stay in Dubai.
Here is our choice for top hotel accommodation near the Mall of the Emirates.
The Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates
Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates Hotel is connected to the Mall of the Emirates for easy access to shops, attractions and transport. The hotel has a choice of room types that include superior, mobility accessible and executive club rooms and suites. The room decor is modern with subtle Middle Eastern accents. Many rooms have panoramic views of Jumeirah Beach and Dubai Downtown.
There are a selection of restaurants and cafes that serve International and Turkish cuisines and the Rooftop Pool Lounge has sweeping view of the shimmering Dubai skyline. There is 24-hour room service and executive club rooms have Sheraton Club lounge access.
Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates
If you are looking for luxury hotels in Dubai, look no further than the Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, it is one of the best 5-star hotels in Dubai. The Kempinski boasts a range of rooms from superior to executive rooms and suites. The Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates also has pool chalet and ski chalet rooms that overlook the powdery slopes of Ski Dubai. accommodation in Dubai
The rooms have a modern decor with a touch of Middle Eastern flavour. The chalets have a comfortable contemporary feel, a welcoming home away from home.
The Hotel has a choice of restaurants that serve International, Spanish and Middle Eastern cuisines. Of an evening you can enjoy the fantasy land that is Noir Cocktail Lounge and Bar. Executive rooms have Executive lounge access and the hotel has 24-hour room service.
The Elite Byblos Hotel
The Elite Byblos Hotel is a short walk from the Mall of the Emirates. This 5-star hotel has a bright contemporary style and is family friendly. The Elite Byblos Hotel features range of rooms from classic king to executive rooms and suites.
The hotel has a selection of restaurants and coffee shops that serve a mix of international and Arabic dishes. There is a rooftop pool terrace that serves snacks and drinks. The hotel provides 24-hour rooms service.
Visit the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is easily recognised by its iconic sail like silhouette and reputation for the luxury. When opened the Burj Al Arab was bestowed with the title of 7-star hotel Dubai. Whether staying at the Burj Al Arab or just visiting it as a tourist destination, it should be on your list of Dubai things to do.
With its collection of world class restaurants, exquisite menus, hotel suites and stunning views, has been repeatedly been voted the World’s most luxurious Hotel. The Burj Al Arab can be reached by Hop on Hop off bus.
Afternoon Tea at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
One of the highlights of any visit to Dubai is having Skytea at the Skyview Bar. Located on the top floor of the Burj Al Arab, it’s the place to relax and enjoy a selection of tea, coffee, sandwiches, cakes and pastries while being captivated by views overlooking Dubai.
If the Skyview Bar is fully booked, high tea is also served in the dramatic Sahn Eddar Lounge, the world’s tallest atrium. The Burj Al Arab’s ultimate afternoon tea includes a glass of Champagne and seven courses. The dress code is smart casual and make sure to book ahead.
The Burj Al Arab can be reached by Hop on Hop off bus.
Last Words on visiting Dubai for 5 days.
When Alan said he wanted to spend 5 days in Dubai, I was surprised, I wondered what we would do with our time. Dubai was so much more than I ever expected, I discovered a city which holds on to it’s traditional past while embracing the cutting-edge technology of a city of the future.
Don’t just think of Dubai as a stopover, stay longer and discover the excitement of United Arab Emirates.
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