In recent years, Dubai has become a top travel destination for millions of people. This trend is by design. The city has invested heavily in building up its tourism industry, and they’ve targeted Western travelers. As such, Dubai is an interesting mix of modern age and old-world Middle East.
Nestled in the crevices of this metropolis is the Dubai of decades ago. It gives Dubai an exotic edge despite it’s Americanized city center. For all those travelers that want to explore the Middle East in a relatively safe environment, there’s no better place to travel than off Dubai’s paved paths.
Golf in a Lush Oasis
Ease yourself into your Dubai trip with a traditional Western pastime that has an exotic twist. Even though the area is surrounded by desert, Dubai golf is just as green as anywhere else in the world. All 19 of the golf courses in the area are every bit as luxurious as the finest clubs in the U.S.
My personal pick is the Emirates Golf Club. You can’t beat the location and views of the cityscape. The Emirates Golf Club also has three courses for different skill levels and price points.
- If you’re a novice golfer just looking to relax, the 9-hole Academy Course is a great deal. You can play a round for just $23.
- The next step up is the public 18-hole Faldo Course for $99 per player.
- If only the best will do during your Dubai vacation the Majlis Course is a must. It was the first grass golf course in the Middle East and has earned a reputation as one of the best greens in the world. However, you may be distracted by the spectacular city views, exotic fauna and stunning clubhouse.
Once you’ve had a day to get adjusted to the new time zone and environment, it’s time to venture out into the city. Companies like LocalGuiding.com provide a private tour of Dubai that gives you an insider look at what makes the city tick. It’s a great way to get a lay of the land so you can trek out on your own.
Shopping at the Souks
Many people are familiar with the Mall of the Emirate, but it’s really just another upscale mall with a ski resort inside. Even if you aren’t an avid shopper, you’ll want to experience the various souks in Dubai. These exotic, lively markets give you a true glimpse of local living in the Middle East. The souks are arguably the real soul of the city.
If you’re in the market for gold, Dubai is one of the best places to find it. The Gold Souk in Deira is where you’ll find vendors who are eager to haggle over prices.
Take a Water Taxi
One of the most efficient and scenic ways to get around Dubai is a water taxi – known as an abra. Dubai Creek (a.k.a. Al Khor), is a saltwater inlet, runs through the metropolis. It separates Bur Dubai from Deira. There are multiple stations where wooden boats known as abras come and go every few minutes. For one United Arab Emirates Dirham (about $0.25) you can take a ride to the next station. You can also charter a taxi wherever you need to go along the Al Khor.
The water taxis can get you to the Gold Souk mentioned above as well as the Spice Souk. The Deira Old Souk Abra Station is actually located just in front of the Spice Souk.
Sunset Camel Ride
Another must is taking a camel riding tour. The camel is the horse of the Middle East. They may not be the fastest mode of transportation, but it’s an experience you can’t find many places. However, there are plenty of options in Dubai.
For the extreme sports thrill-seekers, I highly suggest the Dubai Red Dunes Desert Safari Tour. The day includes blasting through the dunes in a 4WD, then sand boarding followed by a camel ride. The day also includes more tame activities like belly dancing, eating BBQ, smoking a shisha pipe and henna hand painting.