Miles and Miles of Smiles


Bong’s Travel Notes: Dubai

Hello, fellow travelers! This is Bong from Team Trends, and this is my account of our recent trip to Dubai in the UAE.

First Impressions

We took the morning Emirates flight from Manila to Dubai. After an almost nine hour flight, we arrived at the Dubai International Airport—an amazingly huge airport. Our flight arrived in the afternoon and the airport looked deserted! This is because most of the flights to Dubai arrive mid afternoon to midnight. Emirates gave us priority passes making immigration formalities smooth and easy. From the airport we had a chauffeur-driven transfer to our hotel.

Driving through Dubai shows you its unique blend of both nature and state-of-the-art technology. Though it is a city rich in culture and tradition it also is a very open, cosmopolitan city. Nevertheless, tourists and visitors would do well to always bear in mind that this is a Muslim country, and respect that culture accordingly. Local women commonly wear the traditional abaya and men the kandura.

Driving around Dubai will also show you their extremely wide roads—6 or 7 lanes wide! Infrastructure in this city is top notch. I couldn’t help but ask, “Do they ever experience traffic here?” You will also be fascinated by the large number of luxury cars on the road.

The different modern architectural designs of Dubai’s buildings are amazing, and a tourist attraction in themselves. One notable structure is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Towering an imposing 828 meters, it is almost double the height of the Empire State Building in New York City (443m)!

The two biggest shopping centers in Dubai are the Mall of the Emirates and the Dubai Mall. The Mall of the Emirates is a gargantuan complex replete with indoor ski slopes with real snow. Imagine that—snow in the desert!

Downtown is the Dubai Mall. It is the world’s most visited shopping destination, the biggest mall in Dubai and adjacent to the Burj Khalifa tower, housing mostly signature brands in its sprawling complex.

Tour Notes

The city tour we took was sponsored by our tour operator, Miracle Travel–Nilanka. They took us around new and old Dubai, and for our meals, we enjoyed authentic Middle Eastern food, including shawarmas and fresh salads. Cuisine in Dubai is largely influenced by India and Pakistan.

The tour took us to spots such as the Atlantis Hotel, Burj Al Arab and The Palms.

The Burj Al Arab, a sailboat-shaped structure widely known as the world’s only 7-star hotel, although this is technically an urban myth, not an official distinction. Nevertheless, it is truly exclusive and the only way to get inside without paying for a room is to book a table at one of their expensive restaurants.

The Palms is a man-made residential resort archipelago that lies in the Persian Gulf, each settlement shaped like a desert palm

We also went on a safari adventure that takes you up and down the never ending slopes of desert of the UAE. Check out these photos:

Dubai is known for really cheap gold but you’ll have to haggle for it. It has a huge gold market which is called the Gold Souk. You can spend hours and hours checking trinkets and whatnot. We found that the Gold and Diamond Park sells cheaper gold with more unique designs. You can also haggle there if you’re in the mood.

Adjacent to the Gold Souk is the Spice Market. Different kinds of spices that I haven’t ever seen in my life. It is truly an experience that overwhelms the senses, as the air is filled with the aroma of the myriad spices!

Travel Tips

  • 1. Visa: Visas are required and should be issued prior to arrival, for Filipinos
  • 2. Clothing: Even if Dubai is an open city, it is best for women to consider wearing decent clothes out of respect to the local Muslim heritage and culture. Mini skirts not advisable!
  • 3. Electrical adapters: The UAE uses 3-pin plugs.
  • 4. Money exchange: Change your money in the airport, hotel or mall. Do not change your money on the street as you might not get the exact value of your money.
  • 5. Public Transportation: Take taxis and trains. Very accessible.

So, there you have it! A quick photo-tour of my recent Dubai trip.

Happy travels everyone!

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