We recently had a full 12 hour layover in Dubai where we wanted to see and do it all (hello, there is no visa charge for Americans in the UAE, how could you possibly stay in the airport?!). By serendipity, we made a few good choices and by our nature, we made some mistakes. Do learn from us and get the very most out of your Dubai layover!
Here are 5 things you MUST KNOW for your Dubai layover:
1. Book the Burj in Advance
THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF YOUR LIFE WILL BE ARRIVING IN DUBAI AND NOT GETTING TO GO TO THE TOP OF THE BURJ KALIFA! I have heard from so many people that they go, unknowingly, and don’t get to go to the top simply because they failed to book in advance. ON TOP OF THAT, be sure to choose your booking time wisely. The Burj Kalifa website will require you to choose your viewing time, so take your time and really think this one through (prices also vary depending on timing). I suggest booking it hours later than your flight arrival (I am talking 3+ hours) to allow for flight delays, trouble finding it and to relieve yourself of the pressure of rushing over to it. I personally gave myself a little over 5 hours after arrival before my booking and really got to enjoy the mall and let the anticipation build before the big moment came!
You can expect to pay anywhere from $35 to $135 for your ticket, depending on the hour and floor.
2. Take the Man-Walk to the Mall
There is a mile long, air conditioned, high-rise, glass-enclosed man walk that leads from the rail station straight to the Dubai Mall. The walk goes through the heart of the city, allowing for super cool views, not to mention the entire thing is lined with airport style travelators– everyone loves a good travelator. This route is super unique CHECK costs nothing (except the price of the rail to get to it) CHECK is good exercise CHECK (okay if you consider walking between travelators a workout) (HEY taking that smooth step off takes some real coordination!) and allows for great views CHECK!
3. Drop the Bags
If you are carrying any luggage with you (we had our backpacks) pony up the $15 and leave your bag at the concierge desk in the Dubai Mall (right outside of “The Village”). It is so nice to explore with ease rather than to be lugging anything more than your camera around your neck and hubby on your arm (that’s right, leave even your phone behind! Enjoy yo-self!).
4. Go to the Aquarium
I have heard from many, many people that this thing is not to be missed. And what did I do? I missed it! Apparently, there are boats that you ride on with glass bottoms, glass tunnels you walk through the middle of the tank through and amazing fish, including full sized sharks (with caged snorkeling experiences available) and even sting rays! The aquarium is right in the center of the mall and offers various packages (anywhere from $27 – $68). The Dubai Aquarium can easily be tucked into your day of exploration. Be sure to let me know how you like it!
5. Dine by the Dubai Fountain
If it is a tolerable enough day outside (I know that these can be rare in this part of the world) or (and better yet) skip the day and go for dinner to one of the restaurants sitting around the perimeter of the Dubai Fountain ie DIRECTLY in front of the Burj Kalifa–trust me, you wont get tired of staring at this thing. Not to mention the world’s largest fountain will be putting on a show for you every 30 minutes. Of course, the show is best watched from close up but at this time of day (assuming you go in the evening) swarming crowds and strange smells make the fountain best enjoyed from afar. The sun sets at night right behind the Burj Kalifa making this a perfect way to end your adventure (or start your adventure if you had a late flight in) in Dubai.
Sweet Tooths’ Anonymous:
GET GARRETT’S POPCORN AT THE DUBAI MALL (Chicago style)(right across from the Aquarium). This is the only location in the entire Middle East so don’t miss out!!
The Dinosaur skeleton is located in the “Souq” area of the mall. Don’t forget to pay him a visit! 😉
& don’t forget!