You double-tapped your friend’s selfie with Burj Khalifa on Instagram, your cousin tweeted her shopping experience at the Mall of the Emirates with the hashtag #MyDubai, and your mom’s discussing places to visit in Dubai for the upcoming family holiday. Yes, Dubai has unapologetically grabbed everyone’s attention as the one-stop destination for fun, entertainment and leisure offering any visitor the most extensive and over-whelming experiences ever to take back home.
Best time to visit: The perfect time to visit Dubai is during winters, from November to March.
Visa and immigration: If you’re an Indian passport holder having US Visitor Visa/ Green card travelling to Dubai, you are eligible for visa on arrival, while others would be required to apply for UAE Visa one month before their date of travel. For passengers holding ECR (Emigration Check Required) passport and labour and work e-visa, OK to Board (OTB) message, will be necessary.
How to reach
By Air: Dubai International Airport is located 5km away from the Dubai city center. IndiGo operates daily non-stop flights between Dubai and Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Mangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Chandigarh, Kochi, Kozhikode and Amritsar.
You can also reach Dubai by taking a flight to Abu Dhabi and then travelling by road using taxis, rental cars or buses. IndiGo now provides direct connectivity between Abu Dhabi and Kochi & Kozhikode along with seamless connections to several other cities in India.
Getting around: Dubai has a good network of buses run by the Roads and Transport Authority, connecting all important spots in the city. Taxis are another convenient mode of transportation to travel around Dubai.
Eat. Move. Play. Three simple philosophies to Dubai’s newest eatery concept. The cosy space combines food, wellness and movement by combining a restaurant, wellness studio and a Parkour space - all under one roof. The menu is straightforward and honest. Trying the egg and barbeque salmon pot along with homemade ice cream for breakfast is entirely normal at Hapi.
Stroll along Kite Beach, and you can’t miss the long queues of patient patrons in front of a retro, airstream styled food truck. You can also track Salt food trucks around the city through the infamous hashtag #findsalt Instagram and Twitter. Famous for their Wagyu beef sliders and Cheese French fries – the crate style beach seating and funky lights is an Instagrammer's haven.
A modern Indian bistro that brings spice and the cuisine back in-vogue with an alchemy of quirky décor, table theatrics and elements of molecular gastronomy promises a full-bodied sensory dining experience. Try the Dal Chawal Arancini and the Shawarma Biryani to get a sense of the #farzitwist. Finally, don’t let the beverage menu pass you by! Farzi moves beyond the usual lassi’s, and thandai’s to tempered curry leaves and popcorn flavoured drinks.
Experience what it’s like to celebrate food like the locals through a guided cultural experience eating a traditional Emirati breakfast in the ambience of a traditional wind tower residence. The SMCCU, a non-profit organisation, aims to demystify the local Arab culture, customs and religion of the UAE through guided activities by local volunteers.
The passion and energy of three childhood friends culminate to making a warm, cosy and relaxed space attracting coffee connoisseurs and lovers of merely good food. Inspired by their travels around the world, they pick the vibes of Manhattan’s chilled-out back alleys to inspire the café concept. One glance at the menu and you know this young team weren’t kidding about some seriously thoughtful wholesome food.
Dubai’s most successful urban café concept draws people from all walks of life making it an ideal cool hangout. Tastefully crafted food, addictively great coffee and an overtly friendly service team, Tom & Serg is one of Dubai’s most-loved cafes. For first timers, the Grilled Chicken Satay is a sure heart-warmer!
Dubai’s first Jamaican restaurant and lounge aren’t shy to show its residents real Jamaican flavours and spice, imported all the way in from the Caribbean. Enjoy traditional Jerk Chicken and Lobster rolls accompanied with their signature flavoured Ting (Pina) Coladas in a bright and colourful space. Stay a little longer, and you’ll be swaying to the reggae beats with the best DJ’s.
Take the diversion at interchange 11 and get ready to experience the region’s first food truck park concept. Lined up are great options for dine-in or take-away, with each food truck offering an alternative culinary experience. Perfect for a long lazy afternoon at the park also provides entertainment and leisure activities for both kids and adults.
Dubai Malls: Dubai is a shopaholic’s haven offering the glamorous malls and the tucked in shopping alleys alike. For the time poor, the first stop is Dubai Mall, the region’s largest mall hosting the world’s top brands in one destination.
Pop-up markets in Dubai: If you want something more artisanal and homemade then stop by any of Dubai’s trendy and hip pop-up markets. Shop with a feel-good conscious about purchases that are artisanal, local and original. One such market is ARTE where you’ll have to blink twice to believe paintings, fashion, trinkets, bakes and home décor are all handcrafted by the local artisans and enthusiasts. Indeed, a maker’s market, ARTE’s pop-up market is a platform for hobbyists to showcase and sell their crafts.
Karama shopping market: Finally, a place to test your haggling skills is the infamous Karama shopping market with shops lined up selling souvenirs, fashion and some darn good imitations of well-known brands.
Zuma Dubai: This happening place boast of modern Japanse lounge concept. It has a separate bar and dining areas. The best place to enjoy part is their sake lounge where well-known names like Will Smith, Justin Bieber, Jay Z usually hang out. If you like to part at a sophisticated yet cheeky place, then this is it.
Lucky Voice: Love karaoke, then you go to Lucky Voice. Spread over an area of 10,000 square feet is a lively bar and offers live entertainment during most of the nights. You should try to visit on Friday and Wednesday to enjoy night brunches.
Barasti: It’s a laid-back beach bar comprising of a deck by the beach. The deck is a part of a lively sports bar, a live music venue, a happening outdoor beach party and a quite roof garden.
Manzil, Downtown Just a leisurely stroll away from the Burj Khalifa is a homegrown lifestyle boutique hotel located in the very heart of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Dubai’s largest retail and entertainment district. Right from the entrance, the property exuberates Arabian hospitality even in its exterior sand-hued facades and geometric motifs. Spacious deluxe king rooms with stunning views of the Burj, warm colour palettes of warm and cool tones that balances the best of both, urban and tradition, ambience.
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah A five-star luxury hotel located on the west crescent of the iconic Palm Jumeirah is a stunning reflection of the imperial palace from the Ottoman era. From lavish rooms and suites with gorgeous ocean views to dining experiences, every detail reflects high quality, state-of-the-art service and hospitality. The outdoor infinity pool overlooking the Arabian Gulf is the cherry on the top during your stay.
Palazzo Versace, Culture Village With less than 15 minutes away from the airport and 10 minutes from Downtown’s Burj Khalifa, Palazzo Versace Dubai is at the heart of the new Culture Village, located on a prime waterfront land with unobstructed views of the Dubai Creek. The 150 rooms and 65 suites are, tastefully designed with the iconic Versace Home Collection and Italian artistry at its best.
XVA Hotel, Al Bastakiya Heritage and history amalgamate at this unique boutique art hotel located in Al Fahidi District, the oldest neighbourhood community in Dubai. With originally retained wind towers, open courtyards, art gallery spaces and a starry rooftop, the XVA hotel is Dubai’s best-kept secret perfect for solace-seeking guests.
Gold shopping: It’s an experience in Dubai that is not to be missed, and we pick the Gold Souk, located in old Dubai. A dedicated souk area filled with tiny meandering lanes lined up with gold shops selling perhaps the widest variety of gold and precious stone jewellery under one roof.
Spice Souk: Just adjacent to Gold Souk is the Spice Souk where you can’t miss the fragrantly spiced atmosphere and historic architecture from shops holding steady from the 70’s. The stories of the city’s past unfold as you visit the little shops selling frankincense, spices, herbs and artefacts.
Global Village: Global Village is the world’s leading multi-cultural festival park which attracts a huge number of tourists every season. It is also region’s first family destination for culture, entertainment and shopping.
Dubai Frame: A very recent addition in the list of must-do spots is Dubai Frame. The magnificent structure offers panoramic view of the skyline and framing view of Burj Khalifa. The frame rises 150 meters from Dubai's Zabeel Park and is also the world's largest picture frame.
Dubai Miracle Garden: Open only during the winter season, Dubai Miracle Garden is a flower park with over 45 million flowers spread in over 72 thousand square meters of land. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dubai and also world's largest natural flower garden.
Desert Safari: It is one of the most iconic and popular activities in Dubai. Whether you are adventure enthusiast or not, if you’re in Dubai, this experience cannot be missed. The frivolity of hitting the desert in a SUV is definitely an experience of a lifetime.
So, you’ve shopped till you dropped, danced the night away, eaten at the best restaurants and now what? Just when you think you’ve done it all, think again.
For daredevils, Skydive Dubai it is. Splurge a little extra on a tandem jump experience with professional instructors that offer the thrill of a free fall over Palm Jumeirah. The expressions and moments from the jump caught on digital camera are priceless.