From the world's tallest building to old world architecture and traditional souks, Dubai has it all.
Dubai is largest and most populated city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is iconic for its massive skyscrapers and high rise buildings. Not only that, it also hosts stunning deserts and beaches, luxurious hotels and malls, and plenty of attractions and adventure to last you for weeks.
In the 4 days that I spent in Dubai on my way to our retreat in Sri Lanka, I was able to experience a wide-variety of new and old culture, yoga, food, and of course, adventure!
Dubai is filled with yoga, pilates, and fitness so it is a perfect destination to visit if you like to keep up with your healthy routine while traveling.
On my first morning in Dubai, my friend Amanda took me to a free yoga class overlooking the Dubai Marina. With views of both the water and giant sky scrapers, it was a perfect introduction to Dubai. The instructor was great and her all-levels vinyasa flow felt amazing on my body after being on a plane for 17 hours the day before.
Zen yoga is the oldest yoga studio in Dubai at 10 years old. They have both yoga and pilates and are known for having the some of the best instructors in the city.
Overlooking the Dubai Marina, 136.1 Yoga is one of the most popular studios in Dubai and offers up to 20 classes a day! Need I say more?
Adventures & Sights To See
Dune Bashing/Desert Safari
So. Much. Fun!
I got super lucky to have locals to be my guides all weekend. My friends Amanda and Brendan took me out to the desert in their SUV and showed me the ropes of dune bashing, which is basically off-roading on the sand dunes. I got to have an adrenaline rush as I took in the stunning views of the vast desert and I even got to see families of roaming camel's on the way there. Absolute perfection.
There are desert safari excursions that you can book that will also take you dune bashing and on a tour of the desert. I recommend looking for one that does not include camel rides as there is no way to know for sure if they are treated properly.
Tip: Stop at one of the convenience stores on your way out to desert and pick up a dishdash - or headscarf - to wear on your head. :)
Big Bus Tour
The Big Bus Tour is a company that does tours in cities all over the world. I am not usually one for "tours" but I found that this one was pretty awesome. It costs about $40 and you can get off and on at stops all over the city. The best part? You can explore by yourself and while you're on the bus you can plug your headphones in and listen to information about the sights you are passing. If you are someone who likes tours, they also offer scheduled tours as you go.
While on the Big Bus Tour I visited Deira - aka Dubai Creek. This charming area is one of the oldest in Dubai and was different then anything else I had seen during my trip. While there, I explored the Spice Souk and the Al-Arsa Souk where I bought rose and fruit tea, sandalwood incense, and beautiful embroidered pillowcase. I also took a ride on one of the traditional Abras and visited the charming Juthoor Art Cafe for an americano.
The Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, and Dubai Fountain
The Dubai Mall, located in Downtown Dubai, is a sight to see. At most times of the day and night it is packed with tourists, X pats, and Emiratis in their traditional kanduras and abayas .
Burj Khalifa is on the property of the Dubai Mall and is currently the world's tallest building. I must say, it is pretty insane.
Right after getting off the plane, I went with Amanda the the Dubai Mall to grab dinner with a view of both the Dubai fountains and the Burj Khalifa. Every night, a light show is played on the Burj Khalifa and lucky for us, the emirate was celebrating a special occasion so they played the same light show that was shown on New Year's Eve. It was spectacular.
I also took a 2nd visit to the Burj Khalifa to go up the building to the 125th floor for sights of all of Dubai. It was really cool but I recommend going in the evening when there is less of a line.
The Dubai Fountain is another record breaker of Dubai. Also situated right next on the outside of the Dubai Mall, this is the world's largest performing fountain. You can watch this captivating spectacle from the railings, from an Abra on the Burj Lake, or from a restaurant like we did.
Burj Al Arab & Sunset Beach
The Burj Al Arab is world's only 7-star hotel and the 3rd largest hotel in the world. Not only that, but it is a shaped like a sailboat and is located right on an island of reclaimed land 280 meters offshore. Without shelling out the big bucks to stay here, you can visit the hotel by making a reservation at one of its two restaurants.
Another way to view the Burj Al Arab and to soak in the sun on one of Dubai's beautiful beaches, is by visiting Sunset Beach.
Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
Completed in 2007, this giant mosque is the largest in the country and is a key place of worship for Friday gathering and Eid prayers. It is filled with intricate details, ornate columns and archways, sparkling chandeliers of epic proportions, and it is surrounded by glassy fountains. When visiting you must keep your shoulders and hair covered by wearing an abaya that you can borrow when you check-in.
Sky Dive Dubai has one of the most epic sky diving experiences I've ever seen. If you are looking for an adrenaline rush with a high price (around $600 USD) and insane view of the man made Dubai Palms Island then this experience is for you.
The UAE offers incredible diving where you can view ship wrecks, pristine reefs, and an abundance of marine life. Make sure to find a reputable company like PADI when diving in new places.
Dubai is filled with restaurants of all price ranges and cuisines. You can find something healthy to eat at most restaurants which was a huge relief for me.
After having to eat plane food for the last day, I was craving something fresh and got lucky by coming to Social House to watch the Dubai Fountain show. They have a large variety on their menu including fresh juices and many healthy food options. I chose a fresh green juice and spinach salad.
Brunch in Dubai is not your typical brunch. In fact, brunch here actually takes place at night. Mind. Blown.
Restaurants all over the city host brunch and it is a popular way that the locals get together and socialize. Like your typical brunch, there is bottomless flowing champagne and other cocktails and a set menu. We paid $40 a pop to spend the whole night eating, drinking, and talking away.
Last Exit Food Truck Park
This place was super cool. Off the highway on our way to and from Abu Dhabi is this street food truck park with a super fun atmosphere and plenty of different types of food to help soothe any type of craving. We chose to get falafels from truck called Gyros and Doner and my mouth is still watering just thinking about it.
Al Hallab Restaurant
Located in the Dubai Mall, I had one of the happiest moments of my life here. Why? Because I had the best hummus I have ever tasted. Seriously, it was so good. If you're a lover of fresh hummus with warm pita then you have got to go here.
I'll wrap it up here. If you are a lover of city life, modern culture infused with tradition, and the finer things in life, then Dubai is for you!
Til next time Roaming Yogis, Xoxo