As an Aussie, the reality is we are far far away from anywhere when it comes to travel, and you know you’re getting old when you can’t fathom taking that long haul flight from Sydney to the UK (around 24hrs + transit time all up) without a stopover.
Where once you just wanted to get there and make the most of your destination, you’re now trying to plot and plan your itinerary to avoid (at all costs) spending any longer than 13hrs on the plane in one stint.
The good news for Australian travelers (and visitors) is that there are some pretty cool places to break the journey, and my current fave is Dubai. Not only is it the perfect stopover point in terms of time spent on the aircraft, but with so much to see and do, it will actually become a part of the trip and not just somewhere to lay your head.
Having planned stopovers to Dubai for my clients for years, it was great to actually finally set foot on that red desert sand myself and the reality of it all was pretty surreal.
So, now that i’ve finally been myself I figured I’d tell you how I spent the perfect 72hrs in Dubai (using photos from my stay) to hopefully inspire you to make it your next stop over destination!
DAY 1 – Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa
For the 1st night I decided to stay in Downtown Dubai, at a great property called the Vida Downtown, Dubai. A contemporary boutique hotel that is in the heart of the old town district of downtown Dubai, which is the perfect location to get around to all the main sights in that part of town which include:
– Qamardeen Souk is accessible from the hotel and allows guests to experience a traditional Arabian souk – Burj Khalifa (Tallest building in the world – as of the 28th of Dec 2014)
– The Dubai Fountain
– Sega Republic
– Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
– Dubai Ice Rink
– Dubai’s Rent-a-Bike
– Dubai Fountain Lake Ride.
Everything in Dubai seems to be at least a 30 min drive away, but being based in this central area for 1 night of our stay, meant that we could walk around and explore the sights and some of the great restaurants.
>> The taxi’s in Dubai are also SUPER cheap, so getting around by taxi is absolutely no problem. Just make sure you have cash, as most don’t have card facilities.
The property itself was wonderful with staff who couldn’t do enough for you, and all the conveniences you could possibly need including a great gym, lovely restaurants and very chic pool, with private cabanas and a pool bar.
DAY 2 – Exploring the Jumeirah beach area and the Madinat Jumeirah!
For the second night of the stay, we decided to move to the Jumeirah beach area, and stay at the Madinat Jumeirah, which is a fantastic beachfront property that is a destination within itself.
With 3 hotels plus additional villas on the premises, over 40 restaurants and bars, souks (markets) and of course the beach, it was the ideal location to explore this part of town, witness the magical Dubai sunsets and get some great views of the Burj Al Arab. Plus, you have to take a traditional Abra (boat) to your room because the hotel is so big, and this proves to be an attraction in itself.
Apart from lapping up all of the facilities of the Madinat Jumeirah, we headed to Atlantis, at the The Palm for a beach side dance party, with David Guetta (something that I know won’t be to everyone’s taste, but a highlight for our visit as we were with good friends who live in Dubai).
We ventured to Emirates Mall, and checked out the in-door ski slope (which is kind of weird, but I totally get it for those living in the area who have only ever seen desert), and did a little shopping, getting lost in the maze of it’s 560+ outlets.
DAY 3 – Desert Safari
Then, the must do trip (that everyone ends up doing on a visit to Dubai) is a 4WD Desert Safari.
We did the trip with Gulf Ventures (http://www.gulfventures.com/en/index.html) and it was fantastic. Not only was our driver super friendly and chatty, filling us in on loads of info, but the convoy of 4wd’s is considerably smaller than other tour companies, so you don’t feel like you’re being herded around the desert like one of the camels, and their camp site for the bbq dinner, which also includes camel riding, sand boarding, henna tattooing and shisha (flavoured tobacco), is set away from all of the others, so it’s more private and secluded, and you again don’t feel like just another tourist.
Extra note – Madinat Jumeirah, Late Check out
Another benefit of staying at a resort style property like the Madinat Jumeirah, is that they have late check out facilities, and in the Madinat Jumeirah’s case, they have a lounge where you’re able to freshen up. This comes in handy in Dubai, as most of the flights out to Europe or the USA depart after mid-night, so unless you want to pay for a whole extra night, facilities for a late check out are a must!
So, all in all I feel that the 2 nights, and 3 days we had in Dubai were the perfect balance of city exploring, beach relaxing, iconic site spotting and cultural experiences. There is a LOT more that you can do in Dubai, so depending on your interests we can tailor a stopover that is just right for you, so all you need to do is give me a shout.
I hope that this inspires you to make Dubai your next stopover en-route to Europe (or the other way, if you’re heading to the Southern Hemisphere), and if you’ve been yourself, let me know what your FAVE stopover activities are, and what you got up to.
Thanks for reading!