Things to do in Dubai?
February 20, 2014 1:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for things to do with nearly 48 hours in Dubai in mid March. Things that aren't obvious are especially helpful!

Hi all,

For anyone who's followed the saga of my trip to Pakistan, I have good news- it's on! I have my visa, bought my tickets today, and I think all my arrangements will be taken care from when I arrive in Multan (the conference in in Bahawalpur) to when I leave Multan.

The challenge/opportunity1 is that I have nearly 48 hours in Dubai on the way back. (I wanted a day to explore, but tickets were significantly cheaper the next day, so two days it is.)

I was hoping the good folks ofAskMe might have some recommendations of places to stay2, things to see/do, places to eat, how to get around, etc. I am especially excited about non-obvious opportunities.

I am scheduled3 to arrive at 11:20pm on Saturday, 3/15, and my flight departs at 10:05pm on Monday, 3/17.

Thanks in advance!

1Challentunity? Did I spell that correctly?
2While the Burj Arab looks lovely, I'd prefer something in the $100 +/- 50 per night range. I could probably push that a bit for a good reason, but not to $1000ish...
3I am flying Pakistan International Airlines on that segment, and their on-time record is, apparently, less-than-stellar, so the word "scheduled" should not be taken too literally.
posted by JMOZ to Travel & Transportation around Dubai, UAE (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Head over to the fish market and Gold Souk just before sundown and just walk around. I love the whole region of Al Sabkha; the streets are narrow and packed with life and it's so evocative and colorful. If you get there on time, you can listen to the evening call to prayer (adhan al-maghrib) ricocheting from multiple mosques around you. If you're feeling ambitious, you can walk along the Dubai Creek all the way back to City Centre and enjoy a nice crosstown stroll in the evening air.
posted by mykescipark at 1:52 PM on February 20, 2014

How funny! I'm going to be in Dubai 3/17-21. Guess we will just miss one another.

Take a look at the Hilton Dubai Creek and the Sheraton. I remember one of them had a weekend deal.

I'm planning to do the Gold Souk, go indoor skiing and perhaps do one of those desert 4x4 rides. Good luck!
posted by superfille at 2:01 PM on February 20, 2014

Best answer: The waterpark and the aquarium - both at the Palm Atlantis - were by far the best things we did in Dubai.

Check out the free water/light show at the Burj Kahlifa at night.

Catch taxis - ridiculously cheap (compared to Australia anyways).

The 4x4 trip was good, but the "fake village" thing at the end was a bit too tourist-trappy.
posted by trialex at 3:43 PM on February 20, 2014

Best answer: I enjoyed going to the horse track but I am not sure of the logistics of getting there. I agree that a walk along Dubai Creek is nice and there are water taxis that can take you from one side to the other that are more like water buses (everyone piles in, they are inexpensive). There is also a weird walkway under Dubai Creek that is sort of ... unusual but maybe not worth going out of your way for. The public libraries are (were?) sort of quirky and worth stopping in on. When I was there a lot of the Westerners that I knew working there had larger-than-they-needed apartments that were workplace provided so you might have some decent luck with AirBnB if you just need a room to crash in.
posted by jessamyn at 4:16 PM on February 20, 2014

Best answer: The 4x4 trip was good, but the "fake village" thing at the end was a bit too tourist-trappy.

This is true, although I did find the food at the tourist trap very good. (Though, I was on my way home from a trip to Cuba, so I was mostly excited about the lack of beans.) I wouldn't call it a less-obvious option, but the 4x4 trip was probably my favourite thing I did in my own 48 hours in Dubai.

The malls are cool in a "wow, capitalism on steroids" sort of way (again, stopover on the way home from Cuba), though they're 99% American chain stores. I really, really Did Not Care For the souks - really pushy and touristy and generally unpleasant, though the displays of spices were beautiful. (I had a couple of spice-shop dudes try to sell me some sort of herbal Viagra. I am not a dude. It was ... odd.)

I found the Dubai Museum more interesting than I'd expected, and blessedly air-conditioned.

I organised a morning tour of the city (in a shuttle bus) through the hotel, and it was woefully crappy, but maybe I was just unlucky. I got a better view of the city just by riding around in taxis and chatting to the drivers.
posted by jaynewould at 4:25 PM on February 20, 2014

Ride the wonderbus. It goes in the creek. Eat Persian at special ostadi, indian at Eric's, Pakistani at Karachi Darbar -- the one near Zabeel Park, with the big neon sign. See if by chance there is an art night at DIFC or Al Serkal. See if anything's going on in bastakiya. Walk along the creek at night. Take a cab to the aquarium and maritime museum in Sharjah. See if there are any art doings in Sharjah. Oh, eat at al mallah in Satwa. See if you can get to bu qtaib for fish and shrimp.
posted by ambient2 at 10:53 PM on February 20, 2014

More? The desert day trips are kinda lame. Khasab is brilliant, if you can get up there. The vault is nice for a couple drinks: low-key with great views. Taxis are cheap, the metro's cool.

I used to live in Dubai. Feel free to Memail me.
posted by ambient2 at 11:06 PM on February 20, 2014

Best answer: One thing I really wished I'd known before my own 2-day layover in Dubai a few years ago is that tickets to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa are 3x more expensive if you buy them less than 72 hours in advance. It was crazy expensive at the time, if I remember correctly it was ~$120US for a 30-minute experience. If that's one of the things you want to do, book in advance online. I did enjoy the water/light show that trialex mentioned.

The indoor skiing was fun, for the novelty really. I ski a lot and I had fun for about an hour and a half. There are usually a lot of kids there.

+1 on the Gold Souk recommendation.

Taxis are indeed very cheap. It's a great opportunity to give a generous tip.
posted by hootenatty at 9:52 AM on February 21, 2014

Response by poster: Lots of good advice. I marked best answers for things I did (and will happily provide more details later on if anyone is interested), but all of the advice was helpful!
posted by JMOZ at 4:15 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

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