Dubai is an extremely popular stopover point between Australia and Europe. I can’t actually count now how many times I’ve been through the airport. I know the layout of the terminal rather well and I always make a beeline for Starbucks and a quick dose of FREE WIFI. But, I’ve never left the airport. However, now is my time! Next week I’m heading to the Kingdom of Bahrain to visit a friend and this time, I’m going to Dubai!

Photo credit: Amar Saleem

My dad says “If you like shopping and you like sand, you’ll like Dubai.” Well, I quite like both those things so I should be sweet! But in terms of things to do, I had no idea where to begin.

For the past eight years, I’ve been booking my trips with a wonderful travel agent at STA Travel. Gerry is my human Lonely Planet. Any travel question I have, he can answer. So when booking my trip through him to Dubai, I asked “Any tips for Dubai?” The following incredible advice came through that I just had to share! It’s made me very excited for my trip.

Dubai is split into  four main areas:


Deira is the bustling area near the airport and Bur Dubai is on the other side of Dubai Creek opposite Deira. These areas have the souks and the older buildings like the Grand Mosque and Bastakiya which is a restored heritage area. The little boats ( Abras ) which go to and from across the creek are a fun way to sight see.  The souks aren’t as interesting as say what you would find in Istanbul/Morocco  etc but pleasant enough.


This is the playground of Dubai with big sprawling hotels and resorts and iconic hotels like the Burj Al Arab,  its worth a wander around here though distances are great and transport limited.

DOWNTOWN  ( This is the area on the bustling Sheik Zayed Road )

This is home to lots of the malls  like Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates ( The one with the ski slopes ) and the tallest building in the world Burj Khalifa. Also close by here in the sea is the  Atlantis Resort built on the  Palm Jumeirah which has a great aquarium and waterpark if that is your thing.


This is the newest area with some wonderful new architecture and a pretty good paved beachfront walkway. It’s the main night life area for westerners.

Getting around is quite easy, the metro serves most places and there is a limited monorail but it goes out to the Atlantis and quite a nice journey, then there are local buses and taxis, I used to catch taxis all the time but the traffic over the years has become hideous and not just at peak hour when thousands of imported workers head off for the day.

If you take Dubai for what it is, it’s fine and fun!

The cheaper places to stay are in Deira and more authentic cheaper places to eat or the malls have what you would expect. There is a time out guide to Dubai which is good for insights into stuff to do,  he heavily advertised dune bashing/BBQ’s are fun but don’t think you are getting a bedouin experience!!

Jump in headfirst, ignore the bling and its not a bad stopover!


After much deliberation, and of course checking with Gerry, I’ve decided to stay near the Dubai Marina. I think I’m always drawn to the water. No real plans are locked in but I welcome any extra tips of advice. I’ve got just two days and I can’t wait to see all that I can see. Watch this space for lots of Dubai insights and tales from the sandy lands.

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