Just returned from a excellent trip to Dubai from 08/03/10 to 13/03/10. Stayed for seven nights in the Crowne Plaza Festival city, booked flights and accommodation with Virgin holidays. Hope you will find this useful when planning your trip.
Monday 08/03/10 - London Heathrow - Dubai - Virgin Atlantic
Checked in on line 24 hours before departure and dropped off our bags in Heathrow on arrival. Very simple process with no problems. Our flight left just after the scheduled time of 9.10pm and arrived in Dubai on schedule at 8am the following morning. Very good flight, no turbulence, good food and the cabin crew were polite and professional. After reading some mixed Virgin Atlantic reviews I was not sure what to expect (not travelled with them before) but was impressed with no complaints.
Tuesday 09/03/10 - Transfers & Hotel Crowne Plaza Festival City
Pre-booked our transfers with Virgin Holidays. Small minibus collected us from the airport for the short 15 minute ride to the hotel. E-mailed the hotel before we left the UK to request a early check in and a quiet high floor room overlooking Dubai creek. On arrival at the hotel at 9.30am we checked in straight way and was allocated a room on the 19th floor with a perfect view of the creek and the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world) in the distance. Our stay in the hotel coincided with the Dubai 7s football tournament. Even though there were quite a few famous faces the staff did cater for the footballers and they had priority over the other guests. The restaurant in the Crowne Plaza was closed due to the footballers and we had to eat next door in the Intercontinental for five out of the seven days. The restaurant in the Intercontinental was very busy and more like a café. On the positive side, the food was very good and the staff did their best to cope under pressure. I will write a separate review of the hotel which will appear in the hotel section shortly.
The Crowne Plaza hotel is connected by a internal walkway to the Intercontinental hotel next door which leads to the Festival City shopping mall with over 600 shops (including well known names such as Marks & Spencer & Ikea), over 100 restaurants and a small marina. Lots of clothes shops and expensive jewellery shops with some lovely watches in the Paris gallery. Prices were generally expensive when compared to buying similar items in the UK.
Wednesday 10/03/10 - Bur Dubai
This morning travelled by taxi from Festival City to the Al Seef Abra Station in Bur Dubai, 23 dirhams. With the exception of the hop on hop off bus did not see any buses from Festival City, taxi was the easiest and quickest method of transport.
After admiring the modern skyline saw the convex glass front of the National Bank of Dubai and the ’golf ball’ topped Etisalat tower. After passing the statue ‘Dubai international award for best practices to improve the living environment’ walked along the creek towards the Majlis and XVA art gallery. When we reached the Bastakiah nights restaurant (there was a camel outside!) continued to walk along the creek but quickly realised that we should have left the creek promenade at this point. Eventually turned away from the creek side promenade and found the Majlis art gallery.
Had a quick look around the art gallery, did not take very long as the gallery was very small. I would not go out of my way to visit this but if your in the area it is worth a look. After the gallery found the Basta Art Café, agree with Latimer’s description “cool, shady and very peaceful”. This was a perfect place to enjoy a cool drink as the temperature was close to 30C with lots of sunshine. Thanks Latimer for this excellent suggestion. After a short rest walked for approximately 10 minutes to Dubai Museum which is housed within Al Fahidi Fort. (Turn right when leaving the Basta Art Café and continue walking). Did not visit the inside of the museum (it looked very small from the outside) but took some lovely photographs of the boat in the centre of the square which is worth a visit. Passed the Juma Grand mosque towards the old souk with lots of textile and crafts. The souk was actually very quiet and there was not a great deal of pressure to buy any goods. Perhaps this was because we walked through and did not show any interest to purchase anything.
After leaving the souk we arrived at Abra station where you can cross the creek on a traditional small boat. Very interesting to watch the locals go about their daily business, a different side to modern Dubai. Instead of crossing the creek walked to the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, entrance fee 2 dirham. This is now a museum and had some very interesting photographs of the countries history, definitely worth a visit. Final stop was the Herritage and Diving village centre close by. Feeling a little tried and hot at this point so after a quick look caught a taxi back to the hotel for some rest, 28 dirham.
Thu 11/03/10 - Burj Khalifa & Dubai Mall
Left Festival City in early afternoon to visit Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world) and Dubai Mall. Taxi cost 24 dirhams outward, 19 dirhams return. The taxi dropped us off by the Address Hotel Burj Dubai. Very impressed with the Burj Khalifa, amazing building, has to be seen to be believed. Walked around the lake where the fountains are situated and went over the bridge to Souk Al Bahar. The souk is very pretty with a mixture of traditional and modern architecture. Lots of shops and restaurants overlooking the waterfalls with the Burj Khalifa in the background. Also visited Dubai shopping mall which is huge, more than 1,200 shops with a fantastic gold souk, large waterfalls, aquarium (can see the fish swimming while shopping) and more restaurants. Recommended for any first time visit to Dubai.
Fri 12/03/10 - Deira region & Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht club
This morning we explored the Deira region, caught a taxi from Festival City to the Fish souk near the Hyatt Regency hotel, 26 dirhams. As soon as we arrived could smell fish and as we walked closer to the fish souk it became stronger and stronger. The smell was making me feel sick, decided to abandon our plans and walk in the other direction! The smell was really overpowering I dread to think what it was like inside. Managed to see lots of local people and sea gulls outside the souk but the area seemed to be a little run down, don’t think many tourists explore this area. Walked towards the creek via the gold souk. Some of the locals approached us trying to sell fake watches and textiles. Just walked away and said no thank you and they always left us alone, no problems. If you want to buy any goods, always haggle and initially offer 50% off the asking price. Walked along the other side to the creek towards the twin towers. As the temperatures was 30C and it was approaching the hottest part of the day flagged down a taxi to take us to the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht club, 12 dirhams. Driver was unsure where to go, had to point out the location on the map. Always take a map with you, not all of the taxi drivers know where there going!
Arrived at the golf club, asked the driver to drop us off at the club house, easily recognisable but its unique roof in the form of sails from a dhow. It actually reminded me of the City of Arts and Science in Valencia, Spain. The guidebook describes the golf club as an ’oasis in the middle of the desert’ and I totally agree. Enjoyed a pleasant drink overlooking the golf club with beautiful views and watched the sea plane landing in the distance. After drinks visited the Park Hyatt Dubai hotel and walked along the pretty marina which was extremely quiet and very pretty with the creek views. Recommended for any visit to Dubai. Taxi back to Festival City 14 dirhams.
Sat 13/03/10 - Atlantis, Burj Al-Arab, Jumeirah Beach, Souk Madinat, Mall of Emirates
Back in the taxi this morning to visit Atlantis the Palms, 30 minutes, 66 dirhams. I realised before hand thanks to the helpful advice on the forum that there was not a great deal to see (did not want to visit lost chambers or aqua adventure) but wanted to see the building. Managed to capture a good photograph of the front of the building from inside the taxi and when we arrived took more photographs from the outside. Could not go into the main part of the hotel as this was only open for residents but we managed to walk around the lobby which was big with several shops. I thought Atlantis looked a little false. I am glad I visited as I would always wonder what it looked like in real life but would not return even if I could afford the high price tag.
After Atlantic, back in our taxi (starting to enjoy this luxury lifestyle, lol!) to Jumeirah Beach, 16 dirhams. Asked the taxi driver for the public beach next to the Jumeirah beach hotel but he dropped us off slightly further away at the entrance to the Burj-Al-Arab. Tried to find the public beach and walked through the Jumeirah Beach hotel in the hope of seeing the beach. Big mistake, managed to see part of the pool but could not visit the beach as it was for residents only. Eventually found the public Jumeirah Beach, clear waters and white sand, very nice.
After the beach walked passed the Jumeriah Beach hotel to the Mina A Salam hotel which led us to Souk Madinat. Souk Madinat is very pretty with some lovely shops and restaurants. It is only approximately four years old but designed to look a lot older. The souk was extremely quiet and upmarket with no pressure to buy anything, beautiful design. There is several bridges and waterways, lots of excellent photograph opportunities. Also had a excellent view of the Burj Al-Arab :-
Wow, this 7 star hotel looked stunning, set in the sea surrounded by clear crystal waters and a white beach, extremely impressed.
Back in the taxi to the Mall of the Emirates, only a short journey, 10 dirhams. Dropped off to the entrance to the Kempinski hotel, walked through the main lobby to the inside ski slope, amazing when you consider the Dubai heat. From the shopping mall it is possible to watch people skiing through the floor to ceiling glass windows. Not overly impressed with the shopping mall but liked the ski slope. Taxi from Mall of Emirates to Festival City 50 dirhams. Out of all of the taxi journey this was the only time we experienced heavy traffic.
Sun 14/03/10 - Musical fountains.
The Dubai fountains are set outside the Burj Khalifa / Dubai Mall. The fountains start every twenty minutes just after 6pm until 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends (Friday & Saturday). As we visited during the day on Thu 11/03/10 (see above) left Festival City at 5.30pm in time for the fountain show. Taxi 32 dirhams.
First song just after 6pm ‘Time to say goodbye’ by Andrea Bocelli. Absolutely amazing, the song left you with goose bumps. The power of the fountains timed with music is outstanding, it is like watching fireworks on water. Have a look at the following video from you tube, it is a million times better in real life :-
Mon 15/03/10 - Day of rest!
Tue 16/03/10 - All good things come to an end, back to Dubai airport to catch our early morning flight with Virgin Atlantic. Flight left slightly late but arrived in Heathrow on schedule. Another smooth flight with good food and a very friendly and helpful crew. Will definitely fly with Virgin Atlantic again, very impressed.
Weather - Constant sunshine with temperatures around 30C. Did experience some early morning mist. On occasions the mist hovered over the horizon but the sun was always shining. March is a excellent time to visit.
Have a look at the following link for photographs :-
Thanks to all of the contributors to this forum who answered my questions prior to my trip, your valuable information definitely helped with the planning and the overall enjoyment.
If you have any questions, let me know.