This blog is long overdue. But hey, better late than never right?!? 🥴😅 As the world “reopens” after shutdowns due to the Coronavirus Disease (Covid19), I want to share with you one of my favorite trips.
Two of my cousins and I went to Dubai in 2019 (late October to early November), just in time for my 25th birthday. If ya didn’t know before, my birthday is on Halloween.
We literally booked our plane tickets and secured our hotel about a month out from our departure date. And some how, we ended up with a pretty dope itinerary and amazing memories from the exciting experiences we had.
Logistics: We booked a travel bundle with Expedia which included Roundtrip Flight (direct JFK to DXB on Emirates), 5 night hotel stay, and travel protection (because ya never know). We stayed at the Steigenberger Hotel in Business Bay. Bigup to my cousin Kisean for choosing such a luxurious hotel. You did good Kisean. You did good.
Pro tip: Buy a pass for the Emirates Lounge at JFK. Your lounge pass gives you access to unlimited destination inspired food, drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), amenities such as showers, computers, and printers. You can find deets for the lounge here.
Our inflight experience with Emirates was nothing short of amazing. Each seat had it’s own individual media station. As you boarded the plane, you were given an amenity bag that included a sleeping mask, toothpaste, toothbrush, socks, and stickers to indicate to flight attendants “DND” or “wake me up for food.”
I was honestly surprised with how much we were fed during our flights. Emirates really put the domestic carriers of the US to shame. The inflight menu included a three-course dinner followed by snacks (pizza, fresh fruit, and snack bars), and breakfast.
Another pro tip: Add-on the in airport meet and greet services by Marhaba. This allowed us to skip customs and immigration lines. You can find details on the available services here.
Uber makes it easy to travel throughout Dubai. Most of the Ubers we got were luxury cars which definitely helped Dubai live up to it’s luxurious name.
- Mantis: live performances, ladies drink free (on certain nights), cigarette smoking allowed in club. We happened to be there when P-Square was performing.
- Kiza: your spot for Afro-beat vibes.
- L’eto Cafe is a must for just one reason – their Iced Saffron Milk Latte. I often think about this drink on a regular. Their service however wasn’t too hot.
- Huqqa is the perfect spot for dinner as you are able to watch the water fountain show while enjoying dinner. This is also where I got a latte with my face on it! They also have an extensive hookah selection.
Private Yacht Cruise
We booked a private yacht cruise around the Marina and I got to DRIVE THE BOAT. If you’re planning to do this, book way in advance. Sadly we were only able to do the hour slot that was available.
- We rode Quads and one of us (I won’t say who) fell over.
- We Dune bashed. This might have been the most upset my stomach has every felt.
- We went sandboarding. I decided not to be too risk and sat on my board instead of standing.
- We rode Camels and fed them.
- We watched the sunset of Arabic sweets, coffee, and of course dates.
- We went to a Bedouin-style Desert Camp and enjoyed a bbq dinner. I also got henna done. As we enjoyed dinner, we watched belly dancers as well as a Tanoura dancer.
We ventured off to another emirate, Abu Dhabi. This day-long excursion was also an Airbnb experience. We drove for about an hour and a half to our first stop, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
We then went to the Emirates Palace where we also enjoyed Arabic sweets, tea, and coffee.
We then visited the Etihad Towers observation deck. This is where I had the most interesting thing the whole trip – a Camel Milk Cappuccino. It honestly wasn’t bad at all. It was subtly sweet and creamy. All-in-all, I would definitely have it again.
We then had lunch at the Marina Mall.
Burj Khalifa at the top. We ventured off to the World’s highest lounge and purchased tickets for “The Lounge 154 – Hightea.” This experience included access to the lounges on the 154th and 152nd floors as well as fresh bakes and desserts, tea, and coffee. Almost every corner you turned was a instagrammable spot. This is a definite must on your trip.
Literally recall my eyes burning from the glare of all the glistening gold. If you’re looking to get a good souvenir from your trip, check out the Gold Souk. There are also a bunch of shops selling spices (and everyting das nice).
Jet Ski near Burj al Arab
We woke up went to Clinton St. Bakery and then decided we wanted to go for a Jet Ski ride. Best spontaneous decision we made the entire trip.
After Jet Skiing near the Burj al Arab, we ventured off to FIVE Palm Jumeirah and purchased day passes which included beach and pool access.
I received a couple of questions about my trip via Instagram and wanted to include them:
- What did I enjoy the most?
- While all of the excursions were unique in their own way, my absolute favorite and most enjoyable would definitely have to be Dune bashing and the Desert Camp.
- What did I find to be different?
- Women are still expected to carry themselves modestly in public (i.e. Mall). I found this out the hard way when I wore a dress with a lot of cleavage on my birthday. While no one said anything to me directly, I could tell by the stares and looks from men and women alike that I was dressed inappropriately. The last thing I wanted to do was be disrespectful in a place I’m visiting.
- What would I do differently?
- I would spend more time in Dubai, DUH! On a serious note, I wish the trip consisted of about 3-4 more days.
- Foods to try?
- Sounds weird, but try Camel Milk. You’ll find it in food options like lattes and ice cream. Just try it!
- Was it as hot as people say it is?
- Yes! It’s just straight up heat with no type of breeze in sight. Even with the heat, I would still recommend the visit!
- Is it expensive or is this a misconception?
- I’ll preface my response by saying that NYC, where I’m from, can be considered expensive. With that being said, yes and no. There are places and experiences in Dubai that allow you to choose whether you would like your trip to be expensive or moderately cheap. Basically, you determine how expensive you want to go.
- Is a Visa required?
- US citizens with a US passport do not need a UAE visa if the visit is less than one month. Tourist visas may however required for citizens of other countries including St. Kitts and Nevis and other Caricom countries. I would suggest checking the visa requirements for your citizenship status here.