My cousins were out in Dubai over Christmas and they asked if we wanted to join them over New Year Eve..Okay then (any reason for some quick winter sun). We flew with Emirates on the 30th of December to celebrate New Years Eve in Dubai. Millington Travel were able to get us competitively priced ticket considering we booked 6 weeks before flying and it was peak season.
There is so much to see and do in Dubai! Here are how we spent our Three nights..
Day 1: New Years Eve
We landed at 9:30am on New Years Eve and checked into our hotel (Movenpick Jumeriah Lakes) by 1130am. With very little sleep we decided to try and get some rest by the pool before heading to meet our cousins.
The plan was to see the fireworks at Burj Khalifa. We got to Downtown Dubai around 330pm and it had started to get busy with people taking their spots around the fountain.
We needed some food and headed to one of our favourite restaurants in Dubai Mall, Cheesecake Factory . Kev & I love their nachos and spicy buffalo wings and for the first time tried their amazing cheesecake. From our first experience at a Cheesecake Factory in Los Angeles to now, we have never been disappointed. The portions are massive and a plate of nachos and wings is good for four people. We tried the carrot cake cheesecake and salted caramel one too and they were so delicious.
Stomachs lined, we started to work our way through the crowds to find that perfect viewing spot. By this time it was 6pm. We didn’t manage to get near the fountains but had a good view of the Burj Khalifa. On our walk to get a good spot we came across restaurants that were charging £200 for a soft drinks 5 course meal. This was at Carluccios. Pret A Manger were charging £640 for a table and you can only imagine what the higher end restaurants were charging. The prices were eye watering. If you are planning on celebrating New Years here ensure you book way in advance.
Majority of the restaurants in the Malls do not serve alcohol so check before you book (if that is what you want).
The further you walk away from the Burj Khalifa, the cheaper the deals are. From our experience, if you are not by the fountain, walk a bit further out and grab a spot where you can see the whole Burj Al Arab. We came across this lovely Japanese restaurant, Mizu, where we had some tea and snacks around 10pm while we waited for the fireworks.
The fireworks and laser displays were spectacular and it was a great way to start the New Year. Speaking to others the fireworks displays were great all over Dubai.
After the fireworks we wanted to have a toast to the New Year so we headed towards Poppy by David Myers in the Renaissance for a couple of drinks to celebrate. The bar was low lit and beautiful. They had a DJ on playing some amazing R&B music and this created a brilliant vibe. The bar manager made me a Congress Cocktail which apparently had won the best cocktail award- it sure was a great cocktail to start the year! Others enjoyed fancy cocktails too (though mine was the best). We also enjoyed a round of complimentary shots whilst there.
Day 2: New Years Day
After a big breakfast, we headed to Al Habtoor Polo Resort which was where our cousins were staying. The Resort is a bit far out (in a developing area), however is beautiful. It is the sister hotel of Habtoor Grand which is by the Palms and somewhere we have stayed before. We chilled out by the pool area and soaked up some rays whilst sipping cocktails and watching polo. The hotel is not by the beach however guests have access to the sister hotel which is.
In December when the sun goes down in Dubai the temperatures drop (anything under 23 degrees is cold for me). By 5pm we were getting ready for an evening at Global Village. It is the world’s leading multicultural festival park and the region’s first family destination for culture, shopping and entertainment.
Open for 6 months in the year, from April to the end of October, this is a great place to try lots of food and be entertained. It costs 15 AED for standard entrance. Packages for rides, parking and food are available too. We got dropped off my a taxi and it was about a 10 minute walk to the entrance. They do have shuttle buses and little tuks tuks to take you to the park however the queues were over half an hour.
As well as a big food area, the Village has little sections for some countries and continents. Being born in Kenya, I was in my element when I got to the Africa section and started talking to one of the staff in Kiswahili. It sure was a multicultural experience.
Another bit that amazed me was the floating market- lots of little Thai stalls on the water selling all different varieties of food and drink. Everyday at 9pm they have a free fireworks display for guests.
On the way out they had mini iconic buildings which just made the evening.
The park opens from 4pm until midnight. The taxi services going out of the Village are very organised.
Today we planned to enjoy some Afternoon Tea at Al Fazoor Lounge in Al Qasr Hotel. This is part of the Jumeirah Group and the Hotel has beautiful views of Burj Al Arab. The nearest Metro stop Mall of Emirates and unless you want a nice stroll to the hotel you will need to get a taxi. We walked to build our appetite. Using offline maps like Here Drive offline maps enabled us to find our way. It took about 20 minutes.
We arrived at the Souks Madinet Jumeirah . This Souk is a recreation of an ancient marketplace with traditional Middle Eastern style shops. The prices are much higher that the normal Souks in Old Dubai. There is a more luxury feel to this Souk and it is aimed at tourists.
You can get a complimentary water taxi from the Souk to the Al Qasr Hotel. We did have to show show our reservation details before getting on the boat. The hotel looked amazing from the outside and the setting was beautiful.
You can read about my Afternoon Tea experience here.
To end the evening we jumped in a taxi to Dubai Marina. A beautiful Marina with several restaurants and a mall. You get many staff outside with menus trying to draw customers in. It is a perfect place to have a stroll and people watch. For those who like Shisha there are several places that serve this here.
We sat at Sahara Cafe that overlooked the Marina (The guys picked this because of the football). The views were amazing and it was a nice place for that drink. I tried Shisha there and was not a fan – I just didn’t get it!
This was our last night in Dubai! It was short and sweet. The next morning we got a taxi to Abu Dhabi.
Saving money in Dubai
Dubai imports most of its produce which means a meal out isn’t always cheap. They make dates & produce Camel Milk and I think that is about it.
If you are in Dubai for around a week and are planning on eating out and doing a few activities check out the Entertainer Booklet. This works out well especially when there are more than 2 of you. Forward planning and research always helps so you do not get stuck in a situation where you are paying more than the odds for dinner.
Old Dubai is cheaper and you can haggle more when shopping. Shopping in the Malls is expensive. I did notice there were deals on Groupon however never got a chance to look into them.
Travelling around Dubai
Taxis is the most popular means of getting around especially as a tourist. Dubai traffic can be quite bad and taxis run on a meter so your fares may be higher than expected. You do get fixed price taxis for longer distances from hotels. The doorman at the hotel recommended we do this to Abu Dhabi in case of traffic. There was no traffic and we could have saved about £15 if we had gone with a normal one. Taxis with a white lights (on the roof) are lady drivers and will only pick up couples, families or ladies.
Uber’s are available, including Helicopters! Yes, for those who want luxury you can just select your ride to be a Helicopter. Uber’s are more expensive that normal taxis.
The Metros are cheaper and regular however not always located near your destinations.
Culture in Dubai
As long as you respect their culture, you are fine. I noticed this time around the dress code was more relaxed around the city and malls. There are restrictions in place however sometimes it is just a combination of researching and using a bit of common sense.
Have you been to Dubai? Do you like it?