This December we decided to take a short break in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. I would like to start with the fact that we were not too impressed with the itinerary. There didn’t seem to be many options, a few theme parks and rest was left to entertainment thrown in at the shopping malls. What happened once there is a different story altogether. Here is a day-by-day account of the amazing experience we had.
Venue & Time : Grand Mosque, 3-6pm
What to do : One of the biggest mosque in the world, its best viewed under the moon lit sky. The chandeliers inside the mosque weigh as much as 9 elephants!! The magnificent carpet that covers the floor was flown in 3 airplanes from Iran. There is a free guided tour which starts at 5pm sharp. Its good fun to listen to the stories and facts narrated by the friendly guide.
Tips : Make sure your report 15 mins in advance as there is only one free tour in the entire day. Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs fully, both men and women. Women may carry a scarf to cover their head.
Venue & Time : Ferrari World, 10am-7pm
What to do : This is a paradise for car frenzy fans and little kids alike. Once you have gawked at the sassiest cars, be ready to test drive them, tour their factory, experience their super speed and go carting. They have one of the craziest roller coaster in the world, an ice skating rink and plenty of rides.
Tips : The popular rides tend to have 45-55 mins wait time towards later part of the day. So make sure you arrive real early, maybe 10am or even 9 if you can! Till about 12, the wait queue tends to be lesser than 10 mins. Plan for the most popular rides in the first part of the day. You can spot the most popular rides on the map, they will be marked as ‘recommended’. Wear sports shoes if you plan to do ‘Javed Jaffery styled stunts’ on rock climbing, huddle crossing etc.
Venue & Time : Corniche beach, 10am-3pm. Dessert Safari, 3:30-9pm
What to do : The color of the waters, gentle waves, soft sand and comfortable beach benches will transport your soul to a different world. Spend the day lazying around, playing beach volley, reading your favorite book or swimming. There are plenty of restaurants serving world foods.
Dessert Safari starts at 4pm, so this is a good day to go for one, if its on your itinerary. Sand bashing is super fun. We went in a Land Cruiser and our driver was very skilled. He kept the speed appropriate to our comfort levels. There was a camel farm en-route which had about 100 camels. After about half an hour of dune bashing, we reached the camp. At the camp there was sand boarding which surprisingly was lot of fun. Then there was the camel ride, belly dancing, mehendi artists, star gazing etc. The food was quite average though.
Tips : Pay a little extra and check into the family beach. Its much less crowded and there is a good kids play area right outside the entrance.
Venue & Time : Abu Dhabi Mall, 10am-1pm. Drive to Dubai, 3-6pm
What to do : The mall was bit of disappointment as you can find a much larger spread in Dubai. They do have a good food court though. The drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai was quite interesting. The highway is surprisingly dotted with lush green trees, colorful flower beds and beautiful villas. Once out of the city limits, you get a feel of the desserts, endless miles of sand dunes on both sides. And you do get a good feel of speed here with super-cars (read Ferrari, Porsche, Astin Martin) overtaking you when you may be driving at 150km/hr yourself!
Tips : Avoid the mall if you plan to shop in Dubai.
Venue & Time : Dubai Mall 10am-2pm. Global Village, 4-10pm
What to do : A day well spent at the mall. Many shopping bags later we landed in Global village. It houses replica monuments from around the world, a flavor of the regions local markets and culture. We feasted on some gourmet foods and enjoyed some adventure rides.
Tips : If this happen to be 31st December, then the wait for the taxi can really get on your nerves. We spent a harrowing 2.5 hours to get into a cab. That’s was around 3-4pm. It seems most cabbie is Dubai go into shutdown mode on the New Year’s eve.
Venue & Time : Miracle Garden, 10am-1pm. Butterfly Garden, 2-4pm
What to do : Flower houses, flower hearts, flower tunnels, its all about flowers and only flowers here. Take in this natural manmade beauty at a slow pace, sip in some sugarcane juice, have a leisurely brunch and click many pictures. Head on to the butterfly garden, if you fancy the splendor of thousands of brightly colored butterflies.
Tips : Arrive early again at the miracle garden as the sun and breeze are very mild and pleasant around this time. The butterfly garden domes are climate controlled though.
Venue & Time : Dolphin Show, 11-12am or Penguin Show 3-4pm. Jumeirah beach road (JBR) 4-7pm
What to do : Choose one of the two unless you have tonnes of money to blow away in one day! Both as equally nice, We saw the Dolphin Show and it was damn cute.
Jumeirah beach road is dotted with amazing restaurants, the best crowd, a host of water and beach sports activities and a spectacular view. Then there is Dubai Sky Diving and parasailing for the extreme adventure junkies.
Tips : Book the tickets online, a couple of days in advance for the shows. The tickets tend to get sold out fast during peak holiday season.
PS : There are obviously other attractions like the Bhurj Khalifa, Dubai Sky Diving, Atlantis Aquaventure etc which we gave a miss this time. But if you have enough time and enthusiasm, include them in your itinerary. And of course if you love shopping,you cant afford to miss the Dubai Shopping Festival. You may be able to lay your hands on some of the most amazing deals on electronics, sports gear, kid’s toys, apparels, shoes, accessories and cosmetics.
To sum it all up, Abu Dhabi and Dubai has enough and more entertainment for kids. At the same time it throws in an equal number of leisure options for us mom-dad, to make us feel we are also on vacation!!
If you have an experience to add then do share it with us in the comment box below.