If you read the recent post on the blog about why Bali should be your next trip, you’ll know that getting yourself to the other side of the world on holiday is something special, although that doesn’t mean you can hop on a plane and expect to get there in one go.
It is getting easier to jet off eastwards these days thanks in large part to Dubai becoming a major travel hub. With Dubai International Airport officially the world's busiest airport for international passenger traffic and so many flights coming in and out from the UK thanks to Emirates airlines, a lot of people’s experience of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates will only be those few hours they spend in the airport.
Connections between long haul flights are never fun as they can completely knock your body clock out of whack. You can get ahead of the curve and make something of an international trip by saving a few days on your way there (or back) with a short stay in Dubai. Turning one big holiday into two mini holidays can enrich the experience of knocking off for a few weeks and being able to say, “well I wasn’t just laying beside a pool for two weeks”.
Don’t believe me? Here are some of the fantastic reasons you might want to consider taking an extended layover when flying through Dubai: from shopping goodness to seeing more than just fancy modern buildings.
You can shop until you drop, and then some
Hands up who’s been guilty of leaving for their holidays with one suitcase and coming back with two after a quick shopping trip turned in to a retail extravaganza? Dubai is a shopper’s paradise with dozens of malls that sell every brand you could imagine and then some.
The main spot to visit the aptly named Dubai Mall, part of the Burj Khalifa complex and the second biggest shopping centre in the world (West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton Canada is the biggest if you wanted to know).
It has over 1,200 shops that could see you paying “brand name bingo” with a good chance of winning. It also happens to have a massive aquarium, over 100 restaurants and even a hotel. I’ve heard of people who turn the connection in Dubai to a mini-trip with the specific purpose of going to this mall for a 2-3 day shopping trip.
You can stay somewhere special
Hotel apartments in Dubai are the latest big thing for travellers wanting a little extra for the same price as a hotel. Essentially a fancy apartment inside a hotel, many hotels will offer these bigger rooms on the upper levels for guests who want to live like a local for a few days. It doesn’t hurt that you get better views from a hotel apartment too.
For example, Fraser Suites offer hotel accommodation in Dubai with something a little different. Their hotel has mini apartments that will have you feeling like a local in no time at all with little things that upend what a hotel experience usually feels like. It’s the little things like having your own coffee machine in your suite rather than those pesky kettles you have to fill up from the bathroom sink or having a fully kitted kitchen that makes a difference.
Because many of these unique apartments are in big hotels, you also get the advantage of being able to enjoy the amenities of staying in a hotel with the likes of access to rooftop pools, spas and even free shuttle services to restaurants and bars (a big thing in Dubai).
You can see more than just big buildings
If you only know about Dubai from the travel ads and bits of it that pop up in TV and film, you’d be mistaken for thinking the entire city is nothing but big flashy buildings and fancy cars. There’s a major cultural background to the city that is hidden in plain sight. Long before it became the city it is today, Dubai sat on the Silk Route connecting east and west, making it a major market town. Some of those markets still stand tall today and provide a unique shopping experience in the form of souks.
The city has lots of souks dotted around the place. These are traditional markets that will focus in on a specific product area – think the likes of spices, textiles and ornaments. You can find yourself bartering over a couple of shawls to buy as gifts or checking to see if the jewellery at the Gold Souk is real.
You can have a mature night out
One of the biggest misconceptions about Dubai is where you can drink and what a night out is all about. People like to go out and party but don’t go crazy. Dubai Marina is the central spot for nights out with a mixture of restaurants and clubs down by the water.
It is true that it is mainly hotels that serve alcohol, but these places go out of their way to make their bars feel unique and not look like just another hotel bar. Places like Lock, Stock & Barrel at Grand Millennium Hotel and The Dubliner's at Le Méridien Dubai Hotel will make you forget you’re in a hotel and have a bit of a Las Vegas bar vibe about them.
Also, it’s essential to know that most spots also won’t serve alcohol to anyone under 25, so you get a mature crowd out and about in the evenings.
Need more travel inspiration?
Got bitten by the holiday blog from this post an think you need a little more inspiration to plan your next getaway? Read all the posts about travelling and going on holiday from the blog right here.