I had visited Dubai, UAE in August last year. It was a pre-planned sojourn due to holidays back home. The weather in Dubai was not the most favorable then. It was very hot and humid. We started from New Delhi. Dubai is connected to all major cities of the world by air. The airport is one of the largest and busiest in the world. It's very beautiful as well. Once inside Dubai, it’s wise to travel by Dubai Metro or Buses. The NOL card can be used to travel in both the modes of transport. Taxis are very expensive. Our hotel was near World Trade Center (Ibis World Trade Centre Dubai). Hotels are very economical in Dubai and we can get very good options in about 180-200 AED. The metro station was a few minutes by foot from the hotel. We started by visiting The Burj Khailfa (tallest tower in the world), Dubai Mall and Dubai Fountains, since they all are in the same vicinity. The Dubai Mall is one of the largest shopping malls in the world. It has the world's best brands at one place. It has different sections for different type of purchase, eg Jewelry shops are aligned at one place (called SOUKs), and similarly shoes and fashion etc have different SOUKs. There is an underwater zoo inside the mall. There is also access to Burj Khalifa and The Fountain Show from the mall premises. The food court has some affordable eateries. Goods are generally on the expensive side, but it’s a must see if you are in Dubai.
From there we moved on to the Burj Khalifa. It is the biggest attraction of Dubai. Plan your visit with 2-3 hours in hand as the queue is very long at the entrance at Dubai Mall. Once inside the world's fastest lifts, you are transported to the 124th Floor in no time at all. The passage till the lift showcases different stages of construction and timelines taken to complete the structure, along with people associated with design, planning etc. The view from the top is amazing with huge buildings looking like tiny dots from the top. A MUST SEE. Tickets are 130 AED per person. Please book in advance as they might get sold out. Next in line was the fountain show in the evening (right below Burj Khalifa). The shows are at regular intervals in the evening. You need to reach the banks early to have an unobstructed view. It’s for approx 4 minutes, but the music, lights and rhythm will completely mesmerize the beholder. It’s grand and majestic.
Talking about contemporary, we also visited Mall of the Emirates. The mall is centrally located in Dubai and is full of international brands. It is connected to the metro network as well. It has a beautiful architecture. Ski Dubai is there inside the mall for adventure enthusiasts. Many star hotels are inside or just next to the mall.
There are many beaches in Dubai to relax but most of them are very crowded. We went to a couple of beaches like Jumeirah Beach, Umm Suqeim Beach. We also tried the Desert Safari one evening. The dessert is about 45 minutes away from the main city. The packages from Tour Operators seem to be reasonable, BUT they charge extra for everything at the camp. Even the camel ride which was part of the package was for 1 min and the full ride of 20 mins was chargeable. The smoke (Sheesha), Heena and photographs in traditional attire are all charged and they cost you a bomb. The pick and drop were all organized smoothly though. The performances (belly dance) were great.
We went to some traditional markets of Dubai for some shopping, like Karama Market and Meena Bazaar. The markets have some good options in fashion (Indian esp), jewelry, shoes, perfumes etc to buy from. They have mostly local or unbranded stuff. Please make sure to bargain with shopkeepers since they quote very high prices to foreigners.
We also visited the Dubai Museum. It gave us an insight into the cultural, political and social history of the city of Dubai. It has some very rare artifacts. It is not very big and the entire tour will take around 45 mins. The ground floor is made up of thatched roofs and is extremely hot if you visited in those months. The basements are air conditioned. The entry fee is very nominal.
Dubai is connected to its neighboring cities by road only (no flights or trains). Major cities nearby are Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.
Finally, I would say that Dubai has something for every kind of traveler. A perfect trip should be for about 6-8 days. Do visit in winters, around the Dubai Shopping Festival.
Happy Travelling !!