We’ve had two wonderful holidays in Dubai. Here are our top tips for a family trip to the bustling, cosmopolitan city! Practical things first (all very important when travelling with little people in tow….and when mindful of a budget!).
1. Use taxis (and or public transport!)
Don’t worry about organising transfers from the airport to your hotel/apartment. Dubai airport is stupidly child/family friendly and taxis are in abundance. There are pink ones for families (and female travellers) and everyone is helpful and will certainly not bat an eyelid when it comes to ramming stupid amounts of luggage into their pristine cars! (or when your child is sick everywhere as happened to us on one of our trips!). They all speak a reasonable amount of English and are certainly very familiar with the big hotels etc – so you’ll have no problems getting into the city. We didn’t see any sign of car seats but something like the mi-fold would be ideal. Once you’re settled in the city taxi’s are easily available at the taxi ranks (and there are loads of them!). The taxi drivers are strictly policed and therefore we never had any issue with the charges etc. It’s all very transparent and above board. Another option is Uber who operate in the city.
2. Visit a supermarket
Buy water and supplies in a supermarket, it will save you a small fortune on the hotel prices. Spinneys is the Waitrose equivalent (in fact it actually stocks Waitrose essential items!). There is a Spinneys in Dubai Marina as well as in Dubai Mall. There is also a stupidly large Carrefour in the Mall of the Emirates. Both stock a wide range of items – including Pampers nappies and Aptamil baby milk (the powder not the ready-made milk). They also stock a full range of fruit pouches (Ella’s kitchen etc). Dubai mall has every shop imaginable so should you find yourself needing something I reckon you’ve got a pretty good chance of finding it there.
3. Take Alcohol
Quite understandably the supermarkets in Dubai don’t sell alcohol. You can take up to 4 litres of alcohol into Dubai (and that should be enough for most parents!). The Government of Dubai website has full details. Not only will it save you a fortune it also means you can easily have a relaxing glass of vino whilst the little people sleep!
4. See the old town
When you’re staying in a gorgeous hotel complex, where the service is second to none, it’s all very tempting to just stay put. On our second trip to Dubai the weather was a little mixed and this forced us to get out and explore! We had a lovely afternoon in the Old Town of Dubai, with the souks, the river (with lots of lovely restaurants) and the traditional abra boats that cross the creek (not mega pram friendly so take a baby sling or reins (for the more mobile but less trustworthy little people!). There are various museums that we didn’t drag the children around but that I’m sure would be interesting and worthy of a visit. After a leisurely afternoon and a bite to eat we took the Dubai ferry back to the marina which was a big hit with all of us!
4. Experience the Dubai Fountain at night
Located at Dubai Mall this is well worth an early evening visit. The children (and adults!) love the lights and the music. We settled on an early dinner at one of the many restaurants overlooking the water (remember to request a terrace spot!) We got to eat and watch the fountains – a win win situation.
5. Make the most of the malls
There really is something for everyone in Dubai. The aquarium was a huge hit with our little people (it was one of the best I’ve ever been to!) and if like us you live in the countryside it’s always a treat to explore the restaurants, shops and cafe’s of a big city. We’ve tried the cereal cafe (sitting on beds eating Kellogg!), the wonderful Hummingbird cafe (ok so not that different but yummy nonetheless!), the Rainforest cafe (another international chain but a huge hit with our eldest – and right next to the aquarium!) – to name just a few. You could ski in the Emirates mall (but the very youngest members of families can’t go in – its only for children and adults 2+), you could explore the newly opened Legoland, Dubai, or one of the many waterparks. The list really does go on.