Dubai: City and Beach in One Amazing Destination

By Katie Millar

I was lucky enough to go on a luxury educational trip with Kenyan Airlines to Dubai. Dubai is only about an 8-hour flight away and Cathay Pacific, Emirates and Kenyan Airlines all fly direct.

What to do in Dubai:

Dubai has the best of both worlds – city and beach. You can walk alongside some of the tallest buildings in the world and there is sand on the side of the road.

The city boasts the tallest building in the world currently – The Burj Khalifa which stands at 828 metres tall and 160 stories. The Observation deck is open from 10am until 1am. While visiting Burj Khalifa, make sure you also take time to shop in the ‘Dubai Mall’ which is the worlds largest shopping mall with over 1200 retail shops, 2 large department stores and over 200 food and beverage outlets.

For the more adventurous traveler, Dubai boasts 2 waterparks – Wild Wadi World at Jumeriah and Adventure Waterpark at the Atlantis The Palms. Both waterparks are connected to hotels. However, non guests can access the parks as well.



Daytrip Suggestion:

For those that have a day or so up their sleeve, head down to Abu Dhabi (about a 2-hour drive each way) and visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which is one of the largest mosques in the world and boasts the world’s largest handmade carpet.

It is open daily to visitors and appropriate dress must be worn. If you don’t fancy walking around in 40-degree heat in long pants and long sleeves then you can hire appropriate dress while you are there. For the adventurous, head to Yas Island which is where the Formula 1 is held. On the island you have a waterpark, but the main attraction is Ferrari World – which is the largest indoor theme park. They have a number of rides as well as exhibits highlighting the world of Ferrari. All the cars in the theme park are real and with a bit of petrol would run!

Most of the beaches in Dubai are private so if you are after a beach holiday it is worth spending the extra money to stay at one of the beach hotels such as Jumeirah Beach Hotel, or if you want to head out to the Palm – then Atlantis is the hotel to stay at. For those that would prefer to stay more in the city centre you can still access the public beaches.


Where to eat and drink:

You can’t drink in the Emirates outside of hotels so all bars/nightclubs are located within these. Staying at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel we were lucky enough to try a few of their bars and the rooftop bar there is amazing with great views. They do have a nightclub there which is popular with locals as well as tourists called 360 and is located out on the Marina so great sea views! Going for brunch on a Friday (the first day of their weekend) is a really popular activity for locals so the hotels have great offers similar to what they offer in the 5 star hotels here in HK – so be prepared if you are staying at a big 5-star hotel particulary on the beach that you may need to book a table for their lunch time buffet on a Friday otherwise you will struggle to get a table.

A lot of people when visiting Dubai, if not lucky enough to stay at the Burj Al Arab, are fascinated by it and try to get inside. Unfortunately unless you are staying at the hotel you need to have a reservation at one of its many restaurants or bars to get inside. A popular way to get in the hotel is to book for afternoon tea – they have 4 different types and range from AED 235 to 450 per person. It does pay to book in advance as they do sell out and there is a strict dress code which must be adhered to otherwise you wont get passed security.

Flight Centre Tips:


  • Change your money when you arrive in the UAE as the rates are much better due to the USD rate.
  • Distance from the airport to town – about 35 minutes. Be prepared to wait at customs no matter what time of the day or night your arrive – we waited about 45 minutes to clear customs
  • Friday and Saturday are there weekend days. Most things open later on Fridays. Fridays being there main weekend day – most of the hotels have special brunches similar to here.
  • Summer is between May-September so is the low season for hotels but it can reach about 45 degrees during the day and can be quite humid
  • They have a train (only 2 lines at the moment) running from (I think) 9am until 10pm except Fridays which is doesn’t start till 2pm
  • Most of the beaches in Jumeirah are private use for the hotel however there are one or two public beaches
  • Most hotels run free shuttles to the major shopping malls
  • The water show at the Dubai Mall has a show at 1230, 1pm and 1.30pm and then again every half hour from 6pm until 10pm

Dubai is a great destination and is a great alternative to a South East Asian Beach break! The beaches are amazing and the ones I saw would rival many of the beaches around Asia. If you think it is a bit too far for a beach break then why not think about it for a stopover on your way to/from Europe?