Expat Life in Dubai

Top Free Things To Do In Dubai

December 5, 2013

With the very cool and friendly weather that we now have in Dubai, tourists flock the city. I have been receiving emails and facebook messages from readers about some great ways to explore this city and I think it is now time for me to round up my favorites tourist spots. Dubai, as many of you know, is expensive. More expensive than some of the European cities I’ve ever been to but don’t let that put you off as there are ways to explore it without having to spend that much – some of it are actually for free even. The only thing that I’d probably advise you all is to find a hotel which is as close to the metro as possible as the metro is the cheapest and most efficient mode of transportation here. Taxis are horrendously expensive here and just like any other cities, some cab drivers take advantage of the tourists and takes the longer way to get you to where you want to go. Buy a nol card immediately as soon as you get out of the airport and make sure to choose the correct option from among the four categories – depending of course on how many days you’ll be staying in this city. (For more information about the nol cards, you may visit this website: Dubai City Guide). I also recommend for you to download the Dubai Metro Application on your smartphones, it’s extremely helpful and will make your metro use easier.

You’ve got to be very careful though when using the metro as they’ve imposed some really strict rules and regulations for all the passengers using it. Some of it are:

  • There are separate carriages for men and women, it’s very well signed from the outside and inside the carriage itself. These carriages are extended during the peak hours of 6am to 9am and 6pm to 9pm. If you’re a man, do make sure that you’re in the correct carriage. If a metro attendant sees you in a women-only carriage, there will be DHS200 fine.
  • Spitting, littering, smoking or anything else that you can do to pollute the metro is also not allowed. Fine of DHS200.
  • Carrying of alcoholic drinks, DHS200 fine.
  • Eating, drinking, chewing gum and sleeping (yes, sleeping but only if you are in a position which undermines the convenience of the other passenger near you) are also not allowed. I’m not so sure of the fine though but a colleague of mine was fined DHS200 for chewing gum.

For the complete list of Dubai Metro rules, you may visit the RTA Website.

So now that you know the important facts about using the metro, it’s now time to explore the city in a budget. Here are my top favorites tourist spots:

Stroll along The Walk / Jumeira Beach Residence (nearest metro station: Dubai Marina or Jumeira Lakes Towers)

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It’s a long stretch of road full of residential buildings, hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops. You can also access the public beach from here, do keep it in mind though that the public beach will not have toilets or shower areas. It’s one of my favorite places to go to for jogging. Just kidding, I don’t jog (although I think I must lol) – I usually go there for food or coffee and of course, to watch people.

View the Ski Dubai at Mall of the Emirates (nearest metro station: Mall of the Emirates)

I have been in Dubai for almost 7 years now but I still haven’t been inside Ski Dubai itself. It doesn’t really interests me to go inside it but sure I like seeing it from the outside. It’s fascinating and interesting to watch people ski inside a mall. Where else can you find an indoor ski mountain? Only in Dubai.

Window shop at Dubai Mall (nearest metro station: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall)

Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall based on total area, you don’t have to shop when you’re here – just by setting foot in it and probably crossing it out your bucket list may be enough for some.

Watch the Dubai Fountain (nearest metro station: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall)

This is the world’s largest dancing fountain and it never fails to amaze me whenever I go there to watch it. The show starts at 6pm and plays every half an hour. Last show is at 11pm on a weekdays and 1130pm on weekends. They also have one show in the afternoon at 1pm and another one at 1:30pm. You’ve got to see it! It’s amazing!

Be amazed by the Burj Khalifa (nearest metro station: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall)

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The world’s tallest building is the centerpiece of the Dubai Fountain. This vertigo-inducing building is a sight to behold. You have the option to go up to its observation deck at the 124th floor to have a bird’s eye view of the city – of course you’ll have to pay for it. I have not been there though simply because I have a slight fear of heights. Just by looking at it from the ground makes me all jittery already.

Observe the marine life at the Dubai Mall Aquarium (nearest metro station: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall)

You might think that I’m making a fool out of yourselves by saying this – Dubai Mall Aquarium is a Guinness World Record holder for the World’s Largest Acrylic Panel but I sh*t you not, because it is. Dubai is home of almost all the superlatives that you can think of and with Expo 2020 coming to this city, there will be a lot more – I am sure of it. I had the pleasure of going inside the Dubai Mall and seeing the aquarium when nobody else was around, it is absolutely amazing and very serene. Looking at it with no other sound that I can hear except for my own breathing was one of the amazing things I’ve done here in Dubai. You can never find such peace and tranquility anywhere else but of course, not many is as lucky as I am since it’s always packed now with shoppers whenever I pass by it.

Discover Souk Al Bahar (nearest metro station: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall)

The souk which is Arabic for market or marketplace.

The souk which is Arabic for market or marketplace.

This is one of my favorite places in Dubai as it offers a lot of options for dining. The restaurants may not be cheap but the surroundings is just really unique and gives out a really good ambiance. The souk is filled with small shops and restaurants and tries to give you that old Dubai feel in a modern setting. It’s very picturesque and I do recommend for you to visit it during the day, you’ll feel the old style of it much more during the day than at night.

Window shop for gold at the Gold Souk (nearest metro station: Al Ras – Green line)

As the name suggests, it is a market for gold. Even if you have no intentions of buying some gold, I believe it’s still a must to visit to see the narrow streets all lined up with small shop windows glittering in gold. If that doesn’t make you believe that Dubai is the city of gold then I don’t know what will.

Relive the past at Dubai Heritage Village (nearest metro station: Al Ghubaiba – Green line)

Now this is the authentic Dubai I must say. It will make you feel like you’ve walked in a storybook about the old Dubai. The village focuses on the Emirati tradition of pearl diving and of course the original architecture of the old Dubai houses. Once you’ve walked in this village, it will make you feel like you’ve entered a totally different city/country as this is so much different from the rest of Dubai. I like its authenticity and I highly recommend a visit to this place.

Take a glimpse of the old Dubai in the Old Souk (nearest metro station: Al Ghubaiba – Green line)

For shopaholics who are wanting to have the best and authentic Dubai products, I probably would suggest for you to head here. A trip to the old souk also gives you fantastic photo opportunities to give you a glimpse of the old Dubai.

Watch the Dubai Light and Sound show (nearest metro station: Dubai Healthcare City)

I have only seen one performance of the Dubai Light and Sound show and it was a Christmas presentation some years back. I was headed to the Spanish restaurant in Wafi and I walked past by the pyramids where a lot of people were waiting for the show to start. I stayed back and watched a part of it, I must say that it was good but will probably be enjoyed more by the kids. Still, a visit to Wafi is a good idea while in Dubai.

That’s my version of the top free things that you can do in Dubai. If you need any more help or more information, please feel free to contact me.

Enjoy Dubai!

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3 Comments

  • Reply Mitzie Mee December 11, 2013 at 18:54

    The fountains are beautiful. That’s one of the places I always take my visitors. Then we go for a coffee at Paul afterwards, -not for free, but definitely worth it;)

  • Reply nadamohammed December 8, 2013 at 18:36

    My all-time favorite has to be watching the Dubai Mall fountain, followed by discovering or walking at Souk Al Bahar 🙂

    • Reply Pinay Flying High December 8, 2013 at 18:57

      The fountain is my favorite too, it never fails to amaze me. 🙂

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