I thought I would write a trip report of our first holiday in Dubai as it might help other travellers as well.
I spent a lot of time on this forum before our trip reading every topic and every answer and trying to come up with the best itinerary for my family.
So we visited Dubai for 6 nights , during Ramadan, at the beginning of June, 2 adults and a teenager, flying from Ireland.
When I booked my flights with Emirates I was delighted to get a good deal in June without realising it was Ramadan hence the lower prices! To be honest I was slightly disappointed when I realised this as I was not very familiar with what it meant but after reading a few websites and topics about Ramadan in Dubai I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t such a big problem.
So I started looking at accommodation…that was a big issue as I was overwhelmed with the number of hotels and all different areas and facilities etc. I read a lot on this forum, I asked a few friends, I looked up reviews of hotels on TripAdvisor and in the end I chose Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel in downtown. They had a great deal on their executive suites with access to the executive club, with free unlimited access to Wild Wadi and Mina A Salam beach with shuttle bus there and back. We wanted a beach holiday and a city break and an adventure holiday and a shopping holiday so this hotel seemed to tick a lot of boxes as to where it was located and what facilities it offered. I kept an eye on their website up to a couple of days before our arrival and as they put down their prices a few times , I was able to cancel the original booking a couple of times and rebook at the new lower prices. So my advice would be to keep an eye on the hotel’s website right before your departure as prices might come down! This obviously only works with free cancellation up to 1-2 days before check in.
I also booked a few things before we left for Dubai : I booked tickets to Burj Khalifa and Dubai mall Aquarium (combo tickets from Burj Khalifa’s official website, about €33/adult for both the tower and the aquarium), I booked Arabian Adventures Desert Safari for about €65 each and I also booked an Iftar meal in Burj Al Arab Al Iwan Restaurant for about €68 each.
So our flight with Emirates went smoothly, nice food and drinks, great movies selection, quite comfortable seats. We landed in Dubai at 9 AM and we got to our hotel within an hour or so.
The Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel (JET for short) was just unbelievable! It is such an iconic building, instantly recognisable from the outside. The check in went without problems, our suite was ready straight away and we were also offered breakfast in the executive suite.
The suite was gorgeous with stunning views over the neighbouring skyscrapers and Burj Khalifa. After we settled in and unpacked , we went to Dubai Mall to visit the Aquarium and Burj Khalifa. Even though there was a metro station right beside the hotel, we decided to take a taxi as the mall was close enough and we were too tired after the overnight flight to walk and try to work out the metro system. I was aware we wouldn’t be able to eat and drink in public being Ramadan and I was slightly apprehensive about that but it wasn’t such a big issue as I thought it would be. The Mall was pretty quiet when we got there and we went straight to the Aquarium. I won’t describe it here but it’s definitely worth visiting it, very impressive! After that we went looking for food and found the Food Court which was open and busy and buzzing, with all kind of food and prices , it just had some curtains at the entrance and exit.
After a quick lunch there we went to Burj Khalifa and went up to enjoy the views. It was a clear day and not very busy so we had quite a pleasant time up there.
We returned to the hotel for a bit of a rest and had some free pre dinner drinks and food in the executive club before heading back to the Mall to see the fountains. It was extremely hot for us even in the evening but we managed to stay outside on the bridge to see the fountains and also the fantastic music and lights show on the Burj Khalifa itself, now that was impressive!!
Even though JET has an outside swimming pool we could not wait to go to the beach. After a lovely breakfast at the hotel we took the hotel’s shuttle bus and went to Wild Wadi (free for Jumeirah hotel guests) and then to Mina A Salam beach.
Wild Wadi was very good, a bit small compared to other European waterparks but very clean, safe and great rides! We spent only a couple of hours there as it was very hot and we headed on to Mina A Salam beach. What a hotel and what a beach! The service on the beach was very good with cold water and fruits, fresh towels etc, 5* changing rooms on the beach and such a great view of Burj Al Arab! Again, stayed only for a couple of hours and those hours we spent mostly in the water (very warm as well) because of the heat and then we visited the Madinat Souk, very pretty and very quiet. Got a lovely pashmina for my daughter there and we had the first opportunity to haggle the price .
In the evening we met a friend who lives in Dubai, we went for a meal in the Mall of Emirates and was impressed with the Kempinski hotel just at the Mall’s entrance and had a good look at the ski slope inside the mall!
We spent the morning at the Mina a Salam beach again. After lunch we went to visit Dubai Museum in the old town. It is a very small museum but very good and informative, very cheap and again, very quiet at that time of the day. On the way out we went very briefly to see the Textile Souk but it was very , very hot and we were probably the only tourists around so we got a lot of attention from the vendors which we did not particularly enjoyed :).
At 6 pm we took at taxi to Burj Al Arab for our 7pm Iftar meal reservation. We got there a bit early but we spent the time wandering around the lobby and first floor, taking pictures and people watching. It is such a fabulous hotel! The Iftar meal is a buffet type of meal during Ramadan and it was just delicious! The setting, the service, the food, everything was out of this world and I think it was the highlight of our trip!
We left Burj al Arab at about 9 PM and went back to the old town to visit the Gold Souk. It was busier than lunch time and the vendors not so aggressive so we spent a bit longer this time. Only bought a small bangle as I was too tired to look too much around. We also took an Abra across the creek and we really enjoyed it, the city lights and the mosque lights were amazing.
Started again with a swim at the Mina a Salam beach, could not have enough of the pretty beach with the Burj al Arab views.
At 4.30 PM we were picked up by the Arabian Adventures guide from the hotel lobby and off we went on our desert safari. We enjoyed it a lot even though it was very hot in the desert. The dune bashing was fine, not too extreme but exciting enough, we did a bit of sandboarding (very briefly as it was so hot), admired the sunset over the sand dunes and headed off to the camp where we had our meals and henna tattoos, camel riding etc. Surprisingly there was beer and wine for sale even though it was Ramadan!
Went to Wild Wadi and beach again in the morning, had some rest and afternoon tea in the hotel and then went to visit Dubai Marina. The previous day, on an impulse, I booked a Yellow Boats tour of the Dubai marina, only for myself and my daughter as my husband gets seasick. We arrived at the Marina just before the sunset and it was spectacular! I thought downtown Dubai was impressive with its skyscrapers but Marina is out of this world! We went for a short walk on The Walk and spent some time inside a Mall as well to cool off before our boat trip. Our tour was the last tour of the day, at 8 pm, it was an extremely hot evening and the visibility was extremely poor. I was not entirely surprised to find out that myself and my daughter were the only customers that evening! I was slightly sceptical because of the heat and poor visibility but it turned out to be the most amazing tour! The captain was very professional, we got cool bottles of water straight away and he gave us great information about the Marina and Dubai in general. The trip along the canal was fantastic , I was amazed by the lights of the skyscrapers and the mosque and the shops etc. Once we got to the open waters he went full speed and did a few loops, it was great fun like being on a rollercoaster in the middle of the ocean ! He asked us first if we want to go full speed, we were more than happy to do that!
Before returning to JET for the night, we went to the Observatory restaurant in Marriott Harbour Hotel and had a couple of drinks but no views unfortunately as the visibility was 0 that night. We were so impressed with the Dubai marina area that we promised will return the next day.
We spent our last day doing what we enjoyed best , the beach at Mina A Salam, the Dubai Marina and went for a last visit to Dubai Mall to have another look at the Aquarium (from the outside this time). We went up to the Observatory in the Marriott again during the day and had a great view over the Palm and The Atlantis hotel.
We enjoyed the last free drinks in the executive club in the evening and went to see the fountains and the lights on Burj Khalifa for the last time.
We enjoyed our last breakfast at JET and went for a short tour around the hotel’s shopping centre. We then packed our bags and left for the airport. Funnily enough I enjoyed the gold counters in the airport more than in the old town as there were just a few of them and the staff helpful but not intrusive! Got a pair of earrings and another bangle :)
I have to say that JET was the best hotel we ever stayed in and we stayed in quite a few 4* and 5* hotels around the world. The rooms, the lobby, the food, the services etc out of this world, we were treated like royalty and for a very competitive price at that!
As a conclusion, I would have no hesitation going to Dubai again during Ramadan! It worked really well for us, the flights, the hotel, the trips etc were much cheaper than before or after Ramadan and there were very few inconveniences if any at all!
The heat was a slightly bigger issue as we could not really just go for a walk outside for more than a few minutes but even so there were still plenty of things to do!
If we ever go back during the summer will probably stay again at JET as it is so close to the Mall and Old Town etc and offers free access to the waterpark and private beach and free shuttle bus there and back and no taxi driver would miss it ! :) If we’re to go back during the winter I would probably stay in a hotel around Dubai Marina as it is the prettiest place ever and I would love to go for a proper walk all around it!
We had a really fantastic time in Dubai , were treated extremely well everywhere and hope we will return one day !