Most people do not think of Dubai as a travel destination. They should.
Dubai is one of the most family-friendly destination we have been to. It met all the demands from my family. My son wants to go skiing. My daughter wants to go swim. I want to go shopping and my husband wants to dine in the world’s finest restaurants. In Dubai, we did all of these and more.
A mere 7 hours away from Singapore, Dubai has much to offer the family with kids. This desert city has more than enough family-friendly theme parks and attractions to keep your energetic kids happy. Click on the links below to read about our experiences swimming with Dolphins, walking with sharks, skiing in the desert and the sheer fun we had at these amazing theme-parks.
Here are some of the things we did:
- > Wild Wadi *
- > Burj Kalifa
- > Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
- > Kidzania*
- > Dolphin Bay Atlantis
- > Aquaventure – Atlantis*
- > Desert Safari
There is also morning Safari tours to see the sun rise, but after two full days before, we decided to sleep in on the fourth day and take it easy. Also, the Morning Safari only comprise of dune bashing, camel and quad bike rides are optional. Our kids were a little young for quad-bike rides, and we just really want to rest on this day, so we opted for the Desert Safari later in the afternoon instead.
> Ski Dubai– Mall of Emirates
If you have more time, you can visit these other places:
- Sega Republic – Dubai Mall
- Magic Planet – Mall of Emirates
- Ferrari World*
* full day activities.
And if you are a shopaholic like me, Dubai offers you variety and more. You can find all your popular luxury brands in the malls of Dubai. And some of the hot but not-so well-known ones like Lipsy London, Mexx, and Phat Farm too.
Plus, there’s no need to travel all the way to England or America for the famed department stores like Harvey Nicols, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Bloomingdale’s, Galleries Lafayette and Carrefour! They are all in Dubai’s largest malls – The Dubai Mall andMall of the Emirates. These malls are so big you have to take a mall taxi from one end to the other! The best part is that some of the family-friendly theme-parks are located in these very same malls!
Some of the smaller malls like Centrepoint and Burjuman are also worth a visit. Catch the famous month-long Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) at the beginning of the year and enjoy the fringe benefits of film festivals, international fashion shows, street plays and nightly fireworks. This festival is akin to the Great Singapore Sale we celebrate in May-June.
Dubai is very easy to navigate. Most of the signs are in English or Arabic, and almost everyone understands English. Summer clothing is suitable all year round, but carry a sweater or light jacket at night in the cooler winter months. Also, do be mindful that this is a country that has conservative social values, so make sure your shoulders and knees are covered and refrain from any overt display of affection (like hugging or kissing) in public areas.
Another good period to visit Dubai if you don’t mind the summer heat is from June to August. This is when the locals flee from the scorching Dubai heat (temperature can rise to 40s). The upside is everything, including airfares, accommodations and attractions are on discounted rates.
Getting around – Easiest thing is to hop into a taxi. Fares start at 3AED and a 10-minute ride to anywhere is about 30AED (SGD$10). Most public taxis have a meter; watch out for the private ones that tend to overcharge. And if you are adventurous, you can try the public bus or train.
Currency – AED – United Arab Emirates Dirhams (SGD$1 = 3.01AED ; US$1 = 3.67AED)
Where to stay – Dubai has a number of hotels for you to stay in. Alternatively, you can also check out the service apartments in the Golden Sands area. We stayed in the Xclusive Hotel Apartments which is 5 minutes walk to malls like Centrepoint and Burjuman and about 10-minutes by taxi to Dubai Mall or Mall of Emirates.
I hear that they are building an even larger mall, Mall of the World in Dubai and the opening of the largest water park yet – Yas Island Waterworld in the new year with 43 exciting rides, slides and attractions. I can’t wait to go back to Dubai for a visit when they open!
Did we miss anything in Dubai? Where else would you recommend as a family-friendly vacation destination?