Becoming A Tourist in My Own City – Dubai!

Happy new year, you guys! After a short hiatus, I finally had the spare time to browse over a couple of photos and share some bits and pieces with you here. It’s such a shame knowing that this has been my home for over three years now but I haven’t been around so much. So, when my boyfriend came to visit for 12 days, I took the same chance to explore and experience the beauty of this place.

For most people, what you can easily remember when you hear someone spend a vacation in Dubai is the luxury and the extreme heat. Truth be told, Dubai is truly worth a visit. Home to great restaurants and cuisines from all over the world, this city makes a top choice for major foodies, too. And don’t get me started with all that Guinness World madness — from the biggest this and the tallest that, the city itself is already one of its kind. I honestly think that Dubai is a city that has managed to preserve its heritage whilst progressively moving forward. That is to say, here you can marvel at the skyscrapers, all skinny and tall, built in the desert with luxurious cars lurking everywhere and live within an economy that is constantly growing to be a leader in innovation — no wonder UAE has built a great reputation as one of the top destinations to work abroad.

Before I carry on, here is a separate post about the essential things that you need to know if you ever plan on visiting the UAE.

He arrived in the first week of December which is just the absolute perfect time to visit (for me at least) because crowds are lesser and high temperatures begin to drop, making it an ideal condition, allowing us to enjoy the outdoors like lounging on the beach, embarking on desert safaris and strolling through the city. The worst time is definitely in the summer, particularly July and August, due to the unbearable heat.

Anyhow, I managed to take a few shots of some places we visited and I felt the need to share them just so you can see how cool really this city is.

On his first day, I brought him to the Dubai Mall. To speak the truth of the matter, this mall is like no any other mall in the world. Here you can find every kind of restaurant you could want, a VR park, a three-story aquarium, a long stretch of shops for any designer brands, a market, a fountain that is indeed a show-off, a close-up view of the tallest building in the world, and so much more that one day of purely walking will never be enough.

On to the next day, we headed to Al Fahidi Historical District.

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This has always been a standout amongst the most recommended spots to visit. To put it simply, it’s the place to go for history and culture tripping. Spending an hour or two is enough to have a lovely stroll around, soak in the traditional Emirati architecture, walk by art galleries, and discover local crafts and the sheer old fashioned way of it all.

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It was pretty cool, traditional and bohemian all at the same time and needless to say we loved it!

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Being a must-visit place, I was surprised to see how such a small number of visitors were present on that day. You’d almost feel like you have the place all to yourself.

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We stumbled upon this cute cafe/restaurant and had ourselves some cold drinks to cool off for a bit.

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Almost every square inch of this place is charming and picturesque that I couldn’t get my hands off the camera! Luckily, he agreed to be my model for a day.

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The second thing on our itinerary was to visit the traditional markets of Dubai (aka the Souqs) – the Gold Souq and the Spice Souq. Basically, stores in the Spice Souq sell an array of spices, sweets, and other foods, while the Gold Souk is home to a large number of jewelry stores. What makes it so easy to travel around this area was the short distance of these places from each other. Tip: Use your Google Maps to navigate through and spare your pocket from spending and taking public transportation. Using Uber and/or the taxi frequently is a bad idea as they are extremely costly. Actually, hiring a car is the least expensive alternative for getting around the city.

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The experience was exactly the same as how one would expect from shopping goods in a traditional market. But I have to say the variety of spices they have is great and doesn’t hurt the pocket much.

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We then walked towards the Creek and paid a dirham for a one-way ride on one of the many traditional Dhows (ships) and Abras (boats) sailing across. I say it is a must not only because it’s almost a giveaway but it gives the visitors a unique kind of experience in Dubai, too. Taking a tour through the Dhow cruise and Abra ride is absolutely a great way to experience the old side of Dubai.

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After getting off the Abra, we decided to carry on walking along the streets of Deira.

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Later that night, we went to visit the Dubai Frame. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos to share but, I can tell you that the queue going to the top was long. The queue for the tickets alone already took us some time so, if you ever find yourself deciding to visit the place, purchase the ticket beforehand (available online). Likewise, I couldn’t really say that it’s worth it but a visit wouldn’t hurt either. Besides, it offers a great view of the two faces of Dubai – the modern to your left and the run of the mill Arabian to your right side.

Now we start exploring the modern side of Dubai.

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We had a good start of our third day getting more calories, chilling and just walking around Dubai Marina. It’s pretty much a family-friendly place and where you can have a variety of restaurants to choose from. Having a massive man-made waterway, taking a dinner cruise is one of the most popular activities, too.

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It was Shake Shack over Five Guys for him.
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While he’s got his undying love for burgers, here I am always mad for sweets. Hands down to this all blk waffle from BLK Cab Coffee!

Taking you later that day, we left Dubai Marina for Global Village – a one-stop destination in Dubai that brings together culture, entertainment, food, and shopping from over 75 countries in one massive space. I’ve got no photos to show but just imagine having the ability to travel around the world with distance being not a matter of concern. Yes. That.

There was nothing much for the next three days. I was working throughout the day so he was basically doing some exploring around the city on his own. In the evening, we’d meet somewhere and find a place to grab dinner together. We went to this small Christmas market at Habtoor Palace along the Sheikh Zayed Road and ate some really good Japanese food at Yui (MAN THE FOOD WAS TDF) in Dubai Design District.

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But of course, his holiday wouldn’t be complete without the desert safari experience. Other than shopping, this is one of the most common tourist activities in Dubai that IS INSANELY CHEAP. We bought a package deal that’s worth AED 60+ from Cobone and it already includes dune bashing and buffet dinner followed by a cultural show. I absolutely enjoyed dune bashing and it will leave you pumped up with energy. Overall it was a fun night and something that you shouldn’t miss in Dubai.

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Our trip to the desert was then followed by a Careem ride to a popular beach club, Zero Gravity. One of my favorite DJs, Lost Frequencies, was taking the main stage so I had to drag him along mehehe

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For his last weekend, we spent the whole afternoon at Jumeirah public beach. Thing is, he always gets overly excited when he hears the word “beach” but I don’t. I think that’s primarily on the grounds that I came from a tropical country, literally growing up beside the beach so it doesn’t excite me as much at all. 

Although I didn’t go for a swim, it was pretty nice to just lounge and chill. A few hours later, our bellies yearned for some ass-kicking burger.

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With us, it’s always like coming up with a list of all the places where we can have the best burger in town. Sure there were a plethora of restaurants but, Bareburger kind of looked like an epic one. And boy, was it freaking good.

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One of my favorite places in Dubai is Souk Madinat in Jumeirah, I showed him around when we finally had the chance. The traditional Middle Eastern vibe packed with luxury shops, stalls, ice cream parlors, restaurants, and hotels in a labyrinth of narrow Arabian passages made Souk Madinat incredibly charming. At a time, it may feel touristy, but it’s not so crowded and beautiful nonetheless.

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When it was nearly time for the happy hour, we looked for a spot to get some refreshing drinks and killed some time before heading off to Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes JBR.

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THIS OREO MILKSHAKE WAS SO GOOD I ALMOST DIED
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Standing close before this 7-star hotel, Burj Al Arab, at night was truly a delight.

As we got closer to his day of departure, it started getting a bit harder for me too haha. The next day, we rented a car for 3 days. The plan was to drive to places that are quite far from the city, making it a pain to reach if you take public transport.

The mission was to go to the outlet mall, buy a pair of wedding shoes for me and a suit for him, and spend a night in Al Qudra lakes. We took our mission seriously and succeeded lol.

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I guess demons get tired and sad too

I don’t have any photos to share from our visit to Al Qudra lakes but it was certainly a lovely night to drive out in the cooler evenings (and get lost). It’s well maintained and there are cycle paths all around the drive down area. It is utterly peaceful, and you just feel so at ease with the world. (with a bonus of a loved one sitting beside you, it just couldn’t get any better)

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We carried on with our food trip on his last full day in Dubai. Starting in La Mer where SMK – Smoked Meat Kitchen is found, he devoured his smoked barbeque burger while I was sitting in awe of the beautiful sight. Powdery white sands, clear blue sky with a soothing sound of the crashing ocean waves made our delicious lunch much better. We ordered the Smoked Brisket Bun and Pickled Red Chillies and SMK BBQ Sauce, BBQ Glazed Smoked Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Dip and Celery Sticks, and their delish Mac & Cheese balls.

On our way back home, we drove past this good-looking bakery. I’m a big sucker for pastries and desserts, especially cheesecakes, so it was definitely out of the question.

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The Cheesecake Factory is arguably home to some of the world’s best cheesecakes and therefore a must for us on our last night together. The dinner was good, but the cheesecake was next level. We had the salted caramel cheesecake and it was so delicate yet powerful enough to pack a punch in your mouth. Every bite is a symphony of flavors that are sooo soooooo well put together and I dare you do not die without trying it.

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As our days together came to an end, I made my way back to the Philippines for my sister’s wedding while he returned to Germany. Our next destination is only 2 months away and I can’t wait to see him again.

I hope you enjoyed this post! As always, all opinions are my own! 😀

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