My first solo trip was to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It was THE place to travel. Others had traveled and came back with wonderful stories and posted lovely pics on social media. Thorough research revealed it was safe for a female solo traveler. Below you will find 14 things to do in Dubai. I enjoyed some of these on my first solo trip and others while living in the UAE.
1/Natureland Spa @ Rixos JBR Hotel – Turkish Hammam
I recommend scheduling a spa visit on the day of arrival or the day after. The travel journey can take a toll on your mental and physical health. To rejuvenate my mind and body after a long flight, I scheduled a Turkish Hammam treatment at the Natureland Spa in the Rixos JBR hotel. Upon entering the spa, the dim lighting set the mood for relaxation. Soothing music and fountain water were playing in the background. Sensual aromas filled the spa lobby. After my bath, I felt like a new person. I was ready to experience all Dubai was offering.
I love flowers, plants, trees, foliage, and nature. It was necessary that the Miracle Garden was on the itinerary. If you’re searching for Instagram-worthy shots, don’t pass on the Miracle Garden. It’s an art exhibit of flowers. Flowers are beautifully arranged to create all sorts of things. Personally, I did not want to leave the garden. Restaurants were available for lunch, tea, coffee, ice cream, and snacks. It’s worth the drive from the city. Taxis are available to and from the attraction.
What isn’t cool about skiing in the desert? It was my first time ever skiing. Skiing at Ski Dubai the experience more memorable. I’m not a big fan of being cold. I enjoyed the experience from the beginning to the end. Simply, getting dressed in the ski gear gave me goosebumps. You can choose one of several snow park packages. The package I chose had an encounter with penguins, a chairlift ride, a 60-minute ski lesson, and a host of rides in the snow park. I was a big kid that day. It’s located in the Mall of Emirates.
4/Abra to Gold Souk
An abra is a water taxi. The ride will cost 1 dirham ($0.27) to get across Dubai Creek to the Gold Souk. The Gold Souk is impressive with all its gold. Gold is sold per gram and the price can change per day. The daily price will be listed for 18K, 21K, 22K, & 24K. The price of the gold will be multiplied times the weight. There is a 20% charge for making (I’m not sure what’s that for) and a 5% Value Added Tax (VAT).
The VAT will be refunded at the airport so make sure you get a receipt. Make sure you have your calculators ready on your phones and don’t be afraid to ask them to explain the charges to you. In addition, shop around to make sure you’re getting a good deal. To determine the price in dollars, divide dirhams (AED) by $3.67. For example, 24K gold per gram is (225.75 AED/$3.67) $61.51 in dollars.
5/High Tea at Atmosphere Lounge in Burj Khalifa
I consider this to be my most memorable experience in the UAE. Sometimes I can be a girly girl. Enjoying tea, little sandwiches, dessert, and champagne with a violinist playing in the background makes for a great afternoon. The food not only looked good. It tasted good. The service was impeccable from the beginning to the end with an awesome view of the city and the Dubai fountains. I envision more afternoon tea times in the future.
6/Dubai Mall/Fountains/Aquarium/Burj Park
After leaving the Burj Khalifa or vice versa, you can visit the Dubai Mall. It’s huge. Check off several other attractions while at Dubai Mall. Outside the mall, you can see the Dubai Fountain from Burj Park. The show is 15 minutes long and starts every 30 minutes. Inside the mall, you can see parts of the aquarium. The mall has many well-known shops and restaurants. You can easily spend an entire day at the mall. Most people do.
7/Sheikh Center for Cultural Understanding
I make an attempt to learn more about the country I’m visiting. Sheikh Center for Cultural Understanding is a great resource for Emirati culture. You’re free to roam about the premises and get a glimpse of the traditional Emirati lifestyle. Personally, I enjoyed the combination of live falcons, wax figurines, and colorful seating arrangements.
The Dubai Museum is full of Emirati history pre-oil discovery. Learn much about the daily struggles of the recent past. Trade, food, traditions, culture, existence, and survival. A collection of artifacts and an entire nation’s story of rag to riches. Taking notes.
If you love fabric, do not pass up the Textile Souk. Many shops to choose from. Price usually determines the quality of the fabric. Bargaining is acceptable in these establishments as well. I bought some beautiful fabric from the Textile Souk. The fabric was transformed into a beautiful formal dress in Thailand. I ended up flaunting the dress on a family Christmas cruise to the Bahamas.
Global Village was not on my radar as a place to visit. I’m glad my friend and her family took me there. If you want to take a trip around the world in a day. Global Village is a place you do not want to miss. It’s a collection of shops, restaurants, and rides from several countries. I purchased some shea butter from Africa. I got henna on my hand from a middle eastern country I can’t seem to remember (LOL). When you visit so many countries in one day, it’s natural to forget what country you’re in. There is an entry fee. Also, services and merchandise are an additional cost.
A desert safari is a must when visiting the desert. I finally made it happen on my third visit. I’m happy I was able to experience it with Daniel on New Year’s Day. The company picked us up in a van at a LuLu Hypermarket near the Mall of Emirates. The van took us to SUVs that drove wildly through the desert. The ticket included roundtrip transfers, henna, camel ride, snacks, beverages, barbeque, and a show. You can purchase ATV rides for an additional fee. It was a memorable way to celebrate the first day of the year.
The Dubai Frame is a wonderful concept. Exhibitions similar to those seen in the Dubai Museum educate visitors about the history of Dubai. The ride up the elevator is scenic and safe to the ears. Up top, you’ll see old Dubai on one side and new Dubai on the other. You’ll be able to take selfies up top and your picture will be put on the screen at the bottom of the frame.
13/Sunset or Umm Suqeim Beach (Burj Al Arab backdrop)
If you want a pic with Burj Al Arab (the building shaped like a sail) as your backdrop, visit Umm Suqeim Beach also known as Sunset Beach. The beach is busy day and night with tourists and UAE residents. Bring your own food and have a beach picnic or grab something to eat from the food vendors.
14/Al Ghubaiba Souk
It’s a tourist trap. Everyone is selling just about the same thing. Get ready to hassle. Make sure your negotiation skills are up to par. No price seemed to be set in stone. It’s a great place to purchase souvenirs if you bargain. I purchased many souvenirs for family and friends here. Words of advice from a long-time resident on souvenir bargaining: Offer them half of the asking price, and try to get close to half of the asking price or under. Tell them that you’re going to check with other stores if you don’t get near that price. If they stop you from leaving, that lets you know that you still have some wiggle room with the pricing.
Got questions about traveling or living in Dubai? Schedule a TALK.
Fun Facts About Me
- lived in UAE since 2019.
- lived in 3 different emirates (Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai).
- traveled to all seven of the Emirates.