advertisement

City Tours

London it's not, but Dubai has a handful of open-air double-decker buses roaming its streets. The double-decker coaches of the Big Bus Company  (tel. 04-340-7709; www.bigbustours.com/eng/dubai) offer city tours with two different routes: one focused on sights in Old Dubai, including the Dubai Museum and Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, and the other focused on Jumeirah Beach, with a trip to the Jumeirah Mosque, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, and Ski Dubai. The tours include the hop-on, hop-off bus routes, a dhow river cruise, and a walking tour, with commentary in English. Prices are AED 220 for adults and AED 100 for children 15 and under. Tours depart every hour from 9am to 5pm.

If you'd prefer to see the city by boat, Tour Dubai (tel. 04-336-8409; www.tour-dubai.com) offers 1-hour excursions along the creek in traditional dhows with four departures per day and hotel pickup available. Prices run AED 45 for adults and AED 35 for children 11 and under. Kids under 5 ride free. The same company also offers dinner dhow cruises and other tours. A more traditional, less expensive way to cross the creek is by water taxi, known as abra. These little motorized boats connect Deira and Bur Dubai at the dhow wharfage area on the Deira side or the Al Seef Road area on the Bur Dubai side. The fee for the 10-minute ride is negligible (AED 1 per ride, or AED 10 for a 1-hour creek tour).

Another way to visit Dubai is by air. Experience the city and its surroundings with a hot-air balloon ride, with departures every morning from Dubai Internet City and Fossil Rock. The trip takes you over desert and mountains and lasts a little more than an hour. Hot-air balloon rides with Balloon Adventures (tel. 04-285-4949; www.ballooning.ae) leave every morning and cost AED 950 per person (AED 800 for children under 13); the whole excursion with travel time and instruction is about 5 hours, including 1 hour spent in the air. Seawings (tel. 04-883-2999; www.seawings.ae) operates thrilling water plane tours lasting 30 to 40 minutes and costing between AED 995 and AED 1,225 per person. For an expensive, luxury helicopter tour, contact Alpha Tours (tel. 04-294-9888; www.alphatoursdubai.com), which offers 20-minute rides for AED 875 and 30-minute rides for AED 1,250, with a maximum of six passengers. The tours pass over all the key landmarks of Dubai, and should generally be booked at least a few days in advance.

Desert Safaris

A trip to Dubai is not complete without a trek into the desert, and there are numerous tour operators offering a range of desert and mountain safaris. Options include half-day, full-day, and overnight excursions; the most popular are evening desert safaris. Dune dinners begin around 4pm with a thrilling ride over the dunes in a 4WD followed by a visit to a camel farm, and then continue with a sunset dinner and Arabian campsite with live entertainment, including belly dancing and henna artists. Most end around 9pm and include transportation to and from one's hotel.

Full-day safaris typically involve visits to traditional Bedouin villages, Fossil Rock, and the Hajar Mountains. Overnight safaris let you sleep under the stars at a Bedouin-style campsite. Another popular all-day trip goes to the traditional Arabian village of Hatta, located in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains with freshwater rock pools perfect for swimming. Among the most reputable companies offering a range of desert safaris are Arabian Adventures (tel. 04-303-4888; www.arabian-adventures.com), Off-Road Adventures (www.arabiantours.com), and Orient Tours (tel. 04-282-8238; www.orienttours.ae). Dune dinners cost approximately AED 330 per person, day safaris approximately AED 345, and overnight safaris about AED 450 (prices are slightly less for kids).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.