A little over a year ago, my mother and I planned one week in Dubai to pay a visit with family & to explore the UE. We had just finished traveling to the Philippines & Singapore for a month & we were set for a new adventure. As you can probably imagine, our pocket books were thinning & I knew that being Frugal in Dubai was going to be a challenge. While I know my financial wits could find a way, we were so fortunate to have family in Dubai who welcomed us into their home. Let me rephrase that – who welcome us into our own home. Yes, my aunt & uncle set us up with our very own Villa in Dubai. #OnceInALifetime & we were SOOOO excited.
While I had seen Dubai on TV & magazines, in reality I had no idea what to truly expect. In my imagination, the cities were painted in gold. I soon learned that wasn’t a far stretch from the truth…
The Emirates was everything Jennifer Aniston said it would be on those TV commercials – luxury at its finest! We enjoyed spacious cabins, flatbed seats, unlimited food & beverage, comfy blankets / pillows, over 2,500 tv channels & the best flight service we’d ever had. We even had a pleasant conversation with a Dubai Businessman who sat in our row. He went by the name of “Dar”. We had a laugh shortly after my mother had mistakenly called him “Dar Dar”. In spite of us laughing hysterically, he allowed us to adopt the latter name for the rest of the flight & gave us tips to traveling Dubai.
Arriving in Dubai
Once we landed in Dubai, I felt my stock drop. After all, parts of the airport were lined in gold & I instantly felt the urge to tell Toto (aka Mom) we weren’t in Kansas anymore. It was Las Vegas on steroids & every car in site was the price of my mortgage. Dar Dar assured us that while Dubai was extravagant it was also a melting pot of cultures brought in from the foreigners who came to live there. Hearing this excited me as I personally enjoy travel to learn new customs & ways of living. While that was the objective, a part of me was also excited to put on the Ritz.
Reunited with Family
We only had one week to explore all that we could, but our family in Dubai gave us the experience of a lifetime – from camel rides in the desert, shopping in the world’s largest malls, tubing down the slides of Atlantis, sailing on the Arabian Sea & boarding my aunt’s luxurious yacht. All this made me realize one thing – this would all make for a “FANCY” blog post & not quite the “FRUGAL” one. I almost did not post this, but I could not resist sharing all the FUN of our trip & the hospitality shown by my “pamilia” (that’s family in tagalog).
Thankfully, we had budgeted for our trip in advance & were prepared for the extra costs of shopping, excursions, dining & all that jazz. I also kept my financial wits about me to find common sense ways of cutting costs.
A few photos from our trip…
Camel Rides Through the Desert
This was by far one of my favorite excursions. We were picked up by a driver in an SUV, who took us off roading in the Sand Dunes for 30 minutes. This was both fun & frightening. I’ll be honest, there were a few times I thought we were going to flip over. Luckily we arrived safe & sound in this little desert oasis with camels. Yes, we had a chance to ride them! This was such an awesome experience. You don’t realize how tall they are until you are on one. My disclaimer? Look straight, not down.
We finished off the trip with snowboarding down the dunes & a live belly dancing dinner show. It was spectacular!
Sailing on the Arabian Sea
Talk about feeling on top of the world. My family gave us a once in a lifetime. This yacht at one time was said to be the second largest yacht in the world. You could only imagine how my mouth dropped walking up to this thing. We were given a tour, sipped tea & left to sail on the Arabian Sea.
A Boat Ride to Atlantis
Okay, that Yacht was too big to sail in lol. So we hopped on these little duffy looking boats that were attached. What I thought was going to be a calm slow ride through the ocean wound up being an 80 MPH high speed race to Atlantis. We were going so fast that I recall all our empanadas flying off the boat. & it was so fun!
Beach & Shopping at Jumeira
Jameira was such a neat beach lined with shops & restaurants. It was HOT, so we had to stop for some ice cream 🙂
Burj Al Khalifa View Room at The Al Manzil Hotel in Downtown Dubai
I decided to stay in Downtown Dubai for a few nights to experience the city. Al Manzi was the hotel I stayed at & it was such a great choice. I found a killer deal on Hotels.com & was given a front center view of the Burj Al Khalifa (The Tallest Building in the World). Score!
A Visit to Dubai Miracle Gardens
Okay, this place completely reminded me of Alice & Wonderland. Beyond the two double doors out front was an immaculate garden! This is a must see in Dubai.
“A Few Things Learned from Our Trip To Dubai”
- The people in Dubai are very friendly, so friendly that I was given a front center view of the Burj Al Khalifa at the Manzi Hotel in Downtown Dubai. While it was mid-week & they were not at full occupancy, the point is that I didn’t have to pay an extra dime to experience world class.
- The city is trendy! Like I said before, it’s like Vegas on steroids with it’s exclusive clubs, posh pool parties, lavish lounges & affluent attendees.
- It’s important to Maintain Modesty: Although Dubai is considered very liberal compared to other places in the Middle East, Dubai still maintains a conservative dress code. It’s best to maintain modesty. Fashion is a plus but steer clear of that short backless dress you wore at Club Tao in Vegas.
- Islamic Values Should Be Respected: Muslims pray 5 times a day & mosques initiate the prayer through speaker systems. During this time, it is important to turn off all music & stop what you are doing all together.
- Do avoid public displays of affection: While holding hands is generally okay (if you are married), kissing & hugging are not tolerated in public.