The Dubai International Airport (DXB) connects the East and the West, offering flights for over 260 destinations worldwide. Dubai’s drive for growing bigger and better every day does not stop at the airport gates, with more than 79 million people already passing through these terminals each year. The city’s second airport, Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC), plans to become the world’s largest airport, serving up to 160 million passengers every year.
A stopover overview
With time, Dubai International Airport has grown into the world’s busiest and fastest growing airport. The airport itself, no doubt, is a sight to behold, but those with a layover in Dubai of over 4-5 hours should likely consider checking in their luggage and exploring the attention-grabbing city centre.
With plenty of sights ready to be explored independently – guided tours organised by Emirates and cosmos Holidays – a prolonged, possibly monotonous Dubai layover will transform into something fun as you marvel at the ultra-modern gulf city. Most of the major attractions are located within the same region, making it easier for you to reach the city centre in little time via public or private transport.
At the airport
- Special features
Including the luxe new Emirates Terminal 3, the airport is divided into three terminals. It is usually a quick trip across the terminal to your next flight since an underground train carefully connects the Emirates A380 hub to other gates. The place is home to three main Timeless Spas where you can pass the time with a relaxing massage and manicure.
In case you’re a Muslim, you can seek a spiritual escape at any of the dedicated prayer rooms spread throughout the airport. Other passengers can settle into meditation in one of the two indoor Zen gardens by gates B7 and B27.
- Luggage storage
Depending on the size of your luggage, terminals 1 and 3 offer luggage storage facilities for 20-25 AED – for up to 12 hours and it is open 24/7.
You can easily skip the hassle of lugging your bags at the airport, if you’re flying via Emirates, opting to have them delivered anywhere in the UAE. The delivery arrangement is easy at the arrivals hall of Terminal 3, costing up to 250 AED for a maximum of four bags.
There are a total of 80 diners at the Dubai Airport, ranging from gourmet sit-down restaurants to fast food eateries. You can never go wrong with the Belgian ‘sweet chain’ in order to satisfy the sugar cravings. Boulangerie Le Pain Quotidien is famous for serving organic French fare to go into Terminal 3 departure A Gates.
If you’re in the mood for something speedy and upscale, try Terminal 3’s Caviar House & Prunier’s Seafood Bar or the Moët & Chandon Champagne Bar Le Lounge in Terminal 3 Gate A.
The UK favourite Giraffe is situated near gates A and B – a bistro with everything from fast food sandwiches to BBQ rack ribs. For the taste of Southern, Comfort Jack Daniel’s special diner is on tap, situated in Terminal 3, A Gates.
The Emirates Terminal 3 duty free is open to any foreign brand shop you can think of, and the best part is that it is open 24/7. Passengers can shop from a wide selection of designer sunglasses, timepieces and top-name luggage from brands like Rolex and Breitling.
For wine lovers, the extensive collection of vintage, fine wines, and New World is available at the Le Clos shop in Terminal 3.
If you have half/whole day
- Transport to the city centre
With just two lines running throughout the entire city, Dubai’s metro system is one of the most convenient transport realms to make use of. Passengers can hop on the red line from Terminals 1 and 3, running every 10 minutes starting from 5:50 am in the morning (5:30 am on Thursdays) until midnight (or 1 am on Thursdays and Fridays). The fares differ depending on the distance and number of transfers, usually ranging from 1.80 AED to 5.80 AED.
The major stops include grand tourist destinations like the Burj Khalifa or Dubai Mall and the grand downtown of Dubai Marina. From Khalid Bin Al Waleed or the Union Square, travellers can connect over to the green line, which usually stops in Deira near the Dubai Creek.
Dubai’s streamlined transportation system comes as a blessing to passengers since they can catch a bus headed straight to main city centre from the metro. Buses depart every 30 minutes from all three main airport terminals, heading to Deira (Bus 401). Fares are 3 AED depending on the distance.
On the other hand, for the hitch-hiking souls, taxi stands are at each terminal, fares starting around 20 AED. A typical ride from the airport to Dubai Marina costs around 100 AED. There is an option for female travellers to hail a woman-only taxi by booking one of the pink cabs.
- Touring Burj Khalifa
If we have to name one tourist attraction worth seeing in Dubai, it would be the Burj Khalifa, standing 2716.5 feet above, considered to be the tallest building in the world (at the moment). The towers holds up to 160 stories, however, visitors can only go up to the observation deck, right at the Top, which is known as the highest observation deck in the world occupying the 124th and 158th floors with 360 degree views of the city. Those short on time can purchase a quick ticket so they don’t have to wait in regular long lines. Once you reach the observation deck, feel free to spend some time around absorbing the mesmerizing sights.
- The Dubai Fountain
The world’s largest choreographed fountain is situated right within the shadow of the world’s tallest building. Better described as the spectacle, these fountains shoot water up to 125 metres in the air, with a sombre music show accompanying the movement of the water throughout the day and night. Along the board walk, unsurprisingly, the fountains are clearly visible from any point that lines the perimeter of the historical yet manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, making this place a perfect spot for a nice in-transit stroll.
Time Required: The visit to the fountains can last from five minutes onwards – mainly depending on your preferences and timeframe. The actual water, light and sound show plays in 5minute intervals during specific periods of the day. The trip can be easily coupled with a tour of the top section of the towering Burj Khalifa. It is important to note that this does include the time taken to travel from and to the airport.
All in all
In order to travel around comfortably to the major, nearest attractions and to reach the airport back in time for the next flight, it is advisable to have a layover time of at least 8 hours; It is also advised to keep the city’s crazy traffic in mind.
Travellers with a true wandering soul, however, make the best of every opportunity to explore. And this is one of the main reasons why many of them plan their prolonged stop overs in a way that they get to enjoy a new city during their journey. Dubai makes for such a perfect opportunity, therefore, whenever you fly next time, a tour to Asia from the US for example, make sure to give yourself enough hours to take a thorough tour of the gulf city on your way to the world!
Most Unique Dubai Hotels to Stay In
Planning a trip to Dubai, lots of students are interested in hotels located by the sea. The hotels with their own beaches are internationally recognized as a standard of luxury and wealth. We have collected together the unique hotels located by the sea and in the middle of the desert, having their own zests.
Don’t hesitate to find a reliable writing service that can work your home assignment out as soon as you ask them, “Could I pay for my essay to have my paper done?” to get more spare time to enjoy your holidays.
Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa
This luxurious resort is built in the dunes of Dubai. Being a guest of this hotel, you have a scenic pool overlooking the desert. The hotel spa offers a wide range of treatments both for men and women. Outside the hotel, you will find rows of fountains, lush gardens, and stone narrow streets. If you are tired of staying in the hotel area, you could explore the surrounding nature by horse or camel. In addition, you should try to take up archery, falconry, and croquet. Kids can take advantage of Sindbad’s facilities at a children’s club or swim in the children’s pool.
Palazzo Versace Dubai
If you want to enjoy Arabic places of interest and feel the Italian spirit by the sea, you need to visit this wonderful place. The building of this magnificent hotel resembles an Italian castle, built in the 16th century. The territory is decorated with a garden. The interior rooms are decorated in Italian style. The hotel complex has 8 restaurants, bars, and a terrace in the open air. You can swim in the pool or relax in the garden.
Atlantis The Palm
The lovers of the underwater world should visit this amazing resort. The hotel has its own sandy beach offering stunning views of the Persian Gulf. The hotel has a large aquarium where you can swim with dolphins. The hotel has the best boutiques and high-end stores to buy everything you need. The hotel guests can book a helicopter ride for a 15-minute tour of Dubai and see the resort with your head in the clouds.
Grand Excelsior Hotel Al Barsha
The prestigious Grand Excelsior Hotel Al Barsha is notable for its unusual modern building, stylized as a cruise ship. There is a beautiful rooftop lounge with a swimming pool, hot tubs, and many furnished terraces. The rooms are notable for their spacious and original design.
It’s also worth noting that the hotel is one of the few hotels in Dubai, which has a license to sell alcohol. Its restaurants offer a lot of elite alcohol sorts, brought from all over the world. The convenient location and high service level make the Grand Excelsior Hotel an ideal place to spend your leisure time.
It’s a unique hotel whose design looks like an Egyptian pyramid. The building is made in the sand color scheme to complement the mystery and atmospheric interior. All the suites have balconies and are considered one of the most luxurious and spacious rooms in the city with a stunning panoramic view. The hotel has 10 restaurants and bars, which will satisfy the most demanding gourmets.
The hotel has a huge botanical garden with exotic plants and a unique spa center with an unusual outdoor pool. A personal marble bath with Jacuzzi will be a big surprise for you as well as the luxurious decoration of bedrooms made of handmade fabrics and wooden products.
Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates
The hotel represents a single complex with the famous shopping center Mall of The Emirates and an indoor ski center. The hotel’s clients can enjoy unique rooms with panoramic windows overlooking the ski center’s snow-covered slopes. The hotel’s customers can be engaged in interesting skiing activities under the guidance of a personal trainer, and they can enjoy many privileges in the amazing entertainment center. Gourmets will not be disappointed by this hotel, which has 5 restaurants of different specializations to choose from. Among them, you can find Spanish and Italian restaurants, and the fans of elite tobacco will enjoy the aristocratic cigar bar.
The Meydan Hotel
It’s the first hotel in the world, which was built directly on the racetrack. It’s a modern chic building, whose guests can watch the races from the best angle without leaving the hotel! Besides, a huge spa salon is an attractive feature of the hotel, a recreation area with a huge swimming pool and sun terraces on the roof, and concerts with world stars’ participation.
The word “meydan” means “meeting place” in Arabic, reflecting this hospitable hotel’s philosophy — comfortable luxury and entertainment are available to every guest. The hotel building is made in the famous architectural style of modern Dubai. The interiors reflect the eastern wealth and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Rokeby Manor springs right from a fiction book
I visited Rokeby Manor in Mussoorie earlier this year. The property springs right out from a fiction book. Each room is uniquely designed by Ms. Rachna Narang has its own appeal. From the starry night room, it is easy to look at the walls which have a beautiful night sky painted on them and feel like you are a part of something larger. The room also has a small opening in the ceiling which can be opened right out whenever someone wants to glance at the night sky.
The Landour bakehouse is actually a landmark destination in Mussoorie. Landour gets many travellers, hippies and tourists who have driven 2 hours just to try the treats at the bakehouse. Rumours say that the bakehouse has come to life from a cookbook which was created by a woman in Mussoorie centuries ago. The vivid imagination is brought to life as a dog named Chu Chu always guards the entry to the bakehouse. A broken delivery van is placed outside the bakehouse creating an almost mysterious feel making travellers realise that they have come to a place with remarkable history.
Mussoorie is a place which I visit almost twice a year, just to feel more close to myself within. The place never fails to show a new side to me each time. Glancing at Dehradun city lights, the valley view and pine trees from Cafe Ivy, and the wondrous sunset from the Tea Garden at Rokeby Manor feels like a great grande break from the city life. It’s the pause one often needs in their life. The mere feeling of going back to a destination which one somehow finds their heart comes back to life.
Emily’s the classic restaurant at the manor boasts Italian food far better than anything you find in the city. The cheese at Emily’s is sourced from the local shop Prakash stores which has nailed the art of cheesemaking over several decades. Overall, Emily’s is one place where people come to feel like they belong again. Facing the valley and Himalayas, one can enjoy their lopchu (mild flavoured tea) and some fantastic baked potatoes with cheese. Their ratatouille is out of the world as they decorate each dish beautifully.
Mussoorie is the quaint destination where you find yourself bumping into locals who make great conversation. I met people working at WWF on my recent trip as they were trying to work on the Jabarkhet Nature Reserve to preserve the beauty of the place. Walking in Jabarkhet and trekking along the forest line made me feel like I was closer to nature. The stupendous view of the Himalayas with occasional views of Dehradun city made me feel grand.
As I walked around Char Dukan, I saw various sayings which were stuck on the walls around. I realised that Mussoorie was indeed the hidden wonderland which few people even knew the insides of. “The network is weak here but connections are strong”, said one saying which was pinned to a tree. Right when I was reading the saying and taking a casual evening walk, the Himalayan view opened up to me with snow capped peaks. I realised that the view of the Himalayas was so profound that I may just stay there forever.
I was walking around mall road, the market street the next day and I ended up at Cambridge Bookstores. Casual chirp and mountain gossip later, the bookstore owner told me that he could arrange a signed copy from Ruskin Bond. I was delighted and decided to buy it for my father. What better gift than a book of mountain reflections from Mr. Bond himself.
There’s a local village called Sainji around 40 mins away from Rokeby Manor. I learned that the property had played an important role in preserving the village and I decided to pay the place a visit. It was a fantastic experience travelling and exploring the village houses with corn adorned outside them. I felt delighted to stay at Rokeby because I saw that they are playing an important role in preserving the local cultural heritage. I was proud of choosing to stay with a place which was deeply vested in the community.
After hiring a scooter from the manor, I whistled away in the woods and glanced at the valley view. Mussoorie is a place where I have made so many memories and I am certain that there are many more to come. I may just stay there forever. The mountain gossip, evening tea, valley views and delicious food truly have my heart.
Shivya Nath: A bold solo traveler who is breaking gender stereotypes
In a majorly patriarchal Indian society, Shivya Nath found it in her to be a bold solo traveller. She leads a nomadic lifestyle, travelling across the world with her backpack. Shivya is the author of a best selling book, “The shooting star”, in which she highlights more about her life and experiences travelling. The book is an inspiration to women who are staying at home, craving a free lifestyle, and want to travel the world solo.
In this interview with Modern Diplomacy, Shivya tells us more about her life experiences journeying the world. She tells us what it takes to travel the world as a solo woman and narrates her experiences both bitter and sweet.
You have travelled so much and seen the world so intricately that you might as well be a nomad. The most obvious question – what convinced you to travel the world?
I grew up in a protective Indian family in Dehradun, a valley at the base of the Himalayas, and spent my childhood wondering what lay beyond the mountains I could see from my rooftop. Upon finishing high school, I went to Singapore to study, with big dreams and a big student loan. As luck would have it, I graduated in the middle of the financial recession of 2009, when most companies I wanted to work with had ceased hiring. I landed a job with the Singapore Tourism Board, where my experiments with social media began, and I first began following the journey of travel writers / bloggers around the world. It was impossible to tame my restless cubicle-bound soul, so in 2011, I took a 2 month unpaid sabbatical from work. I went flash-packing across Western Europe with a friend, and volunteer-travelled by myself in the high Himalayas of India. In those two months, I saw, experienced and lived more than I ever had before. Within a week of my return to work, I decided to quit my first and only corporate job with a dream of travelling the world on my own terms.
Your new project, Voices of Rural India is picking up steam and picking accolades for telling the most unlikeliest of stories. How do you envision it forward?
Voices of Rural India is an effort to turn this unprecedented pandemic into an opportunity to create alternate livelihoods by upgrading digital skills in rural India, while also preserving grassroots knowledge that is slowly disappearing. Voices of Rural India is a not-for-profit digital initiative that hopes to revolutionize storytelling, by hosting curated stories by rural storytellers – in written, photo or video format. Unlike most existing online platforms, the stories of rural India are told directly by local storytellers. In the short-term, Voices of Rural India is creating a revenue stream for affected communities through digital journalism. In the long run, it aims to develop digital storytelling skills at the grassroots level, along with becoming a repository of local culture and knowledge, documented in local voices. We are currently working with rural communities in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Maharashtra and Gujarat, through on-ground community-based tourism organisations like Global Himalayan Expedition, Himalayan Ecotourism, Himalayan Ark, Spiti Ecosphere and Grassroutes Journeys. The initiative is supported by the Digital Empowerment Foundation. We’re eagerly looking forward to a post-Covid world, where we can physically travel to visit the communities we’re virtually working with, conduct digital storytelling workshops, identify local talent and hopefully bridge some of the gaping urban-rural digital divide.
Your favourite place so far? You can give multiple answers of course.
There’s so much to love about so many places! I love my home country India, because despite its challenges, nowhere comes close to the diversity of natural beauty, food and culture it offers. It’s perhaps one of the few places in the world where strangers are the quickest to become friends. Other than that, I feel a deep connection to Guatemala, Bhutan, Georgia and Iran.
Your passion for environmental protection and climate change issues is also noteworthy. What do you think should be the biggest change that can make mankind save itself?
The more I slow travel around the world, the more I unlearn conventional ways of doing things. And that’s exactly what we need on a massive scale – politically, economically and individually.
We need to unlearn our reliance on fossil fuels, the issues based on which we elect our leaders, the way we treat some animals as friends and others as food (speciesism), the way we measure development and so on.
A deep unlearning will (hopefully) allow us to re-establish a world driven by mindfulness and compassion, rather than money.
Your book ‘A Shooting Star’ is a bestseller. Along with the travelogue, it is also about a spiritual journey one undertakes. Do you thus agree with the phrase that humans can better understand oneself and another with more communication and a better experience of diversity?
The Shooting Star charts my battles and adventures from the cubicle to the road, and from small-town India to remote corners of the globe. I write candidly about my struggles of transitioning from an average Indian girl to a free soul, who wanted to live on her own terms, explore the world meaningfully and smash stereotypes along the way. I write about my relationships, battles, triumphs and life-changing encounters, and how I tried to conquer my deepest fears.
There’s no doubt that travelling is as much an inner journey as a physical one.
Tell us about a time when you were travelling alone and felt challenged?
After traveling safely and adventurously through some of Central America’s more notorious countries (like Honduras, labelled ‘the most violent place on earth’), I had pretty much let my guard down in Costa Rica. On a hurriedly hailed cab ride to the airport to impulsively catch a flight to the Pacific Coast, the cabbie and I chatted like long lost friends. Closer to the airport, he told me we’d get stuck in traffic so it’s better to drop off a street before and walk; I agreed without thinking twice. When we arrived, I paid him and got off the cab, only to see him grabbing my small bag – the one with my passport, laptop and everything precious – asking for more money or he’d take off with it. I had the equivalent of 50$ in my pocket and gave it to him, shivering at the idea of being left alone without my valuables. In retrospect, there were a lot of hints I didn’t catch; he asked me if I had family in the country, or if I had a local SIM card – pointed questions that should have made me wary. I felt shaken up for days, refused to trust anyone else I met along the way, and found solace in places crowded with other tourists, much unlike my usual travel style. It really wasn’t about the money I lost, but the trust I lost, and it took me months to rebuild it.
What has been your biggest achievement till date? The most satisfying moment in your career?
There have been many satisfying moments on this journey: Publishing my first book and seeing it become a national bestseller in just over a month of release; recognition, awards and international features for my work to promote responsible, immersive travel; launching a clothing collection inspired by The Shooting Star that raises funds to grow forests in my home state Uttarakhand; and most recently, co-founding Voices of Rural India to challenge the way digital storytelling is typically done in India. But I think I feel the deepest satisfaction when a reader reaches out to me to share how my work has played a role in inspiring them to make different life or travel choices.
Travelling, that too alone is still considered a taboo for women in large parts of India. What do you think will change that?
As more of us choose to travel solo and share our stories online or offline, change is bound to happen. While female solo travellers are still considered an anomaly in some parts of India and the world, there’s a lot more chatter, acceptance and encouragement online now.
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