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!
Beyond the Liberty Bell: Exploring Western Philly
A visit to Philadelphia is sure to be steeped in American history and culture. It doesn’t get more American than the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. And it doesn’t get more authentically Philly than cheesesteaks at competing Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King Of Steaks, and the oldest farmers market in the country, Reading Terminal Market. But, when you’ve been there, done that, what else can you explore?
Philadelphia neighborhoods beckon the savvy traveler who can, by slowing down, get a glimpse of what it’s like to live here, to exhale and experience the heart and soul of a great American city. One neighborhood that’s not on the radar of many travelers, but should be, is West Philadelphia, or West Philly as it is commonly known, with University City as its bustling heartbeat. Aptly named — the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University are located here — the area buzzes with youthful exuberance. The diverse, worldwide student population brings the magic of different languages, dialects and customs to the area.
Strolling along the bustling sidewalks, visitors will find a foodie’s dream with a vibrant street-food scene, high-end, locally owned restaurants and everything in between. Historic sites and museums are everywhere, with some pop culture icons as well, and the parks add a touch of green to the cobblestone and brick.
Here are some gems of West Philly not to be missed:
* The Penn Museum will take you back to ancient times in faraway places and other lands. You’ll find jewelry from Ethiopia, Mayan sculptures, an Egyptian tomb, the Granite Sphinx of Ramses and new Middle East galleries. After you’ve seen the amazing American History of Philadelphia, the Penn Museum gives you the world.
* World Cafe Live is a multi-level venue devoted to music and good food. Take a seat upstairs at the chic Upstairs Live Cafe, where you can get late-night food and drinks along with an eclectic array of live music (they don’t call it World Cafe Live for nothing!). Downstairs Live is a larger concert venue, hosting nationally known artists. It’s also the home of WXPN radio, which broadcasts a show of the same name.
* The Study at University City is a local gem for guests who believe the right hotel can enhance and elevate an already wonderful trip into the stratosphere. This is not a cookie-cutter chain, but a boutique that features local artwork in an onsite gallery; hand-blown glass light fixtures (locally made); display cases with artifacts of the city’s past; and its lobby, dubbed the Living Room, a vibrant and dynamic core of the hotel, a gathering place for guests to feel at home.
* Schuylkill River Trail meanders along some 30 miles of the Schuylkill river, and is a favorite of bicyclists, walkers, runners and families. Enjoy the green space along the riverfront, or use it as your way to and from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other area attractions. If you really want to get your exercise and American history on, you can pick up the trail in West Philly and take it all the way to Valley Forge National Historical Park.
* The multitude of cuisines in the West Philly neighborhood is reflective of the diversity of the student population. A true foodie destination that’s a bit off the beaten path, you’ll find African, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Indian spots with daring fusions of flavors; upscale, chef-driven restaurants; and down-home Philly goodness. Highly recommended from the city’s foodie community: Marigold Kitchen (its gin-marinated venison gets rave reviews), Aksum, which blends Mediterranean and North African cuisine; and Dock Street Brewing (Philly’s first microbrewery) for all-American bar food, burgers and of course, beer.
For other insider tips on exploring West Philly, contact the knowledgeable staff at The Study at University City. They’ll make sure you get the most out of your visit to the neighborhood.
The Bern Old Town: Shopping and cultural experiences of a special kind
The Bernese love laid-back, hour-long shopping trips – and will do so in any weather. Thanks to the longest weather-protected stretch of shopping promenade in Europe, this is in fact quite feasible. The arcades are admirably suited for a jaunty stroll among the historic city scenery.
It is in the Bernese Old Town in particular where one can be witness to the unique historical ambiance and combine shopping with a journey through time into the past.
The Kramgasse forms the centerpiece of the Bern Old Town. This alley was once Bern’s busiest trade route for marketers and shopkeepers who loudly advertised and sold their goods here, and swapped the latest news. The six kilometer long series of arcades form a distinctive feature of the Old Town. The history of this arcade passage reaches back to the earliest city development (1191), and even then served to accommodate market stalls and businesses. Traders could thus trade and earn their living in any weather.
The Bernese also demonstrated their practical sense in putting the nether regions to good use. They built vaulted cellars under every house in order to be able to store their goods. Nowadays, entirely different treasures are hidden in these cellars. Descend the steep stone steps, and find yourself in a different world. The underground reveals trendy and traditional bars, clubs, theatres, cellar cinemas and special fashion shops. There’s no other place that offers such historic settings for a shopping excursion!
Destination Langkawi: Beyond the Beaches
With 550-million years of geological history and generations of mythical folklore, there is always something new for guests of Four Seasons Resort Langkawi to uncover on the island.
A paradise of panoramas, the Langkawi archipelago is an amalgam of mangroves and mountains, rainforests and rivers, wildlife and waterfalls, legends and local charm, tidal flats and coral reefs, cliffs and caves. Whether appreciated from the vantage point of a bike, kayak, boat, cable car, sky-bridge or simply on foot, the islands’ thrilling topography ensures a truly breathtaking backdrop for myriad magical and memorable encounters.
Beyond the beaches, water sports and diving, Langkawi offers visitors rainforests, mangrove “sea forests,” cascading waterfalls, hidden lakes and glistening paddy fields to explore.
Outdoor enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice. The uninhabited islet of Pulau Langgun offers an exhilarating rainforest immersion and lush wilderness trek to the hidden sanctuary of Tasik Langgun, a large freshwater lake. Build an appetite biking through paddy fields to Durian Perangin Waterfall – 14-tiers of clear cascading water – perfect for a refreshing dip and picnic. Or visit the island’s tallest waterfall, Temurun (30 metres or 98 feet), for another scenic natural swimming pool.
A mangrove kayak get guests unobtrusively close to the magic and mystery of forests that straddle land and sea. Traverse small, dense tributaries and follow the natural ebb and flow of this fascinating ecosystem to uncover hidden delights behind each corner. Alternatively, take a coastal kayak along the emerald seascapes of Langkawi’s less explored eastern rim, and paddle through a 15 metre (49 foot) cave tunnel for an unforgettable swim in a salt-water lake.
Mineral and Mystical
Steeped in geological heritage, Langkawi has some of the world’s oldest and most intriguing naturally formed gems. Shaped by plate tectonics, volcanic activity, ocean submersion and erosion, Langkawi’s many rock formations have evolved over millennia into exciting natural habitats, many animated by fantastical folklores and legends.
Adrenalin seekers can heed the call of the ancient limestone cliffs for an afternoon of rock-climbing and abseiling within the Resort’s grounds. Just a short distance away, the Langkawi Sky Bridge – suspended 700 metres (2,300 feet) above sea level and accessed via the world’s steepest cable car – offers an up close experience of Malaysia’s oldest rocks (the Machinchang Formation), not to mention far-reaching views extending to southern Thailand.
Fuel for the imagination, Langkawi’s craggy coastline of hidden coves, sunken caves and majestic peaks is straight out of a fairytale and sets the scene for a magical adventure. The intriguing Gua Cerita (Cave of Legends) is the mythical home of a giant phoenix, a captive princess and a deadly giantess. Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Lady) was formed when a huge limestone cave collapsed, resulting in a figure resembling a pregnant woman lying on her back. Locals believe that the lake, famed for the legend of celestial princess Mambang Sari, possesses mystical powers.
Back at the Resort, Spa devotees will be entranced by the element-based offerings at the Geo Spa, where the ancient healing energies of the Geopark meet bespoke natural treatments by ila.
Wildlife and Local Life
A bird watcher’s paradise – the open rainforest corridor, mist-covered Gunung Raya peak, and local village ponds provide the opportunity for ornithologists to tick a fair few flying friends off their must see list. Langkawi is home to approximately 200 species including: flower peckers, hills mynas, dollar birds, sun birds, eagles, woodpeckers, lesser whistling-ducks, little egrets, Chinese pond herons, striated swallows and the largest of them all, the great hornbill, measuring in at 1.3 metres (more than 4 feet).
Animal lovers will not want to miss the mangrove boat safari into the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park and its maze of meandering mangroves for exciting up-close encounters with majestic eagles and kites, mischievous macaques, fish that walk (mudskippers), colourful fiddler crabs, shy otters and sleeping bats.
Cultural connoisseurs will be enthralled by the Malaysian book village of Kampung Buku and the bucolic beauty of stilted wooden houses in local villages. A visit to the fishermen’s village of Kuala Teriang enables visitors to quietly observe fisherfolk return with their day’s catch, or sample delicious deep-fried banana fritters with local milk tea at wooden roadside stalls. Back at the Resort, relish local spices and ingredients during a Malay-cuisine cooking class – available as both adult and child-size experiences.
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