Emirates was the cheapest airline I saw when I looked into flights from Thailand to D.C., so I thought hey I’ve never been to Dubai so why not take a long layover? I looked up things to do in Dubai and at first I thought I’d do a self tour of the city, but then my dad brought up the brilliant idea of riding camels, so I signed myself up for a combo city tour in the morning and a desert safari tour in the afternoon/evening. The total was $76. If you can I think it’d be easier to do a stopover tour with Emirates airlines. Before customs, Emirates tour guides will greet you, take you through customs, and then straight on to the tour. I just didn’t go through Emirates because they didn’t offer desert safaris with camel rides during the summer, at least from what I saw online, otherwise I would’ve. For me, I had to find the nearest hotel for the tour to pick me up at since they apparently aren’t allowed to come to airports with vehicles that have tour company signs. So I took a free shuttle to the Holiday Inn Airport Express, which can easily be found outside the arrivals doors, just follow signs to hotel shuttles. Customs was very easy to get through, especially if you’re eligible for visa on arrival (which I think includes many countries including the U.S.), and there weren’t any lines.
I arrived early around 6am, so I just hung out in the airport for an hour or so before heading off to the Holiday Inn Airport Express to meet my tour guide around 9. If you’re stuck at Dubai airport no worries, there’s pretty good free wifi. My tour guide picked me up in an SUV, but not the fancy kind, more rugged. I don’t know what you call it, but it was the kind of SUV you would drive through a jungle or desert with. Now the city tour was kind of boring. I felt like it was just a drive through the city tour. And since I fall asleep on car rides very easily and I was tired from a red eye flight, I fell asleep on some parts of the car ride. We would literally just stop just in front of a place, and take pictures, and then move on. On the tour website, they don’t kid you when they say you will “pass by” the mosque. They also say you will take a scenic view of the Burj Khalifa, which meant stopping by a palace to take pictures with the Burj Khalifa at a distance, but it was almost unnoticeable because it was too far away and the sky was hazy. See my pictures below. Yeah they were nice pictures, so if the objective of your tour just to is just to get pictures then this city tour is for you. I can’t say it was a horrible tour though, since at least I got to see the city in some way.
But…..the desert safari was awesome! After I chilled at the airport some more for lunch and stared at some hot British businessmen, I rejoined the same tour guide and group and we headed off for the desert. I’m more of a city person when it comes to places to live but I do love being in nature also. Our first stop was at a place where you could ride some ATVs, but you had to pay and they seemed to only accept cash. Since I didn’t have any cash and was more interested in the camel ride, I opted out and just watched people do it. Afterwards, we went dune bashing, which was great fun, but maybe a bit too much for my liking. It felt like being on a roller coaster, except way less safe. The car would dash for a hill and then literally slide off of it sideways. Being in the front seat made it even more thrilling.
Some people on my tour got motion sickness during the dune bashing, which was unfortunate, but they recovered by the time we got to the desert camp for dinner and Ann’s most desired attraction: getting on a camel.
It wasn’t as exciting as I hyped it up to be… but I felt like a desert Queen for about 5 minutes. Camels don’t smell too nice, but at least mine didn’t spit on me. There were some cool dance performances from dancing with fire to bellydancing along with some good food. I couldn’t really tell what I was eating but it was good for the most part. I parted ways with my tour group and joined a different car on my way back to the airport. The new driver was interesting to say the least. He couldn’t understand how I could not have a boyfriend and how I travel alone. Our convo consisted of the boyfriend topic and him trying to get my number. I didn’t end up giving it to him.
Well I got to the airport in good time. I had almost 3 hours to kill before my flight. So I took a shower. Dubai airport has free showers. They are clean enough for free showers, but you have to bring your own towels and toiletries. They have a soap dispenser, which is the same soap for washing your hands in all other bathrooms. There aren’t shower curtains, or maybe it’s just the one I went to, but if you’re not careful, water will get all over your stuff. Afterwards, I ended up just chilling with my Netflix before my flight. Overall I enjoyed my short time in Dubai. I don’t know if I would do another visit since I’m not particularly interested in the city, but maybe to another city in the UAE like Abu Dhabi with a tour where I actually get to visit inside the different sites instead of just taking pictures in front of them. However, I would definitely do another desert safari and ride a camel again, hopefully for longer next time. So if you’re looking for a not too expensive layover, I think Dubai is worth looking into. I spent a total of about $100 the whole day. It was $76 for the tour, $10 for lunch at the airport, about $15 to leave my bag at the airport for over 12 hours, and then about $1.63 for a metro ticket I had to take to the hotel for the second tour and to meet my tour guide since I couldn’t find the hotel shuttle. It could be a bit less if you had no luggage to hold and ate somewhere else and could also be more depending on the tour you go on. But I don’t really have any complaints over what I spent.