It’s the start of 2018, and you may find yourself patiently waiting for trans-pacific flights to Manila which typically goes on sale during this time. However, with South Korea currently hosting the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and the demand for trans-pacific flights being high, U.S. travelers may start considering a different airline for their “balikbayan” needs.
Away from the popular Asian route carriers, Emirates Airlines has been gaining major consideration over the past 10 years as one of the world’s premier long-haul carriers. Ranking among the top 5 airlines in the world since 2013 and being awarded the #1 airlines title in 2013 and 2014.
Not only is flying Emirates on the way to Philippines an experience, but Emirates also offers a free stopover for passengers connecting through Dubai International Airport (DXB). At no additional cost, U.S. passport holders can enjoy a 30-day visa free window to explore the city of Dubai, UAE, a 2-for-1 deal that won’t last for long. Emerging as one of the world’s leading international business centers and regional hubs, Dubai has transformed into a buzzing international metropolis full of diversity. With a politically stable environment, visitors can rest assure that the city of Dubai is safe for all. Interpol reports Dubai to be “one of the safest cities in the world” in terms of crime and health. A small Arab village transformed into a global powerhouse with its world-class infrastructure, well-maintained roads, and excellent public transportation.
THINGS TO DO
Gold Souks – A traditional market in Dubai’s commercial business district is home to hundreds of retail shops offering a huge selection of jewelry made from gold, silver and other fine metals; the most famous and visited souk in Dubai. Prices are negotiable and credit cards are accepted, but for better pricing, cash is always king. The Gold Souk is located in Deira, along the Al Ras Metro Station. Open 7 days a week between 10AM to 10PM Saturday -Thursday and on Friday 4PM to 10PM.
Evening Desert Safari – A must-do for anyone visiting Dubai! Highly recommended to all first-timers to experience the majestic Arabian Nights. Tours depart from downtown Dubai in the afternoon, between 2-3PM, and last about 6 hours. Be sure to bring your camera since there will be several epic photo-stops during your dune bashing drive through the desert sand. Included in this tour is the opportunity to ride a camel, go sand boarding and get your hand or feet designed with a henna tattoo. After the adrenaline-pumped activities and you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy Arabian cuisines and traditional shisha (the famous Arabic water pipe) while watching a belly dancer perform under the desert sky. A combination package that completes the desert experience. Most tours will include pick-up & drop-off services from your hotel. TIP: Talk to your travel agents for the best way to coordinate the transfer services.
The Dubai Frame – Be the first to get framed. Newly opened on January 1, 2018, this giant golden structure is located next to Zabeel Park and was constructed to give visitors the best view of old Dubai, (Deira, Umm Harare and Karama) and modern (new) Dubai (Emirates Towers and Burj Khalifa) through the frame structure. Standing 150 meters highs and 93 meters wide, visitors can go to the observation deck to get a panoramic view of the city of Dubai and for the daring-types, cross the Dubai frame on the transparent walkway. A museum is also available which tells the story of Dubai’s infrastructure. Tickets are 50AED ($13USD) for adults and 20AED ($5USD). Visitors traveling to Zabeel Park can use the red line and get off at Al Jafiliya metro stop. TIP: If you don’t care to go up the frame, skip the line and purchase a ticket into Zabeel park to take better pictures of the frame without distortion.
Kite Beach – Thinking about something more relaxed? This long pristine stretch of white sand beach is great for kite surfers and spectators uniting. Located across from the Al Manara Road Junction. Showers, wi-fi, toilets and changing facilities are available for public use and plenty of food trucks and cafes are within walking distance. For more action-packed adventures, watersport operators are available along the sand, where you can rent equipment and test your skills against the emerald waters of the Arabian Gulf. TIP: Go to Kite Beach at sunset to capture beautiful sunset pictures of the beach and the 7-star Burj Al Arab hotel.
Downtown Dubai – Here you can see the trifecta of Dubai: The Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountains. If you didn’t already know, Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world by total area. With a plethora of 1,200 retailers/shops this is a shopper’s paradise. Another world breaking record is the Burj Khalifa, which takes home the world’s tallest building award. Standing at 2,722 ft, its been named the tallest structure since 2008. And, what else goes better next to the world’s largest mall and world’s tallest building than the World’s tallest performing fountain system, the Dubai Fountains. At over 900 ft. in length and situated across 30-acres, the fountain performs daily to a selection of different melodies. TIP: The Guinness World Record show “Light Up 2018” is the largest light and sound show, which debuted on New Year’s 2018 has been extended for a limited time. Visitors can see the spectacular phenomenon until March 31, 2018; Tuesday and Wednesday at 8PM and 10PM Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
After an eventful couple of days in Dubai, check-in at the Dubai International Airport (DXB) to join other “kababayans” and travelers to catch your connecting flight to Philippines. And, just like that you can see two great countries at the price of one fare.
MORE FACTS ON DUBAI
Currency UAE dirham (AED/DHS)
Time Zone GMT + 4.
Language The official language is Arabic, and English is widely spoken.
Weather Year-round sunshine. Temperatures range from a nighttime low of around 10°C in winter (Dec-Mar), to a daytime high of 49°C at the height of summer (Jun-Aug). The best time to visit is from October to April, with perfect temperatures for long, comfortable days at the beach and balmy evenings outside.
Vaccinations The UAE has no special vaccination requirements, unless you have recently transited from a cholera-infected area. It’s always best to check with the health authority at the time you book.
Dress code The UAE has a generally relaxed dress code, but out of respect for the local Islamic culture, modest clothing is recommended, and essential if you’re visiting a mosque or place of worship. This generally means clothing that covers shoulders to knees. Beachwear is fine on the beach, at beach clubs and at the pool, and formal wear or national dress is expected at business meetings.
Public behavior Drunkenness and overt displays of affection are offensive to Islamic culture and are also illegal.
Alcohol and tobacco You can drink alcohol in licensed bars and clubs. However, it’s illegal to drink alcohol in public and smoking is not allowed at the airport, in malls and in most restaurants.