We briefly stopped for three nights in Dubai on our way to Malaysia.
June is not the right season for Dubai, because it is too hot. Over
38°C already at 11am, high humidity. Even the seawater is hot, like
a hot bath.
In June 2009 the whole of Dubai was full of construction sites, a crazy
building boom. Work on some sites was on hold, probably due to the
Dubai is essentially a high cost travel destination, with costs for
hotels mostly in line with European levels. Food is a different story,
as there is a huge range of prices. I have been told by a long time
Dubai resident that it is possible to spend very little, although the
places in which we ate were almost as expensive as restaurants in
western Europe. I guess those cheap eateries are not that easy to find.
In places like the mall of the Atlantis hotel it is quite easy to spend
a lot of money if you are not careful. Taxis are very cheap in Dubai.
There are food courts in all shopping malls. Lots of restaurants in the
tourist area where we stayed. The food quality of the places we visited
was not too impressive, also considering that the price level was
almost as high as in Munich. The staff of the restaurant of the Hilton
hotel would not let us in for dinner, because I was wearing shorts.
We stayed in a four star hotel in Dubai (Hilton Jumeirah). Nice beach,
very good service. Very far away from the historic centre of Dubai
however. The summer is low season in Dubai, because few guests come
because of the extreme heat.
/ Exchange rate (June 2009)
1 Euro = 5.1 Dirham
1 Euro = 1.4 USD
the Universal Currency
ATM's are everywhere, so that you can easily get cash with a
Cirrus/Maestro ATM card. You won't need traveller cheques.
phones and prepaid cards
We didn't buy a GSM prepaid card, although I suspect that these
cards are available.
Not so easy to find Internet cafes in the area in which we were
staying. On the other hand Internet access in the Hilton hotel was
quite pricey, so we didn't use the service. I just used the GSM mobile
phone to briefly check if there was any important email (mobile data
Very hot and humid in June. 38.6°C at 11:30am (!). Even the sea
water is hot, like a hot bath. No clouds, no rain, lots of haze.
Probably none required for Dubai (we didn't get any immunisations for
the trip to Dubai). No swine flu screening at the Dubai airport in June
VISA / Entry
A VISA on arrival is available for citizens of most developed countries
as well as of some commonwealth countries. Citizens of other countries
need to apply for a VISA in advance.
Very safe place, no risks. No harassment by beggars or other people.
- The Atlantis hotel is nice, especially the mall and
- The Emirates mall is huge and impressive. Many other
malls in Dubai are nice as well.
- Jumeirah beach is great, but perhaps choose the right
season (avoid the hot months).
Things to avoid
- The hotel area around the Hilton Jumeirah is a bit
too artificial for my tastes. Too many skyscrapers on that beach,
restaurants which lack character. Better to stay more close to the
historic core of Dubai.
- Don't go to Dubai in the hot season if you can avoid
Taxis are cheap in Dubai and there were enough of
them in the tourist areas.
Hotel Hilton Jumeirah. 118 Euro for a
nice room with everything, except a hair dryer. They upgrade us to a
sea view room at no extra charge. Internet access not included - costs
10 Euro/hour or 20 Euro for 24 hours. The hotel is a few km further
along the coast from the Burj Al Arab hotel. It has a pool and a good
beach (nice, long, white sand, crystal clear water), but it is
surrounded by a forest of skyscrapers and at the time of writing some
construction is ongoing near the hotel. Friendly reception, breakfast
until 11am. Excellent breakfast.
Weather: sunny, blue sky,
not a single cloud in the sky. Very hot and humid. At 11:30am the
thermometer in the pool area of the hotel shows 38.6°C. You can't
spend too much
time outside during the peak hours of the day.
We leave home late and are finally at the check-in counter at 3:10pm
(flight leaves at 3:45pm). Latest check-in ever in my life, the lady at
the counter complains a bit, then checks us in. We actually have
checked in online yesterday and are just dropping in the bags.
We then proceed through passport control and security and board the
plane. The Emirates EK050 flight leaves with some delay and arrives in
Dubai around midnight local time.
On Saturday June 6th we wake up at 9:30am, and at 10am go down to the
restaurant for breakfast. Excellent breakfast buffet, lots of choice.
Freshly squeezed orange juice, lots of fresh fruit, a cook preparing
pancakes in any shape you want (Alissia gets a pancake in a Mickey
Mouse head shape, face details painted with chocolate cream). You can
even get freshly grilled chicken.
At 11 something am we head back to the room, get changed, then go to
the pool area. Until 1pm we are around the pool with the kids, then
head back to the room. While Shirley relaxes a bit with the children, I
get out of the hotel and explore the area around it. It looks newly
built, there are restaurants, cafes and shops. It's very hot and the
sun is very strong. The air is humid and not clear. After some walking
I find a supermarket where I buy some water and some groceries. Around
2pm I'm back in the room.
There Shirley is resting with the kids. Natasha (15 months) is
sleeping. She didn't get any sleep yesterday in the plane, in fact she
only slept a bit on the way to the airport. Shirley brings Alissia to
the children area in the 3rd floor, where Alissia can play and somebody
watches over her.
Around 4pm we leave the hotel and head to the Asian fast food for some
very late lunch. The food is not that bad, but not good either.
We'll avoid this place in the future.
Around 5pm we take a taxi (taxi is 26 dirham,
quite inexpensive) to the Atlantis hotel. On the way we spot a small
harbour for recreational boats near the Hilton Jumeirah hotel.
The Atlantis hotel is the newly
built hotel at the tip of the big palm island. We have an ice cream in
shortly after the entrance (Coldstone Creamery). We were thinking of
having a small ice cream but the ice cream turns out to be quite big
and expensive (75 dirham for three ice creams). Turns out that without
asking they served us the largest possible size. The
ice cream is not bad, but not that special. Long queue of people in
this ice cream parlour.
Then, while Shirley shops around a bit, I get outside and take some
pictures of the Atlantis hotel. At 6:35pm I meet again Shirley and the
kids inside the Atlantis hotel. They have found the huge aquarium,
full of fish and sharks. Very impressive, we spend 20 minutes there
watching the fish. Actually in this Atlantis hotel there is another
place with a huge aquarium, but the entry ticket is quite pricey (100
Shortly after 7pm we leave the Atlantis hotel. The sun has just set. We
take a taxi and ask the driver to bring us to a shopping mall near the
Hilton Jumeirah hotel. The driver brings us to the Marina mall near the
We arrive there around 7:30pm. The mall is quite big, but does not
contain too many shops (big spaces however). Quite upmarket, elegant
and fashionable, lots of branded goods shops. We have a small snack at
the KFC restaurant, then take a taxi back to the Hilton Jumeirah hotel.
The whole of Dubai, or let's say of this part of Dubai, is very
upmarket. Huge building boom, makes you wonder if there is really a
demand for so much real estate. Most likely huge electricity
consumption to run all those air conditioners and huge water
given the large number of people living here.
Still, the beaches here are great and if you have sufficiently deep
pockets you can have a nice beach holiday here. Avoid of course the
hottest months and the coldest months. Dubai should be perfect in
October-November and February-March.
Hotel Hilton Jumeirah. In the evening
we are refused entry to the restaurant of the hotel, because I'm
wearing shorts and slippers (they tell us they have a dress code).
Perhaps they should realise that they are a beach hotel and that
outside temperatures are above 30°C.
Weather: sunny and extremely
hot. High air humidity. Thick layer of
haze/humidity, poor visibility.
I wake up at 7:30am and have breakfast at 8:20am I'm in a taxi to the
Media City. The taxi driver complains a bit that he waited for two
hours in front of the hotel and now he only gets a short trip. At
8:40am I reach the office tower where I'll hold my
After the presentation, at 3:20pm I jump into a taxi back to the hotel
Hilton. There I meet Shirley and the children. Shortly after 4pm we
into a taxi and head to the Emirates mall (taxi is 22
The Emirates mall is a huge upmarket shopping mall. Very impressive
interiors, beautifully decorated. Tons of high end shops selling
branded and luxury goods. Lots of activities for small children - a kid
could spend a couple of days there without getting bored. Two food
courts. An expensive place to shop however, perhaps even more expensive
than Munich for many goods. Attached to the mall is this artificial
snow resort, where you can ski every day of the year. Impressive piece
After some time at the mall we take a taxi and get back to the hotel.
Driver cheats a bit and brings us first to the Sheraton ("oh... you
wanted to go to the Hilton...?"). We are at the hotel at 6pm.
Then while Shirley rests a bit with the kids, I go out to the beach and
swim a bit. It's almost sunset but the temperature is still above
34°C. The beach by now is pretty empty. Surprise when I enter the
water. The sea water is really hot, like a warm bath. Almost too warm
to swim in it. This is really amazing, not even in the tropics the sea
water gets so hot. After some swimming in the sea I go to the pool.
Around 7:20pm I'm back in the room. Some discussion, I manage to
motivate Shirley to go out and have a dinner. We first go to the
restaurant in the lobby of the Hilton. There we are denied entry
because of the dress code (I'm wearing shorts and slippers).
So we go again to the Chinese fast food restaurant opposite the Hilton
hotel. There they recognise us again and Natasha, our 15 months little
girl, is the sensation. The waitresses take her over and play with her
for a while.
After the dinner we have a walk and are back in the room around 8:30pm.
08.06: Dubai -> Kuala
Hotel Boulevard, Kuala Lumpur.
Weather: foggy in the early
morning in Dubai, poor visibility, hot. Tropical temperatures at night
when we arrive in KL.
After breakfast we leave the hotel at 8:15am by taxi. At 8:55am we are
at the airport. Free wireless internet access at the terminal 3 (the
new one of Emirates Airlines).
At 9:45a we board the EK342 plane to KL.
There we are in the plane. Nothing happens until about 11:30am (flight
is supposed to take off at 10:30am. At 11:30am they disembark all
passengers - broken aircraft, needs to be fixed. We are all sent to the
gate 208 where another plane is waiting, new planned take off time is
1:30pm. We have some lunch, then proceed to the gate.
The plane will
finally take off after 2pm and land in KLIA at 1am local time. Three
and a half hours of delay, thank you very much Emirates. Shortly before
2am we are in taxis to the hotel (two taxis costing 87 RM, less than
one family van which costs 233 RM - these are night prices, daytime the
taxis cost less).