24 hours in Dubai with Kids

You’ve landed in Dubai, you’re pumped, ready to see this city, you cannot wait, you’ve got 24 hours….

You also have kids

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Do not fear! There is so much to do with kids in Dubai you will wish you had more time in this amazing city in the desert. Non stop action all day, and literally all night long.

But where do you even begin?

Chances are you’ve landed in the morning. Once you’ve checked in to your hotel, or at least figured out your new time zone, it’s morning and the sun will be shining. Head to the beach!

If you have booked into a hotel situated on the beach front, you’re in luck - you’ll have access to all the amenities, pools, kids club, and private beach access. If you aren’t staying at a hotel with a beach (because you only have 24 hours), there are a number of beautiful public beaches that are clean and safe. As always, the Middle East is a Muslim country so remember to be mindful of your dress, even when on the beach. Yes, bikinis are allowed but if not at a hotel, I would feel more comfortable in a one piece swimsuit.

Remember that even at your hotel, swimwear is not allowed in the actual hotel and you do need to cover up respectfully when not at the pool area (no topless tanning ;)

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Once things have heated up a bit, as they can do in Dubai, it’s time to go exploring. Head to Old Dubai, head to the souks. Hail a cab and let them know this is where you will be headed. Chances are they will drop you off at the Abra Boat Point. An abra is a traditional boat used to cross the creek. It costs Dhs1 or ZAR4 (depending on the exchange rate) to cross the creek in an abra - possibly the cheapest thing you will ever do in a city, anywhere!

It’s a lot of fun and the kids will find the short cruise extremely fascinating as the creek is very busy with boats coming and going.

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Once you reach the other side, put on your bargaining hat and let the fun begin! This is the best part about Dubai; the souks.

Known for the gold souks where you can buy jewels that will make your head spin, a lot of tourists go for the spices and the “knock off bags and watches”. Whatever you go for, it is a lot of fun. It can seem very daunting at first if you are not sure what to expect, but before long you will learn that each shop pretty much sells the same things and that each one will start at some exorbitant price but will inevitably drop it down to your price if your just stick to your guns! My husband still cringes to this very day when I start haggling, but I always get my price!

My favorite souk treat: camel milk chocolate!

My favorite souk treat: camel milk chocolate!

Spices galore; the fragrance that will assault your nostrils is something out of this world!

Spices galore; the fragrance that will assault your nostrils is something out of this world!

Shoes, pashminas, novelties and more

Shoes, pashminas, novelties and more

Once you’ve haggled your way out of the souks, it’ll most probably be time to do some real shopping, at the world’s second largest mall, and the largest in Dubai, The Dubai Mall.

Think of a brand, they have it. Brands you have not heard of, they have it too. They have brands the rest of the world has not even thought of yet I’m sure. Besides shopping, there are countless of dining options too. We went to the Rainforest Cafe. Kid Friendly, with animated animals that make sounds and noises exactly like in the jungle. It was pretty entertaining. They’re situated right next to the Dubai Aquarium, which is a giant 10 million-litre tank with the most incredible marine life.

The Dubai Mall also has a skating rink, including a souk of its own; although it’s definitely not like the one you’ve just come from. It would be so easy to spend the entire day at the Mall and not be bored especially if you stay for the incredibly fountain show.

The indoor waterfall at The Dubai Mall

The indoor waterfall at The Dubai Mall

Entrance to the Rainforest Cafe

Entrance to the Rainforest Cafe

The Dubai Fountains which happens after sunset outside the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and are the world’s largest choreographed fountain system and shoots water as high as 500 feet – that's as high as a 50-story building!

It is truly one of the most spectacular water shows I have seen and it is well worth it! Even the kids will be entranced.

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And just because the sun has set over this vibrant city does not mean the fun has to end. One of the latest attractions to the hit the shores of Dubai is The Dubai Garden Glow. This is a essentially a garden of lights with the most amazing designs and features and is a celebration of light.

“Dubai Garden Glow was established in 2015 and has over 500 eminent craftsmen, engineers and architects behind the Magic. There is a lot of science and research that has gone into the making of all the four concepts that sum up Dubai Garden Glow.

This unique recreation park attracts and entertains audiences of all age groups to come visit the park, explore the magic and experience the fun and excitement. Apart from its creative installations, there are live musical shows and other performances from some of the best talents in the UAE. There is a special edutainment zone where kids can have interactive fun. Added to all gift yourself an exciting wonderful Journey in the Eco-friendly World of Arts. For food lovers, there is a large food pavilion that offers delicacies from all around the world.” (source: http://www.dubaigardenglow.com/about.php)

The wonder that the garden creates in young and old is really quite an experience and should not be missed!

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If you still have some time to spare, head down to the Dubai Marina, the largest man made marina in the world. Just take the time to walk along the pathways and admire the yachts and boats that are moored there. Or enjoy a meal at one of the many cafes and restaurants. During the day it may seems quite quiet but at night, the Dubai Marina comes alive and is bustling with activity.

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By now, I can guarantee, if you have not already fallen into your comfy hotel bed already you will definitely be close to it after a jam packed 24 hours in Dubai.

Of course, there are a host of other attractions and things to do with kids in Dubai that you might feel like you need 24 days to get through it all. I have listed a few of these below:

  • Ski Dubai

  • La Mer

  • Burj Khalifa

  • Dubai Frame

  • Aquaventure

  • Wild Wadi Water Park

  • Legoland

  • Desert Safari

  • Dubai Aquarium

  • IMG World

  • City Walk

  • KidZania

  • Bounce Duba

  • Sheikh Mohammed Centre of Cultural Understanding (SMCCU)

Here are some important things to remember when traveling to the United Arab Emirates:

  1. It is a Muslim country and so religion and culture does need to respected. Dress modestly, especially when at a Mall or when visiting a mosque

  2. The best time to travel to the UAE is during the winter months from October - March

  3. Taxis are widely available and are metered

  4. Alcohol may not be consumed in areas other than hotels or restaurants not connected to hotels typically (restaurants in malls will not have alcoholic beverages)

  5. If you are traveling during Ramadan, you must adhere to the rules of not consuming any liquids or foods in public until Iftar (or until after the sun sets).

  6. Safety - although it is a very safe destination to travel too, always be mindful of your belongings and your children

Your time in Dubai will end though, and I have a feeling all too quickly if you love this city as much as I do.

Camels on the beach in Dubai

Camels on the beach in Dubai