My Long Layover in Dazzling Dubai

I had just finished over a month of travelling through New Zealand and was ready to explore my next country, and the final continent of my six-month trip — Asia.

I took a flight from Auckland to Dubai, which is one of the world’s longest non-stop flights at 17 hours and 10 minutes. I managed to get a little bit of sleep, but occupied the rest of the time watching films, eating plane food and writing in my travel diary.

When I finally arrived into the country, I was feeling rather exhausted but I  knew I needed to make the most of my day in Dubai. A lot of my journeys included a stop here, but this was the only time I’d be venturing out of the airport. I had around 16 hours before my next flight, so wanted to ensure I had the chance to see at least part of the United Arab Emirates’ most populous city.

After a gruelling questioning by a security guard (and his surprise that I was here without a protector in the form of a male…), I got my visa and left Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest airport.

It seemed to me that Dubai liked to hold multiple world records, and upon leaving the airport I took a taxi to the world’s tallest building.

The Burj Khalifa, at 830 metres high, has been the tallest structure in the world since its completion in 2009.

I had booked a 7:30 am “sunrise and breakfast” tour. I took the lift to the Observation Deck on Level 124, in the world’s fastest elevator no less, and enjoyed panoramic views over Dubai and the Arabian Gulf.

The sunrise was relatively cloudy, but it was a great experience nonetheless.

Coming back down for breakfast was rather less inspiring, as it was a packaged pastry and a hot drink in a busy cafe on the ground floor, with no available seats. This was not the breakfast with a view I had imagined (but I probably should have read the small-print!).

I ventured on and upon leaving the Burj Khalifa, I found myself inside the Dubai Mall, as the two are connected in Downtown Dubai. Although the early morning start meant that the shops were not yet open, I walked around the enormous shopping centre.

At over 12 million square feet (or more than 50 football fields), the Dubai Mall is the largest shopping centre in the world based on total area. I also saw the world’s largest sweet shop, and one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world, with over 140 species of aquatic animal!

Dubai Mall – the world’s largest

Wandering outside the mall took me to Dubai Fountain. The choreographed fountain performance was due to take place around four hours later, and is supposed to be spectacular, but I didn’t want to wait this long without exploring at least another landmark, and as taxis were expensive, once I left Downtown Dubai I knew I didn’t have the budget to come back.  I instead asked somebody to try and take a picture with me and the Burj Khalifa, but it was impossible to capture both!

So I didn’t see the fabulous fountain in action, but I instead decided to visit the delightful Dubai Miracle Garden. Holding another world record, the Miracle Garden is the world’s largest natural flower garden, with over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants.


I was lucky it brightened up considerably whilst I was at the Miracle Garden, but it wasn’t too hot to enjoy it. It was January, so it was winter in Dubai and their coldest month of the year, with temperatures averaging around 20°C. However, as a British tourist, this was by no means cold and it felt like a lovely summer’s day for me! I enjoyed sauntering around the gardens, soaking in the floral smells and beautiful bright colours.

I did have a mild panic when I was ready to leave the garden and head back to the airport, because I had been relying on Dubai’s plentiful WiFi spots to book taxis on Uber. I didn’t want to bother getting the local currency since I was only there for a day and could use my international currency card, and neither did I think it worth getting a local SIM card. Fortunately though, one of the ticket officers let me connect to his phone’s hotspot and I booked my Uber back to the airport.

Crisis averted, I arrived back to Dubai International Airport and hung around until my flight to Delhi later that evening. Alongside being the busiest airport, Terminal 3, where I spent the rest of the day, is the largest airport terminal in the world.

As airports go, this one really was phenomenal, with every shop and restaurant you could imagine and such a long walk between each section.

Check out my 360° tour of Dubai International Airport.

I filled the rest of the time before my flight by speaking to my family, getting some food, and having a much needed shower. Thank goodness these facilities were available here as I had been in the same outfit for a couple of days now. I had purposely packed a change of clothes in my hand luggage, however, without thinking that they might be seen as inappropriate, I had brought shorts. These shorts, though not particularly revealing, were causing me to be stared at quite a lot, and so I instead purchased some trousers and felt much better! I had not considered the change of culture, but now that my next destination was India, it was important that I be mindful of the different customs.

It was finally time to board my flight to Delhi and I was excited to see what this next leg of the journey had in store. Watch this space to find out about my time in Intriguing India!

 


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