Dubai Travel Diary | Lorna Duffy

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How did I book my trip?

I booked my trip through Trailfinders. I had an idea of where I wanted to go so they helped me put together an itinerary for my trip. I’ve wanted to visit Dubai, Singapore and Bali for years so I decided to make the most of it by stopping off in all three places. The agents were extremely helpful and knowledgeable. They picked key locations in each place and tailored the trip to suit my budget and my interests. For example; when I stayed in Bali I went to an area filled with culture, an area with adventurous things to do and a beach/chill by the pool area so I covered a bit of everything.


How much did the trip cost?

The trip cost just over €2,500. This was for all of my flights and five 4/5 hotels (including airport pick-ups) over 3 weeks. I visited Dubai, Bali, Lombok, the Gili Islands and Singapore over this period of time. The total cost included flights to each place and then my return flight back to Dublin which included another stopover in Dubai on the way home. Note: the above does not include spending money, ferry tickets and tours.


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How much spending money was needed?

I would suggest having in or around €2,000 to spend if you are planning on going for 3 weeks. In saying that, I didn’t hold back on spending so you can definitely make do with a lot less. This amount covered a lot of tours, eating out and drinking every day and night (excluding breakfast as this was included with each resort we stayed in), return ferry tickets to Lombok, a trip to the Gili islands by private boat, taxis, tipping and shopping of course. If you are looking to spend less then I would recommend doing some research before booking tours as there are cheaper options out there. I did eat and drink in the resorts I was staying in which worked out quite costly too. For example, in Bali, venturing off and eating outside typical tourist areas would work out a lot cheaper. Also, there are a range of hotels and resorts to accommodate all budget types so you can definitely spend a lot less.


What airlines did I fly with?

Flights to Dubai and Bali were booked through Trailfinders and I flew with Emirates. I flew with Singapore airlines to get to Singapore from Bali. They are both great airlines so I would definitely fly with both again. I was lucky enough to go on an Airbus A380 with Emirates on the way back to Dublin which was definitely a highlight – my first ‘double decker’ plane with a bar upstairs. 😛

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Currency Tips

I would recommend taking cash out in each currency before going on your trip. Alternatively, I would go to a currency exchange in the airport to ensure you have cash at all times. In Bali you can only take out a maximum of 1,000,000 Indonesian Rupiah daily which is appropriately €60. This can be a pain if you want to book 2-3 tours in one day etc so make sure you take out enough to keep you going. Also, tell your bank that you will be away so they don’t prevent you from taking out cash when you are away.


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Back to Dubai…

Anyway, my first stop was Dubai! I had 2 nights there so I made sure to book tours in advance and I tried to plan as best I could so I didn’t waste anytime. Below i’ve listed what I got up to, the tours I did and what I would recommend seeing if you are planning a trip over. I didn’t get to see and do everything on my list so I will definitely be planning another trip over. I will be writing another blog post on the top things to do and see in Dubai so make sure you keep an eye out for that too.


Accommodation – Anantara, The Palm Dubai Resort

The Anantara Resort is by far one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever stayed in. Situated on The Palm, it is only 45 minutes from the airport and it is only a short distance from almost everything you will want to see and do in Dubai. It has an incredible view of the Dubai coastline, the staff were very friendly and the facilities were on point. Breakfast was included each day and I can honestly say I have no complaints on the food side of things. There was a lot of variety and the food was fresh and tasty.

We ate in Mekong on our first night which is a Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant in the hotel. The food was divine!!


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Dubai Hop on Hop off Sightseeing tour

I would definitely recommend booking a sightseeing tour. You will get to cover a lot more ground and in a short space of time. You can do a 24, 48 or 72 hour sightseeing tour with the company I booked with which is great. I decided to book the 48 hour tour to ensure we saw as much as possible over the two days. The tour includes an audio guide and the buses pick you up at each location approx. every 20-30 minutes. Again, the staff were really friendly and helpful. Here are just a few places the tour passes:

  • Marvel at the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world
  • Explore the Dubai Mall, which features more than 1,200 stores
  • Discover the souks of Dubai and the amazing array of items on offer
  • Enjoy views of the popular Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence, also known as JBR
  • Explore Dubai’s largest outdoor theme park, the Global Village, and the garden oasis known as Miracle Garden
  • Visit the Camel Museum, Coin Museum, Horse Museum, Architect Museum, and Poet Museum
  • Enjoy free entry to the Dubai Aquarium and the Underwater Zoo with the 48-hour ticket.
  • Visit the Burj Al Arab

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Plan your day and visit the sights that best suit your traveling preferences. Visit one of the city’s interesting museums or head out on a shopping spree at one of the malls. Note: the buses also have air conditioning which REALLY came in handy with the 40+ degree heat! 😛

Price list:

24 hour tour – €60

48 hour tour – €73

72 hour tour – €85

For a full list of all stop check out their website here.


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Burj Khalifa – At The Top | Sky Tour

A view from the top of the world…

Fact: It is the tallest structure in the world, standing at 829.8 m (2,722 ft).

At the Top, Burj Khalifa SKY is Dubai’s most iconic destination. I booked tickets in advance to avoid queuing. There are different prices depending on the time you want to go and the floor you want to go up to. I had seen the BK during the day and taken loads of photos of it in the daylight so I decided to go at 7pm to get a view of the city by night. I paid to go up to the highest point which was level 148, the highest outdoor observatory in the world. I was offered refreshments at the top and I got to visit levels 148 and 125. The BK was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. The views were breathtaking and no matter how many photos I took they just don’t do the view justice at all. It was such an incredible experience! If you go to Dubai you HAVE to go to the top! Views aside, you find out how it was built including all the ins and outs which I found really interesting.

This SKY ticket cost €85. While this was expensive it was an experience I will ever forget. I would suggest going in the evening to see the city lit up in all its glory.

To book tickets and for more information click here.

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Dubai Mall Fountain Show

The Dubai Mall Fountain Show is a must! It’s free to see and right outside the Dubai Mall. On my second night we went for dinner in a restaurant overlooking the fountain so we were lucky enough to see the show while we ate. It really gives the fountain show in Vegas a run for its money…if I do say so myself! 😛

Show Schedule

Afternoon shows, daily (except Fridays)
1:00pm and 1:30pm

Afternoon shows (Fridays only)
1:30pm and 2:00pm

Evening shows, daily
6:00pm – 11:00pm, every 30 minutes


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3-Hour Morning Bedouin Desert Safari

Firstly, there are a wide variety of desert tours to choose from. A lot take place in the evening and include dinner, quad biking and traditional dancing but because we didn’t have a lot of time we decided to do a morning tour. I looked this particular tour online through Get Your Guide before I flew to Dubai. The tour was priced at €72 per person and lasted for 3 hours. I LOVED IT!

What the tour covers:
  • Marvel at the breathtaking beauty of the Dubai desert in the morning
  • Speed across the fresh dunes in a 4WD
  • See the Dubai desert from the back of a camel
  • Sand board down the sand dunes
  • Go to the red dune desert tracks of Lahbab
What’s Included:
  • Pick-up and drop off by Toyota Land Cruiser
  • Dune bashing for 45 minutes
  • Camel ride
  • Sand boarding

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Lunch in the Vogue Cafe

Fancy a fashionable lunch?

Dubai’s most fashion-forward food spot – the Vogue Cafe. This was opened by the fashion magazine in The Dubai Mall’s Level Shoe District in 2013. Interiors are stylish and everything you’d expect it to be – think cream and taupe chairs and banquettes, marble tables, gilded arches framing blown-up Vogue archive photos and a magazine chandelier.

It gets better! The menu features a variety of salads and sandwiches and dishes like lobster risotto and Wagyu beef burgers. I had a pasta dish and it was DELISH to say the least. The whole effect is very en vogue!


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Dubai Mall – Shopping central

The Dubai Mall is the nineteenth largest shopping mall in the world. I will admit I did get lost in there a few times because it is HUGE but it is definitely the place to be if you’re in the mood for some retail therapy. You can also find the Dubai Aquarium, the Ice rink and the Underwater Zoo in this mall. The Dubai Mall contains more than 1,200 shops. Attention all shopaholics – you will feel right at home here! Enjoy and don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😉


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Dinner in Karma Cafe

If you are a lover of Sushi then this is definitely a cafe worth visiting. If you’re not a fan of fish then not to worry, they have a wide variety of dishes to choose from too. What is really special about this cafe is the view. We got a table on the balcony which overlooked the Dubai fountain, the Dubai Mall and the BK. We got to see the full fountain show while we were having dinner which was an amazing experience. The look was amazing, particularly the duck and the California Rolls. While it is on the pricey side it is definitely worth a visit.

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Things to know:

  • MONEY – Dubai isn’t cheap. Tours, food and drink are quite pricey so be prepared to spend.
  • TRAFFIC – The traffic can be quite heavy during peak times so if you have a tour booked (particularly in the evening) allow extra time just in case.
  • BOOK IN ADVANCE – If you have a limited time in Dubai I would suggest booking tours in advance online to avoid disappointment.
  • DRESS CODE – Dress appropriately when you are out and about. I’m not saying you need to cover yourself from head to toe but covered shoulders and full length/knee length skirts/dresses would be a good choice.
  • WEATHER – Be prepared for HOT weather! This depends on the time of year but either way make sure you cover up, stay hydrated and layer on the sun cream!

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There you have it! My Dubai travel diary. A number of you have been asking about my trip, how I booked it, costs etc so hopefully this blog post will answer all of your questions. I will be writing a piece on the ‘Top things to do and see in Dubai’ so keep an eye out for that one if you’re considering planning a trip over soon. Bottom line I absolutely loved every minute of my trip to Dubai – it definitely was a trip that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

If there is anything in particular you’d like me to blog about let me know. You can catch me on Snapchat: duffyloikes, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! 🙂 Next up I will be writing my Bali Travel Diary so keep an eye out for more on my Balinese adventure…

Thanks for reading!

Until next time…

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