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Hi,
I'm not an expat but seek local knowledge from expats. My wife and I (both 69yrs) have a 3 day layover in Dubai later this week. In a couple of weeks another 2 day layover. We are both experienced world travelers and no health issues and can handle the heat. What are your recommendations for experiencing Dubai. The usual sources highlight shopping and amusement parks, not what we have in mind. Also not interested in dinners with belly dancers in the desert. Though, we do want to explore the area around Dubai. Thanks.
 

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I would highly recommend you visit www.tripadvisor.com to do some research. I would also suggest you research Platinum Heritage. They offer non-dune bashing safaris into the desert which focus on the environment and wild life. Also, rent an abra and go up and down the creek to get a look at life on the water, the dhows, etc.
 

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Take the Big Bus Tour as that will get you around the main sights so you can then decide better.

Book the Burj Khalifa at least a day in advance.

Go up in the mountains at night and watch the stars.
 

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get up early and head out to the Camel Racing. (just beyond Dubai Sevens Stadium)
6.00am start
you'll be the only visitors there. great experience.
 

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The Big Bus Tour is 220 Dhs each, $120 for him and his wife to sit on a bus for 2 hours. That's mental.

Start off at Dubai Museum, have breakfast in the Arabian Teahouse (used to be called Basta Art Cafe - best fresh juices in town and an excellent selection of teas). Walk along the Creek through the souks (push away all of the overly aggressive salesmen), get an Abra across the Creek from the Bur Dubai station (the second one you'll come to, it's 1 AED each, so $0.27). That'll drop you off at the Spice Souk where you can have a walk around, then up the road to the Gold Souk to have a look around. Get the Abra back across the Creek, keep walking along to Heritage Village which is worth a look around, you can try some local foods, ride a camel, learn some stuff. You can also hire an Abra to give you a private hour-long Creek tour for AED 120 ($32 for the boat to yourself). There's also the Dubai Ferry which will take you out into the sea for a look around the coastline for AED 50 ($13) each - http://www.rta.ae/wpsv5/links/marine/Ferry_seef_3.pdf . You'll also find plenty of Creekside restaurants where you can take in the scenery and have some Arabic food for lunch. After dark, head round to Bur Dubai and have a walk around the Meena Bazaar and find somewhere you like the look of for dinner. There's plenty of side streets and stuff to explore at any time throughout that too.
 

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I would highly recommend you visit Reviews of Hotels, Flights and Vacation Rentals - TripAdvisor to do some research. .
If the OP or anyone else visits that site, they would do well to be aware that the advice on the forums is often extremely relaxed.

Mentioning safety precautions is seen as scaremongering ("Crime can happen anywhere...") and a traveller with a bad experience at the Airport or with taxis can be jumped upon with a lecture on how things are worse elsewhere.

There is also an often repeated advice there that travellers can bring in any medicine with a prescription.
 

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If the OP or anyone else visits that site, they would do well to be aware that the advice on the forums is often extremely relaxed. Mentioning safety precautions is seen as scaremongering ("Crime can happen anywhere...") and a traveller with a bad experience at the Airport or with taxis can be jumped upon with a lecture on how things are worse elsewhere. There is also an often repeated advice there that travellers can bring in any medicine with a prescription.
I do advise on TA (have been on there since its' inception one way or another) and I often find the folk on there know more about here than I do! Honestly, crime can happen anywhere can't it? I actually had a conversation with a friend at the weekend who thought I was crazy when I said I try to be careful here, having said that the friend, although they haven't lived there for many years, comes from Jo'burg. The meds really are something else. You get people asking if it's okay to bring aspirin. The copy script does work and the main factor is how much you have rather than what you have. So, if you are stopped and you are carrying 90 days worth of something for a two-week stay, then questions are likely to be asked. My cousin has severe back problems and had been here many times with morphine and codeine and never had any issues. I think, if someone has the ''nouse" to post on forums such as these to ask such questions, they would, hopefully :), be able to apply some common sense to the responses they receive.
 

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The reason people over there ask about aspirin is because people have gotten into trouble over stuff as trivial as one poppy seed. And of course when that happens, you will hear lectures on how "tourists should educate themselves and not think every place is like back home".

It is on record on printed media that until recently, some visitors with medicines without prescriptions were detained till tests were made on the medicines, that is definitely something that would make potential visitors apprehensive.

As for crime, yes it happens everywhere, but when suggestions for lone women to be careful in taxis are attacked with the "crime happens everywhere" and "scaremongering" lines, that is doing potential visitors a disservice.
It is not just the Dubai forum, I have seen similar over-defensive stuff in the Istanbul and Cairo forums, and this exists elsewhere as well.
 

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Let's face it, EVERY country in the world has restrictions on importing medicines. A friend of mine just went to Japan and had to go through all sorts of processes to take what she needed with her. And, of course, no-one batted an eyelid when she went through immigration. Yes, there are cases here where people are questioned incorrectly, but there are everywhere and I don't believe potential visitors to this country should be led to think it is different here. Same goes for the safety of female travelers. I suppose, at the end of the day, the destination experts want to encourage rather deter people from visiting, not just here. Where TA is useful is that you can do all the research you need for the place you are visiting in terms of attractions, how to travel around, that kind of thing.

BTW, I travel as a solo female and I wouldn't be influenced by some random person on a forum telling me it was safe/not safe - having said that, I doubt I would ask that kind of question in the first place :).

Anyway, my AED 1 for what it's worth.
 

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Take the Big Bus Tour as that will get you around the main sights so you can then decide better.

Book the Burj Khalifa at least a day in advance.

Go up in the mountains at night and watch the stars.
Rather than the Up the Top Khalifa Experience (or whatever its called) I personally recommend booking to go to Atmosphere Bar. It is the floor below the Up the Top in the Armani Hotel and rather than the entrance fee for the UTT there is a minimum spend, but personally I am happier to spend 200-250dhs and have a few drinks at the top of the world (not actually checked but I tell everyone its the world's highest bar, presume it is ;)) than pay to go the floor above and not really get anything for it.

You need to call up and book in advance, but definitely worth it, especially at dusk.
 
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Rather than the Up the Top Khalifa Experience (or whatever its called) I personally recommend booking to go to Atmosphere Bar. It is the floor below the Up the Top in the Armani Hotel and rather than the entrance fee for the UTT there is a minimum spend, but personally I am happier to spend 200-250dhs and have a few drinks at the top of the world (not actually checked but I tell everyone its the world's highest bar, presume it is ;)) than pay to go the floor above and not really get anything for it.

You need to call up and book in advance, but definitely worth it, especially at dusk.
And that is only for males. For females, there is no spending requirement. Even for males, I am not sure how they enforce it. I went to Atmosphere with a female friend of me, we had one drinks each, then paid 160 AED bill in total (which is less than 200AED for requirement for males) and left. No one said we need to pay more or spend more.
 
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