I recently had an opportunity to visit the exquisite city of Dubai. From the moment I disembarked from the plane I knew I was in for a treat. You hear about the splendor of Dubai but I wasn’t prepared for it.
And the best thing of all is that I was able to visit Dubai for two days for under $100 USD!
That excludes activities, dining, and shopping but does factor in hotel accommodations and flights. How did I do it you ask?
Our flight to Ghana was $1550 RT. I used a coupon code from RetailMeNot.com to saved an additional $60 so $1490. We were going to Ghana regardless and Dubai was an inexpensive bonus quick trip since we were able to take advantage of extended layovers and see two cities for the price of 1.
I booked my flight through Emirates because I was fully aware that this airline has a superb stopover paid by carrier policy. If the first available flight of the day to your destination has a layover of eight hours or more Emirates will provide you with a complimentary hotel room at one of their partner hotels, complimentary airport transfers and will provide you with meal vouchers for those applicable. Our layover en route to Accra was in Dubai and was 24 hours so we received breakfast, lunch, and dinner vouchers.
This was my first time flying the airline. We flew economy class which looked a little something like this:
Each seat came had headphones, a blanket, pillow, and an overnight kit that contained socks, an eye mask, and toothpaste and a toothbrush.
A very helpful piece of advice that I wish we would have known is that you will not get your luggage so pack your carry-on bag accordingly. We ended up spending 3 hours of our first layover attempting to get our luggage because we didn’t have any of our toiletries nor a change of clothes).
The hotel is pretty much you pay for what get. We stayed at the Copthrone on our first layover. It’s not high-end but it’s better than the lower end chains we have here in the states. Showers are warm and amenities are decent (be aware that they do not provide face towels).
Since we only had 24 hours and arrived around noon we booked the desert safari through our hotel. The safari comes with pick up from and to the hotel, an exhilarating dune bashing trip through the desert, scenic views and sunset picture opportunities, camel rides, hookah, a belly dancing show, dinner, and complimentary soft drinks. All of this costs around $55 American dollars per person.
We returned to the hotel, got a few hours of rest and embarked on the Ghana leg of our trip.
Our route home between Accra, Dubai, and NYC had a 20 hour layover in Dubai. Although 4 hours shorter than our other layover this was plenty time to go exploring.
Our transfer experience on the way back went slightly smoother. Since we opted for a flight that wasn’t the first flight out but had an extended layover we had to pay for the hotel. After much research we settled on the Premier Inn at the airport and I’m glad we did. This time we were prepared and had our toiletries and a change of clothes on our back.
It was a very pleasant check in experience, our front desk agent Ahmed might have been the happiest person I encountered on our journey and I dare say life. The hotel cost us $60 USD. The hotel has complimentary airport shuttles that run every 30 minutes.They also offer complimentary shuttles to Dubai’s major attractions.
We checked into the room and slept for 3 hours then showered and went downstairs to hop on the tourist attraction shuttle. We were dropped off at the legendary Dubai Mall. There were shops and restaurants new and familiar such as Zara, Forever 21, G-Star, Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, Le Pain Quotidien and more.
After doing a fair amount of shopping here we took a taxi to the Gold Souk (approximately $12 USD). Taking a taxi is a great way to see the city. I caught great views of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Perhaps the next time I will be brave enough to climb it.
I went in search of gold bangles but ended up leaving with tunics and abayas. The price of a gold right now is at a high and while the gold in Dubai is among the most beautiful I have ever seen, the price points did not fit into my budget.
After a little fun exploring the spice and perfume Souks we decided to take a taxi back to the hotel and get some rest. Because we were pressed for time we opted to eat dinner and watch the World Cup match at the hotel. I had the most delicious grilled chicken sandwich, perhaps the best I have ever had. We also skipped out on the public transportation system this time but I plan to take advantage of it the next time I am in Dubai.
It is also worth noting that we did not plan our trip during the World Cup intentionally, however there is something magical about being in countries that are ecstatic about futbol during the tournament.
I am surprised by how much I loved Dubai. The city is a lovely blend between tradition and modernity.
You can pack a lot of adventure into extended layovers. I know that Turkish, Ethiopian, and Malaysia Airlines provide STPC which means Stopover Paid By Carrier. Take this into consideration when booking your next getaway and you could see two destinations for the price of one.
I look forward to returning and experiencing more of what it has to offer.