Dubai - Quickly making its way to the top of my list of my favorite places to visit. Before we proceed, I have to apologize and say these picture do not do this city justice (I don't think pictures can truly capture it, but we'll try in this series - check back in July and August) for parts II and III.
Before my first visit, I spent a lot of time researching the city and drawing up a plan of how to get the most out of the time we had in Dubai. The city was very different than I expected and very welcoming to foreigners. Brooke of world of wanderlust wrote this post last year about things to keep in mind when heading to Dubia. It is a nice summary of the 20 + articles I read.
At the time of my first visit, Emirates had not started direct routes to Dubai, so I flew to London first and then hopped on another flight from London to Dubai. Now, you can catch daily flight from DFW to Dubai and that is good news to me.
During that first visit, we opted for a private tour guide through the Dubai tour company and I was very impressed with then. They picked us up from our hotel in the area locals refer to as old town and we drove to some of the top sites to visit - including the financial district, the gold horses lining the drive way to Madinath Jumeirah Resort; the Burj Al Arab (7 star hotel); the indoor ski lodge at the Mall of the Emirates and the gold and spice markets.
On one of the evening we were in the city we ventured out to the desert safari (which included sand dunes, camel farms and Arabian themed dinner and entertainment) which is absolutely worth it if you are in these parts.
The rates for the tour and desert safari are quite reasonable. If it is your first time in Dubai - I will suggest getting a tour guide either using the private tours or one of the bus tour companies. The private tours wins out over the bus tours (slightly) because you get to see sites that the other tours don't provide and with the pick up and drop off at your hotel - you don't have to worry about transportation. As an added bonus, if you are traveling solo, your tour guide can be your defacto photographer.