Hot and sunny all year long with fantastic attractions from dawn to dusk, Dubai is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations for family holidays. From child-friendly beaches, shopping malls and theme parks, the vibrant, metropolis offers plenty of opportunities for an amazing break that you’re sure to remember for years to come.
Give little legs a rest and explore Dubai’s attractions from the comfort of an open top bus. Hop-on or hop-off Big Bus Dubai as it takes you to the city’s must-see marvels from the world-famous Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Park to Dubai Creek and Atlantis the Palm. Along with a bottle of water, your 24-hour ticket entitles you to some great freebies including a free one hour Marina Dhow Cruise which allows you to take in the sights and sounds of Dubai’s futuristic skyline and stunning scenery. For the budding explorers amongst you, why not head out of the city limits and fasten your seat belts for an exhilarating four-wheel-drive safari through the dunes of the Arabian Desert? You could even squeeze in a camel ride or two.
If you’re after adrenaline-fuelled activities, Dubai certainly has no shortage of theme parks, wild rides and exciting activities. Touted as the world’s largest indoor theme park, IMG Worlds of Adventure is one of the city’s latest additions. The impressive location will welcome more than 20,000 guests a day to experience the excitement of roller coasters, rides and amusements based on popular cartoon characters, super heroes and dinosaurs. Away from all the thrills and spills you’ll find an array of shops, eateries, live shows and a 12-screen state-of-the-art cinema. Until the park opens at the end of summer 2016, Aquaventure Waterpark and Wild Wadi Waterpark are popular choices for locals and tourists alike whilst three new theme parks, Motiongate, Legoland and Bollywood Dubai, are due to open later in the year at the colossal Dubai Parks and Resorts.
Any trip to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the city’s beautiful beaches. Including a sheltered beach, barbecue zones, a scenic train and children’s play areas, Al Mamzar Beach Park has everything your family needs for a great day out at the seaside. For a small entry fee you can sit back and relax on any of the five public beaches which are equipped with changing rooms, shades and manned by lifeguards. When you’ve tired of the golden sands, wander over to the grassed picnic areas, make a splash in the large swimming pool, rent a bicycle or grab a bite to eat at a snack stall. Alternatively, the white sandy shores of Jumeirah Beach Park offer parking, toilets and dressing rooms along with picnic and play areas.
Most children don’t exactly look forward to spending the day in a shopping centre, but Dubai’s malls boast everything from fabulous retail outlets and great restaurants to indoor ski slopes and hair-raising rides to delight visitors of any age. Located in Downtown Dubai, The Dubai Mall is an entertainment and retail destination featuring shops, cafés, restaurants and The Souk, where you can buy handicrafts, jewellery and traditional Arab clothing. Within the centre you’ll also find The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, KidZania – an interactive edutainment centre, the SEGA Republic theme park, a multi-screen cinema and the Olympic-sized Dubai Ice Rink. Another option is the Mall of the Emirates, home to Magic Planet which is the largest indoor family entertainment centre in Dubai. Packed full of rides, an arcade, a Ferris wheel, trampolines, bumper cars and a bowling alley, adults can take their pick from the range of cafes and food outlets.
Next it was time for coffee, with a Vietnamese twist. Egg coffee is a rich and deliciously creamy concoction of egg yolk, coffee and condensed milk. Fully refuelled, it was on to the Temple of Literature. It was founded in 1070 and is the site of Vietnam’s first university. You can walk through the beautiful gardens and pagodas, and visit the temple dedicated to Confucius. From there I jumped in a taxi across town to the Old Quarter. This colonial district is full of cafés and food stalls where you can try the unique Vietnamese-French hybrid, a banh mi or stuffed baguette.