It’s finally time to post some comments on my visit to Dubai in March. I was there for 3 full days (arriving late on a Monday evening, departing early Friday morning). Due to a scheduled layover while flying Emirates (by the way, a great airline) I decided to extend it for some sightseeing, mainly because of the Burj Khalifa tower.
I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at Jumeirah Road, which is a bit southwest of the city center and had reasonable rates. Nothing fancy, but can easily connect to the bus downtown or to the metro to reach other points.
Tuesday morning I purchased a transit pass (rechargeable RFID card) and took the metro to Burj Khalifa. Even from a distance the height is imposing (all 828 m). It is adjacent to the huge Dubai Mall, where I purchased my observation deck ticket (452 m) for Thursday evening. Advance tickets are 20€, but same-day tickets are a whopping 80€, so buy online in advance, or in person for a later day. It is definitely worth it. After taking care of this very important business, I spent the rest of the day roaming the Dubai Mall and adjacent fountain pool taking pictures, having some Starbucks, lunch (and dinner), and enjoying the air-conditioning (although the weather in March was quite enjoyable, around 25°C). In the evening I captured this great picture of the Burj Khalifa with some ominous clouds in the background. It reminded me of Tolkien’s Dark Tower from Lord of the Rings. This was followed by a fantastic synchronized fountain light display set to music (every 30 minutes).
On Wednesday I took the bus to the Dubai Creek, the old city center. Old and new buildings hug this river which leads out to the ocean. Many water taxis and barges made their way through and across the waterway. On the southern bank is a market where many merchants have set up their shops, ranging for the usual souvenir items to rugs and very many tailors for custom suits (usually run by Indians). Towards the mouth of the river is a reconstructed village (mainly for souvenirs) and a few restaurants. There is also an old fort near the market.
On Thursday I made a late start and headed over to the Dubai Mall again, this time taking some more pictures inside and on the other side of the pool. Finally after sunset I was able to travel up the tower to the observation deck for a wonderful view of the city, and the Mall below. The deck is open to the elements, but with a glass wall to allow viewing. There is even a narrow gap within the wall at roughly 120 cm height to provide an unobstructed view for cameras. :-) I spent nearly an hour up there with my camera mounted on a tripod taking pictures from every angle. Well worth the 20€!
There are a few other activities in Dubai, such as the beach or guided tours into the desert (pricey). If you have more time, those can be an option, but for a short trip even the Burj Khalifa is worth the stay. Overall a very modern city, safe and quite friendly.