Summer vacations begin and with that the excitement to plan a vacation with your child. We have a 5 year old son who shares our love for travel. This year we chose to visit Dubai. It’s known to be a child friendly destination and we also have some family there making it worthwhile to visit.
We planned a trip for 10 days so it is not too hectic or rushed. The way we planned our itinerary was to have a mix of activities for our son and us. Dubai seems to have everything and if it does not have it, they seem to be building it. So there were many things to do. Here are the activities that we did in Dubai with our 5 year old son –
Dubai is known for its malls and they have set it up such that there are many activities to engage even the kids within the mall itself. So we were able to shop, eat in the food courts (which are way better than India) or other specialty restaurants and engage our son in a play zone – all under the same roof. This was a good option during the day time to escape the intense heat. We started our exploration by visiting Underwater Aquarium in Dubai mall. It was particularly fascinating to see the vivid splash of colours and the size and shapes of various under-sea animals. Our son was happy to get clicked with many of them. We also visited the Magic planet in Mall of emirates and Fun city in Ibn Battuta mall for fun games and play zones for our son.
2. Global Village
We visited Global Village which was an open area with sections dedicated to different countries where you could taste dishes local to that country and buy items famous there. This place had a lot of street food and we enjoyed sampling it. It was a unique experience though slightly hot with the massive crowd and open air arrangement.
3. Lego Land
Dubai is also known for its adventure and theme parks. But the point to keep in mind is that there is a height criterion for most rides. We explored all the parks and scrutinized the criterion for majority of the rides. This narrowed down our options considerably and we finally picked Lego Land theme park where he was allowed on all barring a couple of rides. His passion for Lego made our choice that much easier. Lego Land was great fun – not just for him but us as well. We were allowed to accompany him on the rides and enjoyed the experience. We became a child again seeing our son enjoy.
In particular we loved flying the plane, saving a burning building in our fire truck, dodging water on wave racers and pedalling our way up and down the flying machines. Our son was fascinated to see how the Lego bricks are made and thrilled to get a brick with his name embossed on it. However, he spent maximum time doing what he loves the most – lost in the world of Lego blocks – building his own creations!
4. Desert safari
Desert safari was a unique experience for us and our son says it was the most enjoyable part of the trip. He was giggling away as the land cruiser engaged in dune bashing. He enjoyed rolling on the desert sand and chasing the shadows therein. We also got to watch some interesting shows including a belly dancer, a fire eater and a juggler along with authentic middle-eastern dinner. Camel ride was fun for our son.
We went to the Abu Dhabi Mosque which is a short drive from Dubai. It was an architectural marvel with cool marble flooring and marvelous chandeliers. Like most religious places, one felt at peace in such surrounding.
We visited the landmark buildings of Dubai – Burj khalifa, Burj Al Arab and Atlantis. The musical fountains were a delight to watch and our son watched with awe the water dance. The souks offered a variety of souvenirs, spices, dates to take back home. We soaked in the experience of Dubai city strolling down the souk one evening.
We enjoyed a hearty dinner at Al Qasr hotel where we had to take a boat to reach the restaurant. An evening walk on the Marina was refreshing and nice. We tried many authentic restaurants offering middle-eastern food and flavors. Pappa roti which offers a coffee flavored bun with your choice of sweet or savory toppings along with coffee is highly recommended. JBR place gave the feel of hanging around boardwalk in USA.
A few tips that I would give to parents traveling to Dubai are-
o Acknowledge that it is extremely hot and save yourself from the sun exposure in every way. Ensure you stay hydrated and carry plenty of water with you every time you step out. Also, try to avoid going out in peak sun time (11am to 3pm).
o There is considerable amount of walking involved everywhere – huge malls, adventure parks etc so wear comfortable shoes and carry a stroller if your child is not used to walking.
o Carry summer clothes for the trip but also pack a light jacket especially for your child as night time can get fairly cool. Sunglasses and cap are a must in the strong sun rays. Also, clothing is conservative in that part of the world so respect and abide by that.
Overall, Dubai is a fantastic place with lots of fun activities to engage in. We created many wonderful memories there with our son, to cherish forever.
Prerna Wahi worked in the corporate world for 7 years. In the past few years, she has been a stay-at-home mom. She has been enjoying the new role ever since and likes to write about her personal experiences. Her write-ups are inspired by the two men in her life – one she calls her strength (husband) and the other her weakness (son). Follow her facebook page.