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Friendly Planet Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Dubai’

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4 magnificent things to do in Dubai

Once just a sleepy desert enclave, Dubai has emerged from the sand and transformed into a glittering modern metropolis. Falling at the intersection of the azure waves of the Arabian Gulf and the barren sands of the Arabian Desert, Dubai has quickly become a lavish oasis for the world’s rich and famous.

Almost overnight, Dubai transformed into one of the world’s hottest international destinations, with more than 5.8 million travelers visiting the Middle Eastern kingdom in the first half of 2014 alone. Tourist activity is only certain to pick up as more and more travelers, including Americans, discover the wonders of this lavish city.

If you’re dreaming of a royal getaway, one filled with sunset desert safaris, world-class shopping, and awe-inspiring architecture, Dubai is the destination for you. Here are just four experiences all travelers must have when visiting Dubai.

1. Experience traditional art, history, and culture. If you hope to uncover some of the true gems of Dubai’s past, visit the trendy Bastakiya district. This neighborhood was once home to the city’s textile and pearl traders, and has since been built up to house quaint art museums, cafés, and shops. Explore the Dubai Museum to learn about the history of this desert oasis; walk along the last remaining section of the old city wall, which served as a defensive barrier in the 19th century; and stroll among the paintings at the Majlis Gallery, Dubai’s first art museum. The Bastakiya district is the perfect place to experience the true essence of this Middle Eastern metropolis.

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Take a tax holiday — on Uncle Sam

Tax season is almost over! Now that filing is nearly complete, it’s time for many of us to start looking forward to our refunds. This year alone, U.S. taxpayers already received an average of $2,831 per person in refunds, a significant amount of money that could whisk you away on an exotic vacation!

For that reason, I came up with a few suggestions for how travelers can get the most out of their newly acquired cash.

If you’re on the more conservative side of the refund spectrum or want to pocket some of the extra money, here’s my list of tax-refund trips travelers can take for under $2,000, including airfare.

  • Explore Exotic Ecuador for $1,399: Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, boasting more than 300 species of mammals alone. Visitors can tour the natural hot springs in Baños, view the volcanic peaks of Cotopaxi National Park, and explore the world’s most biologically diverse rainforest — the Amazon. Journey back in time with a visit to Quito, the nation’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and explore the city’s Spanish colonial architecture dating back to the 16th century. A trip to Ecuador is like immersing yourself in the world’s greatest biology class, and one that visitors will never forget.

Friendly Planet Travel Winner’s Circle: Dazzling Dubai

I’ve made seven different calls this year to a handful of lucky travelers to let them know they’ve won a free trip to a far-off destination, all because they “liked” and entered one of our sweepstakes on the Friendly Planet Travel Facebook page. But Elisa Kotin, our latest winner who will be going on a free trip for two to Dubai, might have been the most surprised of all! Listen to her reaction when I called her to let her know that she’d won on our previous post.

Once the dust settled and we let the reality of her win sink in, I asked Friendly Planet Travel blogger Caitlin to catch up with Elisa to find out a little bit more about her. As it turns out, Elisa has a true passion for traveling, and is extremely well traveled. She has been to 70 countries, and Dubai will be her 71st! Though she’s always wanted to go, Elisa has never been to Dubai — so this trip was a great match :-) .

Listen to the below podcast to get a snapshot of Elisa’s life, including how she felt when she won, why she’s grateful that she won the trip from us, her favorite places she’s been, what she enjoys most about travel, and more!

Elisa, I hope you have an amazing time in Dubai, and I look forward to hearing all about it when you return!

And the winner of our ‘Be Dazzled by Dubai’ sweepstakes is …

While we’re sad to see our “Be Dazzled by Dubai” Facebook contest come to an end, we’ve really enjoyed sharing advice and information about this magical city over the past six weeks.

Today, I walked into the office with a bit of a spring in my step, eager to pick a winner for the free trip for two! We chose one winner at random, and called to let this person know they’d won. So who was on the other end of the line when I made that call?

It was Elisa Kotin from Van Nuys, California! Elisa’s reaction when she found out she won was priceless. She couldn’t have been more excited, and her reaction truly made me smile. Hit play below to hear Elisa receive the big news.

Elisa even sent us a few pictures to show us how excited she was!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations again, Elisa! From all of us here at Friendly Planet, we’re so excited for you to embark on your journey to Dubai with us. We also want to thank everyone who entered. We look forward to doing more trip giveaways in the future, so keep your eyes peeled! You never know what destination we’ll be giving away next.

Friday’s Friendly Funny: Skyscraper neck

Check out this week’s Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek, and don’t forget to enter our “Be Dazzled By Dubai” Facebook sweepstakes to win a free trip to Dubai!

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Getaway Dossier: Things to know before you travel to Dubai

We’re wrapping up our Dubai coverage with one of our favorite blog series – Getaway Dossier. We created this series to share with you everything we know about each destination we visit: the best food to eat, places to visit, and things to know to better prepare for your trip. We chose Dubai for the next dossier destination because we’ve been doing a lot of coverage around this city during our ‘Be Dazzled by Dubai’ Facebook sweepstakes, in which you could win a free trip for two to Dubai just by entering on our Facebook page!

Weather: A desert climate. Dubai is located in the Middle East, so it should come as no surprise that it’s hot pretty much all year round. In the summer, temperatures average around 104°F during the day, and overnight lows fall to around 86°F. Winters are cool and short, averaging 73°F during the day and 57°F at night.

Obviously, travelers should pack clothes to help them stay comfortable in the heat. But, because Dubai is located in a Muslim country, shorts, midriff baring shirts, and clothing that exposes too much skin shouldn’t make it into your suitcase when you pack. Think modest dress, and remember bathing suits are appropriate attire only on the beach and by the pool. If you’re sensitive to the heat, or need to avoid strong sunlight, stay inside or apply plenty of sunscreen during the afternoon hours. If you don’t, you’ll surely burn.

Food: Arabian delicacies. Dubai is a cultural crossroads, so food from almost every country and culture can be found there. There are some Arabian foods however that you shouldn’t miss. We’ve all heard of hummus, but there’s much more available to try.Description: http://blog.friendlyplanet.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif

Shawarma, a dish made of chicken or lamb that’s mixed with tomatoes, fries, garlic sauce, and pickles then wrapped inside a small roti (a type of bread) is popular among travelers. It sounds pretty messy to eat, and it is, but it’s delicious — so be sure to give it a try. One of my personal favorites is falafel, which is a mixture of chickpeas and different spices. It’s then deep fried into a cutlet or ball (think meatball) — delicious! But Dubai offers a huge selection of culinary experiences, and I don’t think you can go wrong by trying a meal in a Moroccan, Lebanese, or Iranian restaurant.

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Friday’s Friendly Funny: Traditional camel races

Check out this week’s Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek, and don’t forget to enter our “Be Dazzled By Dubai” Facebook sweepstakes to win a free trip to Dubai!

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Friday’s Friendly Funny: Dubai’s national bird … sort of

Check out this week’s Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek, and don’t forget to enter our “Be Dazzled By Dubai” Facebook sweepstakes to win a free trip to Dubai!

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

The best things Dubai has to offer

As you might know, we recently announced that we’re giving away a free trip for two on our Dazzling Dubai tour through our latest Facebook sweepstakes: “Be Dazzled by Dubai.” If you’ve never been to the city of Dubai, it’s a wonderfully exotic and lavish place for shopping, dining, and to see some of the world’s most breathtaking sights.

To give you a better sense of what you have to look forward to should you be the lucky winner of our sweepstakes, I asked our Reservations Manager here at Friendly Planet, Katherine Howard, to share her personal account of a recent trip to Dubai. Here’s what she had to share with me, in her own words:

Flying to Dubai: The flight was incredible — the service was awesome, the food was great, and the flight attendants were helpful and friendly. There was a wide variety of movies to watch throughout the flight, and for anyone who has seen Sex and the City 2, the flight attendants are dressed exactly as in the movie when the ladies fly to Dubai.

I was fortunate enough to fly in business class and it was 100 percent worth the upgrade. The seats extend flat so you can sleep comfortably on the 13-hour flight from JFK. The flight attendants also pass out mini mattress toppers to make you even more comfortable.

Sightseeing – Burj Khalifa: One of my favorite things about the trip to Dubai was the view from the top of the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world. Opened in January of 2010, this building has over 160 floors and is 2,717 feet high. The super-fast elevator ride to the observation deck was smooth, the lights were dimmed, and there was soft music playing. When the doors opened you could see the sky. The deck’s open air and floor-to-ceiling glass took my breath away, and I felt like you could see forever from up there. (more…)

Friday’s Friendly Funny: Skiing in the desert

Check out this week’s Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek, and don’t forget to enter our “Be Dazzled By Dubai” Facebook sweepstakes to win a free trip to Dubai!

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.
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About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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