Long holiday in the Emirates
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Aug 2, 2012 11:02 AM Last Post By: dxb1969
Jul 18, 2012 3:55 PM
Long holiday in the EmiratesHi,
I have used this forum for my three weeks journey through Jordan 2 years ago and people helped me a lot here. Now I am going back to the Middle East and will stay for three weeks annual leave in the Emirates. My idea is to visit all the seven Emirates on a very (!) relaxed pace and to see most of the country, as it always has facinated me!
I have a rough schedule and would like anyone with just a bit of knowledge to comment on:
Starting in Dubai,
Staying two nights in Sharjah visiting the musea and do
two nights Ajman (probably one beachday),
one night in RAK,
two nights in Musandam
One night in Fujairah (or should i go to Dibba instead?)
One night in Al Ain
One night in Liwa
Three nights Abu Dhabi
One night Sir Bani Yas Island,
Back to Dubai to catch the flight home.
I will be doing this in November-December and would like to know if in this way I am really missing out on something? I know that Ajman and Sharjah are not far from each other, but I will probably stay in one hotel near both and visit both places and the beach a lot.
- I will only rent a car for two weeks, I dont want to use it in Dubai, as i understood its crazy driving there with the traffic jams and the public transport, inlcuding taxi's are good and cheap.
- Any good hotel in Dubai? I have the feeling its best to stay in Deira, as its noted as most "historical" and it should be fine with the transport to visit any place else in Dubai.
- I will do some cruises and also expect to do the Musandam cruises. Should these be already booked now, or can i wait until at the place itself?
- In some times, I will have to drive decent hours, like from Al Ain to Liwa...are the roads good enough and is a normal small car sufficient? I was thinking to rent the cheapest car:).
- I will be there on the 2nd of December, the National Day. Is that a good or a bad thing, i.e: will they celebrate with festivities, or should i try to go to Musandam, because it will be a boring day in UAE?
- Is it really that easy to get into Musandam while driving from UAE with a Dutch passport. Should i take much time into consideration?
Jul 18, 2012 8:00 PM
1I will try to answer some of your questions.
- Renting a car - I agree that you should not need to drive while you are in Dubai. The Metro is a convenient and inexpensive way to get around the city. Then if you need to go somewhere away from a Metro station, you can use a taxi. The traffic can be bad in certain areas of the city at certain times of the day, but generally is probably not as crazy as you might be expecting.
- Where to stay in Dubai - if you are looking to stay in a historical area, then you could stay either in Deira or Bur Dubai, near to the Creek. These areas have a very different feel compared to the newer parts of Dubai (try to take an abra across the Creek while you are there). Before the Metro, it was probably better to stay in Bur Dubai, since it is easier to get from there to most other parts of Dubai by road. However, now there is the Metro it doesn't make much difference - Deira or Bur Dubai.
- UAE National Day - for most of the day it will probably seem like a normal weekend day (fairly quiet), then in the late afternoon or evening there will be some events / celebrations. I would suggest staying in the UAE on that day, since you might see or experience something which you wouldn't on a normal day.
- Travelling in November / December - from my experience, the weather is very pleasant at that time of year. If I was travelling there myself, I would also go in November or December.
Jul 19, 2012 4:09 AM
2Many tourists stay in the UAE for five to seven days tops. In saying that your tour is extensive. I would seriously recommend dropping a couple UAE stops and heading into Oman for a good few days. Nizwa and the surrounding wadis and jebels are must see's and likewise Muscat and surrounding areas are significantly more beautiful and culturally in tact that the UAE.
Jul 19, 2012 10:31 AM
3RastaAdmi beat me to it - Oman has much more going for it for the kind of travel you have in mind, but if your mind is set on the UAE, here's some more answers to your questions:
I will only rent a car for two weeks, I dont want to use it in Dubai, as i understood its crazy driving there with the traffic jams and the public transport, inlcuding taxi's are good and cheap. Its not so much that the driving is crazy, although it is, its that trying to navigate yourself around will be extremely difficult.
I will do some cruises and also expect to do the Musandam cruises. Should these be already booked now, or can i wait until at the place itself? I'm fairly sure you can book the Musandam cruise the night before, but, it would be worth checking with the hotel you plan to stay at.
In some times, I will have to drive decent hours, like from Al Ain to Liwa...are the roads good enough and is a normal small car sufficient? I was thinking to rent the cheapest car:). The roads are good, and very fast and a compact car will be fine.
I will be there on the 2nd of December, the National Day. Is that a good or a bad thing, i.e: will they celebrate with festivities, or should i try to go to Musandam, because it will be a boring day in UAE? Its easy to miss - during the day its just a normal weekend type day off, and you normally have to go out of your way to find any celebrations going on. The most entertaining thing is the normally the extravagantly decorated cars cruising the streets that night - if you're in Dubai, the beach road is the place to be.
Is it really that easy to get into Musandam while driving from UAE with a Dutch passport. Should i take much time into consideration? It is that easy - you need your passport, and the car insurance docs (make sure you get Oman insurance coverage), and 5 OR for the visa. Unless you go through on a public holiday when it gets really busy at the border (best to avoid the National Day weekend), it shouldn't take more than 30 minutes to cross the border.
Jul 19, 2012 12:17 PM
4I pretty much agree with all the advice given in the posts above. 2 weeks is a long time to spend in the UAE. Oman is more interesting if you are on a road trip. I would add:
1) If you are intending to visit the Musandam, note that some car rental companies will not allow their cars to be taken into Oman. Check this before you make a booking. Musandam is well worth a visit. I am fairly sure you could book the same day for a boat trip from Khasab.
2) 2 days in Ajman plus 2 days in Sharjah is probably too much. Sharjah and Ajman are right next door to each other and although Sharjah has some cultural attractions, it is fairly dull. I would spend 2 days total for both Sharjah and Ajman. It is not really worth spending a beach day in Ajman - beaches are better in Dubai in my opinion or on the east coast. Be sure to visit the Blue Souk (Central Market) in Sharjah to look at the carpets.
3) Dibba is more interesting to visit than Fujairah. However, I would drive the coast road from Dibba to Furjairah, there are a few things along that road worth seeing such as the old mosque. There is also some nice snorkelling and diving around Dibba Rock - contact Freestyle Divers or Al Boom Diving if you want to snorkel or dive.
4) If you want to stay in the older part of Dubai - and let's be honest nothing is very old in Dubai, I think Bur Dubai is probably better than Deira, as there are more cheap hotels and hotel apartments to choose from.
5) You mentioned that driving is crazy in Dubai, but frankly it's not much better in the other parts of the UAE, there's just less traffic. Drive with utmost caution and keep a very close eye on your rear view mirror. The Sheikh Zayed Road from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is especially crazy.
Jul 21, 2012 5:29 AM
Here's my tuppence worth.
I will only rent a car for two weeks, I dont want to use it in Dubai, as i understood its crazy driving there with the traffic jams and the public transport, inlcuding taxi's are good and cheap.
Sounds like a good idea but be sure to get them to set the meter running in the cab or they'll charge you tourist prices. By the way, it's illegal for them not to run on a meter so just step out of any uncooperative cabbie's taxi
Any good hotel in Dubai? I have the feeling its best to stay in Deira, as its noted as most "historical" and it should be fine with the transport to visit any place else in Dubai.
There are lots of very good hotels in Dubai, depends on your budget. We like the Raddison Blu on the creek just for its location but have stayed in others and found them all to be off a good standard. I'm sure a look around trip advisor will help you find what you want.
I will do some cruises and also expect to do the Musandam cruises. Should these be already booked now, or can i wait until at the place itself?
I suppose the answer depends on when you are going. If it's a weekend (and remember Oman's weekend is Thursday Friday and not Friday Saturday) there could be a good crowd in the high season when you are going. I'd advise you book for the time of year you are going but having said that there are more than likely more boats operating. Also consider the Dibba cruise. We prefer the Mussandam side but it can be fun too, just a slightly different format.
In some times, I will have to drive decent hours, like from Al Ain to Liwa...are the roads good enough and is a normal small car sufficient? I was thinking to rent the cheapest car:).
You'll find no problems getting to Liwa from Al Ain in a small car, the roads being very good if not a little crowded at times heading to Liwa along the Saudi Road. There are two routes you could take, perhaps go down the hameem road and back up the dual carriageway road via Madinet Zayed.
I will be there on the 2nd of December, the National Day. Is that a good or a bad thing, i.e: will they celebrate with festivities, or should i try to go to Musandam, because it will be a boring day in UAE?
In my five years in the UAE I've only managed to be there once, working offshore the rest of the time. My wife has been to some of the Al Ain cultural festivals at that time and that's a good way to get your dose of heritage. I don't think you'll find it boring, there being some events in the larger centres celebrating the day. People watching at this time is also fun.They get up to some mad tricks in their cars.
Is it really that easy to get into Musandam while driving from UAE with a Dutch passport. Should i take much time into consideration?
I'm assuming that a European Passport holder (I'm UK/UAE Resident) would find no trouble getting in. Again it's a matter of timing. Try to avoid the weekend as there might be crowds at the crossing or go very early. We've been up Mussandam a good number of times and the only problem we had was getting my visiting back to the UAE as his passport picture showed him with long blonde hair and not the smart cropped brown style he had at the time. Even that was entertaining trying to explain he was a Nirvana fan but now had his own business and needed to look much smarter.
You might want to head over to my wife's blog http://mbfullemptyquarter.blogspot.co.uk/ where you'll get a bit more information.I'm sure she could offer more assistance, she has a better memory than me for the names of hotels. She's more an offroad adventure type but one of her blogs includes information on the Dibba cruise we took.
Hope you have a very enjoyable time in the UAE and Oman.
Jul 25, 2012 10:06 AM
Many many thanks for your comments.
All of you say that weeks is too long and I do know that as well, however, I really want to take it easy and somedays just do nothing. That's why I'm taking so much time. Regarding Oman, I did it as my honeymoon two years ago, so I do know how beautifull and great that country is (have to say... Jordan was even greater). When I went I did not do the Musandam part and thats what I will do now.
I did some more research and I have my trip roughly planned now.
Since everyone is saying that I can drive a normal small car over there, it will be fine. I assume this also goes for the road RAK- Khasab?
Another question: for Musandam I am struggling a bit with the hotel. I chose not to be there during the weekend, but it's still some 190 euro to stay in Khasab. However, I really wanted to do the Dhow cruises and the 4WD Safari. I was thinking of skipping the safari to Jebel Harim and go back and stay in cheaper RAK. Is that a good idea, or is it stupid to miss out on Jebel Harim, while I'm there?
@Neil, I will have a good look at the blog, many thanks for that!
Jul 25, 2012 11:42 AM
7A normal 2 wheel drive car is fine on the road from RAK to Khasab, it's a lovely drive and the road is nicely paved.
I didn't go to Jebel Harim but the Dhow cruise is good. You could do both in one day: you could drive from RAK to Khasab early in the morning and back again in the evening, to avoid the expensive accommodation in Khasab. This tour does both in one day:
But I think you should be able to find cheaper accommodation in Khasab. There is a company called Extra Divers in Khasab and they have a villa where the single room is OMR31. That's about EUR66. I'm sure if you did a tour with them you could stay there, even if you don't do a tour with them you can probably stay there as midweek they will be quiet.
Edited by: dxb1969
Jul 26, 2012 1:46 AM
8Thanks a lot dxb!
In the meanwhile I sent Khasab hotel also an email, checking for accomodation. People seem to find it an ok place, not much luxury, but thats fine. I will send Musandam diving also an email, see what they have to say, as they do clearly state "villa's for our divers only". Never hurts to try!
The one day trip seems fine as well and price is decent. Only thing is; to get there at 9, I would have to leave RAK at 5.30 or so? To be sure that there is no jam at the border? I will be travelling on a Wednesday to avoid the weekend.
Since you seem to be a UAE expert (to me at least :)); after staying in Musandam, I was planning to head back to RAK in order not to have a too long drive. Day after I am going to the east coast with a night over in Fujairah. Would you think it is fine to go from Khasab to Fujairah in one day, or would that be too long driving? Or should I maybe have a night somewhere else, before Fujairah?
Jul 26, 2012 12:30 PM
9Travelapple, the Khasab Hotel is not luxurious but it's clean and would be absolutely fine for 1 night. I've stayed there myself.
To arrive in Khasab by 9am, leaving RAK at 530am or 6am should be more than enough time.
Khasab to Fujairah is about 3 hours drive including some time spent messing around at the border. RAK to Fujairah is about 1.5 hours drive. So I guess it depends on you - how many hours a day do you want to drive? There is actually a beautiful off road route from Khasab or RAK to Fujairah through a place called Wadi Bih. Amazing mountain views and very remote. The problem is it's not really possible to drive it safely in a 2 wheel drive car, although some local people do it. Most hire care companies would not allow you to take a 2 wheel drive car into the Wadi. Also, I am not sure about the border crossing through the Wadi - sometimes it's open, sometimes not.
Aug 1, 2012 3:40 AM
Another thanks for the advice. I have now booked the khasab, including a dhow cruise and mountain safari.
Much better priced compared to the Golden Tulip. That saves a lot!
The diving centre doesnt accept non divers, I have tried that as well. They were very friendly I have to say.
I might stick around in RAK, as now I have changed my initial plan, so from RAK I will probably also look around that area. It seems that Fujairah is not that great, but I will drive in the morning from RAK to Fujairah. Any good route idea (without ending up in Oman territory:)). I have the idea the route along the coast should be good and a nice view from there, or is it hard to drive? I am driving a small car probably!
Aug 2, 2012 11:02 AM
11Apple, the route I would recommend will take you from RAK to Dibba via the mountains (road E18 & E87 & E89). Here it's possible to go back into the Oman territory at Dibba without having to get visas - the police just check your passport and that's all. It's worth driving into the Oman side and having a quick look around - there's a Golden Tulip Hotel on a nice beach and if you drive into Wadi Bih and hike up the hill you can look down into Zighy Bay which is an amazing view - there is a Six Senses resort there.
Then from Dibba to Fujairah along the E99 coast road - check out the tiny old mosque, possibly some snorkelling at Dibba Rock, Khor Fakkan, Furjairah & Kjhor Kalba. It may be worth spending the night on the coast either in Dibba or at Al Aqah Beach (several hotels) or Dibba Rock (several motels) or Khor Fakkan. Fujairah is not very interesting although there is a Hilton Hotel there and some shopping.
Then from Fujairah take the E89 through the mountains to Masafi - there's one or two forts along the way. Then back to Dubai or wherever you want to go next.
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