Adventurous Trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai – Wonder Cities of Middle East

And here I am to write my first blog :).Folks, I am Nithin currently residing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I am from India. I would like to share my Adventurous Abu Dhabi and Dubai  trip experience from Riyadh over here.

It was on 28th December 2016 around 4 am KSA time when my wife Pallavi and I started our journey to UAE from Riyadh by road.

Info : I Strongly advise  you to leave early in the morning as you can reach Abu Dhabi before evening the next day if you are planning.

We made sure we carried required stuffs with us. we took the route on eastern ring road and towards Al Kharj,  the eastern part of Saudi Arabia. Ofcourse , How can i deny , it was google maps which assisted us. It took around two hours to reach the main highway which connects to UAE and finally around 6 AM KSA time, the sun started to break out and we got a big sight of relief as we were not feeling comfortable to drive in the night. We also took few snaps to cherish the moment of sun rise as it was Pallavi’s first Sun rise.

Info : One more important thing, i would like to mention here is , do carry a power bank to charge your phone time to time. In Addition, Please have some apps which does not use internet for finding routes like Sygic or offline google maps as you cannot depend on internet all the time.

Then we continued our journey on the highway.The roads were looking deserted and we did get a feeling whether we were on right track or not. After some distance we were able to notice few trucks which were moving along with us and it brought a sense of relief that we were not the only one driving on the highway. The view on either sides of the roads were mesmerizing, covered with beautiful sands and brownish yellow in color. we took few snaps of the desert view on the way. As it started nearing to 8 AM we were starving and decided to have breakfast. So, we parked our vehicle in a nearby petrol station and finished our breakfast. Then we resumed our long journey and on the way we had to fill petrol for some 3 to 4 times before we reached the KSA border around 1 PM KSA time. Yes, you might be wondering why it took so much long time to reach. Reason is we planned to rest for a while in most of the Petrol Stations to get rid of tiredness.

On the way to UAE from Riyadh 🙂

On the way to Abu Dhabi from Riyadh

On the way to Abu Dhabi from Riyadh

Finally around 1 PM KSA time we headed towards KSA border. But we were not able to figure out where to head as all the signs were in arabic and we were not able to understand.We decided to take a route covered with fences to cross the border but it was closed. So we came back to the highway and took another way where the trucks were headed and then we saw lot of trucks lined up to cross the border. Fortunately, I happened to talk to one driver and he told us that for other vehicles apart from trucks , a deviation needs to be taken and finally we reached the KSA border  to get all the immigration formalities done.

Info : Please note that if your nationality is not from a GCC country, then you need to go to one building which will be suggested by the immigration authority to get the UAE Entry Visa verification done.Before you give the visa for verification, you need to get your eye scanned in the same building.

After visa verification is done, we reached the counter where we paid around 150 SAR to get insurance for our car and then we passed through Customs Section.Once all the formalities were done, we entered UAE and after driving for some distance, we found a petrol station called ADNOC and there we got freshen up and fed ourselves with some snacks.

Info : Please note that currently there is a construction going on along Abu Dhabi Highway to widen the roads for around 300 Kms. So, Kindly drive safely once you are in Abu Dhabi. In Addition, Please Note that in the ADNOC petrol station, they do accept Saudi Riyals at a slightly lesser conversion rate if you want to fill in petrol.

After the break, we checked the distance to our destination in google maps in Abu Dhabi and it was showing another 4 hours to reach the destination.we also checked in the ADNOC petrol station if we can get a sim but they said that I will have to drive for 150+ Kms to get a mobile sim. we were almost exhausted but I continued driving with slow pace along the way to reach the destination.

Around 4 PM we reached Abu Dhabi city and I must say the view of the city was wonderful.We did not have Internet connection, so we used the offline App called Sygic to reach the destination. Finally, we reached our hotel named “Capital Centro By Rotana“. We checked in to the hotel and then discussed about the places that we could visit in the evening.

              Beautiful View from the Hotel Capital Centro By Rotana 🙂

View from Hotel Capital Centro by Rotana, Abu Dhabi

View from Hotel Capital Centro by Rotana, Abu Dhabi

As it was nearing to dark,  we thought we will not be able to cover all places in Abu Dhabi. Before visiting places, we needed a mobile sim badly, so we went to nearby Carrefour Mall and bought the mobile sim and dined at a place named “Golden Spoon Vegetarian Restaurant” and then we decided to go to The Emirates Palace. Emirates Palace, one of the beautiful and luxurious hotels in the world. The view was simply mesmerizing:) . We enjoyed it’s dazzling view and took few snaps and then around 11.30 PM UAE time we left the place and went back to the hotel.

Emirates Palace 🙂

Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

Next day morning i.e. 29th December 2016,  we headed to The CornicheThe Corniche has an amazing beach view and ecstatic skyline view. Unfortunately, we could not take a proper snap of the skyline view as it was a foggy morning that day.

Corniche – Abu Dhabi 🙂

Corniche , Abu Dhabi

Corniche , Abu Dhabi

We spent time in the corniche till 11.30 AM and then we left to Dubai as we had planned to spend more number of days in Dubai :). By 2.30 PM , we reached Dubai City. I must say the view of the roads on the way to dubai was amazing especially The Sheik Zayed Road.Roads were broad and driving experience was good.we got a glimpse of metro stations on the way too.Then around 3 PM, we reached our hotel named “Royal Ascot Hotel” in Bur Dubai.

On the way to Dubai from Abu Dhabi 🙂

On the way to Dubai from Abu Dhabi

On the way to Dubai from Abu Dhabi

Once we reached the hotel, we got ready and started heading to Dubai Mall as our visit to Burj Khalifa was scheduled at 5.30 PM.

Info : Please note that the traffic rules are different in UAE compared to Saudi. I advise you to have a look at them before you enter UAE.

I must mention here that Dubai mall is one of the busiest and biggest malls in the world.

Info : Please note that you can visit Burj Khalifa from inside of the dubai mall so you do not have to go any where.

The mall is so big and beautiful that you can’t cover all the places in one day.We roamed in the mall for some time and satisfied our food cravings and then we headed towards entrance for Burj Khalifa. Since, we had pre-booked the entry passes to Burj Khalifa online, we had to just visit the ticket counter which looks like an ATM machine and get the tickets.

Info : I would like to advise that it will take 1 to 1.30 hours to go to the top of Burj Khalifa from the booked time. So, if you interested to watch the beautiful sunset from the top of Burj Khalifa, then kindly book it for 3 PM so that by the time you reach the top, it would take 4.30 to 5 PM.

Due to heavy crowd, we reached the top i.e. 124th and 125th Floor around 6.30 PM.Unfortunately, we missed the sunset 😦 . Going in the elevator to the top in Burj Khalifa is an amazing experience. Once we reached the top,  we felt like we were on top of the cloud. We got a chance to see the Dubai city colored with lights. What a fantastic view it was from the top :). We fell in love with the place. We took few snaps too.

Burj Khalifa  – Dubai 🙂

Burj Khalifa , Dubai

Burj Khalifa , Dubai

Burj Khalifa , Dubai

Burj Khalifa , Dubai

Later we decided to go down but since the crowd was more, we had to stand in the queue to take the elevator. During that time, we happened to hear a beautiful music from somewhere. So, when we saw downwards from the place where we standing, we were amazed and then Pallavi said in excitement saying ‘Hey, It’s Musical Fountain. let me take a video’. I must say, It was one of the most beautiful musical fountains we had ever seen.It was mind blowing to watch it from top.

View of fountain from top of burj khalifa 🙂

View of fountain from top of burj khalifa

View of fountain from top of burj khalifa

After watching musical fountain, we took the elevator and reached ground floor and headed towards the place where the musical fountain was arranged as we had to see it from near distance.The Dubai Fountain is the world’s largest choreographed fountain system.Must mention that it gives you a lovely feeling when you watch it.

Dubai Fountain 🙂

Dubai Fountain

Dubai Fountain

Next, we decided to go to Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo inside Dubai Mall. Dubai Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world. It is the holder of the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Acrylic Panel. They say it showcases more than 300 species of marine animals but we could not count them as there were large number of different species. It is a must visit place in dubai. you will be fascinated at  watching those beautiful marine animals.

Dubai Aquarium 🙂

Dubai Aquarium

Dubai Aquarium

Once you are done with Dubai Aquarium, you will be redirected to Underwater Zoo. In Underwater Zoo, you will get a chance to have a close encounter with Sharks, attend a session to understand sharks life cycle etc. based on the package that you have selected.

Underwater Zoo

Dubai UnderWater Zoo in Dubai Mall

Dubai UnderWater Zoo in Dubai Mall

After we came out of Underwater Zoo, we went to a place in a mall where we got a chance to wear traditional arabian dress and take a pic. They will share either a hard or soft copy but not both.It will cost you 100 AED for the pic. We were so delighted to wear arabian costume and the pic indeed came out very well.

After this, we headed back to our hotel and discussed our next day plans.

Next day, i.e. 30th December 2016 , we headed to the Ibn Battuta Mall.It is the world’s largest themed shopping mall that has 6 different courts of whose designs are inspired by some of the countries visited by the great Moroccan Berber explorer, Ibn Battuta. The view of different kind of themes will make you feel wonderful. It is a must visit if you are planning to go to Dubai. We roamed in the mall till afternoon and finished our lunch there.

Ibn Battutta Mall 🙂

Ibn Battutta Mall

Ibn Battutta Mall

From there we headed to the Mall of Emirates as we had booked entry to SKI Dubai, An Indoor Ski Resort inside Mall of Emirates. You can experience the snow in a desert land here.Once you get there before entering Ski Dubai, you will be asked to purchase snow resistant gloves. It will be good if you can carry it from home instead of purchasing over there.In Addition, Please carry a cap to cover your ears as the temperature will go upto -2 Degree Celsius inside. We had opted a package called Polar Express and it had 3 kinds of activities included in it.You can also opt for a package with penguin encounter if you can shell out more money.we completed two activities and then we were not able to tolerate the coldness, so we decided to go out of Ski Dubai :).

Info : Please note that, you will be asked to return the cards that you will be given as part of entry pass for Ski Dubai. Post return of card, you can get the refund amount 20 AED per person if you want or you can buy any stuff of worth 30 AED per person.

Once we came out of Ski Dubai,  they had organized few shows for the crowd in the center of the mall as it was a weekend like we thought.

Mall of Emirates 🙂

Show in Mall of Emirates

Show in Mall of Emirates

We stood there and watched it for some time as we had to spend some time in mall before we reached the venue for Alexandria Dhow Cruise. It was pre-booked and I must say this was an unique experience of all. Infact,  A romantic Experience indeed. A must for all couples who would want to visit dubai. Here, they take you on a cruise for about 2 hours with a candle light dinner arranged and some shows to entertain us and a cool breeze to spice you up. you will get to see a charming view of colorful dubai from the cruise. It was truly memorable and unique.

Alexandria Dhow Cruise 🙂

Alexandria Dhow Cruise

Alexandria Dhow Cruise

After the cruise, we headed back to hotel and then discussed to see places on the last day of our trip.

Next day Morning, i.e. 31st December 2016, We headed to two beautiful gardens in dubai. The Butterfly garden and the Miracle Garden.These two are way more beautiful than you imagine.

Butterfly garden contains 3 domes with colorful butterflies in each dome where you will tend to fall in love with them after you see. They have lot of artifacts inside the garden which have been entirely designed using butterflies.

Butterfly Garden 🙂

Butterfly Garden

Butterfly Garden

Next, we went to a place called miracle garden and it is nearby to Butterfly garden.Yes, the name says it all. This garden is totally colorful. It makes you feel like staying over there forever. It has huge collection of flowers with different colors together you can never imagine and lot of models of dream houses decorated with flowers.We finished our lunch over there and headed to the Palm Jumeirah Public beach.

Miracle Garden 🙂

Miracle Garden

Miracle Garden

It was Pallavi’s first attempt to interact with the waves on sea shore.This beach has a famous luxury hotel named Burj Al Arab in the background.It is the fourth largest hotel in the world. The view of the building from sea shore is charismatic and the atmosphere makes you feel so relaxed.Do visit it once when you are in Dubai.

Palm Jumeirah Public Beach 🙂

Palm Jumeirah Public Beach with View of Burj Al Arab

Palm Jumeirah Public Beach with View of Burj Al Arab

It was 31st December and about to sunset. After the beach, we left to the Atlantis, The Palm in Palm Island. We had not planned to go inside the atlantis, so we parked our car outside and stayed on the corniche to watch the sunset.

Info : One thing i would like to mention here is when you drive in a Palm Island, you get to see a beautiful view of the branches of the palm tree in google maps.

The sunset here is so eye-catching and atmosphere is so pleasant.you will always get to hear to the sound when waves try to hit the rocks and makes you fall in love with this place.

View of Google Maps in Palm Island 🙂

View of Google Maps in Palm Island

View of Google Maps in Palm Island

Again, It was pallavi’s first sunset and she wanted to capture the moment and it was so glamorous.

Corniche  @ Atlantis The Palm 🙂

Corniche @ Atlantis The Palm

Corniche @ Atlantis The Palm

After the sunset, we left Atlantis and went back to our hotel. We were all geared up to visit Burj Khalifa again since we heard that there will be fireworks for new year. But before that, we thought we will visit Souq market in Bur Dubai. There are 2 ways of transport with which you can visit Souq market in Bur Dubai, either by road or by water. we decided to go by water as we thought it will be a new kind of experience. we took the boat and believe me it will cost you just 1 AED. we reached the Souq market and roamed in the streets. There are lot of different kind of shops available in the market if you are interested in shopping.

Info : One important thing for gold lovers is that you will not get that much variety of gold ornaments with design anywhere as you get it in Dubai Gold Souq.

Bur Dubai Gold Souq 🙂

Bur Dubai Gold Souq

Bur Dubai Gold Souq

Later around 9 PM, we finished shopping and returned the other side of the lake where we started.we heard that there is a temple in Bur Dubai so we decided to visit the temple.We walked for about 2 Kms and finally reached the temple.We took the blessings of the God and then we came out.While going back to the hotel  we decided to dine at Saravana Bhavan.

Temple 🙂

Temple in Dubai

Temple in Dubai

We reached our hotel and got ready and then decided to take a taxi to Dubai Mall to watch the most expected Burj Khalifa fireworks for 31st night.Unfortunately, the taxi driver said the roads were blocked and he will not be able to take us to the exact location. When we requested him, he said he can take us to a nearby place where Burj Khalifa can be seen. Later, he dropped us to the nearby place. And then when it was nearing to 12 in the midnight, lots and lots of bunch of crowd gathered near the place where we stood. And finally, when it was time , the celebration started with fireworks on Burj Khalifa for around 5 minutes . It looked alluring. The whole crowd started celebrating the moment by wishing new year to their beloved ones. It was the most memorable experience we had in dubai and our trip ended with these colors of lights and we went back to out hotel very late in the night as there was lot of scarcity for taxis.

New Year Celebration @ Burj Khalifa  🙂

New Year Celebration @ Burj Khalifa

New Year Celebration @ Burj Khalifa

The Next day, we checked out from the hotel and finished our lunch in Saravana Bhavan. And then we left to Riyadh.We took small breaks in petrol stations on the way, but we managed to drive safely till UAE border in the night around 10 PM. We finished our immigration formalities and crossed the border and decided to stay there as it was dark.

Info : Please note that you will have to pay around 33 AED as exit visa fee per person if you are exiting UAE.

We parked the car near the border and slept till 6 AM in the morning. When the sun broke out, we started our journey back to Riyadh. It was again a long journey indeed. We were feeling happy that we completed an adventurous trip to UAE and at the same time we were feeling sad that the adventure trip got over. Finally around 12.30 PM, we managed to reach our home safely in Riyadh.

If you’re planning a trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, I hope this blog is helpful. if you have already been there, do comment below with more suggestions and places. If you need any additional information on Riyadh to Abu Dhabi and Dubai Trip by Road , Please leave a Comment.

Tips & Information before travelling to UAE from Riyadh by road

  1. Apply Visa Online (https://www.gdrfa.ae/GCCIND/gccLogin.do?userAction=switchToEnglish)  – Select port of arrival as Al Gouifat if you are travelling from Riyadh and Visa for GCC ResidentsApproximate Cost 250 AED per person

  2. Exit Re-Entry Visa – Approximate Cost 200 SAR for Single Exit Re-entry Visa &  500 SAR for Multiple Exit Re-entry Visa

  3. Hotel Accomodation Booking – Approximate cost 300 to 500 SAR per night

  4. Tickets and Entry Passes for places like Burj Khalifa(Approximate Cost 200 SAR per person), Alexandria Dhow Cruise(Approximate Cost  320 AED per couple) , Ski Dubai (Approximate Cost 250 AED per person) If you have pre-booked online. My Suggestion is to book for these things online in advance before you travel.

  5. Butterfly Garden (Approximate cost 40 AED per person) and Miracle Garden (Approximate cost 50 AED per person)

  6. Salik Tag – The Automated toll system will not be applicable for Saudi registered Vehicles in Dubai.

  7. If you are wondering if you have to exchange currency before leaving then you don’t have to. you can use the same ATM card you are using in KSA. Before going please check with your bank if you can use it outside KSA.

  8. Most Important thing  – Please make sure to perform a full service to your car before leaving.

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