YES…we did it all!
Big Bus Tours Dubai has an Unlimited Attraction Pass with 15 different bonuses which you can use within one week. We averaged about 2 attractions per day and finished all 15 bonuses in 7 days. We really felt this was the most comprehensive way to see all the major sightseeing attractions in a short time. For a travelling family with young kids, I highly recommend doing a Big Bus Tour!
Here is an overview of all the attractions we did within one week:
1) 3 Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours (Red, Green, and Blue)
There are different ways to do a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour. There is no right way as it’s really up to the individual. However, there are 2 schools of thoughts:
i) Do All the Lines First, Then the Stops (do all 3 lines in one day then do the stops over the following days)
ii) Do a Line Per Day (3 lines over 3 days)
We opted for a hybrid approach, doing the entire red and green line in 1 day stopping for the Dhow Cruise and Atlantis Lost Chambers Aquarium. The second day, we completed the blue line & the Marina cruise. On the last few days, we did all the bonus attractions including the night tour, the 3 walking tours, the museums, and the half day trips.
2) Magical Night Tour
I love exploring a city at night. However, with 3 young kids, it’s difficult to take them out after dark. The perfect solution is to do the night tour as you get to see all the main attractions within a 3 hour window stopping for the Light & Sound Show at WAFI as well as a short 15 minutes walking tour of the WAFI Souk. It gets quite cold if you are sitting on the open deck so bring warm clothes or sit downstairs. All of Dubai’s major attractions really come alive at night so highly recommend doing the Magical Night Tour!
3) Dubai Creek Cruise
One of the MUST-DOs when visiting Dubai is an Arabian Dhow Cruise. Instead of purchasing a separate ticket, the Unlimited Attraction Pass includes 2 free Dhow Cruises: one on the creek and the other on the Marina. The Dubai Creek Cruise allows you to see the day-to-day life of the Emirates from the comfort of the top deck of a Dhow. There are even snacks, drinks, and ice cream on sale. Yes, you don’t need to ask…the kids got some delicious ice cream! 😉
4) Dubai Marina Cruise
This was one of the most pleasant surprises as we had no idea that Dubai had such a beautiful Marina. In fact, it’s the second largest man-made marina in the world (the only one bigger is Marina Del Ray in California). Highlights include Pier 7, The Cayan Tower, and The Palm Jumeirah. The cruise is really romantic on a slow-moving dhow with the tall skyscrapers on either side of you. Plus, you get a beautiful view of The Palm (the largest man-made island in the world)!
5) Dubai Museum at the Al Fahidi Fort
Usually, we skip out on museums as the kids find them boring. However, the Dubai Museum is very unique as it’s partially open-air and it’s located inside the oldest building in Dubai: the Al Fahidi Fort. Plus, the interactive area with models is very interesting. Glad to see museums focused on making it fun for kids as well as adults. The kids loved exploring this museum as opposed to other museums we have visited in the past. I would recommend about 1 hour to explore the awesome Dubai Museum!
6) Museum Collection
There are 10 different museums included in the Unlimited Attraction Pass…yes, 10! However, several of them were closed when we visited as they were undergoing extensive renovation in preparation for the Dubai Expo in 2020. It seems the whole city is focused on showcasing its’ glory to the world for 2020 including all of these museums. Most of these museums are located near the Heritage Village area so try and combine them in one trip.
7) Arabian Treasures Walking Tour
We started off by going to a Hindu Temple, then walked through the Spice Souk, then crossed the Dubai Creek in a traditional wooden Abra, and finally finished off at the Gold Souk. The kids managed to survive the 60 mins walking tour with minimal complaining as they really enjoyed the Abra Ride and walking all the seagulls flying near us! Our tour guide was super informative and was able to answer all of our questions and was well attentive to the needs of our kids.
8) Heritage Village Walking Tour
Since the Heritage Village is near the Gold Souk, we decided to do both walking tours in one day. This tour allows you to understand how traditional Emirates people lived and you learn a lot about the ruling family. One of the highlights was the “Natural” Air Conditioning System – definitely ask your guide to explain this system to you! The walking tour is very informative as the guide made the village come alive so it felt like we were a part of the culture instead of just walking amongst the ruins. This is a must-do for history buffs!
9) Downtown Discovery Walking Tour
If you are interested in the dynamic contrast between Old and New Dubai, make sure you do the Modern Dubai Walking Tour as you get to understand all the intricacies of The Dubai Mall, The Dubai Aquarium, The Dubai Fountain, Burj Khalifa, and end off at a beautiful modern Souk. The Dubai Mall can be a little overwhelming for first-time visitors (after all, it’s the biggest mall in the world). We ate at The Rainforest Cafe and The Cheesecake Factory over the 3 days we visited the mall. So much to see and do at this Mall!
10) Atlantis The Palm Lost Chambers Aquarium
Have you ever wanted to explore Atlantis? I certainly am intrigued by the concept of an entire city underwater. The architects and designers behind Atlantis The Palm have created an amazing aquarium where you really feel like are exploring an underwater city! For those who cannot afford to stay at the hotel itself (and for those who can), I recommend checking out this awesome aquarium (especially if you have kids)! There are some cool mattresses you can lie down on while looking at the fish swimming above you.
11) Ambassador Lagoon
Normally, only Atlantis Hotel Guests can visit this area. There are several security guards to protect the privacy of hotel guests. However, with your Lost Chambers Tickets, you are allowed to see the beautiful Ambassador Lagoon with over 65,000 marine animals floating before eyes! This is just a quick stop so you don’t need to allocate a lot of time for this activity but make sure you check it out after your aquarium experience!
12) Palm Island Drive
There are various ways to visit and see and experience The Palm. You can see it from a boat (like we did with The Yellow Boats), you can see it from the air (from a helicopter, sea plane, or sky diving), or you can drive around it (which the Big Bus Tours Pass includes). There is no recorded or live commentary on the Palm Island Drive so just sit back and enjoy the views! The most amazing feature was the beautiful views of the Arabian Gulf and the 5 star luxury hotels.
13) Sharjah Half Day Tour
Sharjah is an impressive city and it’s tough to do it comprehensively by yourself without doing a guided tour. Luckily, it was included in our pass as well! We got to walk around at 2 stops: The Sharjah Heritage Area and the Sharjah Blue Market. I recommend doing the 3 Big Bus half-day tours in one day (Sharjah, Flamingos, and Desert Sunset) as they all leave from the WAFI Big Bus stop with time in-between for meals, breaks, and washroom pit stops!
14) Flamingo Lagoon Discovery
It’s one thing to see Flamingos in a zoo. It’s a whole other experience to see hundreds of flamingos in the wild. Our kids were really excited about this tour and got super zealous as we entered the Flamingo Hide (which is limited to 20 people maximum/time). We also got to see Sheikh Mohammed’s Royal Palace on this tour and learn more about the ruler of Dubai and his family. This tour will definitely be a highlight for those of you with kids!
15) Desert Sunset Experience
This was my wife’s first time and our kids’ first ever visit to a desert. I personally have been to Wadi Rum in Jordan as well as the Egyptian Desert to see the Pyramids. However, when I saw the joy on the faces of Anne, Rianne, Ryan, and Renzo, it brought tears to my eyes. Travel is really about the memories…and riding a camel & watching the sunset over the desert is one experience that we will remember forever (watch the video below to see how happy our kids were playing in the desert)!
Here are some of our Video Highlights from the trips:
1) DHOW CRUISE
2) SHARJAH HALF DAY TRIP
3) DESERT SUNSET EXPERIENCE
A big THANK YOU to Big Bus Tours for this experience! If you are coming to Dubai, I would suggest doing the 7 day Unlimited Attraction Pass…I’m glad that we found out about it and now we are recommending it to all of our friends, readers, and followers who are visiting Dubai. We also did a 2 day hop on hop off tour with Big Bus Tours Abu Dhabi so make sure you read that blog post too.
We really recommend the Unlimited Attraction Pass as it’s amazing value for your money. You can do so much for so little. It would cost a lot if you add up all of the different attractions and tours so it’s better to just pay one upfront price and then just enjoy all the wonderful experiences! Let’s see if you can DO IT ALL like we did! 😉
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