10 Must-Do Experiences with Kids in Dubai

Nov 25, 2014

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Since finding out that I am going to Dubai, I have furiously been researching all the amazing things that you can do with kids in Dubai. Trust me, there are plenty! Although I am travelling sans the kids this time, I still find myself researching family friendly activities. It probably has to do with the fact that I'm still a big kid at heart and I love all the fun family experiences we have. (One of the reasons people have kids is to relive all the fun stuff again, right?) I also have plans to bring my family with me to Dubai next time, so I'm keen to find the best places to take them.

When we travel as a family I always do a lot of research before we go. I guess I worry that I'll go and miss something amazing, so I have to be sure I've found out the details before I leave. Often there are so many things that it can be hard to fit it all in, and I always like to leave us with free days for exploration or rest. This means I'd rather make sure to do my most desired experiences first.

As mentioned, there are a plethora of things that you can do in Dubai with kids, all with a range of prices. After much research, including some first hand information from my Dubai connections (thanks guys!), I have come up with a list of my top 10 must-do experiences with kids in Dubai. Whilst these may not all be experiences directly marketed towards kids, these are what would be top of MY to-do list if my family were with me. Hopefully I will get to experience some of them on this trip.

My Top 10 Must-Do Experiences with Kids in Dubai

1) Desert Safari

If we're in the desert then we are definitely going to want to play in it, and that includes riding a camel! From what I've heard, a safari in the desert is a must do but possibly better with older children as the dune bashing can get a little hairy. There are children's prices on the websites of the providers and as many are organised as private bookings I am sure that if you still wanted to go out and ride the camels and do some sand boarding with younger kids, that you'd be able to get there without too rough a journey. Most state that they are suitable for people of all ages except pregnant women.

Where? There are a number of different tours with a range of prices and options. All the hotels would have details and ways to book directly without having to plan it out before you leave, but if you had particular dates in mind, it's probably best to book ahead.

How much? The cheapest I've found is Adults from 100 AED (approx $31 AUD) and kids from 34 AED (approx $10.60 AUD). I have found that it can get a fair bit more expensive than that though depending on the tour package, so it's a good idea to do some research before you go. I recommend reading some trip reviews from others to ensure it's the type of experience you're after. For an all inclusive type package including hotel pickups, Arabic style buffet with unlimited select beverages, dune drive, camel ride, falcon viewing and belly dance show, you're looking at around 360 AED (approx $114 AUD) for adults and a little bit cheaper for children under 12.

Update: I did go on a desert safari! It was an absolute highlight of the trip. You can see more details about the safari that I went on here.

2) Heritage Tour

Photo source SMCCU website

Wherever we travel, an important part for us is getting to know more about the culture of where we are visiting. Being somewhere with quite a different culture to us, I definitely would like to do a tour where we could see some historic and symbolic sights, as well as have a chance to ask questions and learn about the local customs and culture.

Where? SMCCU Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. House 26, Al Mussallah Road, Al Fahidi District, Bur Dubai

How Much? AED 65 for adults (approx $20 AUD) for the Heritage Tour. Children under 12 are free. Check out their website as they also have other events on like traditional meals (this sounds good!) and a longer tour that can be booked.

Website: SMCCU Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

Update: We were lucky to do a cultural lunch at the SMCCU. It was fantastic and highly recommended.  You can see more pics from my lunch there here.

3) Ski Dubai

Photo source Ski Dubai website

This place sounds and looks truly amazing. Just the idea of hitting the snowfields in the second largest snow dome in the world (and the only in the Middle East) is enough to get me to go. Add in the awesome snow world for kids and parents, the tobogganing, skiing and all things snow related, as well as the chance to meet the Snow Penguins (!) and this place is an absolute must do!  Ski Dubai is for ages 2+ and you don't have to worry about packing the appropriate ski wear, they have it all there for you.

Where? Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Shiekh Zayed Road, Dubai

How much? Prices start from 200 AED each for both adults and children (approx. $62) and there are optional extras to pay for like the penguin encounter or snow bullet. Alternatively you can get a package with it all for 500 AED each (approx. $156 AUD)

Website: Ski Dubai

Update: I did visit Ski Dubai and it was amazing! My kids would love it so much! Have a look at more of our pictures here.

4) Visit the Dubai Spice Souk and Gold Souk 

Visiting the traditional open style markets of the Gold and Spice Souks would be a definite for a trip to Dubai. An inexpensive way of immersing ourselves in the culture, I know that this would be a sensory journey full of exciting sights, sounds and smells that we just couldn't miss.

Where? Old Dubai, Al Ras on Sikkat Al Khail Road

How Much? No charge to enter and haggling is expected when buying.

More reading: 
Spice and Gold Souk Dubai
Dubai Spice Souk

Update: Going through the souks was a must do. Here are some more pictures from my wander through. 

5) KidZania

Photo source KidZania website

As soon as I read about KidZania, I knew it was a must-do experience for us. Inside The Dubai Mall is a whole city, built at perfect kid-size, where children aged 4 to 16 can role play over 80 different activities from dentists to police officers, journalists, beauticians and more. Children get paid in a special currency called KidZos for their work. The more they work and experience different jobs, the more they can earn. They can then browse and spend their KidZos on real food, entertainment or gifts and the KidZos, which are stored in their personalised banking account, can be used at any KidZania in the world. The entire concept sounds so cool to me that I am going to try and do my best to get there. With handy "Zupervisors" to assist children where needed and a separate safe and engaging toddlers room, it should be a really unique experience and one that you could choose to accompany your children on, or leave them in a safe environment while you have some time in the mall or relaxing in a cafe.

Where? KidZania is situated on Level 2 inside The Dubai Mall (opposite Reel Cinemas). Downtown Dubai, Near Souk Al Bahar Bridge, Dubai

How Much? Child aged 4 to 16 years old AED 140 (approx. $44 AUD) Adult must be accompanied by a child AED 95 (approx. $30 AUD), Toddler aged 2 to 3 years old AED 95 (approx. $30 AUD)
Infant under 2 years old is free.

Website: KidZania

Update: KidZania will blow yours and your kids' minds! It is amazing. Check out more pictures from my visit here.

6) Burj Khalifa, At the Top

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. It has observation decks on the 124th, 125th and 148th floors with spectacular views of Dubai and an elevator that will fly you up it at 10 metres per second! You bet we would want to go up! I've heard that at certain times there can be a longer wait time to get up, so I'd probably investigate for the time you're going and book ahead so you can definitely get up it. The two higher observation decks are recently opened, with the 148th floor being the world's highest outdoor observation deck. It's not going to be a super cheap experience but it's one I'd be leaving room in the budget for as it's certainly a one off.

Where? Burj Khalifa. 1 Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown,  Dubai. Enter via the lower ground of The Dubai Mall.

How Much? For the lower observation deck (I bet it won't feel low at 124 floors up!), the At the Top experience costs from AED 125 for adults (approx. $39 AUD) and AED 95 for children aged 4-12 (approx $29.60 AUD). Children under 4 are free. For the premier experience of the 125th and 148th floors, the At the Top Sky experience, it costs AED 400 for both adults and children (approx. $124.80 AUD).  

Website: Burj Khalifa

Update: Going up the elevator is an experience in itself. So fast! Amazing views from the top. You can see some more pictures here.

7) Dolphin Bay (& Aquaventure Waterpark)

Photo source Atlantis Dolphin Bay website

Dolphin Bay in Atlantis offers you an unforgettable experience, meeting, playing, hugging, interacting and swimming with the Dubai dolphins! This is one of those bucket-list type experiences that we would probably only do once in our lives, and if we're going to do it, here looks like the perfect place. In one of the most sophisticated dolphin habitats in the world, there are a range of different experiences for all ages and preferences. Buying a dolphin experience also includes entry into the very awesome Aquaventure Waterpark. This place has it all! Water slides through shark filled lagoons, the world's largest slide, the world’s first dual slide within a slide and the list just goes on! This day out would set us back a pretty penny, but wow, what a day. One I know we'd remember forever.

Where? Dolphin Bay. The Palm Jumeriah, Dubai

How Much? For a dolphin encounter where you get to interact and play with a dolphin for 30 minutes in shallow water, prices start at AED 745 (approx. $235 AUD) for both children and adults. Swimming and interacting with them in deep water starts at around AED 960 (approx. $302 AUS) and there are other options available as well. This price also includes your entry into the Aquaventure Waterpark so it does cover a whole day of other entertainment as well.

Website: Dolphin Bay
Aquaventure Waterpark

8) Dubai Fountain

The Dubai Fountain, set on the Burj Khalifa Lake, is the largest dancing fountain in the world! Playing in sync to classical, Arabic and world music, this incredible display shoots water up to 500 feet in the air and plays at set intervals every day. After seeing a number of photos online, I think this is something we would need to see at least twice. Once during the day and once in the evening to witness the thousands of lights and coloured projections.

Where? Burj Khalifa Lake, right outside The Dubai Mall on Lower Ground Waterfront Promenade in the heart of Downtown Dubai

How Much? Free to watch

Website: Dubai Fountains

9) Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

We love just about anything that has to do with animals and have been to many different aquariums during our travels. The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, located right in The Dubai Mall, looks like one that we wouldn't want to miss. With over 30, 000 aquatic animals housed behind the largest viewing panel and largest suspended aquarium in the world, I know we'd all love it. Being completely surrounded by all the sea life going through the 48 metre long tunnel would be a highlight, as would seeing the UAE night creatures and the King Crocodile in the Underwater Zoo. It sounds like a fun and educational day out for the whole family.

Where? Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, The Dubai Mall, Doha Street off 1st Interchange - Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, U.A.E

How Much? You can see the outside of the tank from the mall for no cost. To go through the tunnel and experience the Underwater Zoo, Adults are 70 AED (approx. $22 AUD) and children aged 3-12 are 55 AED (approx. $17 AUD). There are other experiences, like diving with sharks that come at an additional cost and although not listed on their website, I've heard you can also get tickets to go just through the tunnel.

Website: Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

Update: I had a lovely time at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Lots of interesting things to see! You can check out some more pics I took there, here.

10) Beach

When we go on holidays, the majority of the time is usually spent in the water and we certainly can't go to Dubai without taking the kids to the beach. We're very fond of hotel pools as they can often be easier to manage with younger children, but with the right beach, you can have the best day for a low cost. Dubai is known for its soft sandy beaches, year-round sunshine and warm Arabian Gulf waters, and there are quite a range of beaches to visit. From what I've heard, the best beaches to go with kids are Jumeirah Beach Park and Al Mamzar Park Beach. Both have sandy white beaches and crystal clear turquoise seas for children to paddle in. They also have parks, playgrounds, swimming pools and amenities available. Apparently Al Mamzar beach also has fish close to shore and is good for snorkelling.

Where? As the names suggest, Jumeirah Beach Park is located in Jumeirah, Dubai, and Al Mamzar Park beach is located in Al Mamzar, Dubai.

How Much? Jumeirah Beach Park is AED 5 per person entry (approx. $1.50 AUD) and AED 20 per car (approx. $6.20 AUD). Al Mamzar Park is AED 5 per person entry (approx. $1.50 AUD) and AED 30 per car (approx. $9.30 AUD). Pool entrance for adults is AED 10 (approx. $3.10 AUD) and children AED 5 (approx. $1.50 AUD).

Websites: Jumeirah Beach Park and Al Mamzar Park beach

Ok, that list was harder than I thought. There are so many amazing water and theme parks in Dubai that I know our family would love and I didn't get to mention the Camel Racing either! Perhaps we'd have to save those for the next trip!

Prices mentioned in this article are current as of November, 2014.

Happy travels,
Debs :)

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