Check out our photo a day
Menu

Dubai with kids

Fat Mum Slim /

I knew I'd love Dubai but I wasn't sure how great it would be for kids. The reality is, it's awesome! I'm sharing where we stayed, what we ate, and the cool things we did with the kids. Add it to your bucketlist today.

dubai-trip

A few weeks ago I shared a post on our flight to Dubai, and today I wanted to share about our time in Dubai.

I want to first start by saying that Dubai was always on my travel bucket list, but I was a little bit apprehensive about traveling there. Why? Because I’d heard that you had to cover up, that it was ridiculously hot and that you could land in trouble for public displays of affection. The truth is that I probably needed to stop being so narrow-minded and research a little better. I have two friends that currently live in Dubai, so I messaged and pestered them until I had all the information I needed.

After consulting my friends, and our tour guide, I discovered that it’s really just about being respectful. We were visiting a foreign country that had different beliefs and customs to what we’re used to. So if we visited a mosque, then it was important to cover up {but many provide appropriate clothing for you}. So while I didn’t have to wear top to toe cover, I kept a wrap in my handbag just in case I needed to cover up at any stage {I didn’t}, I didn’t wear tight or revealing clothing {because that’s not me anyway}.

Also, we visited in December and the weather was perfect. Warm enough to be comfortable. I would definitely recommend traveling at that time of year if you’re not into super hot weather. In the Dubai summer the temperatures can get close to 50 with humidity at 100%. Temperatures were around 26 when we visited and much lower humidity {lower than we get at home, which my hair was thankful for}.

WHERE WE STAYED

Atlantis Hotel, Dubai

When I found out that we were staying at Atlantis, The Palm, I was a little bit ridiculously excited. And rightly so. It’s an iconic hotel, and when I’ve mentioned to people that have traveled to Dubai about where we stayed, they always gasp. My aunt even had a photo taken out the front, but didn’t stay. If something says fancy, it’s that big pink building with the hole in the middle. F-A-N-C-Y.

dubai-2

Atlantis, The Palm is a holiday in itself, you could pretty much arrive and not go anywhere else. It has restaurants, pools, shops, a waterpark, an aquarium and loads more attractions. If you stay there, then definitely plan to have a handful of days just at the hotel itself. I’ll get to that stuff in a moment, but first I want to share this…

Can you imagine deciding that you thought an island in the shape of a palm tree might be pretty cool, and then actually making it happen? Someone did, and someone made it. The island is the SHAPE OF A PALM TREE. I kid you not. Evidence below.

palm-jumeirah

Atlantis is located on Jumeirah Palm, and is located around 30 minutes from the airport. The Atlantis itself has two pools and a playground for kids, plus you can also swim in the ocean. Next to Atlantis is Aquaventure Water Park, which is a 17 hectare sized fun water playground. There are play areas for little kids, and waterslides for big kids. If you’re staying at Atlantis you get free access whenever you please. Hubby will probably kill me {or roll his eyes at least} for telling this story, but he’s hopeless at lining up for stuff. He doesn’t pay attention and he’ll think he’s lining up at the hot dog stand, only to end buying fairy floss because he’s in the wrong line.

So he lined up in a line for a slide, and when he got to the top he realised he’d lined up for THE slide. The one that drops you out into mid-air, and sets you on your way. And because he didn’t want to look like a wuss, he went through with it and lived to tell the tale. They also have a slide that goes through an aquarium, among others. You can check out all the attractions here.

 Next to Aquaventure is Dolphin Bay where you can swim with dolphins or seals. We played with the dolphins one morning, and had a really magical time.

dubai-3

There’s also The Lost Chambers, an aquarium that is beautiful and intimate, yet expansive at the same time too. The hotel itself has a huge {HUGE!} aquarium in the foyer that you could spend hours staring at {which we did, even at 3am when we couldn’t sleep}.

aquarium

I can’t fault Atlantis at all. The staff were the friendliest I’ve experienced in my travels around the world. The hotel is huge, with over 1500 rooms and some of the staff remembered the girls’ names and were always happy to see them.

WHAT WE DID

We did spend a lot of time in the water {beach, pools, Aquaventure} but we also ventured out and explored Dubai too.

On our first afternoon in Dubai, Alex the tour guide from Arabian Adventures, picked us up and showed us around for a few hours. Getting a tour guide is something I never would have thought about before becoming a blogger, but it’s my favourite thing about traveling. We’ve become friends with lots of guides from around the world, staying in touch through Facebook and Instagram. I like to ask questions like, “What did you eat for breakfast today? What does your home look like?” and other annoying questions that give me an insight into what it might be like to live there.

burj-al-arab
Our first stop, the Burj Al Arab, quite possibly the fanciest hotel of them all. One room fetches up to $24,000 a night. Can you imagine toiletries?

We stopped at beautiful Mosques, heard the history of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, which had just celebrated it’s 43rd birthday when we arrived. We also chatted to Alex about the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as well as visiting outside his residence {bunny rabbits like to hang outside on the lawn}, how quickly Dubai has developed, future plans {including the current development of a series of islands in the shape of the world, seriously!}.

spice-markets
We took a little boat across the water to the Spice Market and Gold Souk. As we walked through the call to prayers echoed over us and it was just beautiful. I’ve often found markets overwhelming, but not this one. It was intimate and everyone was friendly. Alex told me that the stall owners wouldn’t respect me if I didn’t haggle, and so I did. They smiled the whole way through, and I ended up with a bargain or two {just some small souvenirs for the kids back home}. Even if you don’t buy anything, make sure you try a date or two. So soft and sweet.

Our tour ended with Alex {Lulu and Lacey passed out in the car} and we were left to explore for the rest of the trip on our own. We had booked a Desert Safari with Arabian Adventures, which I was really looking forward to {it had an Arabian feast, camel rides, belly dancing and more} but we all got hit with a bug and couldn’t make it. We’ll just have to go back, of course!

ski-dubaiShane and Lacey spent a few hours playing and skiing at Ski Dubai {located at Mall of Emirates}. Unfortunately Lulu was too little to play.

After a morning or skiing and snow-balling, we headed to Dubai Mall to have lunch at the Cheesecake Factory which is right near a huge aquarium, and to play at Kidzania. If you have time, apparently the fountain display at night is definitely worth putting on your to-do list.

kidzania

When I was a kid, Kidzania would have been my idea of heaven. If you’re traveling with kids, you have to do it. I’ve been raving about it since visiting, and I’ve heard Lacey do the same. You just have to. It’s a world made just for kids. Everything is kid size. In a nutshell, kids walk in and immediately cash a cheque. They then choose one of many jobs at which they make money {get paid} for their services. In her time at Kidzania, Lacey worked as a police officer, supermarket cashier, packer at McDonalds, and as a nurse. She also spent her money by doing an art class, baking a cookie and having a beauty treatment {she’s fancy}. They had a room for babies, so Lulu played in the ball-pit while Lacey earned her money.

This post wouldn’t be complete without answering the question that everyone asked me, is it really good for kids? And it is. We were waiting in a long line at Dubai airport and we got pulled out of the line and taken to the front. I know that’s not a big deal, but that is what it was like for our whole trip. Restaurants had kids eat free, the people just loved our kids so much {not sure if it was the blonde hair and pale skin}, and when we caught the Metro, I got asked at least 8 times if I wanted a seat by the gentlemen in the carriage. It’s just something I’d never experienced before. We flew from Brisbane to Dubai, and then Dubai to Brisbane. It was about 14 hours of flying. I thought it was a great destination, but it would also make a great stopover as well.

We traveled to Dubai with Emirates.

  • Wow, everything looks awesome! Btw Dubai is on my travel list to.
    Seems you had a great time there 🙂
    xOrsi
    http://szkorso.blogspot.ro/

  • Agree with you Chantelle. Dubai was never on my to do list but having stopped over on the way back from Europe last year, I’m keen to go back and experience it properly. We also had the same experience in the airport: we were pulled out of the crazy lines and speeded through with the sleeping 2 year old in the complimentary pram available for use in the airport.

    • We had our own pram until we got to the gate, because we didn’t realise they gave prams for people to use. So thoughtful.

      How insane is the airport too? So cool.

  • I love Dubai! We stayed at Atlantis too and I totally agree: service and facilities were amazing! I did THE SLIDE as well. I was so terrified but knew I’d never live it down if I didn’t do it…I was on an adrenalin high for like two days! I can’t wait to go back and take V as well. Kidzania sounds EPIC!!!!

  • Linda Livingston

    Thank you so much. That was truly enlighting. My bucket list includes New Zealand and Australia. Since I was ten I have been dreaming of visiting and learning. Now I am 65 and travel is still hopeful. I want to go before I can not anymore. I Love traveling with your family vicariously.

  • Haha! I grew up there!! I went to school with Sheikh Mohammed’s daughters 🙂 that’s my biggest claim to fame lol. It’s totally different now, we left there mid 90’s and I returned at the tail end of 1999 and hardly recognised it. I’m so glad you made it to the souks. That’s the real Dubai to me. Feeling all nostalgic now!

    Yes, everyone should put Dubai on their travel bucket list, it’s a beautiful culture there. Saudi I could live without (lived there too!) but Dubai was home for a really long time. Oh and your lite blondies would have been adored and I’m surprised there wasn’t any cheek pinching! That happened a heap when we lived there 😉 they love family and children are definitely cherished and included!

    Hmm might have to go check out winter prices for a return visit in October. It’s been a long time since I had humidity induced frizzy hair!!

    X

  • Nayeli

    It sounds wonderful!!! I want to go!!!!
    Is it too expensive though?? Or just average? My brother inlaw went for work but said it was a but expensive…. But great experience too 🙂

    • Hello. I’m not sure where you are, but I found the prices pretty much the same as Australia/America. I think I saw an ad for Atlantis on the plane and the prices started at US$270 {I hope I’m not getting that wrong}.

      So not a budget trip, but I thought it was not as expensive as I thought it would be.

  • So glad you enjoyed your time in Dubai. It really is a kid-friendly place, I was reminded of this on my recent trip back home and I spent an hour in the immigration queue with three exhausted kids. (Side note: why oh why does Australian immigration let visitors from UK and US use the smart gates but not kids from their own country, totally crazy!) I’m spoilt and very used to being pushed the front of the queue any place I have my kids with me.
    My daughter just won her school cross country race on that beach in front of the Burj al Arab, added difficulty of dodging tourists taking photos of the hotel. 😉
    PS: it was a great surprise bumping into you, even if just for a moment.

  • This destination is on my bucket list – best I get working harder to get there! Lovely photos. x

  • Jae

    Oh my gosh, Chantelle! These photos are ridiculously breath-taking! I haven’t been anywhere in the Middle East, but I’m putting Dubai in our bucket list! Really interesting trip, you had!

  • Dubai has been on my bucket list for years.. and I would love to take my kids – I think we would need a month to review all the kid friendly attractions! Kidzania is my mecca… Sounds like you will definitely have to go back for more Chantelle!

  • So glad you enjoyed your trip, it’s definitely an eye opener full of beauty and OMG riches.

    My dad worked in the middle east for a total of 8 years so I was fortunate to visit these exotic countries.
    It’s interesting to think some Middle Eastern countries differ a lot from each other. I have visited Saudi Arabia when I was 9 and I didn’t have to cover my face because I wasn’t a teenager yet, but my mum had to cover from head to toes in black! I found the country fascinating but very restricted. At 17, I travelled to Oman, my favourite Arabic country, no need to covering up just as long as you cover your shoulders and ankles and the people are so friendly, We travelled 800km interior of the capital and had the best time. On the way home we stopped over Dubai for a weekend. It’s a great Arabric country to visit for the first time as it’s very western influence compare to Saudi.

  • permanentprocrastination

    Oh my goodness wow! I would love to go to Dubai. Also your little one is gorgeous! x

  • iamlindsay86

    Love it! Not sure if we’ll get there, so I loved seeing your photos, especially the spice market one! I used to work for a cruise line, and loved stopping by Nassau just to hang out at the Atlantis resort there;) Gorgeous hotels and what a fun adventure for your family!

  • The water slide through the aquarium has been on my bucket list since the second I heard about it!

  • We will be there – same hotel! – late April.

    Question: what kind of swimmers (bathers) are acceptable for women? I usually wear a two piece, but can get another if that’s culturally insensitive.

    • You could wear your bikini at a resort while swimming, but if you’re going to walk to get ice creams or something, you’d want to put on a kaftan or something.

      • Oh my gosh, I totally missed your first sentence! Woot.

        So jealous!

        Yep, bikini is fine. If you’re unsure just grab a one piece {Best & Less has nice ones for $15 at the moment, no joke!}.

        Take the kids to Seafire {kids eat free} and the room service is really nice too.

        Oh, you are going to have so much fun. Walking in there is overwhelming, because it’s just so fancy.

        xx

  • Your holiday looked fantastic Chantelle. It is always useful to know of tour guide companies that work well with families as well.
    We loved the call to prayer in Istanbul. I would love to visit but wonder whether it would be better to wait until our youngest son is a bit older. How toddler friendly do you think it is, culturally? By this I mean some cultures adore kids and sweep them up out of your arms and don’t mind mess and noise. Other cultures it is frowned on . Raffy is pretty rambunctious

    • I am the {not-so-proud} owner of two very rambunctious kids too. They were loved by all. I never felt frowned upon, even when Lulu was having a tantrum. When we caught the train, they have carriages just for women and children, which I know doesn’t tell you much but the level of acceptance and understanding was calming for me.

      And even on our tour I told the guide that I might need to breastfeed and wasn’t sure how that would be, and he said that I was welcome to do it whenever and where ever I needed.

      Honestly, kids are not a problem at all. 🙂

  • It’s always interesting to see the place where you live through a visitors eyes. I walked to that Burj al Arab beach this morning with my dog – like I do every morning. I would have loved Kidzania too – my girls were just young enough when it opened to still enjoy it. Glad people were so friendly – Dubai gets a lot of stick but it’s a very safe place to live. My daughter left her wallet in a taxi recently and it didn’t surprise me at all that it was still full with money when I picked it up from the police station. Hope you return Chantelle – and if you ever need any more info just tweet

  • kerry norris

    What a fantastic post. So glad I found it and your blog. I too am off to Dubai, staying in the Atlantis with the hubby and 2 year old for my 30th birthday. We are then flying to Australia to stay with my mum who lives in Newcastle, NSW. Thanks so much for all the tips. Will give your blog a follow now xx

  • i hope you visit Oman in the future 🙂

  • Trish

    Hello… I just wanted to say a big thank you for this post. We ended up in two Dubai stop overs taking the kids o/s for the first time and your tips were the best. Kidzania got us through jet lag on the first day… and Atlantis was like a dream on the way home! What a splurge – but so worth it! I didn’t know much about Dubai, and I love your blog so trusted your recommendations – and I’m so glad I did! Thanks again 🙂

    • Oh this is awesome! Thanks for letting me know. How great is Kidzania? My cousin just moved to Dubai so we’re hoping to head over again this year. xx

  • Thank you for sharing! I am planning our family trip in February. I will definitely use your tips 🙂 Thank you so much!

  • Natalie Jones

    Loved your article. I have been living in Dubai for a few months now with my 4 year old. Though I’ve covered almost all the places but will definitely visit Kidzania, it sounds fun. I had taken my kid to Wagamama, which is a lovely kids restaurant.
    But this sounds great. Thanks.

@Fatmumslim