Gold and Spice Souks picture1 of 3
Gold and Spice Souks2 of 3
Image Source/Getty Images

Key Info

Baniyas Road

Price & Hours

Free
10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

Details

Shopping, Sightseeing, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.2scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Dubai is and has been a titan of trade for centuries. To get a sense of what commerce was like back in the day, take a stroll through one of the city's traditional souks, or bazaars. The Gold Souk, located on Dubai Creek's south bank in the Deira, specializes in glitz and glamour. Featuring glittering displays of necklaces, bracelets and earrings from more than 300 retailers, the Gold Souk is one of the most renowned gold jewelry trading centers in the world. In fact, approximately 20 percent of the world's gold passes through this market. But if you're not one for gold, don't fret. The souk also sells platinum, diamonds and silver. You're also guaranteed to get what you're paying for. The government tightly controls what is sold and by who in the souk, so you don't have to walk away thinking there's a chance you may be holding something counterfeit.  

On the other side of the creek lies the pungent Spice Souk, where vendors hawk flavors from across the globe, including cinnamon, ginger and chili. This is also the place to stock up on saffron, as you'll find this delectable spice at a much lower cost here than you would at home. 

Recent visitors strongly suggested bargaining when visiting the souks in Dubai. The price vendors set tends to be high, and tourists found that after a little effort negotiating they were able to get what they wanted for a quarter, and sometimes half of the price. Although credit cards are accepted, you might be able to score an even lower price by paying cash. Even those who didn't end up buying anything strongly suggested a trip to the market simply for its cultural value, not to mention it's a feast for the eyes (and nose). Some tourists, however, found the vendor's aggressive sale tactics uncomfortable. Travelers were keen to note that this is a more traditional area of Dubai, and clothing that would pass as normal around the hotels and more developed areas of the city garners unwelcome looks from locals (such as exposing one's knees) here.  

Most vendors are open for business every day between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., though some close for a few hours in the afternoon.  You don't have to pay to peruse, but should you be interested in buying, make sure you're carrying some cash as credit cards aren't widely accepted. You can reach the souks by hopping off in Deira at the Al Ras metro station. Some visitors suggested taking an abra across the creek to heighten your cultural experience. To do that, get off at the Al Ghubaiba metro station 2; docks with abras servicing the creek are located within walking distance. 

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Burj Al Arab1 of 13
Dubai Mall2 of 13
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Burj Al Arab

Overlooking the Persian Gulf from its perch between Jumeirah Beach and the Palm Islands, this stunning building has wowed architecture buffs since it opened in 1999. Its curved glass façade – modeled after the sails that have graced Dubai's waterways all these years – shelters a world-class, über-luxurious hotel located on its own man-made island. The hotel not only houses the tallest atrium in the world at nearly 600 feet high, but it is one of the tallest hotels in the world. Architecture aside, amenities include revolving beds in some suites, as well as a helipad, in case you thought arriving via a complimentary Rolls-Royce was too pedestrian. 

But you don't have to stay at the Burj Al Arab to enjoy it (and let's face it, most can't). Those who aren't crashing at the hotel can gain entry by grabbing a bite at one of the on-site restaurants. Among them are Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara, which features floor-to-ceiling windows guarding a massive fish tank, and the sky-high Al Muntaha, located on the scenic 27th floor of the building.  

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