A city of contrasts, Dubai unfolds like a tale of two worlds. While the skyline dazzles with skyscrapers defying imagination, modern stores and eateries cater to every traveler’s desire—and luxurious hotels await even the most discerning guests—the desert still whispers with its rolling sand hills imprinted by Arabian gazelles, the souks beckon with labyrinth of spices, and traditional abra boats glides through Dubai Creek.
This unique Middle Eastern city offers something for every pocket and preference, from budget travel to extravagant experiences. Here are the best selections for you.
Best Hotels & Resorts
Nestled within the iconic Burj Khalifa, Armani Hotel Dubai occupies several floors of the world’s tallest tower. Designed by Giorgio Armani, the rooms boast soothing colors and sophisticated decor. As iconic as the Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab stands as a luxurious sail-shaped edifice.
Colorful rooms with Hermes amenities, butler service, and a private beach redefine opulence here. Amidst rolling sand dunes, Al Maha offers an escape with individual suites and private pools overlooking the pristine desert. Once a cruise ship, the unique Queen Elizabeth two offers refurbished rooms, restaurants, a spa, and a theater. Not bad!
Best Shopping Spots
Holding the record for the world’s largest shopping center, the Dubai Mall boasts 1,200 retail outlets, two major department stores, an aquarium, and an Olympic-sized ice rink. With over 630 brands and an indoor ski slope, the Mall of the Emirates offers a diverse shopping experience, to say the least!
Stretching along the beachfront, The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence features international designers and pop-up markets. Embracing Middle Eastern tradition, Dubai’s souks present a different facet of the city. The Textile Souk in Bur Dubai and the Gold Souk across Dubai Creek offer an array of treasures, encouraging the art of haggling between buyers and sellers.
A blend of museum and eatery, Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant in Old Dubai offers Michelin’s Bib Gourmand-designated food. The covered dining courtyard, live music, and traditional attire create a unique Middle Eastern experience. Renowned for its Syrian fare, Al Farooj Al Shami serves grilled meats, flavorful sauces, and a tempting array of hot appetizers.
Transporting visitors to a bohemian ambiance, Comptoir 102 offers organic delights like avocado crostini and gluten-free pancakes. The attached concept store complements the cafe’s trendy vibe. Dining at Al Hadheerah at Bab Al Shams is an immersive experience in the desert. With live cooking stations, classic dishes, and a stunning setting, it’s a journey into the world of Arabian flavors. Enjoy!
Not too far away from famed Fiji, Samoa is an under-the-radar island in the South Pacific Ocean and is a hidden gem in Polynesia. Named the “Cradle of Polynesia,” the region offers a bounty of natural wonders and scenic spots in its archipelago of 12 islands.
Best Time to Visit
Located in the central South Pacific Ocean, Samoa is almost halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. With a strategic position near the equator, this island of Polynesia ensures tropical humidity and warm temperatures throughout the year. Screaming vacation in all seasons, Samoa is a great choice for both short domestic travel and long-haul international trips. The dry season from May to October is generally more popular to visit here. But if you’re an intrepid traveler who isn’t bothered by some precipitation, then December to March is the time of most rainstorms in Samoa.
Best Things to Do
Samoa offers a wide array of natural wonders and outdoor activities. The main island of Upolu contains many pristine white-sand beaches. Rich in marine life, the clear waters here are ideal for snorkeling. This inland region of Polynesia is rife with lush rainforests, towering peaks, gushing waterfalls, and plunging swimming holes. The first national park of the South Pacific, O le Pupu-Pue National Park offers travelers a scenic hike to ancient Pe’ape’a Cave, among other activities. With different-sized waves, the shores of Savai’i and Upolu are great for pro and novice surfers alike. Take on a cycling challenge on the mountain biking trail winding through forested hillsides and over lava tube caves. Don’t miss the spectacular natural attractions like the Mu Pagoa Waterfall tumbling into the ocean, Alofaaga Blowholes, etc. To take a cultural tour, join Fiafia nights and celebrate the rich heritage of Polynesia with the locals with traditional food, music, and fire dancing.
Best Places to Dine
Food is a big part of the entire culture of Polynesia. A haven for all seafood lovers, Samoan cuisine is rich in flavor, highlighting freshly caught fish and locally grown ingredients. You can consider taking part in an organized culinary tour to eat your way through Samoa while learning about the heritage of traditional dishes like Palusami, cooked in an Umu, or an earthen oven of heated volcanic rocks. Or else, head to the casual seaside joints like Taumeasina Restaurant, Ocean Club Maninoa, etc., to taste delicious samplings of local staples. Apia, on the other hand, offers highly-regarded international restaurants like Paddles Restaurant, Bistro Tatau, and many more. Stop at Nourish Café, a vibrant fusion joint, for enjoying Instagram-worthy sweet treats and bountiful salads.