How to spend a long layover in Dubai (DXB)
With a 20 hour layover before my flight to Dallas from Dubai I decided to checkout what the Dubai Airport (DXB) and UAE desert had to offer. Landing at 6AM I decided to head to the First Class Lounge to relax until the city woke up. It was my first time flying through DXB so I knew I was in for a treat. Emirates is based out of Dubai whereas Etihad is based out of Abu Dhabi. It turns out that the Terminal is split between 3 main levels: Economy Class, Business Class and First Class. Yes, the entire floor is the “lounge”. The lounge has a Spa, Showers, Quiet Areas, Wine Cellar, Cigar Bar and of course Fine Dining. I could live here 🙂
While I was relaxing in the Quiet Area, I researched activities to do in Dubai. I really wanted to go to Burj Al Arab for Afternoon Tea but I couldn’t justify spending USD 170 plus I needed dress shoes to enter which I didn’t pack on this round-the-world vacation. Having been to Dubai in 2014 I had already done most of the touristy things so I decided to look for an offroading adventure in the desert. After a long online chat session using the lounge WiFi, I secured a tour with Rayna Tourism for a “Thrilling Desert Safari” which would cost AED 160 (~USD 42). They wouldn’t pick me up at the airport but did suggest a pickup at the Holiday Inn Express DXB. All I had to do would be to hop on the hotel shuttle bus to get there for free. Worst case I could take an UberCHOPPER to the hotel 😉 . Now that my activity was booked with a pickup time of 2:30PM it was now time to hit the gym.
The gym, G-Force, is located in Terminal 3 Concourse B and is run by the airport hotel which costs AED 45 (~USD 12) for 1 hour. The time wasn’t strictly enforced so I was able to get a full hour on the bike. Unfortunately, there are no windows in the gym but they do have some TV’s running. I was able to stream Pandora on my phone by tethering to my iPad for data service which was nice as they didn’t have WiFi available. It was well worth the money not only to burn time but also to get a workout in during my travels. This was a first and I wish more airports offered a gym. You had to pay extra to use the showers so I just headed to the lounge after working out to grab a shower.
If you are visiting the First Class Lounge be sure to visit Concourse A as it’s much better than Concourse B. Since I was in Concourse B for the gym, I just grabbed a shower and lunch there. The shower was very nice with all the amenities you’d expect at a hotel. I then proceeded to the restaurant where I was greeted by a hostess. She walked me to a table and explained that there was a buffet as well as an a la carte menu. With the buffet offering so many options and after spending so much time in SE Asia I decided to order a burger from the a la carte menu. The food was the best I’ve experienced in a lounge with the exception of Singapore’s Private Room @ SIN. After a quick bite, it was off to the left luggage facility just outside arrivals to check my carryon for AED 25 as I couldn’t bring it with me on the tour. I then proceeded outside to find the Holiday Inn Express shuttle. It was easy to spot in the hotel shuttle area and off we went to the hotel. Once we arrived to the hotel I proceeded to the bar to buy a soda and await the call from the tour driver.
The Rayna Tourism driver called me around 2:15PM and mentioned he’s outside the hotel in a white Land Cruiser. I was the 1st pickup so we had to go to the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek to pickup the remainder of the passengers. The driver was from Pakistan and super friendly. He was driving like he was in the desert on the roads of Dubai but I didn’t mind some adrenaline rushing turns as we had a roll cage. We started to drive to the East towards Oman and got pretty close to the border. Once we arrived to the starting point there were close to 50 Land Cruisers ready for the adventure. It was a blast! The Indian family in the back seats loved it as well. We drove around the dunes for about 45 minutes then headed to dinner and a cultural performance. It was nice to see some fire dancers and belly dancers while enjoying a decent meal they provided for the 350+ attendees. After the show was over our driver drove us back to Dubai and even dropped me off right at the Departures level at DXB.
I grabbed my left luggage carryon and then I headed back to the First Class lounge for a shower in Concourse A as that’s where my flight to Dallas was departing at 2AM. A 15 minute back massage for free at Timeless Spa was scheduled for midnight after being thrown around during the offroading. I grabbed a quick salad for a late night snack in the lounge and awaited my flight which I was the only person in First Class therefore I had my own gate agents handling my boarding 🙂
Stay tuned for the review of my flight on their B777-300ER from Dubai to Dallas (16 hours)… In the meantime, check out this awesome 360 degree video inside Emirates A380 cockpit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCGJo1-1fgc