Before I share my experience with these unknown tourist places in UAE I would like to give you a brief about where is Dubai and is Dubai a state or country? Well, Dubai is a STATE in the country the United Arab Emirates, popularly called the UAE and UAE is situated in the Arabian Peninsula. The country UAE is comprised of seven Emirates, these seven Emirates are each a kingdom and hence are called the UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. These Emirates are spread out in the total area covering 83,600 square kilometres. So that’s how small UAE is.
Around 6 years back when I got a job offer in Dubai I knew nothing about Dubai. Not until I actually researched the basics about my new going to be home town. I had to start looking from, where is Dubai and whether or not is Dubai a country? I was surprised by how little I knew about the UAE and its 7 Emirates.
List Of Seven Emirates.
1) Abu Dhabi
5) Ras Al Khaima
7) Umm Al Quwain
If you see the beautiful colour coded map below, it will help clear your doubt further. The UAE shares its borders with the Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And it is surrounded by the Persian Gulf on the west and Gulf of Oman in the East.
The capital of the United Arab Emirates –
Now let me clear the misconception number 2 Is Dubai the capital of UAE? NO! No, it isn’t Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Also if you see in the above map of UAE more than half the area is covered by the Capital of UAE.
Then I started looking for the best places to visit in Dubai, What to see in Dubai? And now that I have been here for 7 years I came up with these unknown tourist destinations in UAE which are highly underrated but are “must visit” or the “must see” when in Dubai.
UAE has so many places to visit than just Dubai’s high rises and fancy malls. These unexplored, unknown places In Dubai and the other UAE are mainly visited by the locals and are true treasures of this Country. I have listed a few places that you must visit when you are in the UAE. These hidden treasures are easily accessible from DUBAI. Below you will find detailed information on how to get to these places, the distance you will cover, things to do, the best time to visit.
Unknown Tourist Places in UAE –
Hidden Treasure No 1: Al Qudra Lake
* How to reach Al Qudra Lake?
Sitting in the middle of the desert about 45 mins drive, 52 Km from downtown Dubai (Sheikh Zayed Road) follow the D63 road all the way to AL QUDRA LAKES. Once you spot the pit stop “THE LAST EXIT”, that is your indication that you are very close to your destination. Then follow the cycle track to the left of the last exit which will lead to you to this wonder. This is one of the best places to visit in Dubai.
* Brief on Qudra Lakes.
Al Qudra Lakes in Dubai are man-made clusters of lakes, the water of which is sourced from rains and desalinated water. And hence they are among the interesting places in Dubai. These clusters are partitioned into East Cluster & West Cluster, however, there are no sign boards indicating the same.
* Al Qudra Lakes Description:
As mentioned earlier there are no signs indicating the EAST and the WEST cluster, according to the google maps the EAST side of the CLUSTER is home to Desert Foxes and Oryx. The WEST side of the CLUSTER is habitat to geese, swans, flamingos and rabbits. Speaking of google maps the GPS works perfectly fine at this isolated Hidden Treasure. The water in the lake is beautiful, turquoise green and it is a perfect place to watch the sun setting in the desert while you are in this man-made maze of the lakes.
* Fun Things To Do In Al Qudra:
Al Qudra is very popular for picnic and camping. We personally prefer evenings, as they are much cooler. Bon Fires are not allowed and remember to stock up for your picnic as there are no facilities around and also remember to leave it clean.
* The Last Exit:
If you plan to go to Al Qudra for a drive or sightseeing on your way back, you can stop for a quick snack at The Last Exit. The Last Exit is all about food Trucks and is open until late. All your favourite fast foods like Pizzas to chicken wings to Burgers and healthy options like milkshakes to Dubai’s Popular Karak Chai are ideal for mid meals cravings.
* Best Time To Visit Al Qudra Lakes:
Al Qudra lakes are highly famous among the residents all around the year. This place is a great weekend get away from the bustling city. But however, the best time to visit the Al Qudra Lakes is during winters. Winters are definitely pleasant and a lot cooler, the evenings and nights are popular all year round as the chances of encountering the wildlife is very high.
There are NO ORGANIZED TOURS for this treasure. The only way of getting here is by renting a car or maybe by taxi. This place gets quite magical for sunsets. Have a look for your self. Pictures are clicked by iPhone X, bought one from Amazon no professional camera.
* Like to Bon Fire?:
Anywhere between the 1st and 2nd roundabout after crossing the E611 highway on D63 Al Qudra road. In the night you will evidently see people bonfire. Wood for the bonfire is readily available at the most gas station through winter. By the way, I have also written an article on 13 free places to visit in Dubai and Al Qudra is one of them. I am sure you don’t want to miss it. Read here
Hidden Treasure No 2: Hatta Dam
* What is Hatta Dam?
The Hatta Dam is a natural catchment area of rainwater and showcases a stunning view of turquoise green lakes amidst rocky mountains. The last 50 meters is an incline with a gradient of 45 degrees then revealing a hidden natural wonder.
* How to reach Hatta Dam from Dubai?
If you would like to wander and want to visit places near Dubai then the town of Hatta is what you should look for. Hatta lies in the easternmost frontier of the Emirate of Dubai. Situated in midst of Hajar mountains, has two roads accessing it.
Route 1: E-44 highway (Hatta Road) – this is a shorter route leading straight from Downtown Dubai to Hatta and covers a distance of approximately 100km. However, a 10 km stretch of this highway sits in Oman territory, making access for foreigners a bit of a hassle, as you may require all relevant documents to cross an international border, like Passport, Oman visa (if you require one) and car insurance that covers Oman.
Route 2: E-102 ( Sharjah-Kalba Road) – the longer route of about 140 km, but hassle-free for everyone, as this road runs only through the United Arab Emirates. Hence, only standard documents required viz., Driving License, Registration and Insurance.
Once you see Hatta Fort ( image below) on your left, take a right turn from the roundabout, the road narrows and heads to two dams. Both close apart and must visits.
* What to expect and things to do at the dam?
During winters, it is a great spot to picnic and kayaking. The town of Hatta itself is fairly self-sufficient with a shopping centre and few small eateries around.
* Best Time to Visit:
The best time to visit is definitely winters. During the day the temperature is between 25 to 30 C. There ARE ORGANIZED HALF DAY TOURS that run to this area. Prices are between 250 to 300 AED/person. (70 USD) Car rental for a day from Hertz 5 seaters would cost you around 150 AED/day (40 USD) In short 5 people can experience and enjoy for the price of one with all the freedom to stop anywhere you like.
Fuel is extremely cheap in the whole of middle east. Taxis are fairly expensive in Dubai. ( NON PEAK hours approximately a 20km ride will cost you around 55Aed that is 15USD).
NOTE – NOT MANY PUBLIC TOILETS ENROUTE, BUT MOST GAS STATIONS HAVE one AND THE ONLY SHOPPING MALL IN HATTA HAS TOILETS.
Hidden Treasure No 3 – Jebel Hafeet
* Getting to Jebel Hafeet:
Situated in Al Ain, the easternmost frontier the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, a 160km and two-hour drive from Downtown Dubai on the E-66 highway (Dubai – Al Ain road), the last 10km of which takes you through a paved and windy road climbing the mountain of Jebel Hafeet.
Parts of the drive through the E-66 highway takes you through some mesmerizing peach and orange colour scenic desert, the glimpses of which one might have seen in Fast and Furious 7 and StarWarz – The Force Awakens. Also for all our Bollywood lovers, the last race between the brothers in the movie Race (part 1) was shot in the windy roads of Jebel Hafeet.
* What to expect here?
The well-paved road ascending up the mountain also featured in the Overdrive magazine as one of the top 10 motorable roads in Asia and is definitely very scenic. There are parking slots at all scenic points and at the top of the mountain, there is a cafe more like an eatery, toilets and children play area. The best place to witness the sunsets and city lights of Al Ain city on one side and Oman on the other, after Dusk. Jebel Hafeet also hosts quite a few best resorts in UAE with the view of the mountains.
NOTE – BEWARE OF HONEY BEES AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN.
* Best Time to Visit Jebel Hafeet:
Winters is the best time to visit the mountains. Carry warm clothing as the temperature can go up to 15º C in the evenings. The temperatures are between 25º to 30º C during the day. There ARE ORGANIZED FULL DAY TOURS that run to this area. Prices are between 430 – 450 AED/person. (115 USD), with a stop at the Al-Ain zoo, the tickets over the counter would be 25AED/ Person(6 USD). Car rental for a day from Herts 5 seater would cost you around 150 AED/day (40 USD). In short 5 people can experience and enjoy for the price of one with all the freedom to stop where ever you please.
Hidden Treasure No 4 – Jebel Jais
* How to get Jebel Jais?
There are 2 major highways. Let’s just describe the best and favourable one as this one will beat the Sharjah city and the nightmare Sharjah traffic. Follow the E311 (Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road) All the way to Ras Al Kiamah (RAK). Follow signs to Jebel Jais. Expect windy roads as you get closer to the mountains. The roads are however in very good condition.
* Brief on Jebel Jais?
Jebel Jais is the highest motor-able road in The UAE. Also, it is the highest peak in the Hajar mountain range. Typically the temperatures are 10ºC cooler than at sea level. This is beautiful and Scenic Drive unwinding through mountains.
* Fun things to do in Jebel Jais:
This place is ideal for overnight camping, carry your own gears. Perfect place to picnic and Barbeque provided you carry your own barbeque. Jebel Jais is now gaining its major popularity as it flaunts the GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR THE WORLDS LONGEST ZIP LINE. (2.83km Long zip line). There was a recent unfortunate plane crash near the area which damaged the zip line to an extent. Fortunately, there were no fatalities. The zip line was closed for a while for repairs. Please check their official website before your visit.
* Best Time To Visit:
Winters is definitely the best time to visit. Again there ARE ORGANIZED TOURS from Ras Al Khaimah. Price/person is 375AED (102 USD). Car rental for a day from Hertz 5 seaters would cost you around 150 AED/day (40 USD). Cost for Zip Line/ Person is 370 AED (100 USD).
Hidden Treasure No 5 – Ras Al Khor Scantuary.
Ras Al Khor Scantuary.
Just meters from the hustling bustling city of Dubai you will spot these Huge FLAMINGOS grabbing your attention. I would rank this under a natural wonder. As these flamingos migrate during winters. Looks like Dubai is a popular travel and transit HUB for the flamingos too. This is another unknown tourist place in Dubai but definitely a must-see tourist place in Dubai.
* How To Get there
The bird watching areas are located at the eastern and southern perimeters of the sanctuary and are accessible through the interchange of E66 and E44. Follow Google maps to avoid getting lost.
* What will you see?:
Billions of Beautiful Pink Flamingos.
* Best Time To Visit:
November Until February. However, you can spot a few of these all around the year.
* Entry Charges: Free. There is a viewing deck with a huge telescope. The viewing deck can get you very close to these birds. These flamingos can give a bit of a complex with flexibility. I spotted so many performing yoga stretches.
I cannot emphasize enough on how much you can save by renting a car in UAE, as there is GPS coverage throughout the country and also hopping from Dubai’s Tourist spots to these unknown tourist places in Dubai and UAE will get easier. Especially if your itinerary is to visit Dubai or Abu Dhabi then all of these are easily accessible and within reach.
Considering you have 5 days in Dubai you can actually visit the above HIDDEN and unexplored places during the day and enjoy the evenings and fun things to do in Dubai city during the night. Dubai is very LIBERAL when it comes to its nightlife, music, Bars and Pubs. Get more details about Dubai nightlife and its MUSIC, BARS and PUBS.
I Hope You have enjoyed reading. I hope the above adds to the memories of your travel diaries. Please feel free to leave a comment or a picture if you happen to visit these places. I would like to be a part of your tour through the pictures. Enjoy your trip and safe travels.