Must-See: Old Dubai

A perfect way to spend a day and get a comprehensive lay of the land is to do a walking tour of historic Old Dubai. This is not a structured event, but an activity to do at your own pace, and in  your own leisurely time.

The architecture in Old Dubai largely boasts narrow passageways, and hold countless souks. A 'souk' (or 'souq') is another name for a local market. The setup is slightly reminiscent of storefront flea markets or market stalls.

Old Dubai hosts a vast selection of:
  • Gold Souks - selling gold jewelry, gold bars, etc.
  • Spice Souks - the Spice Market sells an exotic array of spices, incense and teas
  • Perfume Souks - selling perfumes & fragrances
  • Textile Souks - selling fabrics, pashminas, rugs, etc.
The souks are without a doubt the best place to get great deals if you're in the market to buy any of the above-mentioned items (especially gold), but your bargaining and negotiation skills must be on point as each shopkeeper is eager to stand out and win your custom.

A few tips to remember when shopping at the souks:
  1. Keep a strong will. Do not feel pressured to purchase anything that you don't really want. A kind but firm 'no thank you'  goes a long way.
  2. EVERY price is up for negotiation. 
  3. Negotiate all purchases in dirhams, the official currency of the UAE.
You'll also find a variety of other establishments hidden among Old Dubai's corridors, like meat markets, clothing stores, general stores, restaurants, hotels and a women's museum.

Once you've completed this part of the journey, make your way to Deira Old Souq Station for a ride on an abra.
Textile souks in Old Dubai
 If you opt to disembark at Old Dubai Souq Station, not only will you see a plentiful array of textile souks, you will be only steps away from some of Old Dubai's notable historical landmarks, like the Dubai Museum, Al Bastakiya, and the Dubai Heritage Village.

Souvenir vendor inside the Dubai Museum

Realistically, this entire tour can be done in about three hours, but if you take your time and soak up the surroundings and the culture at your own pace, it will make for a full day of cultural enrichment and fun.

It is recommended, however, that if you visit Dubai during summer or peak times, you start your Old Dubai Walking tour after 3pm, to take advantage of seeing the sun set wherever you are at the time, and for more favorable weather.

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