Dubai is a city of enticing contrasts. On one hand, it’s a place of profound traditions, colourful souqs, and picturesque minarets. On the other, it’s an explosion of futuristic skyscrapers, world-class shopping, and sizzling beach clubs. With those two worlds somehow harmoniously intertwined, anything can happen.
For a certain kind of traveller, the answer is easy: do the most memorable thing possible. Luckily, Dubai delivers. The city is an epicenter of excess and insanity in all the right ways. From indoor skiing to camel polo, here are 7 of the craziest things to do in Dubai.
Sleep in an underwater suite
Immerse yourself in wonder and water at this once-in-a-lifetime stay. Atlantis is a majestic 5-star hotel situated on the Palm, a man-made island famous for its unapologetic approach to luxury. While every corner of Atlantis is extravagant, its most memorable rooms are the Neptune and Poseidon “supersuites” – both of which are not just aquatic-themed, but actually underwater. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer breathtaking views of the Ambassador Lagoon and its 65,000 marine inhabitants. Great if you loved 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, not so great if you have a paralyzing fear of drowning.
Hit the slopes indoors at Ski Dubai
You may be in one of the hottest cities in the world, but that doesn't mean you can't put your winter sports skills to the test. Ski Dubai spares no expense in ensuring desert-dwellers can get the full seasonal experience. The main attraction is a massive artificial mountain with multiple ski runs, including the world's first indoor black diamond rated course. If skiing isn't your thing, there are other winter entertainments like toboggans, themed restaurants, a zip-line, and penguin encounters.
Eat a $1000 cupcake
In a city where excess is the norm, a gold-infused cupcake barely bats an eyelash. Named The Golden Phoenix, the haute confection can be found at the Bloomsbury’s bakery in The Dubai Mall. Its buyers (of which there aren't many, considering its cost) are treated to a feast of butter and flour imported from the United Kingdom, Italian cocoa, Ugandan vanilla beans, and 23-carat gold sheets. All of it is edible, despite the fact that it looks like it belongs in an art museum more than on a plate. Sinking your teeth into Dubai's gilt dessert will set you back $1000.
Fling yourself off a 50m crane
How much adrenaline do you have to spare? You'll need every single drop to take the plunge with Gravity Zone, where thrillseekers can perform a 50m bungee jump over the Dubai Marina. The experience begins when you board a crane to take you to the sky-high starting point. Once there, you can choose to pause and soak in the sights, or bungee immediately before your better judgment sets in. Tandem jumping is a popular choice if you don't want to go it alone.
Water slide through a shark-filled pool
Counteract Dubai's scorching temperatures with a trip to the Aquaventure Waterpark, where the bravest can take on a waterslide ominously called “The Leap Of Faith.” Why such a foreboding name? For starters, the slide is 9 storeys tall and kicks off with a near-vertical drop. If you survive the fall, you'll then find yourself skidding through a clear tunnel surrounded by sharks and cownose rays. [Insert Jaws music here.]
Use a 24-carat gold iPad in the world's only “7-star” hotel
Dubai's Burj Al Arab is so extravagant that 5 stars doesn't cut it. Although it's not an official classification, the hotel is frequently referred to as the world's only 7-star hotel. Whether or not the stars are real, the pampering certainly is. Amongst the Burj Al Arab's many over-the-top amenities are a fleet of chauffeur-driven Rolls Royces and 24-carat gold iPads that function as “virtual concierges” for guests. Sadly, the iPad has to be returned upon check-out.
Play polo on a camel
The Sport of Kings gets a unique twist at the Dubai Polo Club, where you can climb aboard a dromedary, grab a mallet, and gallop around the pitch like the Duke of Cambridge. Thankfully, no previous camel riding experience is required to take part. Guests learn the basics of polo before they go head-to-head in an exhilarating, often hilarious, match. When back on your own two feet, head to the club's spa to soothe away the stress of the game.