Melissa C. Koh

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Best of Dubai


A present-day oasis in the core of the Arabian Desert, Dubai is a rapidly developing urban sprawl that has so much to offer. Here is my guide to Dubai based on the places and accommodations that we have experienced during our trip, courtesy of Dubai Tourism Board, a few weeks ago!

Dubai offers a myriad of activities and landscapes— from pristine beaches to awe-inspiring dunes, to amazing architecture and breathtaking luxury hotels.



When you are in Dubai, you HAVE to visit the desert. This is one of our most anticipated places to visit during the entire trip as we get to escape the city center and hop on a thrilling ride to the picturesque Dubai desert. We highly recommend doing a desert safari tour with Platinum Heritage. They offer tours both during sunrise and sunset and each has an experience to offer of it’s own. We were greeted at sunrise with coffee and dates on a Bedouin-style camp, to a safari adventure on private land, where we were lucky enough to catch some wildlife along the way! We also had the chance to witness a Falcon and Owl show performed by a very experienced trainer.

2. Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa is a notable addition to the abundance of modernist towers in Dubai. Rising impressively higher than the others, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is the world’s current tallest building. We heard that Dubai is currently building another within vicinity that will soon be taller than Burj Khalifa. What’s so unique about this iconic skyscraper is the staggering heights and the building is shaped in a letter ‘Y’! We were greeted by the breath-taking panoramic view of Dubai at the top. One tip from us is to visit slightly before the sun goes down so you get the best day view, and if time permits, stay till nightfall so you’ll get to witness the city light up!

3. Dubai Frame

Dubai Frame is the world’s largest picture frame, strategically located at Zabeel Park to provide visitors with the finest view of both old and new Dubai. You can get to see the modern side of Dubai consisting of the iconic Burj Khalifa in a distance and older parts of the city. Don’t forget to bring your wide angle lens if you want to capture the entire frame from the base. It is quite a spectacular sight to marvel!

4. SMCC – Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

Other than luxury hotels, shopping and fine dining, Dubai has a rich history of its urban sprawl and culture. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCC) is presented like a museum and it is the best place to go to understand the rich culture of the city. The traditional buildings are well maintained over the years and acts as a picturesque backdrop for countless photo opportunities with the pretty courtyards. Not only that, we had the opportunity to enjoy a sumptuous cultural emirati lunch! Option: Visit the Spice Souk (in the area) after your visit to SMCC!


1. Manzil Downtown

Manzil Downtown is an upscale boutique hotel with a contemporary Arabesque design well mixed with modern architecture, complemented with traditional Arabian hospitality. Manzil means ‘home’ in Arabic which is the main theme of the hotel. Mazil Downtown is easily accessible and is near to attractions such as The Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Fountain, Souk Al Bahar and Qamardeen Souk. We had a really comfortable stay there.

2. The Shangri-la

The Shangri-la should not be unfamiliar to many as it is renowned across the globe as a luxury hotel chain. Shangri-la Dubai is located right in the middle of Downtown Dubai and it has endless view of Burj Khalifa from the hotel windows in the tall elegant tower. The experience at Shangri-la never disappoints and it houses various restaurants, lounges and a poolside bar! We absolutely love the restaurants they offer— the Shang Palace and the Hoi An Restaurant. If you’re craving a bowl of good pho, you know where to go!

If you’re looking to travel to Dubai and would like inspiration on where to go and instal-worthy spots to photograph at, be sure to check out my hashtag on instagram #melissackohinDUBAI. Both my first and recent trip photos are compiled there!

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