What is there to do in Sharjah? The answer is there are many things to do in Sharjah- from souks to walks to museums and much more.
Even though I am not much of a shopping fan, let me start with shopping in Sharjah because that is the first thing I did there! I was staying close to Blue Souk (Central Souk) and that was the first place I walked to! There are local markets like Rolla Market and malls like City Center Mall. When it comes to shopping, there is plenty to explore in Sharjah. And if you still want more, Dubai is a short commute away.
Walks Around the Buharia Corniche
If I get to walk, I am happy and Sharjah is walking friendly. I was staying at the Royal Tulip Act hotel in Sharjah. Across the road was the promenade where I would walk to my hearts content and make friends with seagulls!
I could walk during the day and I could safely walk at the night! I doubly love places which are safe for women.
Sharjah Light Festival
If you can, go to Sharjah in the month of February when they celebrate the Sharjah Light Festival. The mosques are lit up and there are light shows at many places in the city. It is a unique festival that you will enjoy.
Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization
The majestic Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization opened in 2008. The building originally used to be an indoor market. It is spread over two floors and many halls. It showcases the Islamic civilization to the world. My personal favorite was the section on gardens and their role in Islam!
I have done desert safaris both in Dubai and Sharjah. Both have their own charms. On the Sharjah side it is quieter and it feels like you own the desert. There are rocks and sea fossils to enjoy. I did the safari with Mleiha, it was an amazing experience.
Sharjah Classic Car Museum
If you are a connoisseur of old cars head to the Sharjah Classic Car Museum. They have a huge collection of old beauties from Mercedes, Rolls Royce, Ford, and many others.
Heart of Sharjah
The official website describes it as- “In restoring the traditional heritage areas of Sharjah and linking them together, not only is the Heart of Sharjah the first development of its kind, but it is also the region’s biggest heritage project to date. Seeking to reflect what Sharjah was like over half a century ago, the project will restore and revamp the city’s traditional areas to create a tourist and trade destination with contemporary artistic touches, yet retain the feel of the 1950s.” It is at the moment a work in progress. There are many souks in the area when you can enjoy for shopping or coffee.
Souk Al Jubail
Souk Al Jubail is where you can buy fresh produces. In the evening there is a fish market, where auctions happen.
Mr. Ali, the general manager of the Souk showed us around. It was fun to watch the auction live, the amount of noise it generated, it was seen to be believed. Mr. Ali told us that many fishermen in the area were from Mumbai. He could speak in Hindi with the staff!
They have a section of fruits and vegetables which smells much nicer. They sell variety of dates there as well.
The Beach Town of Khor Fakkan
Khor Fakkan is a beach town some distance away from the main city of Sharjah. You actually cross another emirates, Fujairah to reach Khor Fakkan.
The road goes via beautiful Hajar Mountains. Do remember to stop to see the oldest mosque in UAE the Al Badiya Mosque.
Trips Around Sharjah
It is easy to visit Dubai and Ajman from Sharjah. So one could actually stay in Sharjah and still visit Dubai and explore all its attractions. However, I had been to Dubai just before this trip so I went to the nearest emirates, Ajman. There is a city bus service to Ajman, it is so close.
There is a lot to do in Sharjah, what I list is just a short list! If you are a museum aficionado there is much more to explore in Sharjah.
I am sure there are a lot of things to do in Dubai and I only had a short stay there. I had so much fun in Dubai that I went ahead and compiled a list of things to do in Dubai anyway.
Burj Khalifa is the iconic landmark in Dubai, towering over everything else. When I reached the top (124 and 125 floor), I heard another woman say, “this is better than Eiffel Tower!” I have not been to Eiffel Tower so I can’t comment but going to the top of Burj Khalifa is a fun experience. You can find the ticket prices here.
Visit the Malls
You must noticed the plural, malls. Dubai is a city of glitzy, huge malls. I visited the Dubai Mall (largest mall in the world by land area), Mall of Emirates, Ibn Batuta Mall and the Festival City Mall. Each of them is huge. I love to walk about every inch of a place but I had to admit defeat quickly. Not even for one mall I could see it all.
I am not much of a shopper but all top brands are visible. As it was just before Christmas, the malls had a festive look.
After reading countless case studies and attending a seminar in Delhi with Ikea, I finally visited an Ikea store in the Dubai Festival Mall.
Explore Dubai by Metro
I love exploring a place by Metro, as it is cheaper and the local way. There are two metro lines in Dubai, Red and Green and they can take you places. All the malls mentioned above are connected by the metro.
For me there is a thrill in simply going by metro and exploring places on my own. I know not everyone will share the same enthusiasm, but it you like to do things the local way, take a metro ride on the driverless Dubai Metro system.
Take an Abra Ride
Now that you have taken the metro ride, go take an Abra ride too. An Abra is the traditional boat that you can take at Dubai Creek to cross over from Dubai Museum side to the old Gold Souk side. It is fun and one way ticket is 1 dirham. However the Abra will not leave till it is full.
This is the obvious one, go for the famous Dubai desert safari. It is an amazing experience. Our driver decreased the tire pressure before we entered the sand dunes. It is done so that the jeep cruises smoothly over the sand.
If you have motion sickness I advice that you take your anti-nausea for dune-bashing. I barely escaped when I took the medicine in the small break on the dunes. I did not fare well without Avomine for the dune bashing part.
It was fun to go to the camp for snacks and dinner. There was a belly dancer too but we left early as two in our group had their flights that day.
Watch a Falcon in Action
Desert Safari also features a falcon show. I do not like wild animals (or birds) in captivity. But it was intriguing to listen about the old culture of falconry in the desert. Chances are your safari will have such a show. The falcon’s name in the picture was Gizmo.
Visit Old Dubai
The most famous landmarks in Old Dubai are the Dubai Museum and the Al Fahidi Fort. The museum shows the humble beginning of the city by the creek. But wise planning and oil money has changed the face of city beyond any recognition.
You can cross the creek on an abra (see above) and visit the spice market and the gold souk.
Enjoy Great Food
Dubai is home to some great food even for vegetarians! My best experience came at the Wafi Restaurant in Dubai Mall. When we inquired again if the food was vegetarian the server responded, “in the day at least 100 people come and ask for vegetarian food! Trust me it is vegetarian.” We had a great meal of potato cubes, yelangi, saj and local bread. I had delicious Baked Alaska for dessert but at another place.
For fine dining I enjoyed Indian Food at Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor at Meliá Dubai.
Visit the Jumeirah Public Beach
The Jumeirah Public Beach is a nice place to hang out with the iconic Burj Al Arab dominating the sky line. I did not spend much time on the beach but I would like to go back and hang out.
Take your widest lens to the Dubai Marina because the skyscrapers reflect beautifully in the water and only your widest lens is good enough for it. There is a lovely around it and plenty of restaurants to keep you refreshed.
Jumeirah Beach Promenade Walk
Jumeirah Beach Promenade Walk will take you close to the Atlantis Hotel. It is a great place to hang by the sea. You can see food trucks parked by the promenade.
Go to a Sky Bar
The Dubai skyline looks stunning at the sunset. It helps to gain elevation. I photographed from the 7th floor Sky Bar of the Crowne Plaza Hotel across the Creek Metro Station. Next time I will try to find a higher a sky bar much higher up.
Watch the Dubai Fountain
The Dubai fountain near the Dubai Mall should not be missed. They go off for a maintenance run at 1.00 and 1.30 pm. The show starts from 6.00 pm to 11.00 pm at every half hour. The Friday timings differ slightly. I saw it only at the afternoon but even then it was majestic. The rainbow was the icing on the cake!
Take a Canal Ride
The Dubai Canal recently opened and you can take a ride for 50 Dirham. One of the starting points are the water taxi point near Creek Metro Station on the Green Line.
Walk Around Safa Park
If you wish to gain elevation without visiting a sky bar or a high building, you can walk around Safa Park. There are two pedestrian bridges that can provide elevation for your sunset click.
I am sure there is much more to Dubai than what I discovered in a short trip. I could not indulge at the adventure side at all. I had a great first trip to Dubai.
PS. My trip to Dubai was sponsored by flydubai
I had truly not expected Wayanad to be so beautiful! There are many things to do around Wayand. My list of top 5 things to do at Wayanad are as following:
Jeep Safari/Walking around a Plantation
Wayanad is blessed with beautiful plantations, most of them are huge. The hills are dotted with beautiful tea plantations. Coffee plantations are in abundance too. It is a pleasure to walk around them or go on a jeep safari. The plantations have other trees and herbs too. They are bird magnets. You can never go wrong with a plantation walk or jeep ride.
A Visit to the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the major wildlife attractions around Wayanad are the tuskers! I actually did not visit the wildlife sanctuary but just went on a open jeep ride along the Wayanad Mysore road that cuts through the sanctuary. There are many signs on the road that discourage stopping and photography. We sighted a tusker right off the road! We did not stop but I still managed to click a picture. I was told one elephant was an extremely poor sighting even on the road!
Stay in a Tree House
It is fun to stay in a tree house! I stayed at the Woodpecker Tree House at the Pepper Trail. The tree house was at the level of high tree. It is fun to see an owl sitting on a branch at the eye level. The tree houses sway gently at night. The ramp leading to the tree house was fun in itself winding its way up to the room! At times tree houses can attract rodents if you keep foodstuff but there was no such issue at the Pepper Trail! It is an amazing experience to stay in a tree house, do give it a try.
Visit the Edakkal Caves
Edakkal Caves are two ancient caves in Edakkal. The larger cave has drawings from 6000 BCE! My host and owner of Pepper Trail Resort, Anand Jayan had an interesting theory. He said the people who did the drawings were the vandals of yesteryear. The people who engrave their names now on caves will be marveled at 6000 years later! You let me know how does the theory sounds to you!
The caves were discovered by Fred Fawcett in 1890. The drawings depict a cart with wheels, a chieftain with his wife and child and more.
Hike to the Chembra Lake
I could complete the hike to Chembra Lake and back in less than three hours. However it is very clear to me now that if I do not improve my fitness, serious trekking will be a thing of past soon!
Chembra Lake is a heart shaped lake. The route is scenic but as my luck would have it, all I got was mist. We were required to buy a ticket at the gate from the Chembra Estate. The price of the ticket includes the services of a guide. For me it was a steep uphill walk to the lake.
I am actually not so scared of the walk uphill as it is easier to maintain balance. However, getting down a steep path is another matter! Surprisingly the way down was not as difficult as I imagined! I managed just about fine, which mans a lot of knee ache but no falls or broken limbs!
If you need more ideas about things to do in Wayanad, look at this Wayanad Tourism official video.
The tree house featured in it is at the Pepper Trail! I love the drone shots in the video. Wayanad actually surprised me with its beauty. But then Kerala does it to me every time to me.
PS. My trip to Wayanad was sponsored by Pepper Trail.
Looking at your comments on my previous posts, a lot more people seem to be willing to travel to Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. To make your journey more comfortable here are ten things to know before you travel to Spiti. It might provide some food for thought as well!
Prepare for High Altitude
Kaza the district headquarter is at an altitude of 3650 meters (11,980 feet). Chandratal is at 4,300 meters (14,100 feet). As there is less oxygen than we are used to, it can lead to what is called AMS or acute mountain sickness. While I am no expert on it, I believe in acclimatization. If you take it easy initially and gain height slowly, your body will get used to the less oxygen.
There is a common medicine called Diamox for altitude sickness as well. All my guides carry it. But I never had any need to use it. The ultimate authority on the topic is your doctor and you. But I do not like what some trekking agencies seem to be doing these days, rush the trip, cut down on acclimatization and prescribe Diamox for everyone!
Drinking and High Altitude don’t Mix Well
I am not big on drinking. One glass of very watery rum is all I might have on the cold nights in the hills. And even that creates trouble for me at high altitude. In the picture above I look lost in thought! I was actually holding my head as I had a hangover from that watery glass of rum mixed with the altitude at Chandratal last year. This year as we reached Chandratal in one go by road, I anyway had a headache. For the first night I didn’t drink any alcohol and I hardly ate anything. By the next day, I was fine.
There are No Roads
The roads to Spiti are bad. There are hardly any roads in fact. There is more mud and stone than tar on the roads. It makes for a very tiring journey. A lot of ‘nalas’ flow on the road. The ‘nalas’ get formed due to snow melt. The water increases as the sun gets higher. So it is easier to cross the ‘nalas’ early during the day time. That is why drivers insist on an early start.
Also if you wish to stop at ever bend, and believe me you will want to, to take pictures it makes sense to start early. Your driver will not like it at all if you delay the arrival till late as he is the one who will have to drive on bad roads in failing light.
Private Vehicle is Expensive, Public Transport Sparse
Hiring a private vehicle to Spiti would be the single most expensive addition to the cost of the trip. It gives you a lot of flexibility about when to travel, what to see, where to go etc. There is hardly any public transport in Spiti. People hitchhike, use the rare buses that ply in season, ask for lift in canters, with Lamas and somehow get wherever they wish to. Keep this is mind when you plan your trip. If you are driving your own vehicle, that is another matter. As I have never done it, I have nothing much to say about it.
Homestay is an Option
People do offer a room in their homes at in most of the villages in Spiti. All the places that I stayed in 2007 were clean and beautiful. Back then not too many people spoke Hindi, but they do now. Homestays seem to be on the rise now.
Guesthouse are the Norm
Other than homestays there are guesthouses where you can stay. There are no star hotels in Spiti. At the time of Buddhist festivals all the guesthouses will get full. If His Holiness, the Dalai Lama is in the region, that particular village will be jam packed.
You Cannot Camp by the Edge of the Chandratal Lake
However much you may like, no one can pitch a tent next to the Chandratal Lake. The forest department has a restriction of 2 kilometers distance from the lake.
Spiti is Beautiful
Do I really need to elaborate on this? This is the view of Dhankar Village in the Spiti valley from the balcony of my guesthouse.
Go with an Open Mind
The two common traits of the cities do not work well in the hills. First is aggressiveness. Spiti is a quiet region, people are peaceful. You will do better with the gentle people if you leave home your ‘can do’ ‘go getter’ attitude. The other thing that is jarring is that ‘everyone is out there to make a fast buck at your expanse’. Believe me, it will be an insult to almost everyone in this region. The norms are different, the society is different and the pace is different. I am not saying that you trust people blindly, but go with an open mind and less of the city aggression.
Only BSNL Phones Work in the Region
All the phones become dumb boxes in the region unless you have BSNL. BSNL is the only network that works in the region. At Dhankar there is not even BSNL. In Kaza you can make a STD call like the good old days.
I will give you two bonus tips, there is no airport in the region! From Manali side there will be an ATM only at Kaza and no one can predict if it will have money or not. And you can forget credit cards for the duration of the trip.
There is a route from Shimla but unfortunately I have not done that till now. I will try hard to rectify this the next year. And in the end I guess I wrote this post just to show you more pictures from Spiti!
PS. My guide for this trip was Rama Kant Sharma.