Image: Thinkstock

Dubai has rocketed up the holiday destination charts in recent years. The promise of near year-round sun and a taste of the luxurious lifestyle that the city offers has made it a popular place to visit, indeed.

And while spectacular skyscrapers, man-made islands and incredibly lavish hotels are all part of the emirate’s draw, there’s also plenty of other things that make this part of the world worth visiting.

4X4 desert experience

In a city known for being a playground for the super-rich, why not get back to basics and head out to the desert that surrounds Dubai?

A Mixture of culture and extreme fun, there’s sandboarding, henna tattoos and camel rides available for those who fancy something a little out of the ordinary.

Different providers will offer different types of package, giving you a choice of what you get up to in the desert!

Shopping in Dubai

What Dubai’s shopping centres lack in actual retail variety, they make up for in the sheer extravagance of their design.

The Souk Madinat is lucky enough to have its own internal waterway, allowing shoppers to sail from shop to shop with fantastical ease.

Other lavish additions to the emirate’s shopping centres include the Mall of the Emirates’ indoor ski slope with real snow – think about that for a second – and the gigantic Dubai Mall, which holds the title for largest shopping mall in the world.

Hot air balloon ride

Rise up hundreds of feet into the air and traverse across the Arabian skies with a hot air balloon ride.

Not only does this afford you with sensational views of the surrounding desert but some companies also offer you the chance to meet the locals who inhabit the vast sands around Dubai.

When you’ve had your fill of the city’s glitz, glamour and occasional garishness, take some time out to see the natural beauties that the emirate has on its doorstep.

The Gold Souk

Get your hands on some of Dubai’s famously cheap gold at the Gold Souk – just be prepared for a good old bartering session.

The amount of precious metal available here makes the souk look more like a prince’s jewellery safe than a place where you can actually haggle for reasonable gold.

Regulated by the government, you can rest assured that any purchases are legitimate and the real deal. And even if you don’t want to buy anything, a stroll through the souk is worth it just for the spectacle.

Helen Millward Travel Consultant