The plan is simple. Visit all 7 UAE emirates in 2 days.
“Are we the first one to do it?” asked Cole. I said no. It’s not that we’re doing an exotic expedition.
For sure there are people who have done this before.
They could have driven around the country in 1 day or less. Or they could have stayed in each emirate longer and enjoyed it more.
It sounds simple but planning the itinerary proved to be a challenge. You might say why not just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. YOLO, right?
But no, I don’t want to just drive around. That’s not my idea of fun. I’m quite flexible but I also like structure and a little bit of planning.
My plan is to visit interesting places or do activities that
a. are not dangerous (like dune bashing in our rented 4×4 is a no)
b. won’t cost an arm and a leg
c. we haven’t visited before
d. will be enjoyable for a senior citizen and kids
Booking a rental car and hotel room is a breeze. The challenging part is planning an itinerary that makes sense time-wise and at the same time will be an experience we all won’t forget (in a good way).
Should we go towards Abu Dhabi or Fujairah first?
Is it too hot to do a roadside picnic at 12 noon?
Will this popular restaurant opens at 11am?
Lots of things to consider…
Here’s an itinerary I drafted few days before our trip.
08:45 09:00 Start the adventure
09:00 09:30 Sharjah: Corniche/Al Qasba
09:30 10:30 Ajman: Ajman Museum
10:30 12:00 Ajman: Ajman Fish market and lunch
12:00 12:45 Travel to UAQ
12:45 13:30 UAQ: Umm al Quwain Fort, Bazaar and Museum
13:30 14:30 Travel to RAK – Al Jazirat Al Hamra
14:30 15:00 RAK – Al Jazirat Al Hamra
15:00 15:30 Find place to have snack!!!
15:30 17:00 Reach Fujairah
07:00 07:30 Breakfast
07:30 09:00 Swimming
09:00 09:30 Checkout
09:30 12:00 Explore Fujairah (Fujairah fort, Fujairah Museum)
12:00 13:00 Lunch in Fujairah
13:00 14:30 Reach Al Ain
14:30 15:30 Explore Al Ain (break in Al Ain Oasis; Al Ain National Museum)
15:30 17:00 Reach Abu Dhabi
17:00 16:00 Explore Abu Dhabi
I researched several places to visit but I could’t include them all due to time constraints as well as they don’t fit my earlier criteria. Some activities/places that didn’t make the final cut include visit at Al Zorah Nature Reserve in Ajman, taking that abra ride from Bur Dubai, buy ice cream from Ashuk Ice Cream (one of the oldest ice cream shop in UAE) and several other places. So many things to do, so little time.
Anyways, I don’t want to stress myself on planning a very strict itinerary because I’m quite certain we won’t be able to do it all. I prepared this to serve as a guide for us. I just don’t want to reach Fujairah at midnight because of this YOLO attitude.
Fast facts: We’re residents of Sharjah but it’s a shame we haven’t explored this city yet. Sharjah is one of the most conservative emirates of UAE. Alcohol is banned and you won’t find grocery stores selling pork. It’s not as glitzy as Abu Dhabi and Dubai but Sharjah can boast being the nation’s cultural capital. It has been named as Cultural Capital of the Arab World by UNESCO in 1998.
Gibson collected the car from Fast Rent-a-car in Airport Terminal 1 at 8am. We were able to leave our home past 9am. I earlier planned a visit at Dubai Museum followed by an abra ride to Spice and Gold Souq but decided against it because of time constraint. Instead we went straight to Sharjah Corniche.
Good thing that humidity was low and glad to report that weather is getting better.
Fast facts: Ajman is the smallest of the 7 emirates and is in the center of UAE. Ajman’s economy has traditionally relied on fishing and trade but lately, luxury hotels starts to operate and offers tourists and residents an alternative holiday destination aside from Dubai.
After Sharjah, we went straight to Ajman Museum.
We paid AED 15 for a family of 5 adults and 2 kids (we took the family pass), otherwise entrance fee is AED 5 per adult.
There’s no one in the museum except us and the wax mannequins (or are they statues?). It’s quite spooky but in retrospect I enjoyed it more.
There’s peace, calmness and serenity in this world full of danger, darkness and hate. Hashtag #hugot
If you’re a resident of UAE, please go and see this place. It’s worth the entrance fee.
After history lesson 101, our next stop was Ajman fish market. “What?! That’s included in the itinerary?!?!”
Don’t be fooled. Ajman fish market is one of the busiest and most popular fish markets in UAE and Ajman government plans to develop the area and make it one of the emirate’s tourist attractions. Better come here before flocks of tourist invade the place.
I was kinda expecting to see this scene but who am I kidding? Being there around noon means we missed all the action. This photo was grabbed from one fine fellow who woke up early in the morning to witness this exciting transactions
Based on my research, we can buy fresh fish and seafood from the market and have it cooked in one of the restaurants in the area. Fabulous! So I planned on having our lunch there.
However, we found out that, yes, you can have it cooked in one of the many ‘kitchens’ around the place but there’s no sitting area in any of these restaurants. We found a tiny restaurant which seems to be popular with the fishmongers but Cole pleaded we go elsewhere.
I obliged but I was firm we will not eat anything fastfood. Compromise, baby.
A quick Google search for seafood restaurant in Ajman showed Abu Tafish which is around 8 minutes away from Ajman fish market. Following Google map, locating the place is easy.
We’re quite sleepy after lunch but we need to keep moving.
Umm Al Quwain
Fast facts: It may be larger than other UAE emirates but Umm Al Quwain is the least populous of them all. Apart from Dreamland Aquapark, there’s not much of activities to do here. They don’t have any 5-star hotel either. Since it’s quite underdeveloped, UAQ is great for watersports and sailing going to deserted islands which is home to numerous insects, fish, bird and flamingos, crabs and other creatures and see them in their natural habitat
Took me sometime to find something to do in UAQ. Most of the activities available involve the sea and we don’t have the luxury of time to try them. The best option is another visit to their museum and fort.
Alas, we arrived around 2pm and the Umm Al Quwain museum was closed. I’m not sure why.
So I can’t say if this museum is a place worth visiting or better do something else.
From the outside, the area where the museum is located looks underdeveloped. The wall surrounding the museum looks small from the outside too. But maybe it’s huge and interesting inside. I would never know.
Just to appease myself, I told Gibson to take my photo as a souvenir.
Ras Al Khamaih
Fast facts: Ras Al Khaimah is home to Jebel Jais – the highest mountain in UAE. The emirate has a rich history dating back to the Bronze Age, which makes it one of the few places in the world that has been continuously lived in for more than 7,000 years.
For Ras Al Khaimah, I know that we need to visit Jazira Al Hamra. The place is an abandoned town since 1968 that is believed to be ‘haunted’. If you look closely, most houses in this old coastal village were made of adobe and coral rags.
Since we arrived during daytime, it’s not too spooky although my group doesn’t feel like being ghostbusters for the day so I ended up wandering the place alone. In between being awed and mesmerized, my imagination ran wild and remembered the stories of ‘jinn‘ roaming around the place so I retraced my steps back to our car.
If you’re looking for a different kind of fun, visit this place around sunset and let me know your experience.
Following Google map towards Fujairah, we took one tiny road and saw several camels roaming around the area. We pulled over and giddily approach these beautiful animals. We don’t want to scare them so we kept our distance. We’re just happy taking photos. A fun experience!
Fast facts: Fujairah is the only emirate of the UAE that is almost completely mountainous and the only one of the seven that has a coastline solely on the Gulf of Oman and none on the Persian Gulf.
After some camel lovin’, we then continued our drive. After several minutes, along Masafi road, we saw a long stretch of stalls selling items mainly clay pots, plants and fruits.
This is not part of the itinerary but I know we have do another stopover to see what this Friday market (although we were there on a Saturday) has to offer.
I went fruit shopping crazy and bought almost all the items offered to me by the vendor. Sweet potato, mangoes, corn, kiwi, melon, mangosteen, custard apple, pomegranate. Fruit heaven! And they were all sweet.
It’s past 5pm when we reached Fujairah. We went straight to Nour Arjaan by Rotana where we stayed for the night. I booked a 1-bedroom suite. This hotel is great for families who plan to cook as all rooms have kitchen installed.
We started exploring Fujairah on our second day. There are so many things to do in this emirate and deciding which place to visit is a challenge. I settled for Al Hayl Castle. It’s quite a trek to reach the top but it’s all worth it.
Abu Dhabi/Al Ain
Fast facts: Abu Dhabi is the federal capital of the United Arab Emirates and the largest geographically of the seven emirates occupying more than 80 percent of the UAE’s total area.
There are lots of places to visit in Al Ain but we’be been to most of them before. And since it’s first day of Eid I know that it will be crowded in Green Mubazarah and Jebel Hafeet. I’ll pass.
I really want to visit their museums but based on research, they are closed on 1st day of Eid. We still took chance and went because you will never know until you see it yourself, right? And yes, they are close so don’t bother ok.
Second stop: Al Jahili fort. Have you noticed that I sometimes wear a skirt on some of my pictures? I put it on when I feel that being modest is necessary. Being sensitive of people’s culture is very important when visiting their place.
Last stop: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. As much as I wanted to go inside and explore the grand monument, ladies need to wear abayas and although can be rented for free, the issue was the long queue to get one so we had to skip.
Fast facts: Known as the city of gold but did you know that the word ‘Dubai’ is believed to have been originated from ‘Daba’ – literally meaning a horde of locusts. Although I’ve never seen a locust in all 11 years I’ve lived here.
Honestly, I thought we will just pass through Dubai and go straight home because what can we visit in Dubai that we haven’t been before, right? That’s until we realized we can stop over at Last Exit.
This is a new venue peppered with food trucks opened in last week of July which is truly a foodie destination. We arrived almost sunset and the outdoor seating area is just the perfect place for al fresco dining.
Ironically, our last stop was a quick bite from Last Exit.
That’s it pancit! It might be tiring to visit all 7 emirates in 2 days but it’s truly an experience to remember. Frankly, I am not sure if I’m willing to do it again but if I ever do, I’ll make sure it’s winter to enjoy some of the places more.
Nonetheless, I’m glad we did it. Thanks to my crew for being so game and to husband for sponsoring the trip and taking wonderful pictures ❤️ ‘Til next adventure!