We have always dreamt of being at the top of the world - up above everyone else - and gain a perspective very unique. And when you are a traveler, the desire to gain different heights in search for a wider view is exponentially high. The best place to reach this aimed altitude is Dubai
- a city where the real estate majors have competed to come up with unique designs of largest or tallest of structures. It was this conquest which led to creation of tallest freestanding structure of the world in the center of this busy city - that is what we all know as The Burj Khalifa
Soaring high at 555 meters, At the Top, Burj Khalifa SKY is fittingly Dubai's most iconic destination.
As we settled in our hotel for our weeklong stay in Dubai, the first thing on our mind was to book a visit to this mega-tall skyscraper. We had heard that the tickets are difficult to get and booked out pretty much in advance. While we were in the best of tourist time of the city - i.e. winters when the temperatures are tolerable and sand settled for human comfort. So we scrambled our laptops to connect on-to the hotel wireless network and the first thing we sought was a quick research of various options to visit the landmark.How to Book a Visit to the Top?
A quick visit at their website provides you with all the options available in terms of the experience you enjoy and the height you attain. There are two options in terms of altitude, one is to visit the observation deck at the 125th story and the other option is to combine a visit to the 148th story - access to the 125th story is still included with the latter option. Another differentiation in prices occurs based on the timing you choose to visit. They have divided their operational hours into prime and non-prime hours where prime hours come at a premium. Basically, evening hours are earmarked as the prime hours as that is the time where you can experience the most of the view. Visitors are allowed to access the observation deck for a total of about 2 hours considering the limited real estate available at the top. The perfect time to visit is around sunset which allows you a view of the city both in the daylight and dark, once the night falls soon after. A view of dark is a special glimpse of the lighting around and if you at the right time, a performance of Dubai Fountain from up top is a memorable scene.
|The ticket to At The Top - Right At Top|
However, while these are the options available to visitors on most days, there is one other option available which provides a very different experience. On weekends, the landmark is open early in the morning where visitors can witness a sunrise from the top. This is another aspect of the visit where one sees the city as the fresh rays of sun fall on the coastal center. This time also has the benefit of enjoying the views both in the dark and with the sun in the sky. While we were tempted to opt for the evening show, we finally ended up choosing the morning slot considering the new experience it may bring. We had anyway planned a visit to the Dubai Mall on one of the nights and hence chose for a morning view. Tickets were booked online and delivered over through an email in another couple of minutes. The overall experience of booking the tickets was smooth and the website was pretty helpful in providing the required information.
Saturday, November 25th - 7:00 AM was the time when the date with the awesomeness was booked and we eagerly waited for it to dawn.
How to Reach Burj Khalifa - The Destination of Desire?
Burj Khalifa is located right in Downtown Dubai in the center of the city within the famous Dubai Mall. Dubai Mall is more than a shopper's paradise with a number of tourist attractions well embedded in its corners and this tall structure is one of them. The mall is well connected with various modes of public transportation - including taxi, bus, and metro. It is easy to hail a cab roadside in any part of the city and they would quickly zip you past the traffic to your destination. However, if you are anyone like us who prefer to explore the city riding on mass mediums, the best option is to take a metro to the landmark. All you need to do is reach your nearest metro station and take a ticket to the Dubai Mall station. Luckily we had a metro station within a 5-minute walk from our hotel, Centro Barsha by Rotana - consciously chosen because of the location. Automated machines at metro stations are quick to yield tickets to your destination and the process is pretty self-explanatory.
|Navigation Guide in Dubai Mall Elevators|
The metro starts pretty early in the day and the first one is around 5:30 AM so you do not have to worry with the morning slot at the Burj Khalifa. Once you alight the metro at the Dubai Mall station, exit the platform and follow the directions to the mall. The metro station is connected to the mall through a skywalk - called Metro Link - which takes you directly to the mall. The skywalk though is a bit of a walk and may take you about 20-25 minutes to reach the Burj Khalifa reception after you get down from the metro and hence it is recommended to account for additional time if you take this route. Navigating to the reception may be a bit tricky given the change of floors and overwhelming size of the mall and hence do not hesitate to ask for directions - there are adequate security personnel posted throughout the mall. After descending two floors and walking for about half an hour, we finally reached the start of our destination and the excitement peaked as we saw the writing on the wall announcing the below message!
Rising to the Top - Checking in, the Storyline and Ascending
|Your Journey Begins Here|
Once you cross the big black wall with the bold announcement of starting your journey you slide into the chic reception center of the Burj Khalifa where attentive staff is eagerly waiting to check you in. The staff is welcoming, courteous and accommodating - at least for the morning visit, they do not make much fuss if you are ahead of time and we were happy that we did arrive early. As, we progressed through the security - where tickets were scanned - we were there into the walk-in museum as the story of the creation of the Burj Khalifa donned both sides of the aisle aesthetically. The glass walls carried the stories and trivia and various models of this structure were showcased as 3-D exhibits. We breezed through the exhibition and whenever our pace picked in hurry of catching the sunrise, we were advised that journey is equally exciting and we should take our time through the corridors. Well, true words indeed - thanks for correcting us there!
|Entrance to the Mega-Structure|
|The Story of Making of This Iconic Building Follows|
|Corridors of Stories|
Soon we were standing in a small queue in front of the imposing doors of a tall elevator and a lady ushered us in as soon as the cabin arrived. We were wished a good visit and she pressed the button corresponding to "At the Top" and we swiftly left the ground. Burj Khalifa has double-decker elevator which allows passengers on consecutive floors to access the elevator simultaneously - and fastest one at that - i.e. there is fastest double-decker elevator in the world. At 9 meters per second, these set of Otis elevators are also the third fastest elevators in the world after the ones in Taiwan and Japan. Also at 504 meters ascend, these are longest traveling elevators too.
Zero to 124th floor in little under a minute makes the journey as exciting as the destination itself - as they say it From the earth to the sky !
At the Top - Observation Deck, Sunrise and the Experience
As you step out of the elevator, you are welcomed into huge corridor along the periphery of the building with thick glass walls looking down at the city. The first thing we did was to walk out to the open-air observation deck as the sun was almost about to come up and we did not want to miss the sole view which brought us here at that time of the hour. We were surprised by a large number of people already there lined up carefully against tall glass walls of the deck curiously glued towards the rising sun. We too found a piece of real estate to settle ourselves. The view of the city around from the top is definitely mesmerizing and humbling. The height definitely changes the perspective and one could understand the art of perspective taught in the Engineering Drawing classes (i.e. for engineers to know). Idly one would spend about an hour and a half enjoying the views, witnessing the sun-rise up to a level where the reddening of the sky diminishes and posing for some pictures.
|The Sunrise from 500 meters high|
|The Hustle at the Observation Deck|
|A View of Dubai's Skyscrapers - Seem so Low from This Height|
|Another View of Dubai - Notice the Burj Al Arab in Backdrop|
|The Souvenir Shop Up Above|
|How can you not pose when the view is this!|
Later we moved indoors where a covered deck extends along the periphery and provides a 360-degree view of the city. There is a souvenir shop up there for those interested in carrying back the memories. There is also a photographer ready to shell out a professional photograph of yours to create customized memories of being at the top. In all, it is a great experience and if you have time only for one spot to cover, this should be the one when you visit Dubai. If you are visiting during the evening, do not forget to enjoy a performance of the Dubai Fountain from the top - there is one every 30 minutes after 6 PM on every day and the scene is worth a small wait. You again get to ride the fastest elevator down on your way back and soon you are in the big corridors carrying the remaining of the story of Burj Khalifa.The Cafe - A Light Breakfast on Offer
A normal ticket to the Burj Khalifa also includes a light breakfast with its ticket and you are served that at The Cafe - a small cafeteria built at ground level. The offering is a humble coffee and a croissant which may help satiate some of the hunger that you would have creeping within yourself. For an early morning visit, the coffee is a bliss - a perfectly brewed cappuccino with the morning hustle of the Dubai Mall right in front of big glass windows. If you need more, there is a small menu available to order some breakfast and dessert items to help you extend your stay within the premises of this iconic building.
|A Coffee and Cookies - With Opulence in Backdrop|
A three-hour visit in the early morning involved rising well in the wee hours but the effort was all worth it. Every traveler dreams of heights and it is really a very unique view you would get from the top. We have visited various towers around the world and each does offer a very good view of the respective cities and are all must-dos for their part of the world, However, this was definitely above par with any of those and we would definitely remember all the that we could see from up above half a kilometer above the ground.
Know More about other things to do in Dubai
Dubai, UAE - Top 10 Attractions of Touristy Emirate