In the last part of our three-part series on the best of cities we love, check out the recommendations of experts in the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific:
COMPILED BY JAMILLE DOMINGO
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
A crisis Researcher based in Dubai
1. See Burj Khalifa through Dubai Mall. Aside from the extensive leisure choices, one thing that makes Dubai Mall a must-visit is that it provides the best view of the Burj Khalifa. Dubai Mall is accessible through the metro’s Dubai Mall Station.
2. Go on a desert safari. The desert safari tour takes you on an ATV ride around the sand dunes, where you can also have a chance to go camel riding. At the end of the tour, you will be taken on a small camp where you can taste Arab delicacies and enjoy evening entertainment such as a variety belly dancing, fire juggling, and Egyptian dance shows.
3. Stroll around or chill by the Dubai Marina. This neighborhood consists of luxurious hotels, fine dining restaurants, parks, and waterways. You can also enjoy a cruise tour here, the most affordable and famous of which is the Dhow Cruise (around AED59).
4. Visit Ibn Battuta Mall. This one-of-a-kind mall is divided into several segments under various cultural themes including Chinese, Indian, and Arab. The restaurants in this mall are also in line with these culture-centered segments.
5. Laze at the Jumeirah Beach. It may be a surprise but yes, the desert-filled city also has a beach—a beautiful, white-sand one at that. Jumeirah Beach is a great weekend or day getaway for locals and tourists because of its proximity to the city center. It also has a great view of the world-renowned seven-star hotel, Burj Al-Arab.
President of ABIC (Armenian Bridge for International Cooperation) LCC, a well-known travel company in Armenia
1. Stop by the Yerevan Opera Theatre. I recommend all music lovers to visit the theater for opera shows or Armenian classical music (which is one of the most famous in the world). If you feel like shopping afterwards, you can just cross the road and go to North Avenue, one of the main shopping streets in Yerevan.
2. Ride the Yerevan Metro. Armenia is not just one of the safest countries in the world, it’s also one of the easiest to navigate. Yerevan’s metro system is not big but it’s very clean and cheap (One ride starts at AMD 100, which is just approximately PHP 11). At the Yerevan Railway station, you can also check out a traditional market nearby, where you can buy souvenirs.
3. Visit the Yerevan Cascade. It is perfect for art lovers and travelers who like to see the city’s most genuine atmosphere. It offers masterpieces from all over the world, as well as an amazing view of the city and the famous Mount Ararat. In the evenings, many Armenians go there to hang out with their friends.
There are also free Armenian dance classes in the cascade every last Friday of the month at 6 PM—taught by Gagik Ginosyan and his Karin Folk Dance group—so you will see a lot of locals and foreigners gathering together. They teach the class to everyone (locals, foreigners, kids, adults, solo travelers, or families and friends). It is a great place to meet friends, and you will feel that everyone is your family.
4. Shop at Yerevan Vernissage. This weekender open-air bazaar has a flea market where you will find a lot of old and unique finds, such as carpets from different regions of Armenia, handmade jewelries from Armenian masters, natural stones of Armenia, embroideries, scarves, bags, hats, Armenian ceramics, wooden products, paintings, and many more.
5. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Grand Candy! For the sweets lovers, make sure to check out the Grand Candy Shop & Café, where you will find many Armenian candies, chocolates, and other sweets. At the café, the kids and parents can have a cup of cocoa with Armenian chocolate or ponchik (cream donuts).
An expat based in Shanghai
1. Try Yang’s Dumpling. This is a street food that’s quickly branching out everywhere. Their fried shenjian is like a mini siopao with a fried crispy bottom crust, and when you sink your teeth, a burst of pork soup shoots out in your mouth.
2. Visit Yu Garden. This is like the Chinatown in a China town. It offers selfie-friendly ancient structures, with gorgeous sceneries both day and night.
3. Buy souvenirs at the Science and Technology Museum Station on Subway Line 2. Another place to buy souvenirs, whether it be bags, shirts, and gadgets. (Rule of Thumb, it has to be cheaper than Manila’s Divisoria, or don’t buy at all!) The actual Science and Technology Museum is cool too, especially for travelers with kids.
4. Check out Shanghai Disneyland Park. It is one of the world’s biggest Disneylands, no need to say more!
Auckland, New Zealand
Program Manager at the University of Auckland
1. Go bungee jumping. This extreme activity has put the country on the map of adventurers? You can choose to jump from two iconic landmarks in New Zealand—the Auckland Harbour Bridge or the Sky Tower. You also get to see an amazing view of the city.
2. Get to know the history of New Zealand at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The museum gives you a background on the history and culture of New Zealand. After your visit, relax and hang around the beautiful grounds of the Auckland Domain. A few meters from the museum is another must-visit, the Domain Wintergardens.
3. Walk around the Viaduct Harbour. A walk around it gives you a closer look at some of the yachts in Auckland. You can also charter a boat or do any one of the many water-based activities at the Viaduct. The Harbour is also an excellent spot for dinner by the ocean, or a night out.
4. Go where the locals go for their coffee. The flat white was invented arguably invented in Auckland, so it’s no surprise that the city has the best cafés. Try to look for cafés that are full of people—Shaky Isles, Café Melba, Rushworth, and Allpress Espresso are some of my favorites. Pair your flat white with a scone or a muffin.
5. Visit Waiheke Island. Waiheke is a short ferry ride from the city. Some of the activities you can do there include walking around the shops and beaches, biking, or renting a car. You can also book a wine tour to the vineyards and sample local wine, or try the EcoZip Adventure that gives you a short tour of the island.