Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

4 places you can fly to from Dubai Airport you may have never heard of

As the billionth passenger arrives in Dubai, here are some of the airport's lesser-known destinations worthy of a visit

Tian Shan Lake in Urumqi. Courtesy Getty Images
Tian Shan Lake in Urumqi. Courtesy Getty Images

On Thursday, Dubai International Airport welcomed its billionth passenger when nine-year-old Arjun landed at DXB on an Emirates flight from Orlando.

As the home of Emirates Airlines and sister company FlyDubai, the airport is the hub for dozens of international carriers flying in and out of the country, which means the list of places it services is almost countless.

Here are four destinations that regularly appear on Dubai’s departure boards that you might not have heard of, but that are definitely worth travelling to.

1. Ürümqi

A five-and-a-half hour flight with China Southern airlines, China's Ürümqi holds a Guinness World Record for being the city furthest from any sea in the world. The almost otherworldly destination mixes industrial cityscapes with prairie pastures and snow-capped mountains. Surrounded by desert, Ürümqi is famed for its greenery, which it gets from water flowing down from the surrounding Tian Shan mountains. In the heart of the city, Hong Shan park is worth a visit to see the towering Rock Temple in its midst.

At almost 1,400 metres tall, it has an unusual reddish hue thanks to purple gravel sand and boasts a well-preserved pagoda from the Yuan Dynasty on its peak. Not too far from the city centre, the piercing blue waters of Salt Lake beckon. Stretching across 54 square kilometres, the water density here is so high that swimmers simply float on the surface.

2. Borg El Arab

Abu Mena, Borg El Arab, Egypt. Courtesy Getty Images
Abu Mena, Borg El Arab, Egypt. Courtesy Getty Images

Not to be confused with Dubai’s seven-star hotel, Borg El Arab is a city in the north of Egypt that can be reached via a four-and-a-half-hour flight with FlyDubai. Nestled approximately seven kilometres off the Mediterranean coastline, many tourists land and hot-foot it to nearby Alexandria, but hang around and you'll discover a fascinating part of Egypt that's off the well-trodden tourist trail. Head to Rouuqayah’s Ranch for horse-riding excursions and ranch tours where you’ll see cows, buffalo, donkeys and more. The city is also the site of the remains of Abu Mena, a former town and pilgrimage centre that’s now Unesco-heritage listed. Stay at the Hilton Alexandria King’s Ranch, a 15-minute drive from the airport to enjoy one of the city’s largest outdoor pools and epic hillside views.

3. Conakry

NOOM Hotel Conakry in Guinea 
NOOM Hotel Conakry in Guinea

The seaport capital of Guinea is a 10-hour flight with Emirates Airlines and guarantees a sensory overload on arrival. Conakry is busy, it’s loud and it’s a little rough around the edges, but go with it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Head west from the airport to Noom, a cruise-inspired hotel on the country’s tip that is surrounded by Atlantic Ocean views. You’re almost guaranteed Insta-fodder from the waterside infinity pool. Dine at nearby Le Daimer, housed in a converted colonial villa and serving up French-style cuisine with a Guinean twist, it’s a culinary stalwart in the city. Take a day trip to Dubreka, less than two hours from Conakry, to see the Waterfalls of Soumba or go a little further to Lake Koba for stunning sunsets. While the city is safe in the daytime, if you’re arriving on a night flight make sure you book your transfer before time.

4. Tiruchirappalli

Tiruchirappalli is known for its ornate temples. Courtesy Getty Images
Tiruchirappalli is known for its ornate temples. Courtesy Getty Images

More commonly known as Trichy, this Indian city in the southern state of Tamil Nadu is spread across the banks of the Kollidam and Kaveri Rivers and is famed for its towering ornate temples. Air India Express will get you here in less than five hours. The city’s most visited site is the Tiruchirapalli Rock Fort, a historic complex of caves, temples and monuments built on rock that’s billions of years old. Inside, the Rock Fort Temple towers 83 metres above the city and you’ll have to climb 344 stone-cut steps to reach the top. Big Bazaar Street is exactly what its name suggests — a long lane packed with vendors selling Tamil Nadu’s specialty crafts and handcrafted clothes. Great for unique souvenirs, but be sure to bargain before you buy.

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Read more:

Dubai airport sees its billionth passenger through the gates after 58 years of operations

DXB passenger numbers rise 2% in October with India top destination

Flights to be reduced during Dubai International Airport upgrade in 2019

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Updated: December 21, 2018 10:59 AM

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