Big Bus Tours provide hop-on-hop-off city tours that is operating in different cities around the globe. The buses are double deck, the ground floor are air-conditioned while the top part is open-roof. Most of the tourists usually prefer on the top deck since it’s more scenic. They have operations in New York, London, San Francisco, Budapest, Chicago, Hongkong, Istanbul, Las Vegas, Miami, Muscat, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome, Shanghai, Sydney, Vienna, Washington DC, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi is one of the 7 emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) located in the Middle East region of Asia. It is the largest city in UAE, and is considered as the cash-cow of all the 7 emirates since it is the richest and it is where you can find most of the country’s oil reserve. Abu Dhabi is also the capital of the country but compared to its neighboring city which is also famous worldwide, Dubai, Abu Dhabi is much quieter and laid back. I will be having a separate post about my Dubai trip later on.
Last March 2016, I was able to go to UAE and visited the two famous cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. From Clark, I have flown via Qatar Airways and landed in Abu Dhabi. Thanks to a special discount provided by a friend of mine. Since the arrival time in Abu Dhabi is night time, my city tour started the day after. My brother got me a ticket for the Big Bus Tours which cost around 60USD per adult, it covered the famous sites of the city plus some freebies. Here are some of attractions I have experienced using the Big Bus City Tours:
- Marina Mall Sky Tower – this tower is 30 floors high with two restaurants that provide a good view of the city. The one that we went to is called the Tiara Restaurant. The reason why we chose this over the other is because of its unique feature that the entire restaurant platform is revolving so you may be able to se have a 360 degree view of Abu Dhabi without you even moving. Though to be honest, there’s nothing really special about the food in the restaurant, a little bit pricey for its taste, but the restaurant does not charge an entrance fee. So I guess, it’s worth it. When we went there, we just had coffee and dessert. Here is the video we took. It’s a timelapse for 30 minutes to see the rotation. But when you are there, you really won’t feel the movement.:
- Sheikh Zayed Center – is a museum dedicated to showcase the life story of their remarkable leader. He is also called as the “Father of the Nation”. The center has a gallery of photos of Sheikh Zayed from his childhood till his early leadership years. It also contains a lot of memorabilla, like the vehicles, the guns, etc. What was memorable for me was his large portrait/mosaic that was made using stamps.
- Etihad Modern Art Gallery – is an art-space gallery, it also has a quaint cafe that gives an artsy feel. Due to the lack of time, we were unable to stay for coffee in the area. But here are the pictures:
- The Grand Mosque also known as Sheikh Zayed Mosque – ooooh! Where do I begin with this majectic beauty? Okay, let me see, it’s grand, amazing and spectacular! OMG! It’s so huge we weren’t even able to roam the entire area. The mosque, though so huge, the beauty was in every intricate design of every wall, decor, flooring, ceiling… in short of everything. This experience is one of the most memorable I had for this trip. It’s simply a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. It has 82 domes and can accommodate a total of 40,000 worshipers. It is considered as the 3rd largest mosque in the world. The experience begin when non-Muslim female visitors and men who are wearing shorts and sleeveless are asked to go at the basement of the building where you are given an abaya (for female) and kandora (for men). You need to provide them with your international ID, please note, they do NOT accept passports. Then once you are wearing your robe, you may now be allowed to enter the mosque, please be mindful, since the traditional Muslims do not like the hair of a woman being exposed, so I suggest you bring an extra scarf since the robe is a bit loose, and it usually falls off. Here are the pictures:
- Eastern Mangroves is a commercial center with mostly food establishments. But what is really special about this is the site, all of the restaurants have a view of the lake and the mangroves in it. There are a lot of water activities happening in the lake, from jetski to paddle-boarding to kayaking.
- Abu Dhabi Mall is one of the biggest malls in the city. But since we have very limited time of the day, we decided not to stop to any mall during this Big Bus tour since it will surely take so much time to roam around one.
- Manarat Al Saadiyat literally means “the place of enlightenment”. It is a very wide cultural center that contains art exhibits. Mostly what I enjoyed in this area are the art installations. I am no artist, but I appreciate art and this place is truly an enlightenment for me on how vast the coverage of art is. Pictures below:
- Abu Dhabi Corniche is a long stretch of white sand beach where you will find a lot food establishments in the area. It’s a public beach so expect a lot of people relaxing and enjoying the beach. It provides a very nice view of the beach so it’s nice to stay here and eat as well.
- Dhow Corniche Cruise is one of the highlights of the inclusions on the Big Bus Tour. However, what we did is we actually did our cruise on a different day since it is impossible to visit all the attractions included in the bus tour for one whole only. The Cruise itself already consumes a minimum of 1 hour. The cruise is aboard a traditional Arabian dhow, a very relaxing way to have a sight of the city skyline. The Cruise have scheduled trips as follows: 10:30am, 11:30am, 3:30pm and 4:30pm. The free cruise does not include any food or refreshment, but you may certainly order it on board.
- Yas Island is a man made island (land reclamation) where you can find the famous Ferrari World Theme Park. The island is a multi-purpose shopping, leisure and entertainment area. In here you will find the Yas Marina Circuit (where Formula One was held), Yas Waterworld, Yas Beach, Du Arena and several prestigious hotels. It is said that a Warner Brothers World Theme Park will also open here in 2018.
There were 9 more attractions I was unable to explore due to the lack of time since we stayed too long in some of the attractions.
- Heritage Village
- Public Beach
- Markaziyah Park
- Al Hosn Fort
- WTC Souk
- Manarat Al Saadiyat
- Abu Dhabi Mall
- Galleria & Rosewood
- Etihad Towers
Overall, taking the Big Bus Tour as a tourist is really a must-try activity for you to view all the significant landmarks in Abu Dhabi in one day. As a matter of fact, even my brother who lives there enjoyed the tour for even if he stayed there for years already, he was still unable to view most of the sites. Though, honestly, it is merely impossible to view all the bus stops (attractions) in one day that is why others opt to get the ticket which is good for 48 hours. But if all you can afford is 24-hour ticket, you have to plan in advance the stops you wish to really see.
But this one this is for sure, should I ever go to another city which offers Big Bus Tours, I would definitely avail one. 🙂