In this blog I share my trip to the less known Emirates Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) in the UAE and help you choose between Ras Al Khaimah or Dubai for your beach holidays.
While Dubai was the first Emirate to open it’s door to tourism, the other less known Emirates are now competing with each other to attract international tourist.
Ras Al Khaimah or Dubai in terms of budget and activities
UAE can be a cheap destination! Indeed, if you decided to travel in the UAE but are on a budget, your best bet is definitely Ras Al Khaima. First we flew with Pegasus, an airline offering cheap flights to the UAE and more via Istanbul. You can spend a week by the beach in a lovely resort for much less money than you would in Dubai and this is the MAIN reason to choose Ras Al Khaima over Dubai!
Ras Al Khaimah is definitely less developed for tourism than Dubai. You won’t find many high buildings, big malls, attraction park or even trendy restaurants. If you are looking for a city trip than Dubai is your best bet. If you are looking for a more relaxing trip, then Ras Al Khaimah might be your better choice.
Things to do in Ras Al Khaimah
Explore the nearby Jebel Jais Mountains
Ras al Khaimah is the only Emirates that has a mountain range : Jebel Jais that you can explore while hiking, zip lining or going on a via ferrata.
Desert experience in Ras Al Khaimah
Also, like in Dubai, it is possible to take a day trip to the desert for camel riding, dune bashing and the famous bedouin experience. You can book a tour online or ask your hotel.
Those tour are quite touristy though so if you would like a more private desert experience, I would recommend you to book some activities at the Ritz Carlton that is situated in the desert. You can do camel riding, see a falcon show or even go horse riding like we did. It will be definitely more expensive but worth it if you want a truly personalized experience.
Take day trip to Musandam in Oman
Did you know that a part of Oman is situated right next to Ras Al Khaima. It is a peninsula accessible only by boat or by driving from Ras Al Khaima. It is supposed to be one of the most amazing places to see in Oman so it would be a pity not to visit while being there.
Landscape are beautiful with the many rocky islands and it is great for diving and snorkeling.
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Did you know that there are fjords in the Middle East? It’s true. In the Musandam Peninsula of Oman there are fjords that are every bit as remarkable as the ones in the north. Sorry for no photo yesterday. I was on the USS Harry S Truman which had no internet. Landing and taking off from a carrier is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. I’m spending the next two days driving back to Wisconsin from Virginia where I’ll be editing my photos from the ship.
Visit the Al Suwaidi Pearl Farm
Before the oil boom, pearls played a big role in the UAE’s economy. Al Suwaidi is the region’s first and only cultured pearl farm where you can see how pearl diving use to be (very dangerous as men would dive deep to find pearls) and how they are made today.
Visit the ghost town of Jazirat Al Hamra
Also interesting is the ghost town of Jazirat Al Hamra. It was built in the 17th century and was home to pearl divers fisherens. It is now the only traditional town left in the UAE. While there is nothing going on there anymore, architecture of it remains and is interesting to see how the UAE used to look like!
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Other things to do in Ras Al Khaimah
Also in the city of Ras Al Khaimah there are a few things to do. You can visit the Dhayah fort from which you have a great view over Jebel Jais and the city or have a walk at the city corniche, mostly interesting in the weekend as there are a lot of locals hanging out.
We also visited the National museum, quite interesting to see the evolution of this less known Emirates. Ras Al Khaimah also has one of the oldest mosque but I would not really recommend to visit as beside this fact there is not much to see inside or even architecture wise.
Beach resorts in Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah is the perfect destination for a lazy beach holiday. You will find many amazing resorts by the beach. We stayed at two different 5 stars resort : the Hilton resort and Spa and the Cove Rotana. Both hotels can be booked for around 100Euros per night, an unbeatable starter price in the part of the world. Both resorts have large beach, many pools, water sport activities and great dining options. The Hilton for example has 11 different restaurant offering food from all over the world. I loved it!
Fazit – Ras Al Khaimah or Dubai?
Depending on what you like, you might choose Ras Al Khaima over Dubai. While I loved to see it, I think 3 days in Ras Al Khaimah would have been enough for my taste. Indeed I am not such a beach lover lover and prefer to explore around but choices are limited in Ras Al Khaimah. If you want to spend a lazy beach holiday then Ras Al Khaimah is definitely for you though. Taking a day trip to Dubai if you have FOMO is possible too, as it is only 1 hour away!
Don’t miss the rest of this trip when we drove from Ras Al Khaima to Muscat!