Sailing the Dubai Fountain & Scaling the Burj Khalifa, United Arab Emirates

Travel Blog / United Arab Emirates

Currently the world’s tallest man made structure, the Burj Khalifa is an awe-inspiring inspiration of what man is capable of, soaring to an unbelievable height of 830 metres. In a city where everything has to be big and bold, the world’s tallest tower is also accompanied by the world’s largest fountain, the Dubai Fountain. Although the Burj Khalifa won’t be the tallest for long as a new tower simply called ‘The Tower’ will be completed in time for the Dubai Expo in 2020 soaring to a record height of 928 metres.


Not only that, Dubai is set to lose the world’s tallest building title altogether with the completion of Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia in the same year aiming to be the first structure to crack the 1km mark at 1008 metres.

It’s best to come and visit the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain both during the day and night, however it is at night time when the precinct comes alive with performances from the Dubai Fountain every 30 minutes, drawing in large crowds outside the just as busy Dubai Mall.

For a unique perspective on the Dubai Fountain why not consider going on the Dubai Fountain Lake Ride. It costs AED 65.00 (AUD $24.00) and takes you on a ride around the lake before the fountain begins the show. You’ll then come to a stop before the show starts and you’ll then experience the fountain up close and personal as the performance takes place right in front of you. It was a really great way to see the fountain without being stuck in a crowd on the sidelines.

You can pre-book your tickets to the Dubai Fountain Lake Ride on the website here, however I didn’t find that it was necessary to do this and can be quite a confusing process. I had pre-booked my ticket thinking that it would be really popular and tickets would sell out. This wasn’t the case at all and people were walking up to the ticket booth and purchasing a ticket right next to where the boats launched from.

I had pre-booked and despite printing off a ticket I was still required to go to a ticket counter and exchange it for a proper ticket. This is fine except that it wasn’t the right place for pre-booked tickets and as it’s a timed entry, I reserved for the first show of the night at 5:45pm and because I now had to go and find this ticket counter I was running late. The correct place to go was inside the Dubai Mall and to the ticket entry area of the Burj Khalifa.

Waiting in line the time came closer and closer to only get to the front of the line and it was the wrong line. The Dubai Fountain Lake Ride tickets are collected from the cloaking desk. Not very clear at all! After getting my ticket and the attendant saying it doesn’t matter if you miss it, you can just get on the boat for the next show (which makes the whole concept of pre-booking a time useless). I ran back to the lake so I could see the first show and made it just on time. Just be sure to go to the Burj Khalifa cloaking area to collect your ticket if you plan to pre-purchase your ticket and leave time as the lines can get quite long.

As you set sail it’s a gentle, soothing experience as you escape from all the crowds and share the lake with only a small amount of other boats cruising around whilst seeing the expansive shopping malls and restaurants that line the edges of the lake. From out here you also gain some nice views of the Burj Khalifa which is all decorated at night with many colours and projections advertising special occasions. Whilst I was there a robot would appear and then launch itself up the side of the tower and the projections would also advertise the Dubai 2020 Expo and construction company EMAAR which basically owns all of Dubai.

The fountain itself is pretty spectacular with music playing the entire time which is timed to coincide with the music playing. The first departure at 5:45pm for the 6:00pm show is a good time to go as you’ll also catch the last glimmer of sunlight for the day and a little bit of a sunset behind the maze of construction throughout Dubai. I must say however, the first show of the night wasn’t the best and as the night progresses the shows get better with some more up beat music better timed to the fountain, but I’m still glad I caught the first show on the boat.

After arriving back on dry land I had also pre-booked my ticket to go up the Burj Khalifa which was also a timed entry, however it was still early so I decided to stick around outside for the next fountain show. Space is a premium around here as thousands of tourist flock to see the fountain, all the prime positions have been taken and it’ll be like this all night. I manage to score a spot to watch the next show giving a different perspective than being on the boat and you can also capture the Burj Khalifa all lit up and sparkling behind the fountain.

Then it was time to make the journey to the summit. The hard part was getting to the actual top given how busy it was and most of the time was spent lining up for the lift (around screaming children which makes the experience all the more fun). Once again you can pre-book your tickets for timed entry here for a cost of AED 125.00 (AUD $45.00) or AED 200.00 in peak hours (AUD $72.00). Clearly the best time is to visit during the non peak hours as it’s a massive price gap. This I do recommend pre-booking as it is quite busy and you might want to reserve your spot even though you still have to line up to collect a ticket despite already booking (once again defeats the purpose of pre-booking and having to print a ticket off).

Once you reach the observation deck, which unfortunately isn’t at the very top of the tower but is located at the 555 metre mark of the tower, you are greeted with stunning views of the Dubai skyline and views of the Dubai Fountain from above. When the fountain is in action they even play the music choreographed with the fountain so you can follow along from 555 metres above.

On the observation deck you can also go outside to a viewing platform which is a great opportunity to take photos without having the window glare ruining them. At the end of the day being at the top of the Burj Khalifa observation deck is the same as being on any other tall tower, you gain the same experience just a different skyline to view. It’s quite expensive when you consider it to come up here so it’s probably not something you’ll be wanting to do again on another visit to Dubai. Then again if you come up at night time you may want to come and visit again during the day to gain a different perspective.

Getting back down the tower was pretty simple and the lines aren’t as long as coming up so you can bypass the slow stragglers along the way. When you come up you arrive on level 125 and then you walk around and come down the lift from level 124 as the observation deck is spread across two levels avoiding large crowds crashing into each other trying to enter and exit.

If you can only afford or be bothered doing one of these activities I think you’ll get more out of doing the Dubai Fountain Lake Ride, not only is it cheaper you aren’t being crushed by crowds. The numbers on the boat are limited to six at the time of visiting and you gain a better perspective of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain. It’s kind of cool to be floating in the middle of a lake with thousands of people around you in the middle of a city but at the same time not really seeing all those people.

Going to the summit of the Burj Khalifa is a good experience also, but it’s kind of expensive and at the end of the day it’s just another viewing point and is a little overrated. But then again at the same time you can then say you’ve been ‘halfway’ up the tallest tower in the world.

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A guide book isn’t cheating! Before you leave on your next adventure ensure you plan to get the most out of your trip and check out the range of guide books from Lonely Planet. The comprehensive guide books on Dubai from Lonely Planet will give you an insight on what to expect on your travels to this amazing city of the United Arab Emirates.


Just your average guy doing his 9 - 5 job as a Senior Payroll Officer by day, writing about his travel adventures and hopefully giving you inspiration and ideas for your next travel adventure here at loneXplorer...

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