Global Village is a big amusement park/outdoor market in Dubai. It is only a 20-minute drive from Dubai Marina, but except for a half-hearted attempt in June, 7 years ago (when the park was closed for the summer) I had never been to Global Village until a couple of weeks ago, when I finally decided to go. While Global Village is certainly a great spot for families, I was surprised to see how much more the park has to offer.
The market section of the park features 20-something country-themed pavilions with snacks and souvenirs, but the main draw (for me) is the numerous food stalls selling authentic, delicious street food from all over the world.
You know how I have been complaining about how hard it is to find authentic Thai food in Dubai? Well not in Global Village. At the Floating Market you can find seafood salads (yum woon sen), Pad Thai and papaya salad (som tam) which is just as delicious (and spicy) as in the streets of Bangkok, and if you want to sit down at a table while enjoying your dinner, try the Dubai-famous tom yum soup at Yahya, it’s delicious.
Compared to other theme parks I have visited, Global Village come off as unique and authentic in a way that feels very true to the spirit of Dubai. The real magic begins after sunset, when neon lights of all colors of the rainbow light up the park and all the pavilions, and the 5 hours we were there just flew. Will definitely be back soon, and if you are considering going, here is a quick guide:
When to visit Global Village?
Global Village is open in the cooler months (October 25- April 18 in 2021) all days from 4pm to midnight (1am on Thursdays and Fridays). Mondays are reserved for ladies and families only.
It is after dark that the park really comes alive, so I would recommend arriving around 6pm.
The park is busy on weekends (Thursday and Friday), so if you want a more laid-back experience (and shorter lines to the attractions), try to go during one of the weekdays instead.
How to get to Global Village?
Global Village is a 20-minutes ride from Dubai Marina by car or Uber outside rush hours. There is plenty of free parking close to the Gate of the World entrance, but if you arrive with Uber, ask the driver to drop you off at the Cultural Gate.
Hypothetically, you could take the metro and a bus to get to Global Village, but it is not something I had been looking into.
My favorite spots in Global Village
The Floating Market
Indulge in delicious street food served from the small boats in the canal. Most of the boats are serving Thai food such as grilled squid, grilled oysters and irresistibly spicy salads, but there is also a ramen boat that looked promising, but that I did not have the time to try.
This is the place to go shopping for handcrafted souvenirs, spices and the famous Yemeni honey. Among the pavilions we visited, this felt like the most authentic one.
The Athens Slingshot
If you are looking for a thrilling ride, you have to try the Athens Slingshot. I don’t remember the last time I laughed and screamed so much.
The Wheel of the World
It is only up there you realize have large Global Village is. You get two rounds with the wheel so use the first round to enjoy the view, leaving your phone in your bag, and use the second round to take photos.
Some of the things I want to try next time
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
I was very close at visiting Ripley’s, because it is always good fun, but I decided to save it for later, and spend the time exploring the Global Village essentials instead.
Indian Chaat Bazaar
A street full of stalls selling chaat and other kinds of Indian sweets. This is the place to go for vegetarian food in Global Village, and choosing between the Floating Market and the Indian Chaat Bazaar was a difficult choice. Next time I will head straight to the chaat.
Zombie Laser Tag Arena
This attraction was closed due to covid-19, but when it opens again, I will be there!
What can I say? I love this kind of places.
How much does it cost to visit Global Village?
The entrance fee is only 15AED, and a lot of people just visit the park to enjoy the nice views and relax on the big lawn in the middle. Food and beverages are reasonably priced compared to Downtown and the Marina, and you won’t have any troubles finding meals below 50AED. Expect to spend 150-200AED or more on an evening at Global Village with meals, shopping and a couple of rides at the Carnaval.
Nice to know, read this before you go
The park is very popular among locals and people dress conservatively. No alcohol is served at the park.
It can get chilly after dark, so you might want to bring a jacket or a scarf to wear after sunset.
Remember that Mondays are ladies and families only, so single guys would need to pick another day for their visit.
If you want to try one of the Carnaval attractions, you have to buy a card in advance which you can charge with the desired amount at one of the small booths. Most rides suited for adults are around 25AED, but the Slingshot is 65AED