If the Arabian Peninsula conjures up an exotic mysticism for you, then Ras Al Khaimah UAE will not disappoint.
Ras Al Khaimah (often shortened to RAK) is quieter and less glitzy than neighbouring United Arab Emirate state, Dubai, and has only recently started to reveal itself as a holiday destination. But with year-round sunshine, and very affordable luxury hotels, it’s set to become rather popular.
Unlike its heavily built up neighbour, Dubai, the towns and cities of Ras Al Khaimah are not dominated by soaring skyscrapers. This part of the UAE is keen to promote and preserve its ancient heritage.
The capital, Ras Al Khaimah City, is divided in two by a natural creek, and has a backdrop of glorious mountains and the wide expanse of the Persian Gulf. Both the old and newer parts of the city are vibrant, but with the advantage of having a small town atmosphere. Plus the locals we met were certainly very welcoming and friendly.
Special offer: luxury five star packages from £385 economy, £1,185 business class
Why travel to Ras Al Khaimah UAE
There are many reasons to visit RAK, but let’s start with its value for money luxury credentials. While Ras Al Khaimah is only a 45 minute journey from Dubai it is a much cheaper destination to stay and dine in.
Contrasting RAK with Dubai here is not to criticise the latter, but highlight that both destinations are served by Dubai International Airport. And that with a short taxi journey or transfer it offers visitors a very different experience.
Ras Al Khaimah retains much of its history, heritage and culture, and is now working to sympathetically blend it with the future. It is opening up to mainstream tourism, with an extensive offering of luxury beach resorts, each with an array of spas and wellness, water sports, unique desert adventures – such as those found at the Banyan Tree Al Wadi, plus a fine selection of restaurants.
In fact the country has an array of local and international restaurants with cuisine to meet the varied tastes of its visitors.
As a desert based kingdom, Ras Al Khaimah is showcasing its traditions for an international audience, both along the coast and inland, amid its timeless sands
An oasis in the desert
Ras Al Khaimah’s hotels, and the desert beyond, give travellers the chance to witness enduring ancient skills. The Banyan Tree Al Wadi hosts a fantastic display of falconry and offers camel rides across the dunes.
You can also immerse yourself in Bedouin culture in an evening in the desert. First you can watch the spectacular sunsets across the vast sands, then be entertained at the camp by captivating fire dancers, whirling dervishes and belly dancers, while dining on a great selection of local dishes. There is even the chance to try an authentic, but non-permanent henna tattoo, and local dress.
For the more adventurous you can climb into a 4×4 and go dune bashing, or try sand boarding. You can also take to the creek for a few hours of kayaking, or perhaps challenge yourself with activities from hiking and rock climbing to survival skills up in the mountains. The choice is yours and the options are extensive.
How to get to Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah as a destination has a partnership with Royal Brunei Airlines, so they can arrange for you to travel to Dubai airport and have transfers to your RAK hotel when you book a package with them. The airline operates a fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with daily flights from London Heathrow Terminal Four.
Royal Brunei Airlines’ Dreamliners cabin configurations, whether you’re travelling in economy or business class, are very spacious. There is room in economy rows to climb over the legs of the person next to you to reach the aisle, while technology in the Dreamliners’ build ensures you arrive at your destination feeling far less jet-lagged. Business class meanwhile features 180-degree lie flat beds, soft pillows and duvets for comfortable rest, and four course meals. Plus it’s all about relaxation and seclusion, with just 18 seats in the business class cabin.
I’ve flown all manner of planes including A380s – which also offer a very good, comfortable experience – but the Dreamliner is my favourite for all-round comfort, certainly in Royal Brunei’s configuration at least – I can’t vouch for others.
There is an airport in Ras Al Khaimah itself, but there are currently no direct flights – the shortest journey being more than 10 hours. From the UK and almost all of Europe it is much better to fly into nearby Dubai’s modern international airport – one of the world’s major hubs.
Where to stay
Ras Al Khaimah is bringing affordable luxury to the UAE so you’ll find many of your favourite luxury brands at excellent prices. We recommend:
Banyan Tree Al Wadi: a desert escape in Banyan Tree’s unique brand of luxury.
Cove Rotana Resort: swish interiors and tasty restaurants draw attention to this well-priced (£163 per room, per night) hotel.
Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah: perhaps the most luxurious hotel in Ras Al Khaimah and we’ve found it at rates from as little as £115 per room, per night.
Book now: Find yourself relaxing in Ras Al Khaimah with one of these luxury hotel and flight packages, starting from £385 economy, and £1,185 with business class flights, exclusively available via LiveShareTravel. Accommodation is in a four or five star Ras Al Khaimah hotel, inc breakfast and transfers. Kids go free. Offer available until September 30, 2016.
- Ras Al Khaimah UAE is four hours ahead of GMT.
- The currency is the Emirati Dirham (AED) and there are 5AED to £1; 3.67AED to US$1; and 4AED to €1 at time of publishing.
- Alcohol is readily available in hotels, though it can be a little pricey.