Travel to the Orient has experienced a real boom in recent years – and that is not surprising. An oriental holiday exudes the flair of 1001 nights. Lonely deserts, rugged cliffs, lush green oases and turquoise waters – paired with curious camels, fascinating buildings and proud Bedouins.
Are you more into tradition or modernity? On a day at the beach or sightseeing? On culture or nature? Don’t worry, you don’t have to choose, because Orient combines everything with an ease that is second to none.
Most routes depart from Dubai or Abu Dhabi and include – in any combination depending on the shipping company – Kasbah or Muscat in Oman, Doha in Qatar, Mumbai in India and Manama in Bahrain.
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The best time for a trip to the Orient
In principle, the Orient can be visited all year round. However, the best time to travel is between October and April. During this time, nine hours of sunshine per day and pleasantly warm temperatures entice visitors, making both sightseeing and swimming possible.
In the summer months, from mid-June to September, it gets unbearably hot. When the mercury climbs well above the 40 degree mark every day, shore excursions simply become too arduous. Even the sea is then warmer than the bathtub at home and no longer offers cooling.
The most important ports in the Orient
The ferry terminal of the Indian 18 million metropolis Mumbai (which by the way was still called Bombay until 1996) is located at the Ballard Pier in the south of the city. The terminal offers a lounge, duty-free shops and small shops. A drive into the city takes about 10 minutes. Taxis are available at the port, but be sure to agree on a price before you set off.
The Port Rashid harbour is – how could it be otherwise in Dubai – one of the most luxurious moorings in the world. The 1.5km building is state-of-the-art and offers free wifi, prayer rooms, ATMs, an exchange office, a post office, numerous cafes and duty-free shops.
The terminal is located just outside the city. Several malls offer free shuttle buses to the terminal. From most malls you can take the subway.
Alternatively, you can take one of the 8,000 or so taxis in Dubai. They have a taximeter and are considerably cheaper than in Germany. The buses of the Hop-On Hop-Off tours also stop directly at the terminal. You can also reserve tickets from home.
Fähredock at the industrial port of Port Zayad outside the city. The state-of-the-art terminal was completed in 2015 and offers free Wi-Fi, ATMs, bureaux de change, shops, restaurants and tour operators. Eithad Airways even has a counter here.
There are free shuttle buses to Marina Mall and Abu Dhabi Mall, as well as to the port exit about three kilometres away, where there are several traditional souks.
Numerous taxis are waiting in front of the terminal. A trip to the Sheikh Zayid Mosque takes about half an hour and costs around eleven euros. All taxis have taximeters.
Fähredock at Port Sultan Qaboos. The Hop-On Hop-Off sightseeing buses also stop directly at the ship. A free shuttle will take you to the harbour exit. Numerous taxis are already waiting there. Meters are unknown, you pay by the hour. One hour costs around 25 euros. Minivans are also available for groups of six to eight people.
Alternatively, you can stroll along the Corniche, the harbour promenade, a few hundred metres to the famous Mutrah Souk. After another four kilometres you will reach the Sultan’s Palace.
Complete flexibility is offered by a rental car. The roads are well developed and bilingually signposted. It is best to rent a car from Germany and have it delivered to the terminal.
Aqaba is home to Jordan’s only seaport. A free shuttle bus will take you to the centre of Aqaba, which is only about three kilometres away, in ten to 15 minutes. Once there, taxis and sightseeing buses will be waiting for you. From the city center you can either start a day trip to Petra, Wadi Rum or other destinations in Jordan, explore Jordan on your own, or take a taxi to the Israeli border.
The TOP 7 destinations & sights in the Orient
At 830m, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and an absolute must-see on any trip to the Orient. In the 124th. and 125. On the second floor there is a viewing platform at a lofty height of 456m. The 360 degree view is breathtaking. In the 148th. On the second floor, at a height of 555m, there is another viewing platform, even with a terrace. But the competition is not sleeping: Saudi Arabia plans to open the Jeddah Tower by the end of the decade. Planned altitude: incredible 1000m.
Day tickets cost 32 euros, evening tickets 50 euros. Thus, a visit to the highest building in the world is not exactly cheap, but all the more impressive.
Sheikh Zayid Mosque
The grandiose Sheikh Zayid Mosque, the third largest in the world, is Abu Dhabi’s tourist magnet. 40,000 worshippers can be seated under its 82 domes. The interior boasts over 1,000 columns, the largest hand-knotted carpet in the world and chandeliers adorned with 24-carat gold.
The mosque is open to visitors daily (except Friday mornings). Admission and tours are free, but be aware of the strict dress code. The best time to visit is in the late afternoon to see the mosque in daylight and later at night when it is illuminated.
Sir Bani Yas Island
Located off the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island is another world. There is nothing here with glitz and glamour like everywhere else in the United Arab Emirates. The miles of white powdered sugar beaches invite you to relax and linger. The gentle crash of the waves of the turquoise Persian Gulf is the only sound you’ll hear on the beach. The island is a nature reserve that is home to over 15,000 animals, many of which are already threatened with extinction. Twice a day there are safari drives, as you know them from Africa.
Gateway of India
Mumbai’s most famous landmark, the Gateway of India, is a monument in the shape of a triumphal arch. It was opened in 1924 to commemorate the visit of King George V. Today the square around the building is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists.
The old Dubai
With Dubai’s fast pace of life, where hypermodern skyscrapers seem to spring up every month, the desert city’s roots are easily forgotten. Wander the narrow streets of Al Fahidi, the historic part of the city, to see what life was like before the boom. Many original buildings have been preserved here to this day.
Then hop on an abra, a traditional open wooden boat, to get from Bur Dubai to Deira on the other side of Dubai Creek. A crossing costs just 30 cents, making it by far the cheapest sightseeing activity in the city. In Deira, the famous markets like the Gold Souk or the Spice Souk await you.
The fjords of Oman
The Omani peninsula of Musandam lies rugged and isolated on the Strait of Hormuz. The landscape feels like Norway – only much hotter. During your trip to the Orient, be sure to take a ride on a dhow, a traditional wooden boat. There are tours of different lengths, with or without dolphin watching or snorkeling. Whichever you choose, the Omani fjord landscape with its rugged mountains dropping steeply into the sea is breathtaking.
Sultan Quabus Mosque
The Sultan Quabus Mosque is the most important in all of Oman. It is one of the few mosques in the world that non-Muslims are allowed to enter, and is definitely a must-see when visiting Muscat. 300,000 tons of Indian sandstone were used here to create a fabulous and richly detailed structure. The mosque with its five minarets can be visited daily (except Friday) in the morning.
Questions & answers about the Orient holiday - everything you need to know
What is the climate in the Arabian Peninsula?
The climate is subtropical to tropical and in almost all regions it is very dry. In the summer, the 40 degree mark is cracked daily. In the interior it gets even hotter. The little rain falls in January or February.
What clothes should I take with me?
Find out before departure if there is a certain dress code on the ship and in the restaurants. Bikini and swim trunks are a must, as are flip flops or sandals and a pair of comfortable (sports) shoes.
When going ashore and on excursions, be sure to observe local Middle Eastern customs and dress respectfully. For women, that means keeping shoulders and knees covered. Hot pants and spaghetti tops are not only disrespectful to the locals, in the United Arab Emirates, for example, you could even be asked to pay for such an airy outfit. With a knee-length skirt or capri pants, combined with a loose-fitting short-sleeved T-shirt woman can not go wrong. For safety, you can take a scarf or sarong and wrap it around your shoulders.
Men do best with long, thin pants, such as those made of breathable linen. If you insist on shorts, they should also go to the knee. You’d better leave your bibs in the cabin and wear polo shirts or T-shirts ashore.
When visiting a mosque, for example the Sheikh Zayid Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the dress code is very strict. Women who are not dressed according to Muslim ideas – that is, nothing short, nothing tight, nothing see-through, ankles, head, hair, neck and nape must be covered – are given a black abaya with veil on site. Men are only allowed in with long pants.
Is a trip to the Orient with a baby or toddler possible and recommended?
An Orient trip is a perfect holiday for families with babies and toddlers! Note, however, to travel preferably in winter, where it is not so hot. Temperatures around 40 degrees are not pleasant for the little ones and quickly turn exciting excursions into tiring ordeals.
Inform yourself well about the individual shipping companies and ships and check them for family friendliness: Is there a kids club? What language is spoken there and from what age is it open? Is there a children’s pool, playground or playroom? Meal times are also important: Nothing is worse than having to stall a hungry early riser for hours until breakfast is finally served. Surrounded by other families, the offspring will quickly make friends, which means not only fun for the children, but also a few relaxing minutes on the sun lounger for mum and dad.
Even shore excursions are no problem with Minis. An ergonomically correct carrier is recommended for babies. This gives you more flexibility than a buggy. Don’t plan your programme too tightly and make sure you have a mix of sightseeing, adventure and relaxation. Especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi there are many children’s playgrounds on the beach promenades and in parks.
The locals in Arabic countries are relaxed and fond of children, so you don’t have to feel guilty if your offspring scream. Ask before departure if the local taxi companies have child seats and if possible pre-order a taxi with a seat.
Which shore excursions are recommended in the Orient?
The highlights of any trip to the Orient are the excursions that allow you to discover a new country. In cities like Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain or Doha, guided city tours are recommended. The distances in the cities are quite long, and when you go on a tour you don’t lose precious time with public transport or looking for a taxi.
When you go ashore in Aqaba, don’t miss a trip to Petra and Wadi Rum – two absolute highlights in the entire Arabian region!
Oman attracts with its capital Muscat, which offers a perfect mix of tradition and modernity. Explore the souks and admire the monuments on a city tour, or just relax for a few hours on the white sandy beaches. If you want to see more of the country, you can take a trip to the fascinating forts in Nizwa and Jabrin Castle.
If you stop in Mumbai, we recommend a trip to the Elephanta Caves, which are located on a small island off the city. Or you can soak up all the chaos that India is so famous for on a city tour.
Can I organize excursions in the Orient myself?
Of course! If you organize your excursions on your own, you can arrange your program in a way that suits you best. You don’t have to run after a guide all day with umpteen other vacationers.
If you’re traveling alone or as a couple, it’s much easier to connect with locals than in a large tour group. So you have a much more authentic travel experience!
In some countries, like Oman, the best way to get around is to hire your own car. In other places, like Mumbai, public transport is cheaper and more convenient.
An interesting alternative is to book a tour already from Germany via a local provider. There is often more choice here and they are cheaper than those offered through the shipping companies. However, it definitely pays to compare prices and services carefully.
Make sure you’re back on board in plenty of time if you’re on your own! It’s best to plan a small time buffer in case you get stuck in traffic unexpectedly or are running late. The ships do not wait and leave on time.
Is the sea state in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf very strong?
The Indian Ocean, and especially the Persian Gulf, are much calmer than the Atlantic or the European North Sea and are therefore not only well suited for Oriental beginners, but especially for those prone to seasickness.
In the winter months from December to February it is windier in the Orient than in the summer. Even a Fähre can start to rock a little. However, it is just as difficult to predict the swell as it is to predict the weather.
It’s best to pack medicines and aids against seasickness. If necessary, you can also ask the ship’s doctor for help. And if things do get rough: spit bags are provided.
Do I need a passport or is an identity card sufficient for the trip to the Orient?
As you are leaving the EU and the Schengen area on your holiday to the Orient, you will need a passport. This must be valid for at least six months after the end of the journey. This also applies to children! They need their own passport and cannot be registered in that of their parents.
Our conclusion to the Orient trip with the Fähre
With a trip through the Orient you are always right. The cities visited are modern, clean, westernized and safe. At the same time, they are “different” and exotic enough to give you an exciting vacation.
The Orient continues to score with its proximity to Europe. Short flight times not only mean a more pleasant journey without jet lag, but also cheaper airline tickets.
The Middle East’s calm waters make it perfect for your trip, and it’s also a good place to start for those travellers who have only been to Europe so far, and now want to stretch their feelers a little further without having to take a lengthy twelve-hour flight.
So step aboard and experience the Orient as it is written in a picture book!