There is a huge misconception surrounding the safety of travel in Arab nations. Despite political disputes in the Middle East region, the UAE remains neutral on these issues and thus is almost separate from it. Safety is therefore not a concern, and I never once felt uncomfortable here as a woman travelling in an Arab state.
Although Ras Al Khaimah remains more off track and untouched by mass tourism, it is not without the touches of luxury and comfort synonymous with the UAE’s dominant cities.
Action-packed waterfronts at resorts in desert lands, surrounded by mountains
There are many pre-historic sites to be found on the island, although they are small and easily missed if a local is not pointing them out to you.
Onboard the Royal Brunei Dreamliner
Where is Ras Al Khaimah & How Do I Get There?
The main draw with any resorts here – of which you can hop between for further food choices, alternative spa treatments and activities including falconry shows and desert camels rides – is that you get more for your money. Ras Al Khaimah’s relatively unknown status makes a stay here significantly cheaper than one in its neighbours to the south.
Jebel Jais is now home to the world’s longest zipline, at 2.8km long and soaring 1680m above sea level at speeds up to 150kph. Sadly, this wasn’t completed when I was visiting, but you can. Book your thrilling bird-like adventure here.
Want more than a dip on the pool or the warm sea waters of the Persian Gulf? My favourite adrenalin kick was a jet-ski ride around the bay since I always opt for the speed-fix, but other water sports include parasailing, banana and donut boating and stand-up paddleboarding on the resort’s private bays.
Visiting Ras Al Khaimah is a window into the ancient history and terrain of this region, where centuries-old ruins and remnants of a once nomadic way of life can be found close to the golden coastlines and within the rugged, mountainous landscape.
More than just a land of adorned desert, RAK has plenty to keep the most curious travellers occupied as it begins its journey in bringing tourists to its untouched lands.
Best time to Visit Ras Al Khaimah
This travel guide to all the places to visit in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE sets about to show you how the combination of coastline and culture, mountains and rich history, make this emirate more than just embellished desert.
Where to Stay in Ras Al Khaimah
Combining coastline and culture, mountains and historical mystery, it’s time to discover Ras Al Khaimah and see the United Arab Emirates in a different light.
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The Places to Visit in Ras Al Khaimah – See a Different Side of the UAE
Getting Around Ras Al Khaimah – Outside of the Resort
If you book a flight and hotel package to Ras Al Khaimah, then a transfer onward is most likely included. However, if booking separately, a taxi from the airport or a car rental is easy to arrange at the airport upon landing.
- Using the city’s taxi system, which can be easily booked from the hotel and able to take you to local restaurants, other resort spas, the sand dunes and the ancient ruins. You can set times for a pick-up, or negotiate a price where the driver waits and brings you back. This RAK taxi company and price list is also a useful resource.
- Booking a hire car rental. This might be a cheaper option for those on a multi-day discovery and allows for your own time and exploration, even if you only hired a car for a day. Renty.ae has a good selection of car rental options in Ras Al Khaimah.
The Best Places to Visit in Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah’s Desert Sands
Ras Al Khaimah is seen as the more liberal Emirate and is not as strict with the dress code to be followed by tourists. However, modest dress is still expected, as is the custom of covering the knees and shoulders when entering a public place.
View across the Jebel Jais mountain – the highest mountain in the UAE.
Many are choosing Ras Al-Khaimah as a lower-cost alternative to Dubai when it comes to Emirates travel. However, as neighbours, both are easily accessible from one another however long you choose to spend in each.
The beautiful approach to the Jebel Jais mountain range
There’s a handful of Ras Al Khaimah resorts to choose from, attracting those looking for a coastal hideaway without the glitzy grandeur that Dubai flaunts. Here, you won’t find towering, glass high-rises, but you will find international hotel brand resorts, such as the seafront Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, where I stayed.
Ras Al Khaimah’s Mountain Heights
A coastal Ras Al Khaimah resort
The 16th Century Dhayah Fort in the area of Rams was mostly destroyed during the British operation of the Battle of Ras Al Khaimah of 1809 and remains a symbol of independence and a window into the old United Arab Emirates. I also welcomed the dawn of a new day from atop the crumbling ruins of ‘Sheba’s Palace’, which is said to be the oldest palace in the UAE.
Ras Al Khaimah’s Ancient History
The level of noise was noticeably lower, the windows magically tinted from clear to dark with the touch of a button, and I felt less pressure in the cabin (no popping of the ears and my usual dizziness when taking off and landing). Coupled with better air quality, I felt less tired and groggy, although that can also be partially attributed to the incredibly snug duvet and pillow provided in the Business Class fully reclining bed on the way out.
UK citizens are not required to have a visa for entry into the UAE (via Dubai) and are granted entry for 30 days.
Yet little is known about the historically rich and varied natural landscape of the northernmost of the seven Emirates – Ras Al Khaimah. The fourth-largest of all the Emirates, despite making up only 2.17% of the country’s entire territory, it is the more adventurous hinterland in comparison to its decades-young luxury neighbours.
In both Economy and Business class (there is no First Class making Business as close as you can get), the Dreamliner lived up to its propositions. Business-class is roomy with only 18 fully reclining seats and even in Economy (a daunting prospect for long flights), there was more legroom than what you would find in a standard economy flight.
Ras Al Khaimah’s Coastline Adrenalin
Exploring Dhayah Fort in Ras Al Khaimah
It also boasts a beach club with watersports, an on-site spa and a variety of international cuisines, from Arabic to Brazilian, and snacks to multi-course gourmet (although local restaurants are also within accessible distance by car).
Ras Al Khaimah’s Local Culture
That’s because when you hear about travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), scenes of glistening, towering buildings, man-made islands and the ultra-indulgent lifestyle of Dubai and Abu Dhabi dominate.
November and December are popular months for visitors, as is March and April before the hot spell kicks in. From May-July, temperatures reach uncomfortable peaks, making any time spend sunbathing and sightseeing uncomfortable.
Confusion remains over alcoholic consumption in the Islamic UAE. Despite there being a larger ratio of non-UAE nationals, this is still a Muslim country, where local customs should be respected.
Citizens of the following countries can obtain a visa on arrival:
Ras Al Khaimah is the Emirate that sits the farthest north – above Ajman, Sharjah and Dubai. It is more common, if not always, accessed via the travel gateway of Dubai via a 45-minute drive, where its tourism numbers come predominantly from Dubai residents and day-trippers.
Ras Al Khaimah Rules and Regulations
Alcohol in Ras Al Khaimah
The 16th Century Dhayah Fort site
Adhere to local customs and act appropriately, as you would in any culture that is significantly different from your own, and you will not encounter any issues.
Not only does it combine relaxing coastline luxury with local culture and adventure, but it also paints a very different picture to the gaudy and extravagant image associated with the United Arab Emirates today.
Dress Code in Ras Al Khaimah – Is it strict?
Dubai is still quite the distance from London (there are no direct flights to Ras Al Khaimah’s airport from London), where you will rack up nearly seven hours in the air. However, that doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable journey.
Is it safe to travel in Ras Al Khaimah?
Al Jazirat Al Hamra – the ghost town of Ras Al Khaimah.
Both sites are free to enter and lack any definitive infrastructure, especially ‘Sheba’s Palace’ whose climb up is so untouched it feels as if you are the first to find it.
Do I need a visa to visit Ras Al Khaimah?
The ruins of what is said to be the site of Sheba’s Palace in Ras Al Khaimah
While I could wax lyrical about the pros and cons surrounding the rapid construction of the ‘new’ country that is the UAE and travel within each of the individual Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah tourism is one that actually strikes an interesting balance.
Vast desert, a mountainous plateau and ancient history complement the coastline, which makes Ras Al Khaimah a destination where you can combine relaxation with active outdoor exploration. If you think it’s all about hotel resort views, think again and seek out these landscapes and cultural activities.
No trip to the UAE is complete without Dune Bashing – an exciting adrenalin rush and the only way in which you can get right into the heart of the endless rolls of golden desert. Our jeep safari ended at the Oasis Bedouin Camp, complete with food and entertainment under the desert’s starry sky – keeping alive an old nomad tradition.
Currency in Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE
Pockets of green and olive groves in the mountain region
Why You Really Should Visit Ras Al Khaimah
With regards to flying with Royal Brunei Airlines, the airline is ‘dry’ meaning that no alcohol is served on board. However, you can bring your own alcohol and drink it on board, which is something not found on other airlines.
I travelled to Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of a partnership with Ras Al Khaimah tourism, Royal Brunei and iambassador on a campaign called ‘Discover RAK’ All opinions remain my own, as I continue to uncover the Middle East region.
Planning a trip to RAK
Ras Al Khaimah from Dubai
Tourism infrastructure in Ras Al Khaimah isn’t prevalent, yet nor is it difficult to find a way of visiting local sites and other resorts. The means to get around is with a private car, via two avenues: The best time to visit Ras Al Khaimah is from November – March, in what is the European winter season.
Visit Project Visa for detailed information.