Why You Need to Visit Salalah, Oman?


Mariah Sutrisna, from

8/14/20209 min read


Why You Need to Visit Salalah, Oman?

Salalah in southern Oman is the capital of the Dhofar province. The city is an ideal base for exploring this relatively unknown part of the country. Dhofar is also called “frankincense country“. Frankincense has been produced here since ancient times and you can smell it everywhere – streets, shops, hotels, even inside the airport. The culture of the Dhofar province is closely linked to the Hadramaut region in nearby Yemen and therefore different from the north of the country. Dhofar is also known for a climate phenomenon called khareef. It is just touched by monsoon winds which develop their full force several latitudes to the south. The period between June and September is called Khareef season, the temperatures drop to a “cool“ 20-25 degrees Celsius and it is raining often.Locals spend their summer holidays here and the Khareef festival attracts visitors from neighboring countries (especially Saudi Arabia) looking to escape the scorchingly hot temperatures at home. The landscape changes dramatically from yellow and grey desert to lush green valleys and meadows.However, this only happens in a strip of land measuring about 100 km around Salalah. This is what makes it so special. Even in the dry season there is a lot more vegetation here compared to the rock and sand deserts of the rest of the country.Around Salalah there are many beautiful and clean beaches and the weather is warm and sunny year-round except for khareef season. How to Get to SalalahThere are Oman Air flights from Muscat and Dubai (each about 1-1.5 hrs). You can also take a bus from Muscat which crosses the desert and takes between 13 to 15 hours. The distance to Muscat is about 1000 km.I highly recommend hiring a car with a driver because that way you get a lot of information and most of the drivers speak very good English. Plus, you don’t have to concentrate on driving. The other option is renting a car and driving yourself which is very doable. The roads are generally very well maintained. If you drive long distances, plan your fuel stops as there are hardly any gas stations outside the city. Public transport was non-existent when I visited. There are some taxis.

Best Places To Visit And Things To Do In Salalah

1. Pray at Sultan Qaboos MosqueSultan

Qaboos Mosque is the largest mosque, not only in Salalah, but in Dhofar Region and outside of Muscat and Nizwa. Mosque is located in City Center. It’s a huge masjid and a real display of Islamic architecture. The prayer hall is wonderfully decorated with chandeliers, green carpet and wall patterns. This is all year round attraction. So visitors in khareef season as well as other parts of the year can visit the Mosque.

2. Explore the Beautiful Waterfalls

The best part of the Khareef in Salalah is the pleasant weather, drizzling, mountains turning green and the waterfalls. These waterfall will be available only in the Khareef season and depends on the amount of rain. There are some really nice waterfalls, which are a must to see. Like Ayn Athum, Ayn Khor, Wadi Darbat waterfalls, Ayn Gogub. In addition to the waterfall, many springs in Salalah are highlight of the season as well. For instance, Ayn Sahalnoot, Ayn Razat, Ayn Jarziz, Ayn Hamran and others. As a word of caution, most of mountains in Dhofar has fog in the khareef season and most of the time, the visibility is very low. It is better to book the sightseeing tour to experience these sites with the local Omani experienced guides. Contact us and we can help you on this matter.

3. Paddle the Boat at the Wadi Darbat, Oman

By no means, one should miss the boat ride on the natural canal at Wadi Darbat. This valley is perhaps, one of the most visited place in Dhofar. In addition to the motor boat ride, visitors can experience the canal with paddle boat or kayak. Moreover, this valley has 2 beautiful waterfalls, one of which is present since 2018. One of them is known as cascade waterfall, as there are many cascades of water flowing in the valley. The other one is falling from the cliff end and is at Travertine Curtain. This is a year round destination.

4. Get Yourself Soaked with Water Splashes at Mughsail BlowholesMughsail Beach and Blowholes

(also called geysers and natural fountains) at Marneef cave are the most visited place on the Western side of Salalah. The landscape of Mughsail Beach is stunning and the natural fountains are mesmerising. This is a year round tourist destination as well. The natural fountains have more height in khareef season. However, in the other part of the year, these water jets are present but are not going that high.

5. Discover Land of Frankincense – The UNESCO World Heritage Sites

As per UNESCO World Heritage site, there are four components that make Land of Frankincense. These sites are Al Baleed Archeological Site, Sumharam Old City (khor Rori), Wubar Archeological Site and Wadi Dawkah. The first two are the ancient sea ports – Sumhuram (4th century BC to the 5th century AD) and Al Baleed (8th century till 16th century AD). From here Frankincense was shipped to other parts of world including Africa, Europe, India and China.

  • Sumhuram Archeological Site in Salalah, OmanFrankincense was inland traded via the Lost city of Ubar. This outpost was close to Shisr, about 170 km inland of Salalah and in close proximity to the Great Sand Desert of Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali).

  • Wubar Archaeological Site in OmanThe forth one on the list is Wadi Dawkah, which is an outstanding example of the frankincense plantation (Boswellia Sacra) area. From these trees, the resin was produced, collected and then traded.

  • Wadi Dawkah – Frankincense Park in SalalahAll of these sites in UNESCO World Heritage list,

    can be visited throughout the year.

6. Sand Bashing at The Sand Desert of Empty Quarter Oman (Rub Al Khali)

Empty Quarter Oman is one of the most famous desert in the world. Also, it is one of the largest desert in the world. It is located after 2 hours drive on the North side from Salalah, Oman.The desert has a lot of uniqueness and is a huge pile of Sand. Interestingly, Empty Quarter extends in 4 countries in Arabian Peninsula. Oman is one of these.

7. A Picnic at Fazayah Beach with Camels

Fazayah is one of the most popular beaches in Dhofar. Known for its pristine and nature, Fazayah Beach is located on the western side after Mughsail Beach and Masood Hidden Beach. The road to the beach is off-road and we highly recommend you to book the guided tour to experience it in the best possible way. You will find lots of camel in Fazayah Beach and they will be guests on your picnic at the pristine beach. Whether you are visiting Salalah in Khareef or winter, this should be on your Salalah places to visit.

8. Pay Visit to Tombs of Prophets in Salalah

Salalah has tombs of four prophets. These are Prophet Ayub, Prophet Hood, Prophet Saleh and Prophet Imran. Firstly, the Prophet Ayub (Prophet Job) Tombs is in the top of the hill in Jebel Ittin. He is known for the patience during the trials. The drive from Salalah city to Jebel Ittin is quite pleasant, and memorable. It will take around 30 minutes to reach the tomb.During Khareef Season, the mountains are covered with fog and sometimes the visibility is very low on the roads. This could make driving on the mountain road quite challenging, especially for those who are not used to drive on the mountainous tracks. It’s advisable to go on a guided tour, with experienced driver to be on the safer side.

Nabi Ayub’s Tomb on the Top of the Mountain in Salalah OmanSecondly, Prophet Hood’s Tomb is located at 20 minutes drive on the Northern side of Salalah. He was a prophet sent towards the tribe of Ad, who are mentioned multiple time in Quran.

Prophet Hood Tomb in SalalahThirdly, the other notable tomb is that of Nabi Imran. It is not clear who is Nabi Imran. He could be father of Prophet Mosa (Prophet Moses), or Grand Father of Prophet Issa (Prophet Moses) or another Prophet. The length of the tomb is around 12 meters, which makes it one of the largest in the world.

The Outside of Nabi Umran Tomb in SalalahFourthly, Prophet Saleh Tomb is located on the Eastern Side of Salalah, some 2 hours drive away from the City Center. However, a site in the city is famous for the footprint of a camel (Prophet Saleh’s camel) and it is also visited by many. This camel was sent as a sign to the Tribe of Samood (Quam e Samood).

9. Shop at the Souks in Salalah

Salalah has several souks (also spelled as souq), which are basically traditional style markets. The most popular one is that of Haffa. Al Hosn Souk (also known as Al Haffa Souk, and Frankincense Souk) is an open air market besides the beach in Haffa district. This souk is specialized market in selling of Frankincense, Bukhoor, Perfumes, traditional clothes, other souvenirs and day to day use items.

Frankincense Shop in Haffa Souk, SalalahSecond souk on the list is Salalah Central Market. It is a relatively newer souk in Salalah City Center. This market has a lot of shop, mostly of fish, meat and fruits and vegetables. In addition to the shops, there are some restaurants as well.

Salalah Central Market in City CenterThe third souq is Gold Souk. Here, you will find gold and silver ornaments, traditional Omani Khanjar and other souvenirs. It’s not big, but it’s nearby to Central Market and Sultan Qaboos Mosque.

The entrance of Gold Souk in SalalahLast but not the least, Salalah has a new air-conditioned souk in one of the modern shopping mall. This is Souk in Salalah Gardens Mall. It sells Frankincense, traditional clothes and perfumes.

10. Experience Sunset from the Cliff at Taqa BeachTaqah

is the nearest wilayat from Salalah on the Eastern site. The beach is beautiful. The cliff at the end of the corniche is one of the best spot to experience a wonderful sunset. Experience an unforgettable sunset from above the Indian Ocean and white sand shore, with a great view of Taqa City. Taqa Beach is a paradise for Bird Waters in the morning. The entire white sand shore is full with birds.

11. Adventure of Jebel Safari – A Drive to Remember

The drive on the mountains in Dhofar is an unforgottenable expereince. This is one the things to do in Salalah. Locally this is called Jebel Safari. Jebel is an Arabic word for mountain. Dhofar mountains comprise of 3 renowned chain. Al Qara mountain (Jebel Al Qara), Jebel Shams and Al Qamar Mountains (Jebel Al Qamar). Salalah city has mountains on its Norther and Eastern side. These are Al Qara mountains. The famous Ittin mountains, Wadi Sahalnoot, Zeek, Wadi Darbat, Wadi Naheez and other valleys are in Al Qara mountains.

Jebel Ittin in Al Qara MountainsAt the eastern end, the Samhan mountains form the highest point in Dhofar. Its highest peak reaches 2,100 meters. Here you can see dense clouds below you, especially in khareef season. A perfect view point for capturing the time lapse of clouds movement.

Clouds at Jebel Samhan in Dhofar MountainOn the western side of Salalah, after Fazayah Beach, the mountains of Al Qamar will captivate your attention. This will continue in Shaat, Rakhyut and Dhalkut. Just for information, this side is visited by tourists who have more time, as a trip to Dhalkut will take the entire day. Our experienced guide will take you to the hidden beaches and fascinating landscapes. The hairpin road is popular highway to reach to this part of Dhofar, which has bends every few meters. The guide knows how to drive here even with fog as he knows the route.

12. Discover Marine Life by Dolphin Watching Cruise & Diving

Salalah has diversifed marine life and coral. Moreover, there is a ship wreck in Mirbat as well. The underwater marine life, coral and ship wreck can be discovered by diving in Mirbat. Beautiful Salalah Tours arrange diving with pick and drop from the hotel. If you don’t want to dive, you can do snorkeling instead. This is also arranged with the experienced staff and with all the gadgets required for diving and snorkeling.

Diving in Mirbat OmanMoreover, another way to explore the marine life is by cruise in Indian Ocean. The trips on speed boats make you see the humpback dolphins in their natural habitants and sometimes jumping as well.

Dolphin Watching in Arabian Sea in Salalah OmanSnorkeling, Scuba Diving and Dolphin watching tours are arranged only from October to May. Due to high tides in khareef season, these activities are not performed. To arrange any of these contact us and we would be happy to assist you. Additional Tip: You can plan a visit to Mirbat after diving. Mirbat has a beautiful coast, a castle, fishing port, fish market, an old town and mausoleum of Bin Ali.

13. Experience Car Drive at Neutral Gear at Salalah Anti Gravity Point

Its an amazing experience to see the car going up the hill at Neutral gear (without any acceleration) at Salalah Anti Gravity Point (also known as Magnetic Point, or Gravity Hill). This is a really something unique. The car can move at a speed of 40 to 60 kilometers per hour without any acceleration. Additional Tip: Just few meters away from the baffling site of Magnetic Point, you will find Baobab Trees in Wadi Hana. This is an impressive botanical reminder of Dhofar’s link with Africa.

14. Sip Fresh Coconut Drink at Fruit HutsFruit Huts

in Salalah are famous for the fresh fruits particularly coconut. Having coconut drink at tropical style fruit huts (stalls) is a refreshing activity, recommended for all.

15. Get Inside the Castle in DhofarThere are 2 prominent castle / Fort in Dhofar Region.

The first one is Taqa Castle, which is located in the wilayat of Taqa. Whereas the other one is Mirbat Fort, located in Mirbat. Moreover, there is one Palace in Salalah – Al Hosn Palace, which can be seen from outside only. This is in the middle of Salalah City right next to Haffa Souk. This is one of the palaces of Sultan in Oman. Entrance is not permitted.