Salalah

Salalah is the capital city of Oman's southern Dhofar region. It is often considered to be the second city of the Sultanate, although some of this designation is probably due to its distinction as Sultan Qaboos' birthplace.

Understand

Central Salalah

Salalah and Dhofar are historically famous for the frankincense trade. The region has tended to be rather independent over history, although this has changed since Qaboos' ascention to the throne. The Jibbali (Arabic: those of the mountains) tribes maintain a slightly distrustful stance to the government in Muscat, although this is more a stance of custom than anything else. Interestingly, the tribes speak a different language to the Arabic spoken throughout the Peninsula, although visitors are unlikely to encounter it.

The region is famous for its khareef (monsoon), and the Khareef Festival is an annual event here. Salalah is affectionately called by many nicknames including 'the Switzerland of Oman', 'the oasis', 'the perfume capital of Arabia' and 'the paradise of Arabia' because when all other Arabian countries are blazing hot, Salalah experiences the khareef season and cool drizzles.

Read

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 25.5 26.9 29.9 31.7 32.4 31.8 28.4 27.3 29.0 30.5 29.8 27.7
Nightly lows (°C) 17.9 19.2 21.0 23.4 25.6 26.5 24.2 23.1 23.4 21.6 20.4 18.8
Precipitation (mm) 2.2 7.0 6.3 19.8 17.1 10.6 24.6 24.5 4.1 4.1 9.6 1.1

Source:w:Salalah#Climate


Get in

By plane

Rotana Jet from Abu Dhabi Terminal 2 also operates to Salalah.

Beware, the taxi from the airport is 10 or 20 times the normal taxi rate.

By car

It is possible to drive from Muscat to Salalah. The trip takes roughly 12 hours (although there are numerous places worth a detour en route). There are various places en route to appreciate the wild beauty: Rusayl, Nizwa, Haima and Thumrait.

Watch out for renegade dunes on the way. When you get hungry, thirsty or tired, you should take the next opportunity to stop - there might not be another one for dozens of miles.

Driving to Salalah from Muscat can either be an amazing and memorable experience, or a very uncomfortable one depending on what kind of traveller you are. The first 5 hours are very scenic, as you pass Nizwa and other towns. However, it's barren desert and oil fields for most of the remainder of the trip. Travelling at night is usually better than driving in the heat of day (arriving in Salalah at night is a must - the city lights from the high-altitude entry point is gorgeous). There are several stops along the way for food, drinks, a cigarette break, or nature calls.

By bus

Bus transport to/from Muscat is also offered by Malatan Trading (As Salam St, tel. +968 23 211299) and Bin Qasim Transport (tel. +968 23 291786), both with identical fares.

By boat

There is at least one operator in Muscat that will charter you to Salalah.

Get around

It is possible to explore parts of Salalah on foot, as most places of interest are close to each other. During warmer times of year, though, walking may not be the best idea.

The usual unmetered Omani taxis operate here, with the average taxi fare for travel within the city 500 baiza.

If you hire a car, 2WD cars are adequate for most sights within Salalah itself. Outside of Salalah however many places of tourist interest lie off road, and SUVs are recommended particularly during the khareef season because of slippery terrain. Book your car well in advance if you plan to visit during this peak period, as rental agencies often run out of vehicles.

See

Al Baleed Archaeological Park
Corniche in Al Haffa

The old city is confined to the area called Al Haffa (Hafah), on the seafront.

Do

Dance performance during the Salalah Festival
Salalah beachfront
A khawr (khor) in Salalah

Diving

Talk

Most residents speak some English, but if you know a bit of Arabic and Malayalam then conversation will be much easier.

Buy

Frankincense
Haffa Souq

Frankincense is the souvenir purchase in Salalah, and only visitors who avoid shopping will not be offered some. Frankincense is available in several different grades differentiated by colour, the lightest considered to be the highest quality and the costliest. Hand-crafted incense burners made of local Dhofari clay are also good purchases. Myrrh is relatively easy to find as well, as are the myriad Omani perfumes on offer throughout the country. You can also buy a khanjar, the traditional Omani dagger.

Grocery stores

Eat

Roadside fruit stand

If you decide to visit places outside Salalah city (good advice for traveling anywhere in Oman), remember to carry some food packed for emergencies (fruits, fruit juices, sandwiches recommended) as there are few restaurants outside the city. Always carry several bottles of drinking water since you may not find any store on the highways. There is, however, a delightful ocean-side cafe on the way to Mughsayl and the tidal geyser there.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

The restaurant outlets at the Hilton Salalah, Marriott and Crowne Plaza offer high-end dining services. Both restaurants do a la carte as well as buffets.

Drink

There are many roadside stands selling fresh fruit juice and coconuts.

Alcohol is available at high end hotels like Good Hopes Restaurant in the airport and Oasis Club near the port. Liquor permits are only available to non-Muslim expatriates.

For a refreshing drink, stop at any of the many roadside vendors selling fresh coconut. They will lop the top off a green coconut for you for 2-300 baizas.

Sleep

During the annual khareef from July-September the population of Salalah balloons with visitors from elsewhere in Oman and the Persian Gulf, so if you plan to visit during this time it is essential to make reservations well in advance. During other times of year rooms are plentiful and rates are more reasonable.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Mobile coverage using Oman's providers is close to flawless, but roaming can sometimes be slow. There are several internet cafes around town, but speeds are inconsistent. Prices vary, but are usually cheap.

Stay safe

Salalah is a very safe place. However, the Salalah (Arab) way of driving might need some getting used to for non-Arabs.

Cope

Go next

Job's Tomb

North

East

Taqah is 35km away on Hwy 49, and Mirbat is an hour's drive.

West

To the west is Mughsayl with its famous blowholes, and some dramatic coastline (see Itineraries in Dhofar).

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 08, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.