In the heart of the Arabian Desert lies Salalah, the capital city of the Dhofar region and the second largest city in Oman, as well as being the biggest seaport in the Arab Peninsula. It is a colourful, subtropical paradise with coconut-fringed beaches, offering an authentic flavour of Zanzibar. The city is bordered by mountains with stunning waterfalls to the north, and to the south by the long beautiful coastline of white sand beaches.
The Omani people always provide a warm welcome to visitors. They are proud of their country and heritage and always strive to take care of its natural beauty and charming architecture. Traditional, conservative dress is the choice of locals and visitors should try to respect this and moderate their attire accordingly. It will be much appreciated by the residents.
With influences of Indian, Persian, North African and Mediterranean cuisine, flavoured with local spices, there are plenty of excellent restaurants to enjoy in the city, offering authentic Omani dishes or sample some of the delicious street foods. To complete your culinary experience, visit the friendly Coconut and Juice Cart located in Hawana Salalah. A real treat. Worth noting that alcohol can only be purchased in international hotels, so restaurants only offer soft drinks.
Depending on how long you are staying in Salalah, there is a wealth of places to visit and things to do, so you may need to pre-plan your time to ensure you take in everything on your wish list. There are some excellent tours of the city and surrounding areas which are well worth considering, an excellent way to gain first-hand knowledge from a local tour guide. Take in the Taqah Castle, built in the 19th Century and sympathetically restored, it gives an idea of daily lives at the time of its construction. Visit the Al Baleed Archaeological UNESCO World Heritage site, the remains of an ancient Middle East settlement. Close by is the Museum of Frankincense, pick up a few souvenirs and gifts before you go. Or for something completely different, pay a visit to the Hawana Aqua Park where the friendly staff will welcome you to this fun-filled spot.
Alternatively, you may like to hire a car and explore. At Wadi Darbat you can watch animals roaming freely in the wild or visit the natural pool at Jebel Ittin for a swim surrounded by nature. Both destinations are about a 30-minute drive from Salalah. Picnics and plenty of mosquito repellent are recommended.
Shopping is a holiday must for many and you will not be disappointed by what Salalah has to offer, from state of the art Shopping Malls to street markets like Haffa Souq, located close to the beach and next to the Sultan’s Palace, selling traditional clothing and souvenirs. Don’t forget to use your bargaining skills here.
The choices of how to spend your time in Salalah are endless. Take a trip on the crystal-clear waters of the Sea of Oman in a local wooden Omani boat. Or relax on the white sands of Al Mughsail Beach, surrounded by luscious green mountains and visit the nearby Marneef Cave where you can see the blowholes created by the waters entering sea caves. With a huge array of historical and architectural sights to take in, you may need to take time out to relax, watch the world go by and sample a Qahwa coffee which is traditionally accompanied by dates and halwa – a definite favourite with the local community.
Salalah enjoys a subtropical climate and is warm to hot all year round, reaching up to 33C.Temperatures drop to a very mild 26C with cooler evenings. Most rainfall is in July and August, during Monsoon season. These months are the most popular for visitors as the rainfall transforms surrounding areas into a luscious green oasis. The annual Salalah Tourism Festival is held during this time and is an incredibly popular event that attracts a large number of visitors wanting to experience this exciting event. Music, theatre and handcrafted art reflect the cultural life of its residents. The festival offers plenty for all the family.