The most important point to consider while traveling anywhere in the middle east is the weather. A couple of days here or there could be a game changer!
The husband and I traveled to Salalah over the Eid holidays in September. We had a brilliant time, but this could’ve been a lot better if we had made it just a couple of weeks earlier – in the Khareef season. It was so sunny that we were exhausted at the end of every day. Best time to visit: July to September.
We ran short of time and could not get our Visas before our travel date. But since we had traveled to Oman just a couple of months ago, we were quite confident we would get Visa on arrival. Check out details on Oman Visa here. We were told By Oman Air (I specify the airline as it important to know!) at Dubai airport that Visa and immigration formalities would be done at Salalah airport. But when we arrived at Muscat, we realized after wasting a lot of time that we had to obtain our visa and clear immigration right there. Every passenger was annoyed and tired, the super late night flights don’t really help! I wish the staff was a bit more organized and capable of handling passengers. They had quite a casual attitude and we had to run to board the flight!
Done with all the negatives, here are a few things I loved about Salalah:
We decided to stay at a quaint little villa owned by Roy, a Brit expat who has lived in the middle east for over a decade. His wife and toddler were a much-needed dose of family that made us feeling very warm and welcome. The villa was very close to the Hilton.
Roy gave us the real download on Salalah, places to visit, places to miss, must eats, must buys and so much more. He was a friend, without whom the trip could have ended up blah!
– Food options are quite minimal – ensure you eat & stock up when you can 😉
– The hotels seemed quite over-priced and were not recommended even by local friends as food is quite average for the hefty price paid.
– Salalah Gardens Mall was one of the most civilised places in the city, with a small food court
– There are quite a few good F&B options on 23rd July Street
– Do not miss out on Oasis club, especially if you are over a weekend. This place by Salalah port is frequented by expats who live there and also those who are traveling. They have some very good food, beverages, some fun games like pool. They of course screen football matches all around the year. The outdoor seating is highly recommended!
This is the place to be. Al Mughsayil is everything we were looking for – simple, private, beautiful, relaxing time. We happened to go 1 evening and decided we had to go back the next morning. Best time to visit is after 430 PM in the evenings and 6 AM in the morning. The landscape is breathtaking and the area is so peaceful that words and pictures can’t describe enough.
The Frankincense Museum
The Frankincense museum was a highlight of the trip. An amazing journey through the history of Oman and how the civilization came to be. After this, we opted for a buggy ride around the vast archaeological site that housed ancient ruins of the city, the mosque, houses, the palace, schools etc. Just during sunset, we went on a 30 minute water taxi ride around the whole area. Not the most romantic, given the noisy family of 6 whom we were stuck with. But the sights, the smells, the birds, the water still bring a smile on my face.
I picked up some souvenirs here because I wasn’t too sure where else I would find em.
The museum is located in the centre of the city and opens at 3 PM. You could easily spend 3 hours here, so ensure you plan well.
Don’t forget to enjoy Tender coconut water which is very close to the Museum.
We drove endlessly through the mountains and it was a peaceful drive. Not too much action, not too many vehicles. There were some spots with spectacular views. The tomb/ mosque of course had a lot of visitors and we kind of avoided it but went around anyway. I believe the mountains would be a lot more enjoyable during the Khareef season.
Anti-gravity point !
The last but not the least point, the Anti-gravity point. The freakiest, weirdest hour of my life. GPS directed us to the spot without an issue, and as we approached, we figured how famous this place has become – unlike stated in many online reviews. There were about 40 other cars trying to figure out exactly what we were trying to establish. I have no explanation but just a gut feel that is is just an optical illusion and that gravity remains unbeaten.
A few other tips:
– You can easily pick up a SIM card right after you collect your baggage. It is important to have access to GPS, as there are practically no road signs
– I highly recommend renting a car or getting one with a driver, depending on the agenda of your trip. There is no public transport at all, so God help you!
– Salalah airport. What a pain. When we were to depart after our trip, we entered Salalah airport on GPS and off we went! When the arrived at the destination, we realized we are at the old airport that was vacated over a year ago. The new airport is right behind the old one, but it takes over 25 minutes to reach. Again, we almost missed our flight, but I’m glad we had web checked in, so we could kind of get away.
Like every other place, I wish I could have stayed just another day to explore Salalah. But hey, hugsband says we can always go back (In Khareef season of course!)