guide salalah oman

Salalah Tourism: a Comprehensive Guide for Foreign Visitors

The second largest city in Oman, Salalah is a unique location, different from what tourists are used to in the Sultanate and the whole Arabian Peninsula. It’s truly an unmissable Omani destination.

Salalah is famous for its natural beauty made of lush vegetation, waterfalls, and stunning beaches, but also for its architectural attractions. On top of that, the renowned Khareef festival attracts tourists from all over the world, so there is always something to do and see in town.

On this page, international visitors will find practical information for a trip to Salalah, including:

  • How to get there
  • The ideal time to visit Salalah
  • Making the best of your visit with Salalah’s top attractions.

How Do You Get to Salalah, Oman?

Salalah is located in Southern Oman and more precisely, it’s the capital of the province of Dhofar. About 200,000 people live here and the city is growing rapidly.

Salalah International Airport is Oman’s second largest airport and can be found about 6km northeast of Salalah’s city center. The airport mainly serves routes to regional destinations and a number of intercontinental flights to India and Europe. International flights increase during the peak tourist season (from June to August).

Although it’s possible to fly directly to Salalah, most tourists from other continents take a connection flight from the capital Muscat or other major cities in the Persian Gulf like Doha and Dubai.

Other transportation options include:

  • Daily bus services from Muscat and Dubai (many bus operators available)
  • Cruise and yacht arrivals, as Port Raysut in Salalah is the second largest port in the Middle East.

Documents needed for Salalah

The vast majority of foreign citizens require a valid visa in order to visit Oman and, therefore Salalah. Citizens of GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) are exempt.

Fortunately, eligible travelers can apply for an Omani visa in a few minutes through a simple and fast online form. Visiting an embassy or consulate in person or hiring a travel agency to sort the papers out is not necessary.

Foreigners visiting Salalah should keep a copy of their valid visa and their passport with them as they travel.

Which Is the Best Time to Visit Salalah?

Salalah is pleasant and has something to offer all year round so it’s a stress-free destination for those who don’t have flexible holidays. There are 2 main seasons to experience in this area, which are radically different one from the other.

When is the monsoon season in Salalah?

The Khareef (or monsoon) season runs from June to August. Although the word monsoon may remind some of extreme weather, this is not the case in Salalah. Rather than rainstorms, picture gentle drizzles that cool the air.

During the monsoon season, Salalah turns into an oasis and the whole area, including the nearby mountains, turns green. This is the best time for trekking and exploring the natural attractions that Salalah has to offer.

It’s also the time of the Khareef festival, the biggest yearly celebration in the province. For this reason, monsoon time is considered peak season in Salalah. Tourists are numerous and prices can be higher. It’s important to book in advance.

Is December a good time to visit Salalah?

Those who don’t enjoy crowds and the rain, however, should not take Salalah off their bucket list. In fact, from September to February, temperatures in Salalah are at their most pleasant (around 75.2°F or 24°C) and prices at their lowest.

This is also the ideal season for wildlife sightseeing in Salalah and exploring the desert area.

What Is Salalah Known for?

There are plenty of reasons to visit Salalah, which has something to offer to lovers of nature, culture, and beach days alike.

Nature at its finest: the Khareef festival

Those who wondered what the magic of an oasis looks like should come to Salalah during the Khareef festival. Monsoon winds only touch this province and go on to develop their full force in more southern regions. However, the landscape is transformed dramatically.

The desert territory suddenly becomes a place of green vegetation and meadows. But only in a strip of land of about 100km around Salalah. It’s truly a unique spectacle.

This is the only time of the year to enjoy the waterfalls, blowholes, and temporary lakes forming in the area.

Salalah’s idyllic beaches

The Salalah’s region is blessed with beautiful beaches of white sand and crystal-clear water. Famous examples are Mughsail beach and Mirbat beach. In many cases, the beach is located near picturesque fishing villages.

Foreigners should keep in mind that Oman is a relatively conservative country by Western standards. This means that modest attire is advisable and revealing beachwear like bikinis is not recommended.

Salalah’s architecture: the Sultan Qaboos Mosque

Salalah is famous for many reasons, including being the birthplace of Qaboos bin Said, the current Sultan of Oman.

As a gift of His Majesty to his hometown, the biggest mosque in Salalah was completed in 2009 and is located in the city center. It attracts thousands of worshippers each day and its landscaped outdoor area is a perfect spot for peaceful contemplation.

Inside, visitors will be able to admire a crystal chandelier hanging from a masterfully- carved 36-meter (118-foot) dome and a 20-ton hand woven carpet with 115 million individual knots.

Opening times for non-Muslims are: Saturday to Thursday from 8 am to 11 am. Shoulders, knees and, for women, hair, should be kept covered.

The magic atmosphere of Al Baleed’s ruins at night

The Al Baleed Archaeological Park is a well-maintained site to learn about the local culture and society in the 12th century, when Al Baleed was part of the trading port of Zafar.

From here frankincense (a product of the resin of the Boswellia tree, still produced in the area) was shipped to India in exchange for spices.

The park includes miles of pleasantly-landscaped paths and a museum that tracks the history of the area back to the settlements of 2000 BC. An informative tour on electric vehicles is run every morning and lasts 20 minutes. However, looking at the ruins at sunset makes for a magical experience.

Opening times: Sunday to Thursday 9 am to 9 pm; Friday and Saturday from 3 pm.