Salalah – Dhofar : What to see and do

Salalah
16 Flares Twitter 2 Facebook 12 Google+ 1 StumbleUpon 1 LinkedIn 0 Pin It Share 0 Reddit 0 Filament.io 16 Flares ×

Dhofar, the southern province of Oman is isolated from the rest of the country by a thousand kilometers of rocky desert (1042 km from Muscat to be exact). It is truly a country within a country with its own microclimate, landscapes and cultural heritage. If you are curious to know more about the lost region of Dhofar, this post is for you!

 

The province is particularly famous for its annual monsoon (“Khareef” – summer months). While the whole Arabian Peninsula is suffering under scorching summer temperatures, Dhofar benefits from a tropical micro-climate which attracts thousands of visitors each year. If you have the chance to visit the area at the beginning of the monsoon season, you will witness its formidable transformation from dry desert land to tropical green oasis. Amazing nature!

1620824_255898844584405_573117407_n
What to do and see in Dhofar

  • Visit Salalah : Second largest city of Oman and birth town of Sultan Qaboos bin Said. It’s a great place to discover Dhofar own traditions and cultural heritage.
    • Museum of the Frankincense Land : Frankincense is an aromatic resin, symbol of Dhofar. It is one of the consecrated incenses and was traded on the Arabian Peninsula for more than 5000 years!
    • Al-Husn souq : Ideal place to feel the atmosphere of the old days in Dhofar. Buying some Frankincense is a wonderful (and traditional) gift idea.
    • Tropical fruit plantations (corninche) : Salalah with its unique microclimate is famous for its tropical fruit tree plantations (coconuts, bananas, papayas,..). Stroll along the corniche and stop by one of the many fruit-stands on the way.
  • Lost city of Ubar (“Atlantis of the sands”) : According to the legends, Ubar was a magnificent and extremely wealthy kingdom (“streets made of gold” kind of wealthy). Mentioned in the Quran, the kingdom was destined to be lost. Punished by God, the Frankincense capital of the ancient world got buried in sands… Fascinating!:)
  • Wadi Dawkah (Frankincense trees) : UNESCO heritage link
  • Tawi Atayr : Beautiful sinkhole! Do not miss : Not so far from Tawi Atayr lies an even bigger sinkhole called Taiq Sinkhole, the third world’s largest sinkhole.
  • Prophet Job’s tomb : Located on a hilltop near Salalah, it is a must-see when visiting Dhofar both for the spectacular drive/view and the cultural/religious importance of the site.
  • Ruins of Sumhuram : Archeological site featuring the ruins of Sumhuram, major trading city of the Frankincense road.
  • Khawr Rawri : Pristine creek near the ruins of Sumhuram. Paradise…

There are many other places to visit in Dhofar such as stepping into the Empty Quarter desert and its majestic sand dunes, blowholes, waterfalls,… I wish to have more time to explore more of this fabulous region and share it with you!

If you have been to Dhofar or are living there, I would love to hear about your tips and favorite places to share them with other travelers and to visit them myself someday. :)

(Credit for the beautiful pictures to Ekaterina Zheleznova. Thank you!)

Tips

Travel agency : Dhofar Discovery Tourism. They offer a 6 days tour for 520 OMR (tips from a reader)

If you have traveled with other agencies, I would love to get your feedback to share with other travelers.

To get there

  • By plane : Daily flights from Muscat. You can rent a car in Salalah.
  • By car : This is a very long drive (a thousand kilometers). Make sure to check with your car rental company that you have the “unlimited kilometers” option included. Refill your tank (gas, water) at every station you pass by! It can be a long way till you reach the next one (and they sometimes are empty).

Discover new places around the world for free!
Sign up and receive free updates directly to your mailbox. It is also a good way to support this blog.

7 comments

  • Pingback: Oman : what to see and do – Top 10 | Off to wanderland

  • Thanks for sharing your tips about Dhofar (Slalah).
    I’ve been there 9 times and still want to go there every year ! It’s a nice natural place to discover..there are many places to visit over there ! You already mentioned some of them.
    I just wanted to give some tips for travelers just to be careful !!
    First of all, I don’t recommend anyone to drive from Muscat to Salalah in the end of July till half of Aug because the road will be so busy and dangerous to drive due to many fatal accidents! ! My advise is to go there in the end of Aug because the road will be less busy.
    if anyone goes there in the season, everything gets expensive and it’s hard to find a free room ! I recommend a 4×4 drive if you want to enjoy ur trip and explore the area.
    I hope you all enjoy your trip and have fun. :)
    Thanks

    • Thank you so much Alblooshi for taking the time to write such an helpful comment! You are totally right about the drive being dangerous during the peak season and the hotels being crazy expensive. I would also add that it is a VERY VERY long drive. It can be fun but it will take a while to get there. You seem to know a lot Dhofar and I hope to explore more of this area. Do you have any tips on places I didn’t mentioned but still worth seeing? Cheers from Sweden!

  • Love this place! Hope one day I get to see it. For know, I got your post to transport me to this beautiful, exotic, culturally rich dream destination. Thanks.

  • Hi Myriam and Alblooshi,

    is it a better idea to come to Salalah region at the end of December/begin of January? I want to bring my own bicycle (and tent) to make a short trip through Dhofar mountains and beaches. How is the condition of vegetation/greenery in this time? All grassland and trees are toasted or not?
    Would you recommend a three day trip by car for hiking in the awesome dunes of the Empty Quarter? Are there existing some facilitated campgrounds (water) or should I bring all by myself? So many questions… in preparation of a 25 days Oman bicycle tour through Hajar Mountains/Arabian gulf beaches/Wadis/Desert.

    Very much thanks in advance

    Carsten

    • Hi Carsten,
      In December/January the region will not be green as the monsoon will be gone but on the upside you will get good prices for accommodation as it is the low season.
      I don’t know where you live and if you are familiar with Oman but bicycling by the road can be quite dangerous (they drive a little “crazy” :)) and the terrain can be very very rocky.
      Great place for hiking but for bicycling I don’t know. I don’t want to discourage you, just warn you but I guess you can still drop the bicycle and go on foot if it becomes too difficult :)
      I would definitely recommend you going to the Empty Quarter!!! :) But if you are alone and you want to go “in the desert”, do take a guide. You will need at least two cars in case one get stuck in the sand. The rest of the Dhofar province can be visited on your own.
      How will you get from the North to Dhofar?
      Don’t hesitate if you have any other questions 😉

      Cheers
      Myriam

  • Been there is sept last yr spent four days in crown plaza hotel n just didnt want to.come back..greenery was there n so were the mists….planning to go again next week wondering how much greenery to expect ??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *