This post is about our family trip to Salalah, Oman on Jul’14.
Salalah is the capital of Dhofar Governorate that lies 1000 kilometers away from Muscat. It is a hidden treasure in the entire Gulf and Middle East region.
We visited Salalah on Khareef season i.e. last week of July. This is one of the best season to explore Salalah and its natural beauty.
Khareef is an Arabic word which means ‘autumn’ or in simple ‘monsoon’ season. Khareef season extends from the end of July until the beginning of September (before booking your tickets check the fall of Khareef season).
We divided our journey into two parts; the first was a road trip from Dubai to Muscat and the second was flight to Salalah from Muscat. There are daily flights between Muscat and Salalah, as well as other Arab Gulf states (Dubai, Muscat, and Sharjah). We ruled out road trip after reading through reviews and suggestion from different forums and opted out this economic and safe travel for a family trip.
We started our travel around 7.30 hrs in morning from Dubai. We took Dubai-Hatta highway (E66 to E44). The total distance from Dubai to Hatta is 120-130km and it took more than 1 hour to reach ‘UAE-Oman border’. There are clear sign boards along the route.
Once you enter Hatta, there is a check point (like port-cabin) where we have slowed down the car and got the vehicle pass (yellow slip). Sometimes the guards may check the boot and inside the car. After a 5 minutes’ drive from there we reached UAE immigration office where we proceeded directly to the check post and got the exit stamps on our passports. Sometimes they may ask you to visit the office to get the exit stamp, and it depends!! (Now the system is changed all must visit to Office and no more check point system)
We reached Oman Border at 9.00AM after driving for about 10kms straight and Oman Immigration center. Since it was a weekend there was not much crowd, we filled-in visa application form and sumbitted our original passport and car insurance (covered for Oman) for visa processing. The visa fee is 5 OMR i.e. 50 AED. It took maximum 10 mins to complete the visa formalities at Oman Immigration office.
There is a coffee shop, pizza shop and restroom available in the building. We do remember that there was a counter for car insurance from some local company.
(On our next visit to oman, it was heavily crowded at this Immigration office as we travelled on an holiday. It took 2.30 hours to obtain the visa. So if you travelling on holiday or weekend better to reach there by early morning in order to avoid such queue and save time).
After finishing the visa formalities, we entered Oman. The distance from Hatta-Oman border to Muscat Airport was 275km. It is a straight road crossing the towns like Shinas, Shohar, Shaham and Barka. There was no traffic till Muscat and I must highlight that the road was good. The speed limit till Muscat is around 100 kmph (just check the sign boards for clarity). We filled the fuel on the highway. Petrol price in Oman is cheaper than UAE and there are lot of fuel stations available on the way to Muscat. We reached Muscat airport at 11.30AM and parked our car at the airport, collected the parking card from the counter and proceeded for the check-in to Salalah by Oman Air (domestic flight).
The flight duration is 1.30 hours to Salalah.
Documents required to travel to Oman from UAE by road:
- Driving license
- Car registration card (Mulkiya) and Oman insurance
- Pen (very important)
While returning from Muscat, we took our car from airport and paid 3-4 OMR (40 AED) towards parking charge for 4 days.
We hired a private taxi from airport to hotel. Private taxi contacts are available in the hotel reception, so transport was hassle free.
Wadi Darbat or Dirbat
This Wadi is located on the western side of Salalah, 40-50 kms away from the airport. It took one hour drive from the city centre via Mirbat road. This is one of the most popular destinations for tourists and nature lovers. We hired a private taxi for our complete trip in salalah.
The best place to feel the real beauty of khareef season in salalah. The road took us to a small beautiful river amidst of dense bushes on its either side. The road on either side was covered with wonderful green meadows; it was indeed a treat to our eyes. Dense Fog and slight drizzle made the place look fresh and heavenly. We took a boat ride for 20 mins (5 OMR) and it was really worth doing. We just walked around for an hour, clicked pictures and admired the beauty. There is public restroom and few refreshment shops available.
Wear good grip shoes as the mud near the river are very soggy and slippery at times. It is safe to use insect repellent cream before stepping down as there are some creepy insects which bothers skin.
The best time to visit here is from end of July till Aug. It seems that there are few caves and waterfall of 100ft height but there is no good accessibility.
Ain Garziz, Dhofar:
It is a beautiful picnic spot which is about 20kms from Salalah. This park lies at the bottom of a mountain range. The thick mist and drizzle makes the place look serene. The nature shows itself at its best. We took a short road to reach little above to get complete view of the mountain. I could never imagine a better place in middle-east. The time that we spent here is all worth of our trip to Salalah. I would give super like for this place. Never miss to take this short road to see the beauty from this one level high.
It is half an hour travel from Salalah, on the way to Mirbat.
There is a small garden and water stream located here. Swimming is not allowed.
It is good place for picnic and worth to spend max of one hour. There were no shops available in this place.
Nabi Ayoub’s Tomb:
Drive from hotel to this place is wonderful. We could see a lot of fruit/vegetable shops on the way towards this place. This place is very quiet, no much crowd around the place and there is nothing much to see.
Ayn Athum (عين اثوم) – Waterfall:
Earth gravitational controversial point or Zero gravity / Anti-gravity point
This lies on the way to mirbat about 10kms off the road. There is nothing to see there except experiencing the anti-gravity i.e. your car will move upwards against the earth gravity while the gear is in neutral. We tried it several times, even in reverse, with car’s engine switched off and still it was moving upward. I did not understand how it is happening but it is still a surprise. We saw people placing the bottle on the ground, the bottle rolled uphill without any external force till certain point. We spent half an hour there.
It is one of the must see place in Salalah.
Marneef cave is located 50 kms away from Salalah on the eastern side and close to Mughsail beach. Road from Salalah to this cave is just parallel to the long beach which is scenic and awesome.
It is not actually a cave, more like a passage to the small mountain near the sea-shore. There is a steep staircase leading to the cave. Mountains on the right and sea in front the place offers a beautiful view. The main highlight of this place is “blow-hole”, sea water blows through these natural holes in between the rocks with roaring sound which is so unique and great experience. Kids really enjoy watching and standing near the showers. We can’t reach the sea water due to the fencing around this place and it is not recommended to swim due to high tides and rough sea in this region.
There were a small shops, visitor centre and rest room located at the parking area.
There was no big attraction other than this blowhole. There is no admission fee in any of these places.
Stay at Salalah Beach Resort:
The hotel is located in front of the beach which is so nice to play around in the evening. We stayed there for 3 days. We took a deluxe room and it was comfortable for a family of 3 members. Both room and bathroom were neat and clean. It is just a budget hotel so we can’t expect any luxury in the room. Room was provided with basic furniture. Beach was clean. There were not much people around the beach, so we had lot of privacy.
Hotel is secured and safe. Hotel staffs were friendly. Continental breakfast was complimentary.
Few drawbacks: The hotel is located far away from the city center so accessibility is difficult if we do not have personal car. Furnitures and TV kept in the room was average. Overall our stay was pleasant and comfortable. We spent 40 OMR for a day which is worth when compared to other hotels in Salalah. There are lot of other very good hotels available in Salalah.