Best place to visit in Salalah
Salalah is the second largest city in the Sultanate of Oman, and the largest city in the Dhofar Province. Salalah is the capital city of southern Oman’s Dhofar province.
Salalah is even more famous for its ancient frankincense trade, with the UNESCO including several ancient settlements (Al Balid, Sumharam, Shisr and Wadi Dawkah) in Dhofar in its World Heritage List, appropriately naming it the “Land of Frankincense”. Thousands of years later, and Salalah is still well known for the quality and quantity of frankincense it produces.
Tomb of Nabi Umran (PBUH)
Footprints of Prophet Saleh’s Camel
The Frankincense Trail
The frankincense trail is located at Wadi Dawkah, Dhofar on the Incense Road. The site includes frankincense trees, Archeological sites, oasis and many trees. It is an interesting drive. The Frankincense Trail has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For nearly 5,000 years a rather unsightly Boswellia tree, which produces a heavenly fragrance was considered to be Arabia’s most precious commodity. During the height of its popularity the Boswellia – better known as the frankincense tree - rivalled gold, silk and gems in value and spawned a vital trade route that for centuries extended from Southern Arabia into West Africa and India.
The frankincense trees of Wadi Dawkah and the remains of the caravan oasis of Shisr/Wubar and the affiliated ports of Khor Rori and Al-Baleed vividly illustrate the trade in frankincense that flourished in this region for many centuries, as one of the most important trading activities of the ancient and medieval world.
Lost City of Ubar
A day out at Marneef Cave, Al Mughsayl Blowholes and Mughsayl Beach is an ultimate picnic experience. Al Mughsail Beach, south of Salalah city, is framed by picturesque sea-cliffs. You can see the marks of the sea’s constant labour at the shore in caves it has scooped out of the rock.
One of the main attractions here is the Blowhole. Through an underground channel, seawater rushes in at high pressure and jets out in a geyser - like spout on the cliff. Matching with the force of the waves, the spouts can rise several metres high.
The blowholes are eroded limestone formations that shoot water about 10 meters from the ground can be due to wave refraction. The blowhole is the cynosure of the beach, and during kharif, tourists from all over the Gulf flock here to enjoy the benefits of Salalah’s unique climate.
One of the few forts/castles in Dhofar, the castle was built in the 19th century as a residence for a local tribal leader. There is a lot of information about the various rooms and exhibits in the castle. A watchtower located on a hill behind the castle is part of the complex but was built at a much later date, and is not open for visitors. Taqah Castle is in Taqah and the entrance fee is OMR 0.500bz per person.
Souq Al Haffa
On the beachfront near the Sultan’s Palace is the bustling Souk Al Haffa, filled with quaint shops pleasantly arranged making it ideal for a late afternoon meander, famous for its variety of Frankincense and local perfumes of bukhoor, attar and some of the rarest high end products.
This is the traditional market and main market in Salalah and the place for buying traditional Omani items from clothing, Souvenirs, Scarf, Fragrances to gold and silver handicrafts and of course a wide variety of frankincense! If you are here during the Salalah Tourism Festival you may also see a traditional Dhofari dancing performance.
Sip Fresh Coconut Drink at Fruit Huts
Fruit Huts in Salalah are famous for the fresh fruits particularly coconut. Having coconut drink at tropical style fruit huts (stalls) is a refreshing activity, recommended for all.
Tomb of Nabi Ayoub [PBUH]
Sumhuram Old City
Just east of modern Salalah are the ruins of Samharam where – legend has it – the Queen of Sheba once reigned. Queen of Sheba’s Palace is a ruined palace at the archaeological site of Khor Rori (ruins of the ancient city of Sumharam), It was first excavated in 1952 by American archaeologist Wendell Phillips.
An impressive ruins of the ancient port city of Sumhuram, which dates back to the 1st century AD. The city was an important frankincense-trading hub in ancient times due to its strategic location. Today, it is an impressive archaeological site with a beautiful location on a hill, overlooking Khor Ruri and the sea.
There are extensive stonewalls as well as a temple, residential area, storehouses and gateway to the harbour. A number of finds from the site, including cooking pots, jars and jewellery, are on display in the Museum of the Frankincense Land at Al-Baleed.
Entrance to the city is via the remains of a small gateway, inside of which you will find two beautifully preserved inscriptions commemorating the foundation of the city, carved in the ancient South Arabic (or “Old Yemeni”) musnad alphabet.
The city’s most impressive surviving structure is the Temple of Sin (the Mesopotamian moon god), built up against the northwest city wall – look out for the finely carved limestone basin in the ritual ablution room within.
Visitors to the site can find Bronze Age fortifications from the small-fortified town as well as a local palace ascribed to the Queen of Sheba. Inscriptions at an entrance gate confirm the name of the town as Sumhuram. Today, Sumhuram is one of four sites listed on UNECSO’s Land of the Frankincense World Heritage site.
The site is a couple of kilometres from Taqah, which itself is about 40 kms from Salalah. A visitor fee of OMR 2/- per passenger car gains you access to the ruins of the fortified city, entrance to the museum and a chance to go close to Khour Rori where seawater mixes with sweet water from Wadi Dirbat at high tide.
Al Baleed Archaeological Site
This is the location of the ruins of Al Baleed, an ancient city known as a frankincense-trading hub and visited by both Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta. The area has been developed with footpaths to the ruins and information throughout, making it a very pleasant and educational trip for all family members. A khor (“ خور ” a ravine in Arabic) also passes through the area adding to the charm.
Entrance fee is OMR 2/- per passenger car; this also includes the entrance fee to the Frankincense Museum, which is located on the park complex. The museum displays various artefacts discovered in Al Baleed and Sumharam ruins, as well as a whole section covering Omani maritime history including beautiful models of Omani ships past and present - highly recommend it for anyone visiting Salalah!
Wadi Darbat is a natural park with majestic views of waterfalls, lakes, mountains, caves, wildlife and lush green vegetation. There is a -100meter waterfall and many cave chambers with old stalactites and stalagmites. The shepherds used the caves as shelter and one can see coloured paintings of animals on the cave walls. At the end of the Wadi, there is a cave, which is considered to be the largest natural cave in Oman. There are lots of stalls in the wadi selling fresh fruits and mosquito repellent (which is a must!), and you can also get a boat to paddle in the lake!
Boat Ride at Wadi Darbat
The spring is at the end of the road leading to the Valley. This is the biggest spring in Salalah, in Khareef; the spring is surrounded by green mountains and cloudy weather, which makes boat ride irresistible. Various types of boats are available (only in Khareef season) to choose from. One is powerboat, which has a capacity of more than 2 people and its driven by the motor. This will cost approximately OMR 5/- for a round of the lake. Paddleboats are available for ride of 2 persons. This will cost OMR 3 for a ride of 30 minutes. Wear Joggers for paddleboat, as it will be very comfortable and make paddling easy. You must wear safety vest during the ride, which is provided by the boating company.
Nestled at the endpoint of two streams, the Teiq Sinkhole is the third largest sinkhole in the world. The surrounding walls of the sinkhole are extremely steep and hold a volume of approximately 90 million m³.
Salalah Anti Gravity Point
See your car going up the hill at Neutral gear (without any acceleration) at Salalah Anti Gravity Point. This is a really amazing experience. The car can move at a speed of more than 40 to 60 kilometers per hour without any acceleration.