Something For the Weekend in Salalah
Why It's Hip: If you’re sick of sand, sand and more sand, ditch the desert and instead opt for a tropical break in Oman’s second largest city, Salalah. Just a two-hour flight from Dubai, it’s one of the only Middle Eastern destinations to experience a monsoon season. If you fancy an opportunity to don your Burberry wellies and flap up your Cath Kidston brolly, book your tickets between June and September, when rainy season is in full flow. For warm weather tourists, pretty much any other time of the year is perfect for a weekend away.
Spend The Day: Salalah is not your usual hustly bustly city. Rather, it maintains a small town feel – perfect for those wanting to escape the craziness of urban living. That said, it’s no snooze-fest either, so leave your ebook at home. History buffs are in luck as well because, with a civilisation dating back 12,000 years, Salalah is full of ancient forts, castles and archeological sites. In particular, the Al-Baleed Archaeological Park (omantourism.gov.om) is well worth a look. Not only is it an impressive excavation site, it also has a vast botanical garden – perfect for a spot of alfresco dining. From here, a 30-minute drive brings you to one of Oman’s oldest and most holy sites, the tomb of the Prophet Job. If your brain is threatening to burst under all this cultural pressure, lighten things up with a shopping marathon. Well-known market Al Hafah Souq is brimming with pocket-sized shops, which sell everything from handcrafted furniture to silver and gold goodies. After, get yourself over to budget-friendly bistro, Al-Fareed Tourist Restaurant. This charming eatery, located on July Street, has become renowned throughout Salalah for its Thursday Arabic buffet, which includes everything from shawarmas to shish taouk. But if Arabic fare’s not your thing, book a table at Haffa House restaurant (+968 23 295 444). Located just one kilometre from the airport, this eatery has an international menu that serves everything from sushi to steak and chips. (NB: Public transport is non-existent in Salalah so if you don’t fancy hotfooting all over the city in your flip flops, you can flag a private local taxi. Alternatively, you can hire a runaround for as little as Dhs115 a day from Europcar.com.)
And The Night: Have an LBD handy because you can dance the night away at Al-Luban Nightclub in the Crowne Plaza. Local live bands and DJs play seven nights a week, but if that doesn’t excite you, what about two-for-one on cocktails? We thought that might get your attention. On Friday nights, from 6pm until 8pm, you can get your fill of mojitos for half price (practically).
Bed Down: Book into The Hilton Salalah Resort and opt for a gorgeous garden room. A 20-minute drive from the city centre, the resort is positioned in a wide bay and encircled by spectacular mountains. Prices start from Dhs1,520 a night, inclusive of tax. Call +968 23 211 234 for more info.
Getting There: Fly direct from Dubai or via Muscat from Abu Dhabi with Oman Air (omanair.com) from Dhs1,500 return.
Hip Tip! When you hit the markets, slash the proposed price by your vendor by 95 per cent and go from there.