Travelling by Road from UAE to Salalah

    1. Seven Degrees Southward:
    The Journey from Al Ain to Salalah

How far is it?

From Al Ain it is 1085kms, so from Dubai/AD, approx 1200kms, maybe a little more.

According to google maps, it will take 10.5 hours to drive with no stops and not counting border crossing formalities, should you take the inland route.

Details in my blogpost – The Road and The Miles To Salalah

Also, here’s the trip report from our first onroad journey to Salalah 

Which border should I take?

I recommend the Al Ain Mezyad/Hafeet Border.  Using the Khatim Al Shikla border will add extra kms to an already very long journey.

Details of land borders, including gps co-ordinates in blogpost – UAE – Oman Border Crossings : The Lowdown

Will I get a Visa on Arrival?

GCC residents with approved professions (and their dependants) as well as nationals from Oman’s List 1 can still receive a VOA.

GCC Foreign Resident Visa information

Is there any benefit in applying for an e-visa?

There is certainly no harm in doing it as it saves paying at the border – I feel sure at some time in the future it will become compulsory.

Applying for an Oman e-visa

Do shops in Oman accept AED?

You will find that many places accept both OMR and AED.  The exchange rate is 9.54 AED to 1 OMR; most businesses will give you 10 AED to 1 OMR which is not the best exchange rate.

Will I get phone signal or data when travelling?

Yes! Good signal on all the main routes south.

I recommend you purchase a Hayyak simcard from anyOmantel office, which will cost you 2 OMR.  Top it up a bit more and activate data for 24 hours with the code #141*24#, 1 week with the code #141*7#.  1gb costs 1 OMR or 3 OMR respectively.

How are the roads?

Oman has invested a lot of money to improve its road system and they are much better than they used to be.

You will find dual carriageway (highway) from Al Ain to Adam, thereafter the road becomes two way, unlit.

As with most roads, it is normally the drivers who present the main danger.  People driving long distances without taking enough breaks  and falling asleep – the sides of the roads are sometimes littered with burn out car wrecks.  To combat tiredness I recommend a 15 minute break every two hours, or better still, have two drivers in the car and swap regularly.

There are sadly many accidents on the inland road #31, often trucks and buses seem to be involved.

After a sandstorm in the area south of Ghaftain, you may find small dunes over the road – trust me, it will not be a good thing if you hit them at speed, so be vigilant.

As I said above, the road is mostly unlit and two-way, and this takes some getting used to if you have driven exclusively in the UAE for a period of time. If you have to make the journey in one go, then I would leave the UAE about 1am (the border should be quiet then too) so that all the driving in the dark will be on dual carriageways.

 

Is that the only road?

No, there is an amazing coastal route from Muscat to Salalah – it takes a bit longer but there are more places to stop and it will be cooler at the coast.

Route details inc co-ordinates on my Seaside Saunter To Salalah blogpost (article originally printed in OutdoorUAE)

Do I need a 4×4?

No need – unless you plan doing some offroad when you get there.  2wd cars are often lower and more stable than high 4x4s so do not feel disadvantaged in a low car.

Whatever you drive, ensure it it well maintained – maybe even get it serviced just before you go.  At one point you will be about 300kms from the nearest repair shop so it makes sense that your car, including your tyres and spare wheel, are in tip top condition.

Photo taken at Hasiq waterfalls – water will be cascading over these during the Khareef.  4x4s shown as that is all we have got!  Extra petrol cans on top as we were heading to Ramlat Jadilah, 400kms into the Rub Al Khali from Salalah!

Do I need to carry extra petrol?

Most definitely not!

There are plenty of petrol stations on the inland route – details on The Road and Miles to Salalah link above.  That being said, very occasionally at peak times some petrol stations may run out of fuel, so I suggest you refill every time your petrol tank is 1/2 full.

There are enough petrol stations on the coastal route too, but be aware that not all accept credit cards.  Ensure you have enough cash to pay for a couple of tanks of petrol!

The photo above was taken before one of our Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) forays, when taking extra petrol is a must!

Can we split the journey by staying overnight somewhere?

Yes great idea!  There are some resthouses on road 31 as well as a couple of small hotels in Haima.  The resthouses can be somewhat basic though.

If you opt for the coastal route there is a Crowne Plaza as well as a Park Inn at Duqm.  There is also a smaller local hotel called the City Hotel, as well as others in Mahoot.

If you opt for the inland route you could consider staying at Nizwa as there are good hotels there and 7-8 hours driving with breaks should see you in Salalah

I am travelling there in August – at which point in the journey will it start to feel cool?

Would you believe – not until Thumrait, 60kms from Salalah!  The other 900kms are hot hot hot desert temperatures, which means you cannot camp mid-way in the summer or even stop, apart from at rest areas (there are very few trees and little or no shade for most of southern part of the route).

What is there to do when we get to Salalah?

Lots and lots!  Soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the cool temperatures and rain!  People watch!  Once you have done that you might want to explore a little; here are some routes I have done.  Please note that there may be some road closures in remote areas after the cyclone last month.

Salalah Route One – Taqah

Salalah Route Two – Wadi Dirbat

Salalah Route Three – Ayn Gariz and Wadi Ayun

Salalah Route Four – The perfect square circle (my favourite, did it again in 2017!)

Salalah – New Road from Hasik to Shwaymia (well worth going to see the waterfall at Hasik

Can I swim in the sea at Salalah?

In the Khareef (June-September) – definitely not, the tail end of the Indian Monsoon reaches southern Oman and the sea is very rough and tides extremely strong.

At other times of the year – most definitely.  You might see turtles and dolphins as well as many different varieties of fish.

Where can I camp in  Salalah?

During the Khareef in particular, keep out of wadis and away from the sea for your safety.  There are many places to camp but be aware that once you go out of Salalah, at a certain level you will have fog all the day and night – personally I would avoid that as I wouldn’t travel such a long distance for a view of the inside of a cloud!

Keep away from military, fenced and cultivated areas.

The photo above was taken when we camped up a track behind the petrol station on Mugsayl.

From October to April I like to camp at Fisherman’s beach – you need a 4×4, not an AWD to reach it though.

 

Is Salalah a big city?

It is a medium sized city with a souq, a mall, Lulu, restaurants, car washes, sanaiya etc.  You might not be able to buy everything you want there but you should be able to get what you need.

To me, it is like Al Ain by the sea – a spread out city, linked by dual carriageways lined with palm trees and punctuated by roundabouts.

We weren’t the first Scots to discover the Oasis!

Where can you eat in Salalah?

All cuisines are catered for by a huge array of eateries – from small cafes to five star hotels and everything in between.  My tip is the Oasis Club, accessed via the port (you think you can’t go in as it is guarded by the army but it is ok to do so).   Pub style food, very reasonably priced with a good selection of grape and hop.  Tell the manager Mr Sudheer that the Diva sent ya!

Is it worth going to Salalah?

Absolutely!  We recommend every expat go at least twice (we have been five times and the urge to return is still there).  Once in the summer to experience rain and greenery so close to the desert!  The atmosphere is very upbeat and it is a joy to mix with so many other nationalities as we all enjoy a respite from the summer heat of the rest of the gulf!

One downside to all the rain is that anything above 200 metres will be shrouded in fog for most of the day and night so it does hinder exploring somewhat.  So, we always recommend a winter visit to enjoy a completely different, shyer side to Salalah.  Perfect weather (never goes below 20C), cheaper hotels (low season is Nov-Feb) and fantastic vistas which are hidden by the fog in the summer!  Check out my blogpost High in Salalah and you will see what I mean!

What do they do with all those bananas they grow in Salalah?

There are some things the Desert Diva does not have an answer for…and this is one of them!

  1. Great blog as always!
    Do you have one on how to get to Rub al Kali and back (safely!) without entering Saudi etc.

    • Marina Bruce says:

      No sorry I don’t. You really need at least two cars to go there. The army will likely intercept you and you could be stopped and searched (we were stopped but by the grace of being a lady, they didn’t search our cars and let us proceed as soon as I showed them our 2 gps and described my route in details)

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Thank you, happy to help! Please feel free to share :)!

  2. Philip says:

    While we cross the border will it need to take insurance for car

  3. First time visitor to Oman says:

    I am hoping to visit Muscat for a day trip from Dubai with my wife and two todlers. Do not want to take a flight or public transport. Are there reliable and reasonably priced private hire option? If so roughly how much will it cost? Thanks for your blog post made me think about making a separate trip for longer period.

    • Neil Bruce says:

      Hello and thank you for stopping by my blog. I wouldn’t suggest a day trip – return journey time by road is 9 hours plus border crossing time – and the fastest road is just a highway, nothing special to see. If you want to say you have been to Oman then suggest you take a taxi to the Al Ain border, arrange with a guide to meet you at the Oman post (1.2km walk away) and then take you to see Omani villages, jebel akhdar and similar – I can recommend an Omani guide if you would like this option- just let me know.

  4. Hi,

    My UAE residence/work visa is less than 3 months old. But my passport validity is more than 6 months. Will i get visa on arrival if i want to travel to Salalah?

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hi Rehan
      It is unlikely you will get a gcc foreign resident visa as you now need 6 months vslidity on residency. If your nationality is on the list number one you can get a 10 day tourist visa for the same price. Have a lovely time.

      • Hi Marina,

        Appreciate your quick response. Can i get the list of nationalities? I am an Indian National and my Visa profession is Information System Consultant. Does my nationality come under the list your are mentioning?

        • Marina Bruce says:

          Hi
          Please read the applying for an oman evisa and gcc foreign resident visa blogs linked to on this post – all the info you need is there. Good luck have a great time!

  5. I go through your blogs, these are great. Much appreciated…
    We are planning to visit Salalah, i see a news in March 2018 that e-visa will be required to enter in Oman. Could you please confirm if Visa on Arrival is still available for GCC residents. 2nd thing is Emirates ID is required at border or only visa on passport is enough (as my visa is just renewed, Emirates ID application approved but card may not received till trip start day).
    Thanks in anticipation….

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hi Usman

      Visa on arrival still possible but I would recommend you get the evisa in advance as if everyone does that it will save time. No need for EID, passport is all you need. Have a great time.

  6. Jisham Abdul says:

    Hi well appreciated for your blog..
    now please help me.. am planning to go salalah with my wife by tomorrow from abudhabi.. its quite 1300 km long drive. Just to know if it is safe to go alone in salalah.. i mean if anything happens to my car and all.. also iam with my wofe , so is that oman a secured place like uae?
    Please help me!

    Also i am planning to spend one day in salalah.. coz i have to return on the 3rd day and i have to join for my work by 4th day

    How do u recomend?

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hi
      Yes its safe to go but is it really worth it for a day? You could be hours at the border each way. I would recommend going to jebel akhdar – lovely and cool and only a 6 hour round trip for the border!

      Safe journey!

  7. Hi. Nice blog. We are planning to go Oman this Tuesday. We planned to stay overnight in Muscat then 2 nights in Salalah. From salalah to dubai, which road is good to take? Or do u recommend stopping in a hotel?

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hello April – since time is tight I would miss out Muscat and head there and back on road 31. Accommodation options listed on the blogpost. Safe journey!

  8. Hello
    thanks for the great blog, really good job and caring to share the details.
    may i ask your recommendation for villages or places to visit that i can spend a 3 days road trip through the rout to salalah from Mezyad border?

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hi – nothing much to see south of Adam on inland route (i have a good contact for guide there) – coast road is k7ch longer but so much more to see! Google ‘seaside saunter to salalah’ to find my article/blogpost. Have a great time!

  9. Nurul Bostanudin says:

    Hello there..! Informative and great blog..! Keep on writing 😁😁
    Btw, i’m seeking your recommendations where to go and which route to take as we are planning entering Oman from UAE (GCC residents visa holders) after Xmas via Mezyad border, spending 2 nights the most in Oman. Then, entering back UAE on New Year’s eve, not sure via Mezyad or Hatta yet, which one is the better options? We are planning to spend our new year in Dubai. Thanks in advance

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hi Nurul. Glad you like my blog. Where to go? What do you want to see? Which car do you have? Regards, Marina

  10. Vivek Mohanan says:

    Hi Marina Bruce, We are staying at Sharjah. We would like to Visit Salalah during the upcoming holidays June 3,4,5 are the dates we plan to travel. Which route I should take from Sharjah? Also please recommend the places to visit in Salalah for short duration trips. Also please recommend the best and economical place to stay in Salalah with family if you dont mind.

  11. Hi, thank you for the blog. This one has some great information. We live in Dubai and plan to leave for salalah tomorrow night and just got to know that we need to apply for an evisa… I tried calling the embassy and other places to get some insight and information but I can’t get anyone on the phone so trying to seek help here. Do you have any information on the updated visa procedures? And is there no visa on arrival concept for people living in the UAE anymore? If anybody can please help…

    • shafee says:

      HI Ida,
      Hope you had wonderful trip. Can we get on arrival visa still in border, please clarify.
      shafee
      0501116742

  12. Balaji says:

    Hi
    Thank you for a wonderful post… How safe is it to drive from Dubai to Salalah? We are planing to travel with my wife and kid 8 yrs in August 2019. Kindly suggest

    • Neil Bruce says:

      Helo Balaji – it is perfectly safe to drive so long as you are mindful of the need to rest and take breaks, ensure your car is in good condition etc. Make sure your kids have some entertainment as it is a long drive with little to look at for about half of the way! Have a great trip!

  13. Dominic says:

    Hi,
    Sounds funny, but I read this somewhere that if your car is under an auto loan, you will not be premitted to cross the border into Oman. Would you know anything about this?

    • Marina Bruce says:

      I do! Technically you should have an NOC from your bank, however some banks ask you to temporarily clear your loan before they issue one. That being said, a great many people cross the border with outstanding car loans and they are not stopped. I am told that Hatta don’t ask, but that was a few weeks ago so…. If you fail at one border post you can always try another! It is the UAE who will stop you taking your car out of the country, Oman will let you in no problem.
      If ever you buy another car and need to borrow money to do so, I recommend you take out a personal loan, as although a little bit more expensive it has two benefits. Firstly, you won’t have this problem at the border. Secondly, if you need to sell your car quickly it is much easier to do if there is no loan outstanding.
      Wishing you a great trip!

  14. Rithesh says:

    Hi Marina Bruce
    This is very nice and informative post. Need your suggestion here please.

    We are planning trip to salalah this August during Eid holidays from Abu Dhabi in CX9.

    I am driving alone with 2 kids and my wife and plan to break in Haima.

    Kindly advise if it is safe to drive alone to Salalah alone since there is no dual carriage way for longer distance. My wife is concerned about the road and me driving alone reading different blogs. Thanks

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hi Rithesh
      There is no escaping the fact that Salalah is a long way away and that Eid is peak time. It’s best if you have a second driver but can still be done on your own. Please, stop every 2 hours for a 15 minute break – although it will make the journey time longer you will be less tired, and therefore a safer driver. It’s not a busy road, and there are lots of straights where you can pass trucks. It’s now dualled almost all the way to Al Ghaba and I believe they are extending the dual carriageway from the south too, so its a lot easier a drive than it was back in 2012 when we first went there.

      There are other places to go in Oman,like Jebel Akhdar, which is possible in your 4WD CX9. It’s really cool at night at the top of the mountain and its only 3 hours from Al Ain. You could also consider Masairah Island, which gets the winds, but not the rain of the Khareef, and its apparently cool enough to camp.

      Good luck wherever you decide, stay safe!

      best regards, marina

  15. Suganth says:

    Hi Marina

    We are planning a road trip to Salalah from Dubai on 8th of August 2019 around 10 PM, so that we could avoid queues at the border and reach salalah in day light.
    Would you recommend a night drive? We are a family of five and three of us can drive.

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hello Suganth
      this question is actually covered under “how are the roads” section. I don’t recommend travelling in the dark on 2-way roads without streetlights – but if you cross the border at 0100hours it should be daylight after you run out of dual carriageway!

      safe journey

  16. Hi,
    if we want to reach in Salalah by 3pm, when we should start from dubai with a 4×4.
    which is the best time to start this drive from Dubai ?

    thanks & regards

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hello Saj
      It’s hard to say as nobody knows how busy the border would be. I’d suggest leaving Dubai at midnight, cross at Al Ain mezyad/hafeet. That way you won’t be on any two way roads in the hours of darkness. Rotate drivers if you can. Take frequent rest breaks.

      Safe journey and have a great time!

  17. Hafiza says:

    Hi,

    We planning to go to Salalah from Dubai via muscat by car.
    We can take our car ?? Insurance cost & stuff please advice.

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hello Hafiza

      Yes youcan take your car. If you have outstanding finance on it you should get an NOC from your lender.

      Does your car insurance cover Oman as standard? Worth checking – RSA, AXA and some others do. Otherwise you can buy third party at the Oman border which will cost you around 100aed.

      Safe journey!

  18. ANSHUL KASHYAP says:

    Hi I am planning to go to Salalah this Friday i.e. 9th August 2019 during Eid break. Appreciate if you can please help and share your inputs on:
    1. Being a Friday, Insurance office will be open if I defer buying the orange card from border itself. Reason being within Abu Dhabi orange card is costing AED 250, whereas at border I read everywhere it will be approx AED 100.

    2. Just read about NOC from lender if card is under loan. Read this here…is that a mandatory stuff?

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hello Anshul

      Orange card at oman border is third party only. Insurance compamy at border open 24/7.

      You shoukd get an NOC from your lender but many people don’t and are still allowed to take their car to Oman.

      Safe trip!

  19. Mohamed says:

    Hi

    We planned to travel Salalah from Dubai by road with friends for this EID holidays (5days). Hence, we all applied Visa and received it too. But my UAE residence Visa will expire in 15th of November 2019 which means hardly 96days is the validity. Just want to know whether they will allow me to travel Salalah or not? Please advise

  20. Hi Marina,
    Any idea, if we can pass both the borders in a vehicle not owned (company’s vehicle or Friend’s vehicle or rented) by us?

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Yes you can if you have an NOC. You may need the owner to come to the border with you to get official permission though, it is a bit of a grey area. We were once refused to take our Emirati friend’s car into Oman, even though we had an NOC from him (in Arabic). Sorry I can’t give you a definitive answer Good luck!

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