If you are arriving in Salalah through Qatar Airways, you have a good option to Explore Doha, Qatar before landing at Salalah (or on the return flight). Don’t miss the opportunity to have Double Fun! This can be done on any destination you are flying with Qatar Airways (not just Salalah), but since this blog is about Salalah, so we have mentioned Salalah specifically.
Exploring Doha on Transit
We had a transit time of 13 hours (we made this booking intentionally to explore Doha), which left us 10 to 11 hours to explore the city. The remaining time is to complete the immigration process and reach the transit lounge. So this left us with two options; first one was to avail Qatar Airways Complimentary Doha Tour, which would let us cover many places in just 3 hours (duration of the tour) while the second one was to take our visa on arrival and explore the city ourselves.
If we avail option 1, then we would only use 3 hours out of available 10 hours. If we opt for option 2, then it would result in waiting for taxi after each stop (time waste as taxis are not readily available, which we experienced ourselves later on in the day trip) and walking to find a taxi in 38 deg C (it was Sept-2015 when we were in Doha). Making the most of both these available options, we just created a third option by combining both of these options and decided to take visa on arrival by ourselves (check visa on arrival eligibility) then explore Doha with Qatar Airways’ 3 hours tour followed by covering the remaining city in additional 7 hours by ourselves.
We arrived in the airport and moved to Doha City Tour Desk in the Transit Lounge (near Lamp Bear) and checked the time for the tour, we had plenty of time to go through the immigration process. The lady on the counter reserved the place for both of us (this reservation is on first come first serve basis and will end if the total space of 33 passengers is occupied) and advised us to approach Information Desk (outside of the Arrival section) after the immigration process for further instructions.
After immigration, we approached the Information Desk for communicating to the Doha City Tour Desk that we have cleared the immigration process and now waiting for the tour to begin. Two Spanish guys were also waiting there for the tour. They had a similar plan to explore Doha themselves after the Complimentary City Tour. We were joined by 12 more passengers who didn’t apply for immigration, but opted for 3 hours city tour only. They were not allowed to leave the tour group and had to return with the same group to the Airport after the trip. Visa for them (only for the tour) was arranged by Qatar Airways free of cost. However, we paid visa fees QAR 100 (USD 27.5) per person as we applied for Visa on Arrival ourselves and wanted to explore Doha after the Free Doha Trip.
Details of Qatar Airways Complimentary Doha Tour
Qatar Airways can arrange Complimentary Doha Tour if your transit time is more than 8 hours. The complimentary city tour will include 3 hours city tour visa, 3 hours city tour on a bus with a travel guide, a bottle of water and pick and drop to the airport. For availing your complimentary city tour, you have to go to Doha City Tour Desk in the transit lobby and get registered. This is on first come first serve basis.
The 4 stop overs covered by the tour are Museum of Islamic Art, Katara Cultural Village, The Pearl Island and Souq Al Waqif. All of these places are beautiful and have cultural significance. Qatar Airways Complimentary Doha Tour is indeed a must thing to have if you are flying with Qatar Airways.
Some Random Photographs during the Tour from the Bus
Timings of Qatar Airways Complimentary Doha Tour
There are four city tours daily. So you must have a transit time falling in time of the tour and have sufficient time to complete the tour. These tours are spread across different times of the day to cater all the possible transit times expect for the late night transit time. The timings are as follows:
Tour 1 8:00 hrs
Tour 2 11:00 hrs
Tour 3 16:00 hrs
Tour 4 20:00 hrs
Registration for these tours closes an hour before the tour start time. So check your arrival time at Doha Airport and the tour time.
What Else Did we visit in Doha on our own?
We visited Villaggio Mall, Aspire Tower, City Center Mall, and corniche on our own, after finishing Qatar Airway’s Complimentary Doha Tour at Souq Al Waqif. The rest of the passengers went to the Airport after Souq Al Waqif.
1. Villaggio Mall – Italy in Qatar
There is also an indoor theme park in the mall “Gondolania”, which offers Drop tower, Ferris Wheel, Arcade games, Laser war, Go Kart, Bowling Alley, Roller Coaster, Carousel, and many other options for kids and adults. For timings and the cost of rides, click here.
2. Aspire Tower – Tallest Building in Qatar
Visit to Aspire Tower (also Known as The Torch Doha) is a must due to its unique architecture. This tower is located in the Aspire Zone of Doha and visible from outside the Villaggio Mall. So if you plan a visit to Valliggo Mall, you can also visit this tower.
The rest of the high rise buildings are in west bay and makes Doha Skyline.
3. City Center Mall, Doha
Although City Center Mall is huge and have many shops and restaurants, but the 5 storey mall is not really impressive (at least for us). We regretted our decision to visit this mall and missed the Lagoona Mall and Zig Zag Tower.
4. Doha Corniche
Doha Corniche is near City Center Mall. One can have a closer look at the photogenic and architectural stunning buildings that make the spectacular Skyline of Doha.
Tornado Tower is a sky scrapper with 52 floors (640 feet tall).
From the corniche, the traditional dhows are visible. These are used for dhow dinner or cruising the sea.