Salinity is one of the major abiotic stresses which impose constraints to plant growth and production. Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is one of the most important staple food crops and a model monocot plant. Its production is expanding into regions that are affected by soil salinity, requiring cultivars more tolerant to saline conditions. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of such tolerance could lay a foundation for varietal improvement of salt tolerance in rice. In spite of extensive studies exploring the mechanism of salt tolerance, there has been limited progress in breeding for increased salinity tolerance. In this review, we summarize the information about the major molecular mechanisms underlying salinity tolerance in rice and further discuss the limitations in breeding for salinity tolerance. We show that numerous gene families and interaction networks are involved in the regulation of rice responses to salinity, prompting a need for a comprehensive functional analysis. We also show that most studies are based on whole-plant level analyses with only a few reports focused on tissue- and/or cell-specific gene expression. More details of salt-responsive channel and transporter activities at tissue- and cell-specific level still need to be documented before these traits can be incorporated into elite rice germplasm. Thus, future studies should focus on diversity of available genetic resources and, particular, wild rice relatives, to re-incorporate salinity tolerance traits lost during domestication.