Laying on the shores of the Arabian Peninsula, Muscat is the capital city of Oman. It has rightfully earned its place in the history books …
Unlike many other states in the Middle East, Oman does not flaunt its wealth with massive skyscrapers and an airline that wants to dominate the world.
Neither does it feel the need to advertise itself on Premier League shirts for all the world.
What Oman does boast, however, is a strong sense of identity and pride in its ancient traditions.
What visitors will find in this desert kingdom is the rare chance to see the Arab Gulf without its enormous wealth staring you in the face.
Like in Jordan, the low-rise towns elude Omani charm while traditional Beduin culture remains the heart of everything Oman stands for.
Oman is a country of not only wind-blown deserts but spectacular mountains and a pristine coastline like nothing you have ever witnessed.
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Good to know before traveling to Oman
Power voltage and socket type(s): type C, D and G. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Official religion(s): Islam 86%, Christian 6.5%, Hindu 5.5%
Official languages and general knowledge of English: Arabic. English widely is spoken.
Most famous places in Oman
Once the home of the largest hand-woven rug in the world, the Grand Mosque is a glorious piece of modern Islamic architecture that can accommodate 20,000 worshipers. – Book your tour here
Constructed in 1675 by Imam Bil-Arab Bin Sultan, Jabreen Castle is an impressive sight rising from the surrounding plain. Of particular interest are the intricately painted ceilings.
If you thought that the Grand Canyon in Arizona was the only natural wonder of its type, think again as Wadi Ghul is quite spectacular. With sheer walls 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) high, Wadi Ghul is a must-visit attraction in Oman.
Ras Al Jinz
On the Arabian Peninsula’s easternmost point, you will find the nesting ground of the endangered green turtle, a beautiful creature that Oman vows to protect. – Book a snorkeling tour here
Wadi Bani Khalid
Resembling a mind-blowing work of art, Wadi Bani Khalid is everything you ever imagined a desert oasis should be with palm trees and clear crystal-like water. – Check tours here
Accommodation in Oman
With only a few hotels aimed at foreign tourists, the capital Muscat is where you should plan to make your base.
Outside of Muscat, except for a few beach resort hotels, accommodation of a reasonable standard can be hard to find.
Most small towns have a couple of 2-star hotels, but they are mostly aimed at visiting Omanis and tend to be rather spartan.
Budget Solo Travelers
As far as prices are concerned, those on a budget will not find a place to stay in Oman for less than 12 Omani Rials ( $31 ), having said that you can expect to pay at least 20 Omani Rials ( $52 ) for even the cheapest of rooms.
Also, be sure to check that local taxes are included in the price, or you could end up paying a further 17%. (Most budget hotels include the charge in the advertised room, rate while upmarket places do not).
Camping is another option providing you are not near a town, village or on private land.
Rooms in mid-range hotels are priced at between 40–60 Omani rials ($100-$155) per night. Mid-range hotels in Oman come with the two essentials of modern-day Gulf living, air- conditioning, and a television. Most even give you a fridge so that you can keep your drinks cold.
Despite traditional Muslim strictures against the drinking of alcohol, many mid-range hotels also double as local nightspots hosting live music venues and sports bars.
In Muscat, it is not uncommon for some hotels to have more than one such place, so if you want a good night’s sleep, make sure your room is tucked well away from the noise. – Check the best hotels in Muscat
Due to Oman’s wealth, small population, and stunning scenery, it is no surprise to learn that it boasts some of the most spectacular resorts to be found anywhere.
While Muscat has 5-star hotels aimed at business travelers, it is the self-contained resorts along the coast or up in the mountains where you want to stay.
Do I need a visa to travel to Oman?
Fast-Track: Get your Oman Visa in advance
Before you decide to jet off to Oman, you need first to ascertain if you require a visa or not to enter the country. Only six countries nationals are exempt from having to have permission to enter Oman.
Not surprisingly, five of them are from the other Gulf States.
The sixth country is New Zealand, whose nationals can remain in Oman for up to three months. To boost tourism, Oman now offers a ten-day tourist visa for five rials ($13).
All visa applications need to be submitted online via the Royal Oman Police website. – Get your visa online here
Best time to visit Oman
Generally speaking, Oman has a reliably warm climate but can be unbearable during July and August due to the scorching heat. Rain in most parts of Oman consists of short sharp showers in January and February.
This means that the optimum months to visit are October to December and March to June.
In the very south of the country near to the border with Yemen, Oman is affected by a monsoon season called “khareef,” which means autumn in Arabic.
Popular with Omanis and tourists, the cool showery weather brings nature to life in a spectacular way. The khareef season is between June 22 and September 21.
How to get to Oman
Flight: Most visitors to Oman arrive at Muscat International Airport (MCT) either on Oman Air or other Gulf carriers like Emirates, Etihad or Qatar Airways. – Check flights here
Public Transport: Oman has no rail system, so getting around the country is either done on public buses or by renting a car.
Car Rental: If you go with the rental car option, make sure you rent a 4×4 so that you can get to some harder-to-reach places. – Check car rentals here
Best Food in Oman
Omani cuisine is influenced by a mixture of cultures comprising Arab, Iranian, Indian, and African-inspired dishes. The style of food reflects Oman’s place at the intersection of the spice trade.
Fish plays a big part in coastal dishes with chicken, lamb, rice, and spices the primary ingredients. Following Islamic Sharia law, the consumption of pork is forbidden.
To get a feel for Omani food and culture, take a walk along Shatti Al Qurum beach and visit the Turkish House where you can dine on freshly caught seafood for a reasonable price.
Typical food in Oman
Served for special occasions like weddings, Majboos or Kabsa as it is also called is a rice dish with saffron and spicy meat.
Again a dish reserved for special occasions such as Eid, shuwa is a dish of lamb, goat, or camel marinated in spices, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an underground oven for a day or two.
Shuwa is served with rice and tomato sauce.
Attention fish lovers! Mashuai is a whole spit-roasted kingfish served with lemon rice.
Along with Shawarmas, Mishkak is Oman’s answer to tasty street food. Mishkak is a chicken, or mutton kabab cooked on a charcoal grill, served with spicy tamarind chutney.
Mushalt is made with meat, cheese, or spinach topped with honey and baked in the oven for around five minutes.
Best Things to do in Oman for Outdoor travelers
Ras Al Jinz
The beach at Ras Al Jinz is home to the biggest turtle reserve in the Indian Ocean and home to the endangered Green Turtle. Thousands of turtles return home each year to lay their eggs at Ras Al Jinz, and you can witness it happening by signing up for a tour.
The number of visitors is limited, and the visit takes place at night, as that is when the turtles emerge from the sea to make their way up the beach. The peak laying season is between June and September. – Check tours here
Wadi Nakhr Balcony Walk
Located in the Western Hajar mountains, Wadi Nakhr ( Wadi Ghul) is Oman’s answer to the Grand Canyon and a great place to go trekking or rock climbing.
Part of the W6 hiking route, the balcony walk along the top of the gorge, is the most popular trail in Oman.
While not an outdoor adventure, you cannot visit Oman and not see the colorful Muttrah Souk marketplace. The souk is a disorienting labyrinth of tiny alleyways piled high with all kinds of exotic goods. – Check tours here
The Wahiba Sands
Spend a night camping under the stars surrounded by towering picture-perfect dunes in a desert landscape devoid of people. While there, take a camel ride or go offroading in a 4×4 jeep. – Book tours here
Diving in Oman
With crystal clear warm water Oman boasts some of the best diving to be found anywhere in the world. Just north of Muscat, the Daymaniyat Islands are a string of small, rocky islands surrounded by coral reefs teeming with marine life.
Designated as a Marine Nature Reserve divers have the opportunity to swim with turtles sharks and giant rays. – Book a tour here
The Rustaq Loop
The Rustaq Loop is a day-long drive that takes you to three of the most beautiful castles in Oman at Nakhal, Rustaq, and Al Hazm.
Along the route, you will enjoy fantastic scenery with plenty of opportunities for off-road driving and the chance to stop at a wadi for a swim.
In search of frankincense
Once worth its weight in gold frankincense a substance, the ancient Egyptians called the “sweat of the gods.”
The tree, which produces the resin, grows in the inhospitable terrain of Oman’s southern Dhofar province. To get there and learn all about the Boswellia resin, you will need to sign up for a tour. – Check tours here
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