The Ultimate Oman Travel Guide
Updated October 2023, The Ultimate Oman Travel Guide was originally written in April 2018
Oh Oman, the gem of the Arabian Peninsula. Easy to travel, overwhelmingly safe, absolutely beautiful sceneries, and a strong culture. Oman is often overlooked by most travelers to the region who typically head to more glitzy destinations like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
For those that have never visited a country in the Middle East, I highly recommend Oman as it’s clean, safe, friendly, and gorgeous. As many of you know, I traveled in Yemen and fell in love with the country in 2014 (and again in 2019 and 2020) which was what initially sparked my interest in visiting Oman.
The countries are drastically different, yet share many similarities, so for those interested in getting to Yemen (I get several emails about it per week), and have concerns about safety, I highly recommend travel in Oman for the time being.
If you’re starting to plan your Oman travels, I recommend picking up a copy of Bradt’s Oman guidebook.
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The currency of Oman is the Omani Rial. The current exchange rate is 1 OMR = $2.60 USD as of February 2024.
The official language of Oman is Arabic. With that said English speaking travelers will have no problem getting around the country without knowledge of Arabic as many Omanis speak English quite well. Many road signs are written in English and Arabic.
The government of Oman doesn’t keep official stats on religion in the country. With that said most Omanis follow the Ibadi sect of Islam. The remaining population is mostly Muslim of Sunni or Shia sects with a small number of Hindus and Christians.
What To Wear In Oman
Conservative dress is recommended out of respect to the locals.
Women: Long trousers and shirts that at least cover the shoulders are recommended. Always carry a headscarf with you for the impromptu mosque visit. If you want to swim somewhere, swimming in clothing is what local women do. Of course, if staying at a western resort anything goes.
Men: Long trousers and covered shoulders are best. Make sure knees and shoulders are covered when entering mosques.
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How Long To Visit Oman
1-2 weeks is a common amount of time to visit the country for travelers. 2 weeks is a good amount of time for those wanting to quickly explore both the north and south of the country. A month will offer you the flexibility to hit the highlights and see some off the beaten path destinations in Oman.
When To Visit Oman
Oman can get unbearably hot in summer. It is not recommended to visit in June, July, and August. The best months for visiting are November-April.
Getting around in Oman is easiest by renting a car and self-driving. Driving in Oman is quite easy unless you want to go off the beaten path which will involve off-roading. For those wanting to explore the Wahiba Sands and the mountain roads of the country, you should rent a 4×4.
- It is illegal to drive around with a dirty car in Oman. Fines are 10 OMR, but usually police will just tell you to get it washed.
- There are speed cameras all over the place. Always try to stay at or under posted speed limits.
- Public buses connect most major cities in the country. Those wanting to travel by bus will have difficulty reaching most places of interest for visitors.
- You can get around in cities by taxi.
You can enter Oman by flight or by road.
Flights: Most international flights arrive in Muscat. There are a few international flights that arrive at Salalah Airport as well.
Road: There are several border crossings with the UAE which is how virtually all tourists arriving by road will come from.
There is a border crossing with Yemen in western Oman. It is difficult to get across, and you’ll need to arrange this trip well in advance and it is not unheard of for border officials will turn you around, even if you have a valid visa.
Travel to Yemen is not recommended right now for obvious reasons at this time. There are intrepid travelers that have managed to cross here more recently. Note that solo females travelers have been denied to cross this border in the past.
Oman does share a long border with Saudi Arabia. There are no official crossings and it’s not advisable to enter Saudi Arabia from Oman as it requires you to cross the Empty Quarter.
- Leave your drugs, guns, and porn at home- they’re all prohibited in Oman.
- You can bring in 2 liters of alcohol per person if flying into the country, though you cannot bring in alcohol if you enter the country by road.
Several countries are now eligible for an e-visa to enter Oman. You can apply for your e-visa here. Most single entry, 30-day e-visas will cost 20 OMR.
There is a loophole to get into Oman for free without a visa, it’s called the Dubai-Oman Common Visa. You will be eligible to travel in Oman for up to 21 days so long as you have a valid visa or stamp from the Dubai Airport in your passport and are one of the eligible nationalities.
You must travel directly from Dubai to Oman via Al-Wajajah land crossing, Muscat airport, or a seaport. It will not work with other border crossings or at other (Salalah) airports. Read more about to Dubai-Oman Common Visa here.
Note that Israeli passport holders will be denied entry.
Omani food has a lot of Arabic influence from its neighbors, however, it is a lot less spicy. Thanks to Oman’s long coastline there’s plenty of seafood to eat.
The dates in Oman are among the best in the world and Omani halwa (a delicious sweet) is one of their best-known sweets. With that all said, Omani food is hard to come by in restaurants but if you look hard enough you’ll find it. Some local dishes to try are:
Otherwise, you’ll find dishes served up from other parts of the Arabian Peninsula, Lebanon, Turkey, India, and Pakistan. In bigger cities, you’ll be able to find the typical American fast-food restaurants.
Omani Qahwa (coffee) and sweetened shai (tea) accompany most meals.
This is where you’ll either blow your budget or save heaps. Most accommodations geared toward tourists are high-end and come with a high price tag. With that said you can find budget-friendly options around the country. Better yet- you can camp freely in many parts of Oman.
If you’re planning to free camp in Oman, don’t f*** it up for everyone else. Don’t leave waste behind (human, rubbish, or otherwise), and do not camp in places where it is prohibited such as Ras al-Jinz.
Use the search box below to find accommodations in Oman!
Things To Do In Oman
Oman is blessed with rugged mountains, massive sand dunes, stunning coastline, historic fortresses, and a vibrant culture. Click here to check out my One Week In Oman Roadtrip Itinerary for ideas. Here are just a few highlights of the country:
Bustling City Souks: Souks are a great place to head to get a taste of Omani culture, and get some shopping done as well. Spice souks are always a fave with the exotic smells filling the air. Nizwa Souk, Muttrah Souk in Old Muscat, and Ibri Souks are some of the most well-known and interesting ones.
Trekking In The Jebel Shams: Jebel Shams is a 3,009m peak situated in the Al-Hajar Mountain Range, located about 240km from Muscat. There are a number of treks that can be done in the area, and it’s spectacular at sunrise.
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‘Camping on top of Jebel Shams, the highest mountain in #Oman was an adventure in itself. Often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Arabia, this popular destination sits within the Al Hajar Mountains range. As soon as we arrived local campers called us to join them for fresh fruit, dates and coffee as goats milled around by the cliff edge precariously. The hospitality, warmth and kindness we experienced that day summarises the Omani people and culture to me; it was one of the safest and most welcoming countries I have visited.’ – @danflyingsolo, #lpInstaTakeover. #travel #BestinTravel
Cruise The Musandam Fjords: The word fjord doesn’t usually come to mind when you think of a country on the Arabian Peninsula. Sure enough, Oman has fjords! At the northern end of the Oman Peninsula, not far from the UAE exists such a place. Take a dhow boat and go explore the beautiful landscapes for a day or three.
Visit The Desolate Masirah Island: With a desolate interior and a rugged coastline, Masirah Island is begging to be explored. It’s only recently been open to tourists, and in the few short years, it’s attracted mainly kitesurfers. Reach the island by ferry from Shannah, check out the ferry schedule here.
Get Historical At Fortresses & Ruins: If you manage to visit Oman without seeing a single fortress I’d be impressed, but more confused than anything else. There are heaps of historic fortresses scattered all over the country. Some well maintained, and some in ruin, but either way they’re completely fascinating. Some will have entrance fees while others do not.
Explore The Wadis: Oman is home to more wadis than you’ll know what to do with. To fill you in- wadi is the Arabic word for canyon. Some of Oman’s most beautiful wadis are filled with crystal clear turquoise water and the occasional palm tree oasis.
Experience The Hospitality That Knows No Bounds: I know I say this about many places in the Middle East and Central Asia, but I wouldn’t keep repeating it if it wasn’t true. Omani people are incredibly welcoming and friendly. From the group of coworkers out enjoying an afternoon at Wadi Ghul inviting us for qawa and snacks, the troop of friends having lunch on a beach who completely took over our tire change and sent us for a swim, halwa, tahini & date given to us Nizwa Souk, a keffiyeh wrapping lesson in the middle of a busy market, to those Bedouin ladies who stopped to make sure we were okay and to offer us sweet shai in the Wahiba Sands- Omanis will be the biggest and best-lasting impression of your trip.
Where To Go In Oman
Delightfully authentic for a change from the over-the-top capital cities of its gulf neighbors. Muscat is the capital of Oman and likely your first stop in the country.
With a backdrop of rocky slopes and buildings required to reflect traditional Arabian architecture you really feel you’re in Arabia. Muscat is actually three towns that seem to have overgrown and connected over time.
The area referred to as Old Muscat is the walled city, home to the royal palaces. Mutrah, which is home to the famed Mutrah Souk and was originally a fishing village. And finally, Ruwi which is where commercial things go on, and is the main transport hub for the city.
With that said, Ruwi is a good area to head for cheaper eats and shopping.
Top sights recommend to visit in Muscat
- Sultan Qaboos Mosque
- Mutrah Souk
- Muscat Royal Opera House
- Al-Jalali Fort & Al-Mirani Fort
- Mohammed Al-Amin Mosque
- Sultan’s (Al-Alam) Palace
- Oman National Museum
Where To Sleep In Muscat
- Budget: Mutrah Hotel | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Midrange: Levatio Hotel Muscat | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Luxury: Shangr-La Al-Husn Resort & Spa | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
Check out this half-day guided tour of Muscat. Want to see the city by night? Have a look at this Muscat by Night tour. Want to see both Muscat and the surrounding areas such as Seeb and Quriyat? Click here to read about this full-day tour.
If you want to experience an Omani town without trailing too far from Muscat, head to Seeb. It’s about a 30 minute drive northwest of Muscat, not far from the airport. There isn’t much in way of attractions in Seeb, but for those looking to get a feel for Omani culture without much travel time, this is the place to go.
Recommended Sights In Seeb
- Al-Zulfa Mosque
- Seeb Souk
- Seeb Beach & Cornich Park
Where To Sleep In Seeb
- Budget: Muscat Royal Suites | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Midrange: Remas Hotel Suites | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Luxury: There are no luxury hotels in Seeb, but you can head to Muscat for them.
A lovely little fishing village an hour’s drive headed east from Muscat. Quriyat was once an important Omani port but now is just a sleepy village. Makes for a great day trip from Muscat with a stop at Mazara to check out the Wadi Dayqat Dam. There are no accommodations in Quriyat.
Sights To See In Quriyat
- Quriyat Fort
- Quriyat Beach
- Quriyat Watchtower
Bandar Khayran also makes for a good day trip from Muscat, or as a stop for those headed south along the coast. Comprised of a series of Khors (inlets) it’s a great place to check out beaches, snorkel, watch fisherman casting for catches, and watch the sandstone reflections in the water in the late afternoon. There are currently no accommodations in Bandar Khayran, there are places you could wild camp.
Bandar Khayran Tours
Take a day trip from Muscat by boat to explore the Bandar Kharyan area and to view wild dolphins.
The gateway to the Jebel Shams, Wadi Ghul, and Jebel Akhdar, and home to one of Oman’s best fortresses and souks. During the 6th and 7th centuries Nizwa was the capital of Oman.
Make sure to tour around the Nizwa Fort (0.500 OMR admission) and make a lap around the Nizwa souk in search of antiques and delicious halwa.
What To See In Nizwa
- Nizwa Fort
- Nizwa Souk
Where To Sleep in Nizwa
- Budget: Bait al Aqr | Booking.com | Agoda.com |
- Midrange: Nizwa Heritage Inn | Booking.com | Agoda.com |
- Luxury: Sama Hotel Jabal Al Akhdar | Booking.com |
Tours In Nizwa
There are a number of tours in and around Nizwa, and even ones that include surrounding areas such as Jebel Shams, Bahla, and Jebel Akhdar. Click here to shop tours to Nizwa.
Jebel Shams, Wadi Ghul & The Al-Hajar Mountains
Jebel Shams is Oman’s Highest Mountain at 3,075 meters situated in the Al-Hajar Mountain Range. With that said, Jebel Shams isn’t well known for the peak itself, but the sometimes nerve-wracking views down into Wadi Ghul. Wadi Ghul is known as the Grand Canyon of Arabia.
Several treks can be done in the mountains and wadis, but do come prepared with enough water. Jebel Shams can be visited as a day trip from Nizwa or even Muscat, but it’s highly recommended to camp up here for a night especially for those wanting to catch the sunrise over the rugged landscape.
What To Do At Jebel Shams
- Purchase a locally made carpet
Where To Sleep In Jebel Shams
Sleeping up in Jebel Shams itself is not a cheap endeavor if looking to stay at a hotel. I highly recommend wild camping at Jebel Shams. Sama Heights Resort has a great lunch buffet available for a fee to those not staying there.
- Sama Heights Resort | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Jebel Shams Villa | Booking.com | Agoda.com |
- Jebel Shams Resort | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Sunrise Camp | Booking,com | Hotels.com |
- There are more and cheaper accommodation in nearby Al-Hamra, shop rooms here
Jebel Shams Tours
For those not wanting to drive themselves and dedicate a night out in the mountains, you can take day tours to Jebel Shams from Muscat. Check out this Jebel Shams day tour here.
The ‘Green Mountain’. This area isn’t known for the mountain itself but for the plateaus around it. With cooler weather and more rainfall its home to fruit gardens all over the upper and lower plateaus. You’re only allowed to make your way to Jebel Akhdar in a 4×4.
What To Do At Jebel Akhdar
- Diana’s View Point
- Wadi Bani Habib
Where To Sleep
- Budget: Salassel Al-Jebel Al-Akhdar Guesthouse | Booking.com | Agoda.com |
- Midrange: Jebel Akhdar Hotel | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Luxury: Alilia Jebel Akhdar | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
Tours To Jebel Akhdar
Click here to book a tour of Jebel Akhdar and Nizwa in one day.
Bahla & Jabrin
Known for it’s fort of the same name and it’s pottery. The Bahla Fort is one of the best walled cities in the world to explore. You can combine a visit to Bahla with nearby Jabrin to explore the less impressive yet well preserved fort. Admission to both Bahla Fort and Jabrin Castle is 0.500 OMR.
What To Do In Bahla
- Bahla Fort
- Shop For Pottery
- Visit The Old Souk
- Jabrin Castle
Where To Sleep in Bahla
- Budget: Jibreen Hotel | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Midrange: Bahla Hotel Apartments | Booking.com | Agoda.com |
- Luxury: Go to Nizwa
Bat & Al-Ayn
Nearby to the Buraimi border crossing with the UAE and worthy of a stop for those entering or exiting Oman here. Bat and Al-Ayn are home to strange beehive tombs that dot the hilltops.
What To See in Bat & Al-Ayn
- Check out the beehive tombs
- Go off-roading to the nearby mountain villages
The Norway of Arabia because of its stunning Khors (fjords or inlets). Separated from the remainder of Oman by the UAE.
Khasab is the capital of the tiny province and exclave. Khasab is where you’ll want to base yourself for trips around the Musandam Peninsula. Be sure to explore the Khasab Fort, Khmazera Castle, and souk while back in the city.
What To See Around Khasab
- Khasab Fort
- Khasab Souk
- Khmazera Castle
- Organize dhow boats to explore the Khors
Where To Sleep In Khasab
- Midrange: Khasab Hotel | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Luxury: Atana Musandam Resort | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
Khasab & Musandam Peninsula Tours
From city tours in Khasab to dhow boat trips around the khors, there’s probably a tour to suit just about everyone. Click here to check out Khasab city tours and dhow trips.
The Musandam Khors
Hop on a dhow boat or organize a tour of the Musandam Khors and explore this fascinating area. Visit the fishing villages with inhabitants so remote that they speak a dialect that those from Muscat cannot understand, eat freshly caught seafood cooked up on your dhow, and take in the amazing scenery.
What To See & Do In The Musandam Khors
- Visit Telegraph Island & Khor Ash-Sham
- Camp on the bay of Khor An-Najd
- Cruise the sea by dhow boat
- See wild dolphins
- Visit remote villages
Musandam Peninsula Tours
Check out this 2 day tour of the Musandam Khors including a night on a dhow boat. Just looking for day tours? Shop dhow day trips from Khasab here. You can also book a 4×4 day trip to Khor An-Najd as well as Jebel Harim here.
A great day trip by 4×4 from Khasab to Jebel Harim, the ‘Mountain of Women’, littered iris and geranium flowers and views of the Rawdah Bowl Below.
Jebel Harim Tours
You can visit Jebel Harim along with the beautiful Khor An-Najd by 4×4 Day Tour, click here to read more.
The believed home to Sinbad and Ahmed bin Majid- two very famous sailors. Most come to enjoy the sandy beaches and archeological fixtures such as the Sohar Castle.
What To Do In Sohar
- Sohar Castle
- Sohar Beach
- Fish Market
Where To Sleep In Sohar
- Budget: Atlas Hotel Apartments | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Midrange: Radisson Blu Sohar | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Luxury: Crown Plaza Sohar | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
A popular day trip from Muscat as it’s only an hour’s drive from the city. Home to a nice sandy beach and a scattering of islands. Visiting the watchtower on Sawadi Island and snorkeling is what most who do visit come for.
What To Do In Sawadi
- Sawadi Beach
- Island hopping
- Sawadi Watchtower and Sawadi Island
Sur & Ayjah
Nice beaches, two castles, and a corniche are the attractions in Sur, just southeast of Muscat. It’s also a great base or jumping-off point for adventures into Wadi Shab, Wadi Tiwi, Ras al-Jinz, and Ras al-Hadd.
Admission to castles is 0.500 OMR. Ayjah, which can be seen just across the water from the Sur Corniche is worth a trip to explore the tiny village’s fort and lighthouse. Ayjah and Sur are connected by Oman’s only suspension bridge.
What To See & Do In Sur
- Sur Castle
- The Corniche
- Dhow Yards
- Sunaysilah Castle
- Ayjah Fort
- Ayjah Lighthouse
- Suspension Bridge
Where To Sleep In Sur
- Budget: Al Jumhour Hotel Apartments | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Midrange: Resort Sur Beach Holiday | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Luxury: Head to Ras al Hadd, or back to Muscat
Bimmah Sinkhole (Hawiyat Najm Park)
Just off the highway as you make your way down the coast from Muscat to Sur. Bimmah Sinkhole is most definitely worthy of the stop.
Local legend says the sinkhole was created by a meteor strike- hence the local name of Hawiyat Najm, meaning falling star. But in reality, it’s believed to just be a depression that fills with seawater as the ocean is only 600m away and freshwater that collects in there.
Bimmah Sinkhole is incredibly beautiful with its crystal clear vibrant turquoise waters. It’s easy to access as Bimmah Sinkhole was designated a park and they’ve built a staircase down into it. If visiting in the more popular months (November-March), I recommend visiting early in the morning if you want to beat the other tourists to it.
You can visit Bimmah Sinkhole along with nearby Wadi Shab by day tour from Muscat for those not interested in making the journey on their own, click here to read more about the tour and book.
Plan your visit: Everything you need to know to visit Bimmah Sinkhole
Steep canyon cliffs, turquoise pools, and even a secret waterfall await those who make the trip to Wadi Shab, one of Oman’s easiest to reach and most beautiful destinations. Wadi Shab is located right off the Muscat-Sur Highway. From the parking lot under the highway bridge, you’ll need to take a boat across to the other side (1 OMR roundtrip).
Once across, follow the path and prepare to be amazed. You will eventually reach the upper pools where you are allowed to swim. From here you can swim through a narrow slot a little further up the river to enter a giant cave where you can cliff dive into the waters below from the edge of a gushing waterfall.
- It is possible to hike even further to reach villages higher up the wadi.
- Camping and fires are not allowed in Wadi Shab.
Check out my ultimate guide to Wadi Shab
Just a short distance from Wadi Shab, Wadi Tiwi is a must-see especially in the springtime when the bottom of the canyon is carpeted in lush green foliage. It’s preferred by locals for travelers to visit the 9 villages in the wadi on foot. A two day trek can be done from Wadi Tiwi to Wadi Bani Khalid.
Ras Al-Jinz & Ras Al-Hadd
Ras al-Jinz is the easternmost point of the Arabian Peninsula famous for the thousands of female green turtles that return to this beach year after year to lay their eggs.
Green turtles are endangered and Oman is dedicated to their conservation and has strict punishments for those that harm turtles or their eggs. I’ve learned that the only way to visit Ras al-Jinz for turtle viewing is by organized tour, however, when I visited Oman we were given permission by the men working at the reserve to go in search of turtles.
We did find a massive female laying eggs in the sand which was a great experience. The workers at the reserve even gave us a brief tour of their facilities and let us watch them at work (finding baby turtles that were confused and heading away from the ocean and putting them in a small kiddy pool that they would take down to the water to set free into the ocean when it got too crowded).
Ras al-Hadd is the nearby fishing village in which it is possible to camp (camping is not permitted at Ras al-Jinz for obvious reasons).
- If you do plan to come to Ras al-Jinz to see the turtles either don’t bring a flashlight/headlamp or bring a headlamp with the red light on it. The red light doesn’t stress and confuse the turtles, but the normal lights will.
- Turtles don’t come to the beach during the day, so the best time to see them is on a night tour.
What To Do In Ras al-Jinz
- Visit Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve in search of the endangered green turtle
- Spend the night just back off the beach at the Ras al-Jinz Turtle Reserve Hotel
Where To Stay In Ras al-Jinz
- Ras al-Jinz Turtle Reserve, with rooms starting at 40 OMR per night
Where To Stay In Ras al-Hadd
- Budget: Ras al-Hadd Guesthouse | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Luxury: Turtle Beach Resort | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
Ras al-Jinz Tours
Join a 4×4 tour down from Muscat and back to view the green turtles at Ras al-Jinz, click here to read more and to visit the booking page. A cheaper option is to book a visit to the reserve through your hotel in Sur or Ras al-Hadd.
A small fishing village with two beaches on either side of it that are nice for a picnic in the afternoon. Al Ashkara is the jumping-off point to the Wahiba Sands and also the main supply point for the communities that live out there.
One of the nearby beaches is where we stopped for lunch and to change a tire and a group of friends hanging out at the beach quickly took over the task.
Bani Bu Hassan & Ali
Worth a stop for those bound for the Wahiba Sands, Wadi Bani Khalid or Ibra from Al Ashkara or further south. Bani Bu Hassan and Bani Bu Ali sit side by side and are home to forts, ancient plantations, and watchtowers.
What To See In Bani Bu Hassan & Ali
- Bani Bu Ali Fort
- Bani Bu Hassan Fort
- Jami Al Hamoda Mosque
- Explore the plantations
Wahiba Sands (Sharqiya)
At the village of Al-Ghabbi on Highway 23 (not far from Bani Bu Hassan & Ali and Ibra) turn off and you’ll quickly arrive at the village of Al-Mintirib that sits right on the edge of Wahiba Sands.
Al-Mintirib is the gateway to exploring the wild desert of Oman. Carefully follow the jeep tracks out of town and into the great abyss. There are a number of desert camps out here, but it’s entirely possible to camp on your own.
For those wanting to interact with Omani women, Wahiba Sands is your best bet as the local Bedouin women have a more outward role in their society than in other parts of the country. They are also expert drivers and often rescue tourists stuck in the sands.
Whether you camp on your own or you head out to a luxury camp, make sure you look up at night and catch the stars under the clear dark sky.
- It’s advisable to bring shovels and sand mats if you self drive, in case you get stuck out here.
- Make sure to have plenty of water if driving yourself out here.
What To Do In The Wahiba Sands
- Haul ass down desert jeep tracks and up and down through orange sand dunes
- Camp under the stars
- Keep your eyes peeled for camels and Arabian Oryx running around
- Meet Bedouin women and watch their driving skills
Read my guide to spending the night in the Wahiba Sands
Where To Stay In The Wahiba Sands
- Desert Wonders Camp | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Arabian Oryx Camp | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Desert Bedoua House | Booking.com | Agoda.com |
- Safari Dunes Camp | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
Tours To Wahiba Sands
Don’t want the stress of driving a 4×4 yourself through mountains of sand with the fear of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere? There are several tours offered to the Wahiba Sands ranging from day trips to overnight trips and more. Click here to browse different desert tours to the Wahiba Sands.
Wadi Bani Khalid
Beautiful emerald and turquoise pools await at Wadi Bani Khalid. You’ll wind high-up in the Eastern Hajar Mountains to eventually arrive at a parking lot.
From here it’s a short walk to the pools and a little further to Moqal Cave. This is about as touristy as it gets in Oman as well- there’s a restaurant at the lower pools and there is a concrete path there from the parking lot.
You can swim in the pools here, but you should swim in clothes like many Omanis here visit here do as well. For those not claustrophobic, continue along the trail past the restaurant (the trail quickly turns to rocks) and you can climb inside the cave. There are spots where you’ll find local boys cliff diving as well.
Tours To Wadi Bani Khalid
Some tours that visit from Muscat to the Wahiba Sands include a stop at Wadi Bani Khalid. You can also self drive here, or contact local Omani tour agencies to arrange trips here.
Ibra is an ancient city, so old it predates the calling of the prophet. Ibra is also the gateway to the Wahiba (Sharqiya) region from the north. These two factors make a stop off here worthy of your time when traveling to or from the Wahiba Sands and beyond.
Try to arrange a visit on a Wednesday morning to see the local souk at its busiest and the women’s souk is active. The women’s souk is for women buyers and sellers to barter and trade, and men are not welcomed here.
Make sure and walk to the Old Ibra Village (walk toward Al-Munisifeh from the souk area) to explore ancient and crumbling buildings.
What To Do In Ibra
- Visit the souk, espeically on Wednesday mornings
- If you’re a woman, visit on Wednesday mornings to get a glimpse into local women’s lives at the Women’s Souk
- Wander crumbling mud-brick buildings in Old Ibra and Al-Musinifeh
Where To Sleep In Ibra
Come here for rugged coastlines and the wild interior that have been attracting kitesurfers out here for the last few years. Take a ferry over from Shannah to this desolate island out in the Indian Ocean.
Camping and exploring by 4×4 is the best way to experience Masirah Island. Click here to view the National Ferry Company of Oman’s schedule. There are a few hotels on the island now in the town of Half for those not wanting to camp.
What To Do On Masirah Island
- Visit the small town of Ras Al Hilf
- Explore the rugged coastline and search for dhow boat wreckages
- Camp under the stars
- Find camels wandering around as you traverse the island
Where To Sleep On Masirah Island
- Midrange: Maan Hotel Apartment | Booking.com |
- Higher End: Masirah Island Resort | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
The capital of the Dhofar Region and famous for its frankincense. Salalah is a bit more colorful than other cities in Oman thanks to its ties to East Africa. Make sure to visit the beaches, pay a visit to Sultan Qaboos Mosque, and wander into the Museum of Frankincense Land.
What To See In Salalah
- Sultan Qaboos Mosque
- Fruit Plantations
- Museum of Frankincense Land
- Al-Husn Souk
- Visit the nearby Al Fizayah & Al Mughsail Beaches
Plan your visit: The Salalah Travel Guide
Where To Sleep In Salalah
- Midrange: Belad Bont Resort| Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Midrange: Salalah Gardens Hotel | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Luxury: Crown Plaza Hotel Salalah | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Luxury: Fanar Hotel | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Luxury: Millennium Resort Salalah | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
- Super Luxury: Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara | Booking.com | Hotels.com |
Tours In Salalah
Take a half day Salalah City tour, or take a tour of East Salalah to Taqah and other sights, or a tour west of Salalah to head towards the Yemeni border and visit valleys of frankincense trees, visit the Mughsail Bay, and to the fishing village of Dhalkut.
This fishing village sits on the other side of a nice white sand beach from Salalah. Come here to visit Taqah Castle (0.500 OMR).
Just a few kilometers east of Taqah sits a lovely little bay called Khor Rouri. You can sit and watch animals like flamingos and camels here. Khor Rouri was also an important port along the Frankincense trading route about 2,000 years ago. Little is left behind from those times aside from the Sumhuram Ruins (1 OMR to enter).
You can reach Wadi Dharbat from Khor Rouri and visit its waterfall and lake.
A drive 48km east of Salalah will bring you to the beautiful Mughsail Bay that trails off into giant cliffs that continue on to the east. Nearby the Marneef Cave is with a stop as well.
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‘The #Oman coastline is over 1600km long and touches three seas. Driving along the dry rugged coastline and climbing down rocks to empty beaches were common pit stops on my road trip. One morning, after a night spent camping on a beach, we woke early and visited another to watch sea turtles laying their eggs. By early evening we had arrived in the desert and were surrounded by camels. The diversity in wildlife for such a small country is one of the reasons Oman captured my heart.’ – @danflyingsolo, #lpInstaTakeover. #travel #BestinTravel
Oman Travel Budget
It’s not a secret that Oman is not the cheapest destination, but for those willing to get a little dirty and sleep under stars you can stretch your money a lot further here. With that said, the sky is the limit in Oman with its plethora of luxury resorts.
13 OMR/$35 USD Per Day
Splitting the cost of renting a 4×4 with a group of 4, camping each night and preparing most your own meals
27 OMR/$70USD Per Day
Staying in budget accommodation (2 persons), eating at low key restaurants, and car rental
60 OMR/$150 USD Per Day
Sleeping in midrange hotels, dining at a combination of cheap eateries and nice restaurants, and car rental
120 OMR/$300 USD Per Day
Taking guided tours, staying in resorts, and eating at upscale restaurants
Oman Packing List
Remember that respectful dress is the best for traveling in Oman. Pack light, breathable fabrics. For those planning to adventure in the mountains do bring some layers as it can get chilly out there in winter, especially at night. The Bradt Oman guidebook is a handy tool for travel planning.
Recommended Gear For Those Planning To Wild Camp, Trek, & Adventure In The Desert
- Inreach Explorer+
- Solar charger
- External battery pack
- Lightweight Tent
- Sleeping bag
- Hiking Boots
- Lightweight cooking camp set
- Water Purifier
- Trekking Poles
- Prescription & Over the counter medications
- Sand Plates
Internet & Mobile
Hotels in Oman will usually have wifi. If you’d like to buy a SIM card to stay connected they are easy and quick to purchase. Look for Omantel and Nawras shops and kiosks. Omantel has plans starting at 2 OMR and Nawras at 3 OMR.
Health & Safety
Oman is an incredibly safe country in regard to crime and violence. The most dangerous thing in the country is the heat.
- Always have some water with you, especially when venturing out into the desert or hiking in the mountains
- Don’t go off roading alone in case that you do get stuck and need help getting out. It’s best to travel in a convoy with others
- Take caution while driving. Oman does have a relatively high car accident fatality rate. Things to look out for are other drivers, camels in the road and falling asleep at the wheel
- Take maps and GPS if planning to off road through the desert and mountains, or trek in the peaks and wadis
- Always take sunscreen with you, the Omani sun is relentless
- Acts of aggression and insulting others are punishable in Oman. So no road rage exists here. One instance you’ll see this is when taking taxis in Muscat- if your driver gets cut off (more than likely it’ll happen on your way in from the airport), rather than honk and flip the offender off, they’ll drop their right hand down low near the shifter and slap it back and forth. This is the Omani f*** you.
- With Oman having outlawed insults and aggression, it’s led to the population being quite sensitive. What you may think of as a joke making fun of someone, a place, or so on may come off as very offensive. So definitely think before you blurt things out.
- Be prepared to be stared at. Omanis will stare at you, only because you’re foreign and they’re curious.
- Especially outside of the larger cities of Muscat and Salalah avoid smiling at members of the opposite gender as it is usually always perceived as flirting. Oman is still a fairly segregated country in regards to gender. I never had any issues when we were traveling the country speaking with men we met in various places, but I did visit Oman immediately after leaving Central Asia. After traveling Central Asia for over two months I had the co-ed interactions in the Islamic world down pretty well.
- Homosexuality is punishable in Oman, although not as severely as in neighboring countries. You could land yourself in jail for up to 3 years if caught in some sort of homosexual act. This doesn’t mean LGBT travelers cannot travel in Oman, but if you do so just make sure to not display affection in public. It’s easy enough to tell people you meet that you are friends if traveling with a romantic partner. Note that in Oman, like in much of the Middle East and Africa it’s not unusual for friends of the same gender to hold hands.
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