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Home » Oman Travel Guide. Ghost Towns, Bazaars and Culinary Adventures

Oman Travel Guide. Ghost Towns, Bazaars and Culinary Adventures

Exploring Oman: A Journey Through Mysterious Ghost Towns, Vibrant Frankincense Bazaars, and the Culinary Adventure of Dried Shark Salad

Oman is the perfect-sized country for a week-long road trip. The distances are such that you feel the journey, yet you don’t have to endure exhausting 500-kilometer dashes each day. Here you find mountains and canyons, classic oases, and dunes with camels. In unknown medieval towns, you won’t encounter busloads of tourists — Oman sees very few tourists. Local fishermen still venture out to sea in traditional wooden boats — you can watch them being made or visit the country’s largest fish market.

Since ancient times, important trading ports have been located in this area — Oman is washed by the waters of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. Therefore, ancient fortresses and other interesting antiquities have been preserved here. Despite the arid climate and the fact that most of the country is covered by desert, there are many oases, and lifeless mountains abut right up to the coast.

Although Oman is close to the extremely popular UAE, tourism here is just gaining popularity. It’s a bit more expensive and complicated to fly here, but it’s convenient to combine two countries in one trip. Now, we will tell you in detail about everything: what to see, how to get there, and when is the best time to go.

Muscat — the capital and starting point for the journey

Since medieval times, Muscat has been an important port, thanks to the advantageous position of its natural harbors (there are two – Muscat and Muttrah) surrounded by mountains. Indeed, “Muscat” translates from Arabic as “a place where anchors are dropped”. The city stretches along the coast for 60 kilometers, with the Sultan Qaboos Highway running its entire length.

Qaboos bin Said was the previous Sultan of Oman. During his reign, the country underwent significant changes. First, it gained independence from Britain in 1970 and acquired its modern borders after the unification of the independent Muscat, the Imamate of Oman, and the province of Dhofar (the south of modern Oman, where there were rebels). Then came the constitution and comprehensive reforms in education, healthcare, and the armed forces. Qaboos was the creator of the Oman we see today. Following Qaboos’ death in 2020, his cousin Haitham bin Tariq Al Said ascended to the throne and currently rules.

Due to the city’s elongated shape, the attractions are located at significant distances from each other, especially in its modern part. Therefore, exploring Muscat by walking from one place to another is not very convenient — the vast distances plus the heat make it challenging. There is also an old town in Muscat — it includes the Muttrah district near the bay of the same name, which once was a separate city but is located about 20 kilometers from the center of modern Muscat.

Sultan Qaboos Mosque. It is the largest mosque in Oman, accommodating 20,000 people. The chandelier in the mosque weighs eight tons and is 14 meters high. It is made of Swarovski crystals. Inside the mosque is the second largest carpet in the world — approximately 60×70 meters. It was woven in Iran over four years. The largest carpet is in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque (Abu Dhabi, UAE). Non-Muslims are allowed inside the mosque from 8:30 to 11:00, except on Fridays. The mosque is surrounded by a large garden with shrubs and flower beds.

The Sultan Qaboos Mosque is the largest mosque in Oman, accommodating 20,000 people. Inside the mosque is the second-largest carpet in the world — approximately 60×70 meters
The Sultan Qaboos Mosque is the largest mosque in Oman, accommodating 20,000 people. Inside the mosque is the second-largest carpet in the world — approximately 60×70 meters

The Royal Opera House. This is a whole complex consisting of a concert hall, a landscaped park, and a gallery with shops and restaurants. Oman’s opera boasts the only orchestra in the Middle East composed exclusively of local musicians. Groups from other countries come here on tour.

In the Oman Opera, there is the only orchestra in the Middle East made up exclusively of local musicians
In the Oman Opera, there is the only orchestra in the Middle East made up exclusively of local musicians

The Natural History Museum. A classic museum that tells about the geography, geology, fauna, and flora of Oman and the Middle East. The museum is located in the Al Khuwair district, also known as the Ministerial district. Here, on a few parallel streets, all government institutions are gathered, each building featuring its unique architecture.

Said bin Taimur Mosque. An Ottoman-style mosque, built in 1999 in honor of Sultan Qaboos’ father, Said bin Taimur. Non-Muslims are only allowed in the courtyard of the mosque, not inside.

The Said bin Taimur Mosque is built in the Ottoman style. Non-Muslims are only allowed in the mosque's courtyard
The Said bin Taimur Mosque is built in the Ottoman style. Non-Muslims are only allowed in the mosque’s courtyard

The Muttrah and Kalbuh districts

Once, Muttrah and Kalbuh were separate villages near Muscat. Today, they are arguably some of the most interesting areas of the city. In Muttrah, there are the port and the market, and in Kalbuh, the easternmost district of Muscat, there’s the Sultan’s palace and several forts. One district seamlessly transitions into the other. But the distances are significant, so it’s better to first stroll around Muttrah (parking for the car), and then drive to Kalbuh (parking).

In the easternmost district of Muscat, there is the Sultan's palace and several forts. The photo shows a view from one of them
In the easternmost district of Muscat, there is the Sultan’s palace and several forts. The photo shows a view from one of them

Muttrah Bay and the Corniche Promenade. ‘Corniche’ in French translates to ‘ledge, mountain road’, but in this case, it refers to a winding two-kilometer promenade along Muttrah Bay with many small restaurants and shops.

The Corniche is a winding two-kilometer promenade along Muttrah Bay, lined with numerous small restaurants and shops
The Corniche is a winding two-kilometer promenade along Muttrah Bay, lined with numerous small restaurants and shops

The Corniche looks especially stunning during sunset and afterwards when it is lit up by lanterns. Nearby is a 16th-century Portuguese fort, which you can enter and view the bays from its observation deck. Another viewpoint is located at the end of the promenade on top of the Riyam Censer tower, built in the shape of a censer. Next to it is the namesake park.

On the Corniche promenade, there is a 16th-century Portuguese fort, where you can go inside and view the bays from its observation deck
On the Corniche promenade, there is a 16th-century Portuguese fort, where you can go inside and view the bays from its observation deck

 

One of the viewpoints overlooking the promenade is located at the end of the walkway, on top of the Riyam tower, which is built in the shape of a censer
One of the viewpoints overlooking the promenade is located at the end of the walkway, on top of the Riyam tower, which is built in the shape of a censer

Muttrah Souq. A market with a two-hundred-year history, one of the oldest in the country, located near the port. Both tourists and locals shop here. It offers affordable fruits, vegetables, fabrics, and dishes. For gifts, you can buy jewelry, national clothing, and souvenirs. The market operates daily from 9:00 to 13:00 and then from 16:00 to 21:00. The opening time is quite flexible, so it’s better to come a bit later.

Muttrah Souq is one of the oldest in the country, operating for over 200 years. Here, you can find affordable fruits, vegetables, fabrics, and dishes
Muttrah Souq is one of the oldest in the country, operating for over 200 years. Here, you can find affordable fruits, vegetables, fabrics, and dishes

Muscat Gate. This is a restored version of the city gates used until the 1970s. It marked the city’s boundary and, accordingly, the city wall. Currently, the upper part of the gate houses the Museum of Oman’s History. Entry is free.

Al Alam Palace. The building with unusual yellow and blue half-columns doesn’t quite resemble a Sultan’s palace. Yet, it is indeed the residence of the head of Oman. The square in front of the palace and the promenade leading to it are often used for public celebrations and festivals. The opposite facade of the palace faces the water, guarded by real large-caliber artillery from that side.

Al Alam Palace is a building with unusual yellow and blue half-columns and does not quite resemble a Sultan's palace. However, it is indeed the residence of the head of Oman
Al Alam Palace is a building with unusual yellow and blue half-columns and does not quite resemble a Sultan’s palace. However, it is indeed the residence of the head of Oman

Al Jalali and Al Mirani Forts. In the 16th century, Portuguese forts were built here. Later, after the Persian conquest of Oman, the fortresses were rebuilt. Now they are classic fortification structures, rebuilt and restored in the late 20th century. The first housed a prison until the 1970s and is now a private museum for government delegations. The second is a restricted area.

The Al Jalali and Al Mirani forts were built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Later, after the Persian conquest of Oman, the fortresses were rebuilt. They are now classic fortification structures, rebuilt and restored again at the end of the 20th century
The Al Jalali and Al Mirani forts were built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Later, after the Persian conquest of Oman, the fortresses were rebuilt. They are now classic fortification structures, rebuilt and restored again at the end of the 20th century

Bait Al Zubair. A private museum founded by Sheikh Al Zubair bin Ali, who was an advisor and minister to three Sultans of Oman. The museum’s territory includes a park and three buildings with collections of historical, ethnographic, and cultural artifacts, illustrating various aspects of the life and customs of Omanis over the centuries: national clothing, dishes, furniture, carpets, jewelry. Particularly interesting are the collections of firearms and bladed weapons, including the Omani national daggers, khanjar.

The National Museum of Oman. The country’s main museum and cultural and research center, opened in 2016. It combines exhibitions about the history, culture, heritage, religion, and everyday life of the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East.

The National Museum of Oman is the country's main museum and also serves as a cultural and research center, opened in 2016
The National Museum of Oman is the country’s main museum and also serves as a cultural and research center, opened in 2016
In Muscat, you can do more than just visit attractions and museums. For shopping enthusiasts, there are several large shopping centers: Oman Avenues Mall, City Centre Muscat, Al Araimi Boulevard, and Mall of Muscat.

Classic Forts of Oman

A large number of fortresses and forts have been preserved in the Sultanate of Oman. This is due to the historical development of the region and Oman’s advantageous geographical position with access to the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian and Oman Gulfs. From the 14th to the 17th century, Oman was under the control of the Portuguese Empire. It also held neighboring Bahrain, part of Yemen (including Socotra Island), and part of Iran (including Hormuz Island). It was during this period that the largest fortresses, which have survived in Oman, were built. In the early 17th century, the Portuguese were replaced by the Persians for about 50 years, who rebuilt some of the forts in their style. Later, local dynasties ruled until the period of British protectorate.

Western Hajar Ridge and Al Batinah Region

170 kilometers away

Barka. The fort is located in the coastal city of the same name, known for its picturesque views and traditional bullfights. These are not the fights like in Spain — there are no matadors here, and the bulls fight each other until one pushes the other out of the arena or flees. Bets are also not made here, as they are forbidden in Islam. At these fights, there are judges, and champion bulls are highly honored and very expensive even by Oman standards. A young bull costs about 1,000 rials (2,598.68 USD), and a seasoned fighter — 25,000–50,000 rials (64,966.96 – (129,933.92 USD). The fights are usually not officially advertised, are held impromptu, and you can only find out about them from locals or by stumbling upon them by chance.

The city of Barka is known for its traditional bullfights. These are not like the fights in Spain — there are no matadors here, and the bulls fight each other until one pushes the other out of the arena or forces it to flee. Photo: Lars Plougmann / Wikimedia.org
The city of Barka is known for its traditional bullfights. These are not like the fights in Spain — there are no matadors here, and the bulls fight each other until one pushes the other out of the arena or forces it to flee. Photo: Lars Plougmann / Wikimedia.org

Barka Fort was built in the early years of the Yaruba dynasty. This significant dynasty of Omani imams ruled predominantly along the coasts of modern Oman, by both the Persian and Oman Gulfs, from 1624 to 1741. According to historical accounts, it was from here that the expulsion of the Persians from Oman began in the mid-18th century when the Omani leader Ahmed bin Said invited Persian officials and soldiers to a feast in Barka and then, in the midst of the celebrations, ordered their execution.

According to historical accounts, the expulsion of the Persians from Oman began in Barka in the mid-18th century, when the Omani leader Ahmed bin Said invited Persian officials and soldiers to a feast in Barka, and then, in the midst of the celebrations, ordered their execution. Photo: Michael Wong / Flickr.com
According to historical accounts, the expulsion of the Persians from Oman began in Barka in the mid-18th century, when the Omani leader Ahmed bin Said invited Persian officials and soldiers to a feast in Barka, and then, in the midst of the celebrations, ordered their execution. Photo: Michael Wong / Flickr.com

Nakhal. Initially, the fort was built by the Persians, then in the 17th century, it was rebuilt by the Yaruba dynasty and adapted to their needs. The fort is constructed utilizing the unique features of the terrain: around an irregularly shaped rock with spurs jutting inward. The fort itself protected the Nakhal oasis. Even now, from the walls of the fortress, there are excellent views of the surrounding mountains and palm gardens. Inside the fort, there is a museum of ancient weapons. On Fridays, there is a traditional goat market here.

On Fridays, traditional goat trading takes place at the Nakhal Fort. Photo: Nora Rademacher / Unsplash.com
On Fridays, traditional goat trading takes place at the Nakhal Fort. Photo: Nora Rademacher / Unsplash.com

Al Rustaq. Located in the city of the same name, which is popular with tourists due to the fort and the Al Bayda, Basra, and Kasra mosques. The Al Rustaq Fort was built in the early 17th century by the imams of the Yaruba dynasty. Architecturally, the fort is an excellent example of Islamic traditions: a three-story structure with towers of various shapes and sizes, walls three meters thick, and a roof supported by columns, incorporating carved wood in its finishes.

From an architectural standpoint, the Al Rustaq Fort is an excellent example of Islamic traditions: a three-story structure with towers of various shapes and sizes, three-meter-thick walls, and a roof supported by columns, incorporating carved wood in its finishes. Photo: Davide Mauro / Wikimedia.org
From an architectural standpoint, the Al Rustaq Fort is an excellent example of Islamic traditions: a three-story structure with towers of various shapes and sizes, three-meter-thick walls, and a roof supported by columns, incorporating carved wood in its finishes. Photo: Davide Mauro / Wikimedia.org

Al Hazm. The rectangular-shaped castle has two large round towers. It dates to approximately the same period as Al Rustaq and was built by Sultan Ibn Saif of the Yaruba dynasty. Most impressive are the large and historically valuable carved wooden gates, which, according to legend, were brought to Al Hazm on 13 horses.

What impresses the most at Al Hazm Fort are the large and historically valuable carved wooden gates, which, according to legend, were brought to Al Hazm on 13 horses. Photo: Hans Birger Nilsen / Wikimedia.org
What impresses the most at Al Hazm Fort are the large and historically valuable carved wooden gates, which, according to legend, were brought to Al Hazm on 13 horses. Photo: Hans Birger Nilsen / Wikimedia.org

Eastern Hajar Ridge and Ad Dakhiliyah Region

320 kilometers away

Bidbid. A small fort built on the banks of the Fanja canal, located in the village of Bidbid.

Al Saruj. It is a complex consisting of a fort and separate watchtowers on the slopes of the hills. From the observation decks, the gorge and the Sumail Fort can be seen. It is possible to enter the fort, but besides the general interiors, there is nothing else.

Al Saruj is a complex consisting of a fort and separate watchtowers on the slopes of the hills. From the observation decks, the gorge and the Sumail Fort can be seen
Al Saruj is a complex consisting of a fort and separate watchtowers on the slopes of the hills. From the observation decks, the gorge and the Sumail Fort can be seen

Sumail/Samail. The city of Sumail is located in a gorge between the Eastern and Western Hajar ridges. In ancient times, one of the strategic trade routes of the Arabian Peninsula passed through here, traveled by explorers Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta. The fort in Sumail is built on a rock. Arguably, it is one of the most impressive fortresses in Oman. From its walls and towers, there are excellent views of the oasis, gorge, and palm gardens.

The fort in Sumail is built on a rock. Arguably, it is one of the most impressive fortresses in Oman. From its walls and towers, there are excellent views of the oasis, gorge, and palm gardens
The fort in Sumail is built on a rock. Arguably, it is one of the most impressive fortresses in Oman. From its walls and towers, there are excellent views of the oasis, gorge, and palm gardens

Nizwa. The city of Nizwa itself is quite large by Omani standards, with a population of 70,000. It is also the capital of the Ad Dakhiliyah province. Moreover, Nizwa was the capital of ancient Oman in the 6th and 7th centuries. The old city of Nizwa is quite large, with fortress walls, mosques, narrow streets, and many souvenir shops (mainly selling dishes, silver, and khanjar daggers).

Nizwa is quite large by Omani standards, with a population of 70,000. It is also the capital of the Ad Dakhiliyah province. Moreover, Nizwa was the capital of ancient Oman in the 6th and 7th centuries.
Nizwa is quite large by Omani standards, with a population of 70,000. It is also the capital of the Ad Dakhiliyah province. Moreover, Nizwa was the capital of ancient Oman in the 6th and 7th centuries

The Daris irrigation canal, the largest in Oman, is included in the UNESCO heritage list. Irrigation canals (called ‘falaj’ in Oman) have been built in Oman for 2000 years. They are the only sources of fresh water. Usually, they connected oases and areas where date palms were cultivated. The fort in Nizwa was built in the 17th century by the familiar Sultan Ibn Saif. It is distinguished by its huge round tower, which (surprisingly) was bombed in the 1950s by the Royal Air Force of Great Britain during the separatist uprising. Now there is an observation deck on the tower. The city also has many markets. Several are located within the fortress walls — with ceramic dishes, food, fish, and goats.

The Nizwa Fort is distinguished by its huge round tower, which was bombed in the 1950s by the Royal Air Force of Great Britain during the separatist uprising
The Nizwa Fort is distinguished by its huge round tower, which was bombed in the 1950s by the Royal Air Force of Great Britain during the separatist uprising
The old city of Nizwa is quite large, with fortress walls, mosques, narrow streets, and many souvenir shops (mainly selling dishes, silver, and khanjar daggers)
The old city of Nizwa is quite large, with fortress walls, mosques, narrow streets, and many souvenir shops (mainly selling dishes, silver, and khanjar daggers)

Bahla. Here is located the oldest (13th-14th century) and one of the largest and most beautiful citadels in Oman. The city itself was once surrounded by a high fortress wall, remnants of which (entire sections) have survived to this day. The towers and walls are made of sun-dried brick — Bahla was renowned since ancient times for its pottery production.

In Bahla is located the oldest (13th-14th century) and one of the largest and most beautiful citadels in Oman
In Bahla is located the oldest (13th-14th century) and one of the largest and most beautiful citadels in Oman

In 1987, a major reconstruction of the complex was carried out. Currently, the fort is open to the public as a museum. A short distance from the fortress, there is a climb to a hill with a relay tower. From there, panoramic views of the fortification complex and the surrounding walls can be seen.

From the hill with the relay tower, there is a panoramic view of the fortification complex and the surrounding walls
From the hill with the relay tower, there is a panoramic view of the fortification complex and the surrounding walls

Jabrin/Jibreen. A small town with a rectangular fort and a tall round tower in the center, which has an observation deck.

In Jabrin, there is a rectangular fort with a tall round tower in the center, which has an observation deck
In Jabrin, there is a rectangular fort with a tall round tower in the center, which has an observation deckIn Jabrin, there is a rectangular fort with a tall round tower in the center, which has an observation deck

Jebel Akhdar Mountains

The Hajar (Jebel al Hajar) is a mountain range in Oman, stretching 450 kilometers along the entire northern part of the country from the border with the UAE (and the Musandam exclave) to the Indian Ocean coast in the east. The Hajar Mountains are difficult to access and have few developed passes. There are the western (Al Hajar al Gharbi — where Al Rustaq is located) and eastern (Al Hajar ash Sharqi — where Nizwa is located) parts.

Jebel Akhdar is the name of the area that includes a mountain 2980 meters high, known for its green vegetation (its name translates as ‘green mountain’), and the surrounding plateau. In 2011, a nature reserve of the same name was established here — arguably, the most picturesque in Oman.

Jebel al Hajar is a mountain range in Oman that stretches 450 kilometers along the entire northern part of the country from the border with the UAE and the Musandam exclave to the Indian Ocean coast in the east
Jebel al Hajar is a mountain range in Oman that stretches 450 kilometers along the entire northern part of the country from the border with the UAE and the Musandam exclave to the Indian Ocean coast in the east

Wadi Ghul Canyon

Wadi Ghul (also known as Wadi Nakhar) is the deepest canyon in the Middle East, often compared to the American Grand Canyon. It is a popular tourist attraction, so there is a very good road leading to it. The road first passes through the town of Al Hamra on a relatively flat section, after which the ascent begins. Shortly after the start, there is a viewpoint with a great view of the abandoned town of Ghul. From this point, not only the old houses are visible, but also the remains of the fortress wall a little higher up the slope.

The road to the canyon first passes through the town of Al Hamra on a relatively flat section, after which the ascent begins. Soon after starting, there is a viewpoint with a great view of the abandoned town of Ghul
The road to the canyon first passes through the town of Al Hamra on a relatively flat section, after which the ascent begins. Soon after starting, there is a viewpoint with a great view of the abandoned town of Ghul

On the approach to the canyon parking, there are numerous viewpoints. From the parking area (which is also a camping spot, coordinates: 23.193851, 57.201354), many hiking trails start along the so-called ‘balcony’ above the Wadi Ghul canyon. The hiking trails go in two opposite directions. In one direction, there are excellent views of the canyon and also the peak of Jebel Shams (Jebel Shams, the highest mountain in Oman — 3018 meters). The trail in the opposite direction (north) leads to the ghost town of Ghul after about six kilometers. Ghost towns are not uncommon in Oman. The decline of settlements mainly occurred due to the lack of drinking water and other difficulties of life in the desert. In Al Hamra, there is also an abandoned quarter (or ‘Old Town’, with a viewpoint on it).

Wadi Ghul is the deepest canyon in the Middle East, often compared to the American Grand Canyon
Wadi Ghul is the deepest canyon in the Middle East, often compared to the American Grand Canyon

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to drive up to the peak of Jebel Shams. The road from the north side is blocked by the military as there is a radar station located there. However, if desired, you can walk along the south slope. A marked trail (12 kilometers) starts from the camping site and takes about three to four hours to walk.

Near Wadi Ghul, you can stay for a couple of days in one of the hotels (for example, Canyon Rest House, Jebel Shams Resort) located in the nearby village of Al Haym, four kilometers from the start of the hiking trails. A night there will cost about 120–150 USD.

Abandoned Village of Wadi Bani Habib

Wadi Bani Habib is a popular tourist destination, an abandoned settlement also located within the Jebel Akhdar plateau. On the way to the village, several viewpoints are encountered. You can walk through the settlement — look at the abandoned houses, some of which stand without doors and windows. The village itself consists of two levels connected by a stone staircase. A couple of hours is enough to see everything.

You can walk through the abandoned settlement of Wadi Bani Habib, looking at the abandoned houses, some of which stand without doors and windows
You can walk through the abandoned settlement of Wadi Bani Habib, looking at the abandoned houses, some of which stand without doors and windows

In the vicinity, there are a couple of other interesting places. The first is the village of Al Ayn with terraced multi-level fields where locals grow apricots, pomegranates, and walnuts. Here, in the season (mid-spring), the famous Damascus rose also grows.

The second is the Diana’s Point viewpoint. In November 1986, a helicopter with Princess Diana and Prince Charles (the current King of Great Britain) on board landed at this then-desolate place. Left alone with nature, she read a book while he painted the surrounding landscapes. The beauty of the views can now be appreciated from the viewpoint built at this memorable spot. Besides the viewpoint, there is now a five-star Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar spa hotel located there. In the vicinity, there are many other, less expensive hotels.

In November 1986, a helicopter with Princess Diana and Prince Charles on board landed on this then-desolate viewpoint. Left alone with nature, she read a book while he painted the surrounding landscapes
In November 1986, a helicopter with Princess Diana and Prince Charles on board landed on this then-desolate viewpoint. Left alone with nature, she read a book while he painted the surrounding landscapes

Returning back through Birkat Al Mouz, you can stop at the castle and viewpoint, which offers panoramic views of the modern settlement and another abandoned ghost quarter — a whole complex of mud-brick houses surrounded by palm trees.

Returning back through Birkat Al Mouz, you can make a stop at the castle and viewpoint, from where panoramic views open up to the modern settlement and another abandoned ghost quarter
Returning back through Birkat Al Mouz, you can make a stop at the castle and viewpoint, from where panoramic views open up to the modern settlement and another abandoned ghost quarter

What Else to See

Wahiba Sands

190 kilometers from Muscat

The sandy desert of Ramlat al-Wahiba (180×80 kilometers) is located in northeastern Oman. In 1986, the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain published the results of a biodiversity study of the region. It turned out to be huge: 16,000 invertebrates and 200 other species of animal life.

In the sandy desert of Ramlat al-Wahiba, there are 16,000 different species of invertebrates and 200 other animals
In the sandy desert of Ramlat al-Wahiba, there are 16,000 different species of invertebrates and 200 other animals

The ruins of the old city of Ibra are another ghost town, and in the village of Al Mudhaireb, there are watchtowers and old carved doors.

The ruins of the old city of Ibra are another ghost town
The ruins of the old city of Ibra are another ghost town

The Wahiba Sands start from the towns of Al Wasil or Bidiya. Here, the ancient fortresses of Al Wasil and Al Mintarib are also preserved. Further south begins the realm of yellow sands and Bedouin settlements. The road continues for another 20 kilometers and approximately ends at this point.

The Wahiba Sands begin at the towns of Al Wasil or Bidiya. Here, the ancient fortresses of Al Wasil and Al Mintarib are also preserved
The Wahiba Sands begin at the towns of Al Wasil or Bidiya. Here, the ancient fortresses of Al Wasil and Al Mintarib are also preserved

If you have limited time (say, a few hours), somewhere in the vicinity of where the road ends, you can leave your car and go for a walk on the nearest dunes, from which the Bedouin settlements are clearly visible, and the desert seems endless.

If you have little time (say, a few hours), somewhere in the vicinity of where the road ends, you can leave your car and take a walk on the nearest dunes
If you have little time (say, a few hours), somewhere in the vicinity of where the road ends, you can leave your car and take a walk on the nearest dunes

If you have half a day, you can take a jeep tour right on the spot. The going rate is about 20 rials (51.97 USD) per hour for a car. Driving through the dunes on your own without a guide is extremely risky, as there’s a high chance of getting stuck and then spending a long time trying to get out. Alternatively, you can book a one-day tour from Muscat on viator.com.

To fully immerse yourself in the desert atmosphere, you can stay a couple of nights near a Bedouin camp. On the outskirts of the Wahiba Sands, there are many camping sites and hotels. Exploring the desert will be more comprehensive: you can take a guided jeep tour, witness the sunrise and sunset, and possibly see local reptiles and amphibians, which only emerge in the evening, as the sand is very hot during the day. You are guaranteed to see camels — they are the best friends of the Bedouins. You might also be lucky enough to see gazelles — a type of antelope.To fully immerse yourself in the desert atmosphere, you can stay a couple of nights near a Bedouin camp. On the outskirts of the Wahiba Sands, there are many camping sites and hotels

To fully immerse yourself in the desert atmosphere, you can stay a couple of nights near a Bedouin camp. On the outskirts of the Wahiba Sands, there are many camping sites and hotels
To fully immerse yourself in the desert atmosphere, you can stay a couple of nights near a Bedouin camp. On the outskirts of the Wahiba Sands, there are many camping sites and hotels

Sur Port

200 kilometers from Muscat

Sur is the center of traditional dhow (dou) boatbuilding and fishing. Until the mid-19th century, the city was an important trading port, largely due to the slave trade. This period is commemorated by a well-protected bay surrounded by watchtowers. The towers can be viewed from the lighthouse. Besides, Sur has a colorful traditional market and a fort.

Until the mid-19th century, Sur was an important trading port, largely due to the slave trade. This period is commemorated by a well-protected bay surrounded by watchtowers
Until the mid-19th century, Sur was an important trading port, largely due to the slave trade. This period is commemorated by a well-protected bay surrounded by watchtowers

At the city’s shipyard, for just one rial (2.60 USD), you can watch the construction of the famous dhow boats. They are made by hand, and the construction of one boat takes about nine months, which accounts for their high cost. Even the sails of these boats are hand-sewn — such is the Omani commitment to their traditions. More about the history of shipbuilding and trade is told in the city’s Maritime Museum.

Sur is the center for building traditional dhow boats and fishing. Photo: Musandam Dhow Tours / Unsplash.com
Sur is the center for building traditional dhow boats and fishing. Photo: Musandam Dhow Tours / Unsplash.com

45 kilometers from Sur, part of the Ras Al Hadd coast is designated as a nature reserve. Here, green turtles are protected. In some areas of the beach, at night and at dawn, you can observe young turtles hatching from their eggs and returning to the sea. The Gulf of Oman, with its clear waters and coral reefs, is a good spot for diving and snorkeling.

45 kilometers from Sur, part of the Ras Al Hadd coast is designated as a nature reserve. Here, green turtles are protected. Photo: Aaron Katz / Unsplash.com
45 kilometers from Sur, part of the Ras Al Hadd coast is designated as a nature reserve. Here, green turtles are protected. Photo: Aaron Katz / Unsplash.com

Approximately midway between Muscat and Sur is the Bimmah sinkhole. It is a naturally formed karst depression, about 20 meters deep and 40 meters in diameter. Around it, pathways have been laid for tourists, and a natural park has been created. Entrance is free. The sinkhole is connected to the waters of the Gulf of Oman by a naturally occurring tunnel, so the water in it is clean and suitable for swimming. The place is popular with locals, so it is important to remember the dress code when swimming.

Bimmah is a naturally formed karst sinkhole. It is about 20 meters deep and 40 meters in diameter. Around it, paths have been laid for tourists, and a natural park has been created. Photo: Katerina Kerdi / Unsplash.com
Bimmah is a naturally formed karst sinkhole. It is about 20 meters deep and 40 meters in diameter. Around it, paths have been laid for tourists, and a natural park has been created. Photo: Katerina Kerdi / Unsplash.com

Mountain Oasis Wadi Bani Khalid

240 kilometers from Muscat

Wadi Bani Khalid is the most popular and beautiful mountain oasis in Oman (it is part of the same Hajar mountain system). A trip there is often combined with a visit to the Wahiba Sands — there is a distance of about 50 kilometers between them.

Wadi Bani Khalid is the most popular and beautiful mountain oasis in Oman. A trip there is often combined with a visit to the Wahiba Sands — there is a distance of about 50 kilometers between them
Wadi Bani Khalid is the most popular and beautiful mountain oasis in Oman. A trip there is often combined with a visit to the Wahiba Sands — there is a distance of about 50 kilometers between them

The oasis is named after the river that originates in the mountains and flows through 11 villages and towns. In winter, it is quite full, but in summer it dries up, leaving several small lakes in the deepest places. At one of the widest parts of the river, a full-fledged resort is equipped (with parking here). From here, you can drive to small villages with mosques — to see the life of the locals. You can also hike up the trail and look down at the twists of the riverbed.

It takes about 10–15 minutes to walk from the parking to the resort. There is a simple café with good homemade food. From the resort along the gorge (there are frequent signs), you can walk to a cave, near which local boys are ready to guide you inside for a small fee. Climbing into the cave is quite uncomfortable: the ceiling is very low. The guide will show you two levels of halls, as well as the place where the underground waters begin.

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Most people come to the oasis to swim. The water here is very warm. There are many spots where you can swim and enter the water. Since the place is popular with locals, care should be taken with the swimming dress code. Women should wear a closed swimsuit, preferably leggings, and men are less strict, but many keep their shirts on. When entering the water, you encounter small fish that tend to find something on the surface of the skin — presumably dead skin cells. This is not painful or dangerous at all. In Southeast Asia, there is a popular tourist activity in the form of foot baths, where tiny fish do the same to the skin. It’s a kind of natural peeling.

Mostly everyone comes to the oasis to swim. The water here is very warm. There are many areas where you can swim and enter the water
Mostly everyone comes to the oasis to swim. The water here is very warm. There are many areas where you can swim and enter the water

Sohar — the Largest Fish Market

240 kilometers from Muscat

A major port and historical city on the coast of the Persian Gulf. Known since the 1st century AD, it was originally called ‘Omana’, from which the country’s name presumably originated. According to legends, Sinbad the Sailor was born in this city. Sohar hosts perhaps the most famous fish market in the country. It operates from six to ten in the morning. Located right on the shore, the goods are brought in boxes directly from the boats. Therefore, the fish is diverse and fresh. They can clean and cut it right in front of you. Sellers and buyers are mostly men.

Right there, in the market building and nearby, there are several restaurants where they cook dishes from fresh fish from the market. Among the historical attractions is a fort from the 13th-14th centuries. In 2016, the Sultan Qaboos Mosque was built near the fort. It is much smaller than the one in Muscat, but also luxurious and exquisite. A trip to Sohar is rationally combined with visits to Barka, Nahal, and Al-Rustaq. It hardly makes sense to go here separately due to the distance from Muscat.

Among the historical attractions in Sohar is a fort built in the 13th-14th centuries. Photo: Vilphy Pulickan / Wikimedia.org
Among the historical attractions in Sohar is a fort built in the 13th-14th centuries. Photo: Vilphy Pulickan / Wikimedia.org

Musandam Peninsula and Exclave

550 kilometers from Muscat

This is an exclave of Oman, separated from the main territory. It holds a critical strategic importance for Oman in terms of controlling the Strait of Hormuz. Most of this province’s (muhafazah) territory is mountainous. Populated areas are only on the northwest side, where a road connects the province with the UAE (the nearest city is Ras al-Khaimah). The capital of the province is the city of Al Khasab. There is a Portuguese fort from the 17th century in the city.

Musandam is known for its secluded beaches. Good beaches include Bassa and Khor Najd. The coastline of Musandam is highly indented and consists of mountains. Traditional dhow boats offer trips around the local fjords. Excellent snorkeling can be found around the bay of Al Khasab. There are many companies in the city port offering tours.

Musandam is interesting for its secluded beaches. Good beaches include Bassa and Khor Najd. Photo: Iwona Castiello d’Antonio / Unsplash.com
Musandam is interesting for its secluded beaches. Good beaches include Bassa and Khor Najd. Photo: Iwona Castiello d’Antonio / Unsplash.com

How to get there. In addition to tours, the fjords can be viewed by taking a ferry to Musandam — from 13 rials (33.78 USD) one way. Ferries to Al Khasab depart from the city of Shinas. The journey takes about five hours. The schedule changes every year. Alternatives to the ferry include a domestic flight with Oman Air (34 rials (88.36 USD) one way) and a car trip through UAE territory. Another option is to visit the region from Dubai or Ras al-Khaimah.

The coastline of Musandam is highly indented and consists of mountains. Traditional dhow boats offer trips around the local fjords. Photo: Julius Yls / Unsplash.comSalalah
The coastline of Musandam is highly indented and consists of mountains. Traditional dhow boats offer trips around the local fjords. Photo: Julius Yls / Unsplash.com

Salalah

1000 kilometers from Muscat

The city is located in the southernmost part of the country, the capital of Dhofar province. The long journey and the near absence of attractions along the way exclude Salalah from the tourist routes of most travelers.

In Salalah, you can visit the Sultan Qaboos Mosque and the 18th-century Sultan Qaboos Palace. Salalah is his native city. A bit away from the city center is the Frankincense Land Museum. The Dhofar province is widely known for its frankincense trees. Thanks to this, the province has long been called the Land of Frankincense and produced frankincense for export not only to Arab countries but also to European countries. The markets of Salalah are infused with frankincense — it is burned everywhere. Frankincense is used for house fumigation and the production of unique perfumes. Salalah also has a very good sandy beach.

In the city of Salalah, you can visit the Sultan Qaboos Mosque. Salalah is his native city. Photo: Riyadh Al Balushi, Rrburke / Wikimedia.org
In the city of Salalah, you can visit the Sultan Qaboos Mosque. Salalah is his native city. Photo: Riyadh Al Balushi, Rrburke / Wikimedia.org

In the vicinity of Salalah, there are several scenic waterfalls, such as Ain Athum, Ain Hor, and Wadi Darbat. On the coast is the Djebel Samhan nature reserve. The viewpoints offer magnificent views of the coastline and surrounding mountains. In the morning, you can find yourself literally above the clouds due to the rolling fog, which occurs quite often here.

On the coast is the Djebel Samhan nature reserve. From the viewpoints, there are magnificent views of the coastline and surrounding mountains. Photo: Arisa S. / Unsplash.com
On the coast is the Djebel Samhan nature reserve. From the viewpoints, there are magnificent views of the coastline and surrounding mountains. Photo: Arisa S. / Unsplash.com

Another curious place near Salalah is the ‘anti-gravity hill’ (Gravity Hill Salalah). Here, on a small section of the road between the cities of Mirbat and Salalah, passing through Wadi Hin, you can observe the following phenomenon. If you stop the car here and turn off the engine, the car will slowly roll uphill on its own. The locals may explain this phenomenon to you as a powerful magnetic field or even a gravitational anomaly. In reality, the phenomenon of the magnetic mountain is an optical illusion. Due to the terrain’s peculiarities, a slight incline of the hill appears to be an ascent. There are quite a few such places around the world.

In the neighboring city of Taqah (30 kilometers from Salalah), you can visit a 19th-century castle, which is different in style from the forts described above, with its tower and wall shapes. Further east in the Rori Valley is the Sumhuram archaeological complex from around the 3rd century BC. Here, remains of a palace, supposedly belonging to the legendary Queen of Sheba, were found.

About 160 kilometers north of Salalah are the ruins of the lost city of Ubar (18.255648, 53.646985), discovered by the famous Lawrence of Arabia. He was a British archaeologist, traveler, and military spy during World War I. He called these places the ‘Atlantis of the Sands’, believing it to be the legendary lost city, destroyed by natural disasters or the will of the gods.

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How to get there. From Muscat to Salalah, there is a bus service, the journey takes 13 hours, and the cost is eight rials (20.79 USD) one way or 12.5 rials (32.48 USD) round trip. An alternative is a domestic flight. Oman Air flies from Muscat to Salalah twice a day. The cost is from 43.5 rials (113.04 USD) one way.

Adventures & Activities

Diving in Daymaniyat Islands

Home to a plethora of marine life, the Daymaniyat Islands offer some of the best diving experiences in the Middle East. From colorful coral reefs to mysterious underwater caves, divers are in for a treat.

Dune Bashing in Wahiba Sands

For an exhilarating ride, try dune bashing in the Wahiba Sands. Four-wheel-drive vehicles navigate the sandy slopes, offering a thrilling experience unlike any other.

Trekking in the Al Hajar Mountains

For those who prefer the heights, trekking in the Al Hajar Mountains offers challenging trails with stunning views. The mountains are divided into two ranges: Al Hajar al Gharbi (Western Al Hajar) and Al Hajar ash Sharqi (Eastern Al Hajar).

Rock Climbing at Jabal Misht

Jabal Misht offers some of the most challenging and rewarding rock climbing experiences in the Arabian Peninsula. With a sheer limestone cliff face, it is a must-visit for experienced climbers.

Sea Kayaking in the Fjords of Musandam

Musandam Peninsula, located in the northernmost part of Oman, is known for its beautiful fjords. Sea kayaking here offers a unique opportunity to navigate through dramatic cliffs and isolated coastal villages.

Camel Riding in the Desert

A visit to Oman would not be complete without a camel ride through the desert. Not only does it provide a unique mode of transportation, but it’s also a way to connect with the region’s history and traditions.

Paragliding over Zighy Bay

For an aerial view of Oman’s magnificent landscapes, try paragliding over Zighy Bay. The experience provides breathtaking views of the coastline and the surrounding mountains.

Off-Roading through Wadis

Oman’s numerous wadis are perfect for off-roading adventures. Whether you are an experienced driver or a beginner, the valleys offer a variety of terrains to explore.

Cave Exploration in Al Hoota and Majlis al Jinn

For those who are intrigued by what lies beneath the Earth’s surface, cave exploration offers another level of adventure. Al Hoota Cave is an easily accessible choice for families, while Majlis al Jinn is one of the largest cave chambers in the world, ideal for seasoned spelunkers.

Sandboarding in the Dunes

If snowboarding or skateboarding is your thing, why not try sandboarding on the dunes of Oman? It’s a fun and unique way to experience the desert landscape.

Whether you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping thrills or a unique way to explore Oman’s natural beauty, the country offers a range of adventures and activities to suit every interest and skill level. There’s no shortage of ways to make your trip to Oman an unforgettable experience.

What to bring home

The world-famous Omani brand is the premium perfume ‘Amouage’. It is sold all over the world, but in Oman, its homeland, you can find perhaps the widest range.

The Khanjar dagger is a symbol of Oman. It is depicted on the country’s flag and emblem and is a traditional element of a man’s attire. Throughout the country, literally in every tourist shop, there is a huge assortment of daggers – from small and low quality to real works of art. An authentic dagger made of tempered steel in silver sheaths will cost from 200 rials (519.74 USD). There are also many souvenirs with the image or in the shape of daggers, such as jewelry.

The Khanjar dagger is a symbol of Oman. It is depicted on the flag and emblem of the country and is a traditional element of a man's attire. Photo: Richard Bartz / Wikimedia.org
The Khanjar dagger is a symbol of Oman. It is depicted on the flag and emblem of the country and is a traditional element of a man’s attire. Photo: Richard Bartz / Wikimedia.org

Frankincense is another hallmark of Oman. The main scent, of course, is frankincense. Oman is the world’s largest supplier of frankincense, so its pungent aroma pervades the air almost everywhere. Omanis use frankincense not only to scent rooms but also to treat illnesses. Frankincense is sold in markets and souvenir shops as resin pieces in jars and packets. The price is quite low — about half a rial (1.30 USD) per package. Other popular incenses include myrrh, sandalwood, and musk.

For edible souvenirs from Oman, dates are a popular choice. There are about 40 known varieties here, with around 150 tons produced annually.

Apart from the souvenirs mentioned above, from Oman you can bring traditional ceramics and copperware, fabrics, national clothing, carpets, Middle Eastern sweets, and wooden boxes common to the Arab world.

From Oman, you can bring back ceramic and copper cookware, fabrics, national clothing, and carpets. Photo: Journaway Rundreisen / Unsplash.com
From Oman, you can bring back ceramic and copper cookware, fabrics, national clothing, and carpets. Photo: Journaway Rundreisen / Unsplash.com

Food

The cuisine of Oman is a mix of culinary traditions from the Middle East, Africa, and India.

Main dishes. Lamb and beef are common meats. Shuwa is a whole lamb roasted in a pit over coals. Al-mudbi (muthbe) is meat roasted on stones. Makadid (makadid) is minced roasted meat. Makbus (machbus) is an Arabic dish similar to pilaf, made with rice and chicken or fish, as well as spices and often dates. Harees is a porridge (usually for breakfast) made from boiled wheat with chicken. Among the more unusual is dried shark meat, including as a salad with vegetables.

Shuwa is a traditional Omani dish of a whole lamb roasted in a pit over coals. Photo: Rafeeque K K / Flickr.com
Shuwa is a traditional Omani dish of a whole lamb roasted in a pit over coals. Photo: Rafeeque K K / Flickr.com

Side dishes. Saluna is a vegetable gravy, bamia is okra pods stewed with tomatoes; marak dal is boiled lentils with tomato paste; dengu is white peas; jareesh is crushed barley with added curry. The traditional bread is called khubz.

Desserts. Halwa is not the type we are familiar with; it’s a ground mixture of dates, starch, agar-agar, sugar, cardamom, saffron, and nuts. Tamar dates are candied dates; lokhemat are small fried doughnuts with honey and cardamom; halawet Ahmad is an unusual traditional sweet made from fried vermicelli, condensed milk, almond powder, sugar, and coconut pulp.

Lokhemat are small fried doughnuts with honey and cardamom. Photo: Sharonang / Pixabay.com
Lokhemat are small fried doughnuts with honey and cardamom. Photo: Sharonang / Pixabay.com

Traditional drinks include tea and lemon juice with mint. Kahwa, black Arabic coffee brewed in a pot with cardamom, is also popular.

Apart from traditional dishes, in Oman, there are many places selling shawarma, kebabs, and falafel.

Accommodation

Oman offers a wide variety of hotels. In the capital, you can stay in very good hotels such as Park Inn, Radisson, Ramada for up to 60–80 USD per night. There are also higher-level hotels like Ritz-Carlton and Kempinski (usually with their own beach) for 250–350 USD per day. In provincial towns, hotels are generally simpler, but the choice is still large, even in areas like Jebel Akhdar mountains or oases. Overall, despite the country’s lack of popularity, finding a hotel is not a problem, even in the smallest settlements.

Planning Your Trip

Transport in the country

Car rental. Oman is large, and attractions are spread throughout the country, making it most convenient to travel by car. Many international rental companies, such as Avis and Hertz, are represented at Muscat Airport. Local services (e.g., Nabrent) offer lower prices and better conditions. They, for example, don’t limit daily mileage and don’t require a deposit. A sedan like Toyota Yaris or Kia Rio costs about 16–17 Rials (41.58 – 44.18 USD) per day. An all-wheel-drive vehicle costs from 25 Rials (64.97 USD) per day.

If going to the mountains – to Wadi Ghul canyon or other places on the Jebel Akhdar plateau, it’s better to rent something like a Renault Duster or Nissan Pathfinder. Signs warning of the preference for a ‘large’ car and the need to drive at low speeds are placed at the approach to mountain attractions. The roads are very good – there is almost no off-road. But the road slope can be too steep for a regular car.

If traveling to the mountains - to Wadi Ghul canyon or other places on the Jebel Akhdar plateau, it's better to rent something like a Renault Duster or Nissan Pathfinder. Photo: Makalu / Pixabay.com
If traveling to the mountains – to Wadi Ghul canyon or other places on the Jebel Akhdar plateau, it’s better to rent something like a Renault Duster or Nissan Pathfinder. Photo: Makalu / Pixabay.com

Public transportation. Buses run between major population centers – Muscat, Sohar, Sur, Salalah. On the website, you can find all the necessary information about bus routes, schedules, and fares: the City section is dedicated to buses in Muscat, Intercity to intercity routes. For example, from Muscat to Sohar, you can take buses 41 or 43 – the journey takes three hours, and the price is 5.5 Rials (14.29 USD) one way. Buses 100 and 102 run from Muscat to Salalah – the journey takes 13 hours, and the ticket costs eight Rials (20.79 USD).

Visa

Here’s what you need to know about Oman’s Visa Policy:

  1. Visa-Free Entry for GCC Countries: Nationals from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, can enter Oman without a visa​​.
  2. Visa-Free Entry for 103 Countries (including USA, UK, EU countries, Canada etc.): Oman offers visa-free entry to tourists from 103 nations for up to 14 days. This visa-free stay can be extended once for a fee. After the visa-free period, visitors must apply for a one-month e-Visa, which costs OMR 20, or they can opt for a multi-entry visa valid for a year, provided certain conditions are met and each stay does not exceed one month​​​​. These countries are highlighted green on the map below.
  3. COVID-19 Restrictions Lifted: Oman has removed all COVID-19 restrictions, and visitors are not required to provide vaccination status for entry
Visa policy of Oman (c) Wikipedia

When to Go

The comfortable time to visit Oman is from October to April. Summers are very hot. From June to September, temperatures can reach up to plus 45 degrees Celsius. However, logically, this is the time when there will be the fewest tourists.

The comfortable time to visit Oman is from October to April. Summers are very hot. Photo: Arisa S. / Unsplash.com
The comfortable time to visit Oman is from October to April. Summers are very hot. Photo: Arisa S. / Unsplash.com

How to get there

Direct flights. As of 2023, several Central European cities offer direct flights to Muscat, the capital of Oman. These direct flights are available from major cities such as Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and Zurich. The airlines operating these routes include well-known carriers like Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines, and Oman Air. Prices for direct flights vary from 400 to 650 USD. And, of course, it is also possible to reach the destination with layovers at major transport hubs such as Istanbul (Pegasus, Turkish Airlines), Dubai (Emirates, FlyDubai), Abu Dhabi (Etihad, WizzAir), and Manama (GulfAir).

Saudi Arabia. The first border checkpoint between Saudi Arabia and Oman, Ramlat Khaliya, opened only in 2006. For this purpose, new highways were specially constructed in both countries. The border can be crossed by car, but there is no bus service between the two countries. The distance between Muscat and the nearest major city in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh or Dammam) is about 1500 kilometers.

UAE. There is a regular bus service between Dubai and Muscat. The carrier is Al Khanjry Transport, and the route passes through the city of Hatta, where the eponymous checkpoint is located. Bus tickets are sold only at ticket offices. In Dubai, the office is located in the Deira area near the airport; in Muscat, the office is in the Ruwi area. There are three daily departures – at 7:00, 15:00, 21:00 from Dubai and at 6:00, 15:00, 21:00 from Muscat. The journey time is about six hours, and a one-way ticket costs ten Rials (25.99 YSD). The Omani company Mwasalat announced flights from Muscat to the UAE starting from October 1st. The ticket will cost 11.5 Rials (29.88 USD).

The border between the UAE and Oman can also be crossed near the Emirati city of Al Ain. There are no direct buses across the border, but it can be crossed independently (almost within the city limits). From the border town of Al Buraimi, there are direct buses to Muscat. You need route 41 (already mentioned above), operated by Mwasalat.

Money

The national currency of Oman is the Omani Rial. One Rial equals 1000 baisa. The Omani Rial is the third highest-valued currency in the world (1 Omani Rial is approximately equivalent to 2.60 US dollars), only surpassed by the Kuwaiti Dinar and Bahraini Dinar. Credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s advisable to have a small amount of cash, about 10–20 Rials, for purchases in markets or small shops. If bringing cash into the country, it’s better to have US dollars, as they have a more favorable exchange rate compared to other popular currencies.

Omani Rial current exchange rates

  • 10 OMR = $25.99 or $1 = 0.38  Omani Rial
  • 10 OMR = €24.02 or €1 = 0.42  Omani Rial

Other currencies:

  • 10 OMR = 20.44 British Pounds
  • 10 OMR = 39.25 Australian Dollar
  • 10 OMR = 35.63 Canadian Dollar
  • 10 OMR = 279.18 Swedish Krona
  • 10 OMR = 102.36 Polish Zloty
  • 10 OMR = 594.02 Czech Koruna
  • 10 OMR = 35,517.88 South Korean Won
  • 10 OMR = 184.80 Chinese Yuan
  • 10 OMR = 4,081.22 Japanese Yen

Useful Websites

  • Oman Tourism Official Website – The official website for tourism in Oman, offering comprehensive information on attractions, activities, and visa requirements.
  • Lonely Planet Oman Guide – Trusted travel guide offering tips on what to see, where to stay, and how to get around in Oman.
  • TripAdvisor Oman Forum – A community forum where travelers share their experiences, tips, and advice about visiting Oman.
  • XE Currency Converter – Useful for checking current exchange rates between your currency and the Omani Rial.
  • Oman Air – The national airline of Oman, providing flight options and special deals for traveling to and from the country.
  • Booking.com for Oman – A popular platform for booking accommodations, ranging from luxury hotels to budget stays.
  • Rome2rio – Helps you figure out the best way to get from one place to another within Oman, whether by bus, car, or flight.
  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) – A service for U.S. citizens traveling to, or living in, a foreign country to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions.
  • World Nomads Travel Insurance – Offers travel insurance that covers a range of adventure activities, a good option for the adventurous traveler.
  • Oman Meteorology – Official website for weather forecasts in Oman, helpful for planning activities during your trip.

Oman is a country that promises an enriching travel experience, offering everything from stunning natural landscapes and adventure activities to a rich cultural heritage and delectable cuisine. Whether you’re an adventure junkie, a history buff, or someone simply looking to unwind in a unique setting, Oman has something for everyone.

Text and photos: Alexander Stezhkin

Cover: Lena Balk

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