My 17 tips for Oman explorers
For those seeking more than an overview and needing further details, links to more detailed articles can be found in the subsections.
Where is Oman located?
Oman is located at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Arabian Sea. The capital Muscat is located about 5300km away from Berlin. Oman ‘s neighbors from north to south are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
What is special about Oman?
Despite its proximity to these sometimes troubled and unstable states, Oman is an oasis of peace and security. The people are exceptionally friendly, even downright cordial. Oman offers everything for a perfect vacation. The Arab culture, wonderful desert and coastal landscapes, mountains, green oases, small fishing villages and lots of beach, sun and sea. The climate is mild in winter. Very hot in summer though.
Those who make a round trip in Oman can rely on a good infrastructure.
Oman is a sultanate, meaning it was ruled by Sultan Qaboos for many years. The latter attached particular importance to the preservation of tradition despite the oil wealth and modernization. Bedouins are as much a part of Oman as modern cars.
I love living in Oman. The combination of friendly people, the culture and the modern influences is a dream. Especially as a woman, I feel very safe here. The common prejudices are not confirmed at all.
Why travel to Oman? What awaits me on my vacation?
An uncomplicated journey, a good infrastructure, a smooth introduction to the Arab culture, these are some of the many reasons for me to live here and in general to travel to Oman. Just as Thailand lends itself to the first trip to South East Asia, Oman lends itself to the first trip to the Orient. No matter if all-inclusive or individual for every type of traveler this country offers great experiences.
When is the best time to travel to Oman?
The best time to travel to Oman is winter. When the temperatures in Europe drop in October, the pleasant time in Oman begins. Daytime temperatures are then around 25° degrees until February. At night it is mild and pleasant 20 °. The sun shines between nine and ten hours a day. The amount of rainfall is usually negligible.
More information about the best time to travel to Oman can be found here! And if you are interested in the weather in Oman, then check out my impressive weather post!
Overall, it rains in Oman only a tenth of the amount in Central Europe. Only on trips to the mountains you should check the weather. Very heavy rainfall can occur here. In summer (April to September), temperatures rise on average up to 35°. At noon it can get quite 40°.
What is the best way to travel?
I recommend arriving by plane. Oman Air and Gulf Air fly directly to Oman. Alternatively, there are also cheap flights via Dubai or the other Gulf countries with their own airlines.
Those who want to arrive by land or by ship face numerous restrictions regarding the freedom of travel and also security of neighboring countries. It is possible to travel by ship from Iran or to enter the country via the United Arab Emirates.
Oman flight time – non-stop sprint vs. anticipation extension with stopover
Before you get familiar with the possibilities of your air shuttle to Oman, you should consider where your priorities lie and what your holiday days might allow. You have the option of heading to Oman via direct flight or making a nice stopover in a destination that adds additional experiences elsewhere to your trip.
Nonstop variant with Oman Air
Oman Air has the ultimate monopoly when it comes to a direct flight to Oman. Direct flights are operated from the airports in Frankfurt (Muscat and Salalah are served from here) and Munich. With about 6.5 hours, you are comparatively not even on the move for a complete full-time working day. Look forward to using this time to relax and anticipate.
Stopover variant with international airlines
The Oman flight time for this option depends on the stopover destination. If you fly via London Heathrow, which is in the opposite direction, you’ll be on the road longer than if you stop in the emirate of Dubai. For both options you have to calculate between 15 and 18 hours. But consider whether it might be a smart move to lard the stopover with extra vacation days. After all, a necklace also looks more beautiful when it is studded with pearls!
How can I travel in Oman?
Public transportation is available within Muscat, but not beyond the city limits. If you don’t want to travel by car, you can take the coach or cab or opt for a domestic flight. Oman does not have a railroad line.
If you want to discover Oman uncomplicated and without much effort, it is best to take the car. With your own rental car, possibly also with a local driver, the freedom is greatest. Most public transportation does not go to all the sights. If you want to discover the desert, the mountains or wadis, you should choose the car.
The transport network and navigation
The transport network is very good both inside and outside the cities. I like to drive myself from A to B. I either use the navigation system or the road signs, which are also available in English. Off the roads, however, wanted to rely on a GPS or good maps to not get lost. Of course, a driver saves you this trouble.
For those who want to go off-road in the desert or in the mountains, a vehicle with an all-wheel drive is recommended. This is not only safer but also more fun.
How safe is Oman?
Crime – or better “non-crime
According to the Foreign Office and the crime rate is very low. Those who are familiar with the official warnings know that they are usually very cautious. Only those who want to go to the border areas with neighboring countries should take precautions.
Oman Travel Warning – German Foreign Office and the “Safety first!” Principle
Even though Oman is considered a safe destination in the global scheme of things, there are some glowing points that you should be aware of. The authorities take the safety of travelers very seriously and continuously monitor the situation on the ground. Your first port of call for all security-related questions is the website of the German Foreign Office. In addition to a worldwide security alert on the terrorist situation, you will also find information on problems in neighboring countries, which you should read in advance if you are planning an excursion near the border.
Domestic situation, crime and piracy – danger often lurks in ignorance
The situation with the neighboring country of Yemen, for which a separate travel warning has been issued, is particularly dicey. As there are warnings against traveling to this country due to armed conflicts between rebels and even Germans in the country are asked to leave, you should especially avoid the border region in the district of Dhofar.
The risk of robbery and theft is low throughout Oman, but concentrated in the tourist regions. Make sure you have important documents and money close to your body! If you are traveling by ship off the coasts, take special care. The risk of hijackings and pirate attacks still exists.
In winter, very heavy rains with flooding are possible. In summer, it’s the cyclones that can spoil your vacation fun. I have been lucky so far. It never got extreme until now.
Source & further current info: Federal Foreign Office
Into which regions is Oman divided?
Capital Area – Capital Madness at the zenith of contrasts
Modern, traditional and damn real: The Capital Area between the western city of Seeb and the eastern Quriat surrounds the capital Muscat like a pearl and manages the balancing act between old and new Oman like hardly any other.
In the approximately 50 km long area between the coast of the northeastern Gulf of Oman and the imposing Hajar Mountains, the most magnificent buildings and chic shopping malls duel daily in the hustle and bustle of the region with archaic architecture in the face of Oriental history. The dream of the real Arabia becomes reality in the Capital Area and thus clearly distinguishes the region from the primarily artificially constructed urban conglomerates around Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Discover Muscat and its surroundings!
Discover the fascinating contradiction between the pulsating hustle and bustle of the capital and a fabulous silence that hangs like a veil over scenic parks and blooming gardens. While the beautiful sandy beaches in the west are ideal for long walks, the characteristic bays in the east are often only accessible by water.
Stroll through the traditional souks with their bustling activity and indulge in the regional delicacies. Visit historic forts and impressive mosques with their unique history and find your personal balance between retreat and adventure.
Batinah – Fruit Delight, Fortifications and the Adventurousness of Sinbad
Oman’s drought and tangy fruit – a contradiction in terms? Not at all! In Batinah, you will find numerous fruit and vegetable growers offering a super tasty variety of healthy treats. About 350 km long is the plain that curves along the coast to the Gulf of Oman in the northeast.
Rainfall in Batinah is extremely abundant, so that the areas where fruit and vegetables are grown pop out of the ground like little oases. Snack on tasty dates, juicy limes and find out why vegetables ripen more aromatically under the Arabian sun.
Walk in the footsteps of Sinbad in the fort of Sohar. The stony walls have given you a taste for it? Continue your foray at the Barka Fort. Relax with a hot spring bath in Al-Rustaq and Nakhl and gain an insight into the arduous working life of the Omanis with a visit to the copper mines of Wadi Al Jizzi.
Al-Dhahirah – natural treasures of the earth in the industrial West
Located between the northern Hajar Mountains and the Arabian sand desert, the region in western Oman is a contrasting stronghold of the oil, salt and copper industries.
Away from the refreshing sea breeze, a blistering heat settles over the arid soil that harbors natural deposits. While copper was mined and smelted around the former pirate stronghold of Ibri thousands of years ago and caravans crossed the trade routes to neighboring states, oil fields and salt pans around Umm as-Samim adorn the desert-like scenery.
Here, literally every grain of sand is full of living history. A real highlight are the beehive tombs of the necropolis around Amlah and Bat. They have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and adorn mountain ridges like strings of pearls. Don’t worry! Missing them is almost impossible due to their characteristics.
If you go to the border region with Saudi Arabia, be sure to choose your vehicle, as the terrain is extremely difficult to drive on.
Al-Dakhiliyah – cultural Oman between gentleness and wildness
You are in the mood for spectacular photo motifs and breathtaking landscapes as far as the eye can see? In the north-central region you will find what you are looking for. The gigantic Wadi Nakhr Canyon, which stretches under the care of the town of Al Hamra, provides a sensational backdrop for extended hikes on the rocks.
The mighty canyon walls rise kilometers into the heat-saturated sky. At the Jebel Shams rock massif, the Balcony Walk takes you to the edge of the abyss. Pure thrill! For best visibility and to escape the sweltering heat of the day, early morning and evening tours are recommended. While the reflection of the sandstone formations paints delicate shades of orange on your skin, grayish-green limestone sediments swallow the hot temperatures.
Visit Nizwa, the former capital of Oman, and be enchanted by its unique architecture. Bahla is the clay mecca of the country and should not be missing from any tour plan with its fortress Hisn Tamah amidst gently swaying date palms.
Al-Sharqiyah – golden east, maritime fish cultures and traditional Bedouin life
No other region of Oman combines more subregions. Diverse landscapes form a distinctive trio that presents you with the rich variety of the Sultanate. Sand dunes come into focus in one place and, given the scenery, it doesn’t take much imagination to put oneself in the original life of the shepherds.
Herds of camels and sheep embody the daily life of the Bedouins and in the town of Badiya the “who’s who” meet for regular horse and camel races. You’ll find nautical flair in Al-Sharqiyah where the waves of the Arabian Sea lick your toes as you stroll along the beach and the heat-soaked earth kisses the Gulf of Oman. Night after night, fishermen brave the powerful waves to return with filled nets in the morning hours.
What for the locals is the daily struggle for income, gives you unique taste experiences in authentic surroundings. The trio completes a rural-urban mixed region between coastal charm and pastoral everyday life.
Al-Wusta – mysterious inland with dream beaches like from the picture book
One of Oman’s largest regions, Al-Wusta is framed by the western sandy Rub al-Khali desert, the southern district of Dhofar, and the Arabian Sea to the east. The emerald waters of the sea treat your eyes as you bask in the shallow water lagoons of the mud-strewn Bar Al Hikman peninsula.
On the protected Masirah Island, the dream of lonely Omani nights is more real than ever. It is considered a real insider tip for Arab longings. Take advantage of the foothills of the monsoon, plunge into surfing and kiteboarding adventures, spot interesting bird species like the ubiquitous waders, and greet rare species like the Arabian oryx, an antelope species native to the gravel plains.
On your tour you will pass impressive gas and oil fields, which testify to the wealth of this region. You want Oman pure and best all the epitomes of Arabia at once? Welcome to Al-Wusta! You can’t get more variety than that.
Dhofar – climatic phenomenon in the south conjures unique savannah bloom
If you are looking for solitude, you should avoid the southern region during the summer months. Fine mist molecules, caused by a spray initiated by the monsoon, transform the dry savannah into a green carpet between June and September. Omanis are celebrating the long-awaited end of the drought with this second season, and a trip to the region is correspondingly hot.
If you don’t want to miss the spectacle, a fantastic sight of mango trees, banana trees and coconut palms dancing in the wind awaits you. Dhofar is called the“Caribbean of the Orient“, but it is also the lap of the limestone mountains of the same name with numerous springs.
Immerse yourself in the provincial capital of Salalah, explore picturesque mountain villages, talk to locals and discover the secrets of the frankincense tree. If you had to describe how Oman smells, the frankincense tree ranks high on the list of ingredients. Its unique aroma will always accompany you on your journey through Oman.
Oman Embassy – German representation for a network with a double bottom
Those who are traveling to Oman for the first time and are not yet familiar with the country’s conditions may worry whether everything will run as smoothly in the Sultanate as it does back home. Everything is new and exciting, but also drives a thought wrinkle between some people’s brows due to a completely different culture. The feeling of being able to rely on a German representative on site in case of emergency makes you travel more relaxed.
Oman Embassy as a trusted partner in all security-related matters
The German Embassy in Oman is located in the capital Muscat. It is your first stop for travel and safety information. You get wind of political unrest directly here. Climatically noteworthy situations requiring adapted behavior are highlighted, as are vaccination recommendations and information on diseases such as dengue fever and malaria. You will learn about customs regulations, where failure to comply can result in severe fines and, in the worst case, even imprisonment.
Inform yourself rather once more than too little – Oman does not tolerate ignorance!
Documents for all situations
You have lost your passport and panic? The embassy will quickly issue you a replacement. If you want to get married in Oman, you can get marriage documents here. In addition, the Oman Embassy handles all visa issues.
Oman visa and currency – legitimacy to stay and a piece of country authenticity
As much as you may be tempted to just take off and immerse yourself in another world, there is one small bureaucratic matter you need to take care of before traveling to Oman. To enter the country, you need a visa. Don’t worry! To obtain it is not witchcraft (you will find the link below!).
You should also familiarize yourself with the Omani currency in advance and ideally have some cash with you, although a credit card is more practical. Great side effect: With the illustrative bills you hold a piece of Omani culture in your hands.
Apply for visa conveniently online
You can keep your pajamas on for the e-visa application. You apply online and receive the visa by e-mail. Note that while there is an emergency visa counter at the airport, wait times can be extremely long. The single entry tourist visa is valid for 30 days. Fancy a taste of Oman? If you enter the country several times a year, a visa valid for 1 year is your alternative.
Getting to Oman is simple and straightforward. A visa can be applied for online since spring 2018. This is the safest option, as the issuance of a tourist visa (For example, 30 € for about 40€) is not always guaranteed upon entry.
- Entry is only possible with a passport valid for six months.
- If you have a temporary passport, you should check with the responsible embassy before entering the country whether it is currently possible to enter the country with this passport.
- Entry with an identity card is generally not possible.
- Source and other current information: German Foreign Office
Currency Omani Rial
One Omani rial melts from 1,000 baisa. The currency is freely convertible and can thus be exchanged for another currency in unlimited amounts. Fluctuations in the value of the Omani rial are influenced by the U.S. dollar.
To get the best exchange rate, you should use a card to withdraw money from an ATM (be aware of possible withdrawal fees!) or use the state-licensed exchange offices. You’ll find them in all major cities.
When exchanging money in the bank and even more dramatically in the hotels you put useless on it. From the difference you can treat yourself to a nice souvenir instead.
You prefer to pull out the plastic card? You can’t go wrong with a Visa or Mastercard credit card.
Tip – Tip in advance
Stock up on a small supply of one-dollar bills, which are great for tipping!
Oman Hotels – Luxury and traditional charm like from 1001 nights
The hotel culture in Oman symbolizes the pride of Omanis in their Oriental traditions. Lovingly detailed with ornaments, a unique feel to the interior and the scent of Oman between the nostrils as you enter the lobby, Omani hotels appear in all star categories.
Depending on your budget and personal taste, you have the option to spend your Arabian nights amidst glitz & glam or to go low-budget and look for real bargains.
City hotel vs. desert camp – when architecture and nature merge
The standard is above average in all hotel categories. While you get pure pomp in the urban hotels, you have the opportunity to be closer than ever to the Arabian starry sky with accommodation integrated into the natural scenery.
Desert camps amid boldly blowing grains of sand create goosebumps as the sun whitewashes dunes in shades of orange and gold. Close your eyes and let camel caravans pass by in front of your inner eye. When you open it again, a camel in the flesh may give you a long-imprisoned look.
If you don’t feel like searching for a restaurant after an adventurous day, the hotels offer you international, but also exciting Arabic cuisine on a high level.
Oman tour operator – unique adventure tours, photo tours and expeditions
You want to enjoy your trip to Oman as relaxed as possible, but you don’t feel like profane mass tourism that sends tourists through the sceneries like in an assembly line? Don’t worry! Modern travel providers specialize in wonderful package tours that will confirm you the impression of traveling individually and feeling well taken care of.
Exceptional travel concepts with added value
If you’re open to new things and love a great cross-section of travel experiences, you’ll enjoy a unique treat with adventure travel. Tour operators offer you trips in small groups, where you can take advantage of the fact that tour guides can respond more intensively to your individual questions and wishes.
Lazing on the beach is too boring for you? If your day isn’t a real day without exercise, walking tours are your perfect choice. Explore the Hajjar Massif and the sandy desert of Rimal Al Wahiba, dive on a scuba diving safari or explore hill and dale on an off-road vehicle expedition.
If you’re photo-crazy and also think the beauty of Oman should be captured on digital celluloid, you’ve got a real trump card with photo travel. Experienced photographers will assist you with tips & tricks, create maximum photo time and help you get your “Best Pictures”.
Oman tour providers – fill up on spectacular tours with concentrated knowledge of the country
Guided tours have the advantage that you do not have to worry about route planning yourself. Sit back, relax and enjoy is the magic formula when you leave the planning to others.
With guided tours, your eyes are glued to the beautiful landscape for longer periods of time instead of your smartphone for restaurant recommendations, Google Maps for navigation purposes, or an app to locate the nearest gas station.
With a tour guide you will benefit from one or the other insider tip that Google is not telling you and you will get to talk to fellow travelers, which many solo travelers particularly appreciate.
City diving, sand bathing and snorkeling safari – Omani outdoor activities with guide
Popular tours include a trip from Muscat to neighboring Nizwa. You will visit the most beautiful forts, stroll through traditional souks and on the way you will see monumental forces of nature like the imposing Jebel Shams massif.
Explore mystical Muscat on a sunset tour, let the warm desert wind blow you around on a desert tour, or discover colorful corals and fish whose emerald home is a wonderful refreshment while snorkeling around the Daymaniyat Islands. An all-terrain vehicle ride is too wild for you? Saddle up and take the lower horsepower. A camel ride gives you a whole new perspective and provides hearty laughs, especially on the descent.
Oman incense – the scent of Arabian desires
It is the noblest, purest and most expensive in the world: Royal al-Hojari – green frankincense produced from the life veins of the Boswellia Sacra frankincense tree. The cradle of the aromatic gum resin is located in Wadi Dawkah in the southern Romanian region of Dhofar, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Frankincense Tree National Park is located about 40 km north of Salalah. From the more than 5,000 incense trees growing in a dry riverbed, the church incense known to us has begun its triumphal march around the world – fragrant echoes that are unparalleled.
Fragrant incense wilderness Dhofar
Marco Polo already recognized the priceless gold of Oman when he looked at Al-Baleed. The incense port with the euphonious name still gives visitors to Salalah a glimpse of its ancient remains. For Omanis, incense is more than the scent of the big wide world. In everyday Omani life, it is used to flavor drinking water, as a room deodorant, natural disinfectant, and to relieve health ailments.
Frankincense puffs blockages in respiratory distress and is an organic remedy for gastroenterological diseases. Through the synaptic interplay between the limbic system and olfactory stimuli, a single whiff of incense wafting through your nose will awaken your Arabian longings. Omani incense is pure fascination!
Luxury airline Oman Air – the spirit of the Orient begins at take-off
As soon as you look at the boarding passes, the Oman Air logo captivates you. Angel-like silvery-golden wings flutter in the desert wind. What begins with luxurious coloration is the airline’s corporate philosophy – even in the often affectionately named “wood class” economy.
Most flights from Germany head for the capital Muscat. The airline’s service is award-winning and turns your flight into the first highlight on your travel agenda. The airline pays special attention to seat comfort. With a seat pitch of 86 cm, the airline is already well above the international average in the cheapest category.
The in-flight entertainment system is integrated into the back of each front seat and also offers USB ports, so your electronics won’t run out of juice during the long flight. For your culinary cravings, Oman Air has Arabic specialties and international dishes ready. To ensure the highest possible level of hygiene, the airline offers warm towels in advance – details that reflect the theme of “mindfulness”.
Oman holds your heart in its clutches? With the frequent flyer program Sindbad you collect miles. Duty free products, upgrades and free flights are available when you take to the skies with Oman Air.
Rent a car in Oman – Arab traces between desert and ocean
You want to experience the pure fascination of Oman with all its depth at your own pace? Organize a rental car to go on your dream trip exclusively according to your individual destination wishes and at your own pace. You discover a destination on the way that shakes your attention and want to photograph without the impatience of nervous fellow travelers in peace of mind? With a rental car you are on the road as personal as never before.
Carefree car rental in Oman
As in many other countries, there are various car rental companies that will provide you with a modern vehicle, taking into account all safety standards. Ideally, you take it already at the airport. An EU driving license is sufficient; however, the former German paper driving license is not!
In Oman, traffic drives on the right and almost all traffic signs are also written in English. Decide in advance whether you want to stay on asphalt roads or go off-road with an SUV. The choice of your vehicle depends on this. Note that camels and sheep can cross your path unexpectedly. Depending on the time of travel, heavy rain in flooded wadis can also make life difficult for you. However, you should only undertake off-road tours in the desert if your driving experience on this terrain is extremely solid.
Oman clothing – rules for authentic, respectful and smart travel
Even though the year-round hot temperatures are just screaming for you to rip your clothes off, there are some rules you should follow when packing your suitcase that are not only in the interest of the Omanis, but also in your own.
Basic concept for Oman clothing
In the Islamic sultanate, sensitive care is taken to ensure that naked skin remains hidden. You don’t have to cover yourself in an abaya (black robe with headscarf) as a woman or in a dishdasha (long white robe) as a man, but you should at least keep your shoulders, arms and knees covered.
Tight-fitting clothes are also frowned upon, causing Omanis to frown and you to have a long face. Give shorts a break and go for long linen pants instead. This way you kill several birds with one stone. Thanks to the breathable material, the width of the fabric and the length of the garment, you show respect and defy the desert heat.
Eyes open for special features
Dress codes are specified in some public institutions, such as the Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Muscat. To avoid putting your foot in your mouth or even getting into trouble, inform yourself before you start your day trip. The Omanis will thank you.
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