Oman is a true hidden treasure and the country that quickly became one of my favourites I have visited so far. One thing that surprised me about this country is its diversity. I spent 10 days in my rental KIA and wished I could have spent more time in this amazing country. In this post I will share you some of my favourite spots and some practical information before visiting Oman. Before continuing reading, I’d like to say that it’s affordable to travel Oman as well, especially if you travel with more than one. Yes, you need a rental car, but petrol is cheap. I managed to book my accommodations for €20 to €30 euros a night, but you could save on that by going wild camping. In this article I’ll tell you everything you need to know before visiting Oman for the first time!
In This Post
How to get To Oman
The most common way is to fly to Muscat (MCT) Airport. Oman Air is a reliable airline with high comfort standards, like many companies in the Middle East. Some other companies flying to Oman are Emirates/Flydubai and Qatar Airways. If you’re coming from or afterwards going to Dubai, you could opt for a bus as well. Dubai and Muscat are well connected and in about 7 hours you’ll be from one city to the other. The company running these buses is called Mwasalat.
Do I need a rental car in Oman?
As mentioned before, it’s pretty necessary to have a rental car. You don’t need a 4WD, a sedan must be fine. I advice to take the car straight on arrival at the airport. The prices are quite good and it shouldn’t cost you way more than 12 Rials / $30 dollar a day. Don’t take the smallest car, always pick the second or third category, to make sure you’re actually travelling comfortably and you’re able to pass the mountains with ease. Petrol is very cheap and the road conditions are very good. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the speed limits, as there are automatic speed controls everywhere in the country.
Visiting Oman during the Ramadan
If you plan on visiting Oman, make sure you check the Ramadan schedule for the year. If you’re going to Oman during the Ramadan, it’s forbidden to eat in public during daytime. Many restaurants and sights will be closed as well, so you’re not able to enjoy the country to the fullest.
Ramadan dates 2023: 22 March – 20 April Ramadan dates 2024: 10 March – 8 April
Buying a local sim card in Oman
Another advice upon arrival: buy a local Sim Card. I paid around €25 euros, but it makes navigating with Google Maps easy. There are two main options, Ooredoo and Omantel. I took Ooredoo and got about 8GB of data valid for four weeks. I bought the Sim Card at the airport and it seems not to make a difference where you buy it in Oman.
What's the culture like in Oman?
Something I always recommend when you’re visiting a new country: embrace the culture. If you haven’t been to an Arab country yet, enjoy the amazing Thawbs they’re wearing and try to understand their life. My favourite thing: when Omani’s go to a snackbar or small restaurant, they usually park on the parking, honk a couple of times with their car and wait until the waiter is getting outside to take their order. If it takes too long, they just honk again. When I saw this for the first time, I thought it was incredibly rude, but it’s a common thing and something I like the most! I still loved to go inside and sit there as the only one to order some food!
In terms of clothing, modesty is key. There are no real dress codes for tourists, but I think it’s still good to give some advices. As a man, you can wear shorts in touristy areas and at the beach, but if you’re going to a mall, a mosque or another public place with mainly Arabs, make sure to cover your legs and shoulders. For women it’s wise to cover at least your shoulders and your knees at all time, and you’ll be fine. You don’t have to wear a hijab, even though people will appreciate it when you do. If you’re planning on visiting a mosque, it’s prohibited to enter with visible tattoos.
Another cultural thing is that alcohol in public is a no-go. You won’t be able to drink beers, unless you’re staying in or going to a place with an alcohol license. Expect this at international hotel chains or upscale restaurants. Lastly, some bigger hotels will have separate pools and gyms for men and women, especially if they’re focused on local tourism.
Let these cultural differences not stop you from visiting Oman. You don’t have to agree with all their laws, but we want them to stick to our laws in our countries as well and that’s why you just accept the rules in another country. Try to embrace their culture, learn about their rich traditions and I’m sure you’ll have the best time ever.
Tips on finding accommodation in Oman
Hostels are not a thing in Oman, so if you’re a solo traveler, you have to find other ways to stay the night for cheap. My biggest advice would be to go wild camping, but if you’re on your own, it might even be cheaper to take guest houses. I spent on average 8 to 10 Rials for a night, excluding the expensive options in Wahiba Sands and Jebel Shams. My first night in Muscat I stayed in the Hilton Garden Inn and my last nights in Muscat were part of a collaboration at Radisson Hormuz Grand Muscat. If you’re on a very tight budget and you’re in for a true local experience, try Couchsurfing! There’s a big community of hosts in Oman and it shouldn’t be hard to find a host, especially when you already have some experience and reviews on your name.
Can I fly my drone in Oman?
As I’m a drone photographer, I’m always checking drone laws before I enter a country. My drone got confiscated once in Morocco and it’s something that I don’t like the most, so better be safe than sorry. I brought my drone, but didn’t intend using it as it’s not allowed. You need a commercial permit and it’s only allowed to use it for commercial purposes if you have one. I had no problems entering the country with my drone, but I’ve heard that they are very strict at the border crossing from Oman to Dubai and vice versa. One of the only questions they got was: do you have a drone? I didn’t want my drone to be stuck at the border between those countries, so I decided to fly from Muscat to Dubai to continue my travels there.
That’s it for this post! Did I convince you to go? Read more about my favourite photography spots in Oman!