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Enigmatic Oman

Experience the shifting sands of ancient Arabia and modern Oman as you travel across alluring lands. The weather is warm all year round, perfect for exploring the jaw dropping scenery, from rugged mountains, golden dunes and an azure coastline dubbed the ‘Middle Eastern Riviera’. It’s a peaceful country with a swashbuckling history - the confluence point of Persian, African, Arabian and Indian cultures make it rich in historical monuments, architecture, crafts and food glorious food.

The grand bazaar will ignite your senses with the cacophony of traders and the heady aroma of saffron, cardamom and frankincense. Discover forts and watchtowers, dazzling mosques and palaces, intricate pashminas and carpets – all sure to evoke a mystical mirage of a bygone Arabian night.


Regional Highlights

  • A visit to Muscat would not be complete without donning a headscarf and admiring the impressive Grand Mosque – one of the largest and most spectacular mosques in the Gulf. You will find a huge Swarovski crystal chandelier in the main prayer hall that is a staggering 14 metres tall and 8 metres wide!
  • Wander through the labyrinth of the Mutrah Souk that remains one of he most authentic in Arabia. It’s alleyways laced with the scent of frankincense and sandalwood conjures images of the goings on of times past.
  • Within the old, walled city of Muscat you will find the Sultan’s blue and gold waterfront palace and a surviving aristocratic mansion that houses the fascinating Bait al Zubair Museum.

Enjoy a nomadic adventure amidst shifting sands and mountainous amber dunes. Observe the prevailing Bedouin way of life, hitch a camel ride, and relax in this vast, silent desert as it imprints on your soul. Plunge into emerald waters to cool off like a local, experiencing desert oases at nearby Wadi Arabayeen and Bimah sinkhole.


Cradled by mountains with a verdant sweep of date palms, the city was once a centre for trade, religion, education and art. Today, its plentiful forts, mosques, ruins and souks will captivate. Take in the incredible Jebel Shams with views into Wadi Ghul – known as the Grand Canyon of Arabia.


Inspiration and stories

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How to travel responsibly

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Sundowners Overland accommodation

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How to prepare for overland border crossings

FAQs

Capital city: Muscat

Population:  3.3 million

Language: Arabic

Currency:  Omani Rial (OMR)

Time zones: GMT+04:00

Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin), Type G (Irish/British 3-pin)

Dialing code: +968

A visa to enter Oman is required for most nationalities; however, these visas are typically obtained upon arrival. A tourist visa for Oman may be valid for 10 days or 30 days and a fee will be applicable.

Please refer to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Oman for further information: http://www.rop.gov.om/english/index.asp

Travel Insurance is mandatory for all group journeys and Sundowners Overland strongly recommends travel insurance for all other journeys. You must ensure that your insurance policy covers you for the entire duration of your journey, for all activities you will be participating in and that you have purchased the highest level of cover available to you for medical emergencies (including repatriation/evacuation cover) which are relevant to ALL the destinations that you will be visiting. Contact us for further information and quotes.

If you are taking special medication, it is a good idea to carry a letter from your doctor to show authorities if necessary.

Since some medications can also be affected by changes in temperature or require special care, we recommend you discuss this with your doctor before departure.

Oman can be visited any time of the year, however the heat in the height of summer can be quite oppressive. Rain is not a frequent occurrence and usually fleeting, occurring in January and February. The south coast has a very different climate in that it has a monsoon season, called the khareef, from June to September.

The local currency is the Omani Rial. Major credit cards are usually accepted in larger hotels and restaurants. ATM’s are common in major cities and towns and are usually connected to international banks.

In Muscat:

  • 2 course meal in a mid range restaurant per person USD$25.00
  • Bottle of local beer USD$4.00
  • A cappuccino USD$2.50
  • Short taxi ride USD$6.00
  • Litre bottle of water USD$0.20

*Prices are approximate average costs based on prices at 11/03/17 and are based on the equivalent amount of local currency.

Most people travelling between Oman and the UAE use a land border crossing which requires the standard security, customs and immigration checks on either side.

Some Oman border posts may require you to pay the fees by credit card, others will happily take cash.  Don’t be surprised to get change in AED if you pay in OMR!  Make sure you take some cash as well as a valid credit or debit card so you have all bases covered.

  • Respect and manners go a long way in any culture.  Learning a little of the language, reading as much about the history and culture of the region and observing local gatherings is a great way to start.
  • Photography of government and military installations is not permitted. Likewise photographers should be very wary when it comes to photographing women. It is not advisable to take pictures of women without requesting and receiving permission first.
  • Shaking hands is the standard greeting in Oman. In the desert, Bedouin men will lightly touch noses while making the kissing sound. Members of the opposite sex do not generally touch – do not offer your hand to an Omani of the opposite sex unless they offer you theirs first.
  • Oman is one of the cleanest countries in the world. Littering is forbidden. Omani’s have a higher regard for the environment and its maintenance. Be respectful and leave no trace of you ever have visiting.
  • Dress modestly. Skirts/pants below the knee, shoulders and arms covered and no shorts or tight fitting clothing especially in rural areas.
  • It is not polite to wander in a swimming costume away from the pool or beach.
  • Keep your cool. Any raising of your voice or expressions of anger should be avoided. Any offensive hand gestures are punishable under Omani law.

International roaming is not great in Oman although coverage using local providers is okay.

If you’re going to be using the phone a lot while you’re in Oman, you may wish to consider a local SIM card, which will give you cheap local and international calls. The leading local phone operators are Oman Tel or Nawras, both have shops countrywide where you can pick up a SIM card (you will need to show your passport when purchasing).

The pre-paid plans are the easiest to use. Funds can be added to your account using the widely available recharge cards. Should you choose to purchase a local SIM card please check with your local provide prior to departure to make sure your phone is unlocked and will accept another SIM card.

Internet access is available in main cities and towns, but will be hard to find in rural areas. Wi-Fi is becoming more available in many cafes and public places in major cities.