Are you looking to create an itinerary for an Oman trip? You are in the right place!
In this post, I will detail everything you need to know before your Oman trip. I will explain the things you should do during your visit, including how to get to Oman, the best time to visit Oman, the places you should stay based on your budget, and how to get around the country. I hope this will help you with planning a perfect itinerary that is right for you!
I know this may sound a tad overwhelming, but fear not! This step-by-step Oman travel guide will list timeframes and checklists to help keep your schedule organized and tasks on track!
After backpacking around the country by myself, I can assure you that with the right information, it is quite easy to plan a trip around Oman! It’s more flexible and cost-effective to organize the trip by yourself, or you can opt for a tour to help ease the hassle. Of course, you can have the best of both worlds by taking on a few day trips. I will dive into all the options below!
Ready? Let’s get this Oman trip planning party started!
How to Plan an Oman Trip
Oman sits on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula and borders Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. It is an incredibly serene and peaceful country, which makes it a great destination for those that want to escape the chaos of big cities.
The first step for your Oman trip is deciding when you will go. If you already have your dates in mind, head towards the second section of the article, where I will dive into the things and activities you should plan and book. Otherwise, here is all you need to know to decide when to visit Oman!
Here’s an Oman map to help you get acquainted with the country. You can zoom into the map and get a sense of the points of interest we will be discussing later on. I hope it helps!
The most visited city in Oman is Muscat, the capital. Muscat is located in the north and is known for its souqs, old town, mountain view, and beach-side walkways. Salalah is the largest city in the South and offers plenty of beautiful wadis and lush greenery.
When to go to Oman
Due to its subtropical weather, Oman can be extremely hot during the summer months, averaging 40-50 degrees Celsius. As such, the best time to visit Oman would be between September and April, when the weather is more pleasant. April and May are doable too, but it may average 30-40 degrees Celsius, which isn’t for everyone.
The lucky news is that there is very little rain in Oman, meaning that you don’t have to gear up for a thunderstorm as you would for, say, South America during the wet season. However, it is also important to know that when it rains, it pours. Although it may be rare to see rain in Oman, there can be a few rainfalls between November and April around Muscat, which will make it difficult to visit wadis and mountains.
The climate around Muscat doesn’t cause much change in scenery, but it is best to visit Salalah between June and August. This time period can be quite hot, but those are the monsoon months and Salalah will be green and beautiful.
Other things you should take into account depends on what you’d like to do. Oman is known for several things, including its camel racing festival, which falls between September and March. If you like seafood, lobster season lasts from March to April. Its turtle egg-laying season is from July to October when you can see lots of turtles migrating to the beach to lay their eggs!
Peak tourist season in Oman is during its winter months between October and March. However, since the country is still relatively new on the tourism radar, don’t worry about crowds of tour groups. Do make sure to book things ahead of time, especially adventure tours and hikes, if those are your preferred activities.
Lastly, Ramadan in Oman is strictly observed. Under Article 49 of the Sultanate’s Penal Code, it is illegal to drink or eat in front of a Muslim person in public. Most restaurants will be closed during this period, so do check beforehand for the exact dates of Ramadan!
Oman remains a relatively new destination for travelers so it doesn’t tend to get booked out completely. However, take into consideration that there aren’t many hotels in the country, thus it is also a smart move to book in advance during peak tourist season between November and March.
The best time to book flights and accommodation is 5-6 months before your departure so that you can grab the best deals and save on travel cost. This is especially the case if you’d like to visit Oman during its peak tourist season or attend its camel racing festival.
5-6 months in advance:
Book international flights to Oman
Get travel insurance for Oman
Plan your Oman trip
Look up your visa needs and requirements
Plan your accommodation
3–1 months in advance:
Plan your transportation in the country. Be it the bus, rental, or domestic flight
Book your accommodation in Oman
1 month in advance:
Get visa for Oman (here’s how)
Book attractions and other tours
Book bus tickets
Book airport transfers or other modes of transport to your hotel
Look up sim card needs if required
Have a copy of your bookings on your phone.
2 day in advance:
Pack and double-check your bookings!
How to Get to Oman
Flights to Oman
There are two ways to travel to Oman. But unless you are coming from the UAE or Saudi Arabia, it is most likely that you will be flying into Muscat. There are two major international airports in Oman, one is the Muscat International Airport in the capital city, the other is the Salalah Airport down South.
It is quite cheap to fly into Muscat from its neighbours, especially those in the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe.
However, for others (like me, who’s in Canada), a direct flight will be few and far between (and costly!). The most budget-friendly thing to do is to fly into UAE and take a 6-hour bus down to Muscat. Here is how you can do that.
Best Deals on Flights to Oman
Oman Air is the major airline based in the country and offers plenty of international flights. Salam Air is the first low-cost airline in the country. It offers flights to major hubs nearby and connects Salalah and Muscat at a relatively cheap price. Of course, numerous airlines stop in Muscat, thus, there are countless options if you check out Skyscanner!
If you are coming from North America, consider flying into Dubai before taking a bus down to Muscat. This can be much cheaper than flying directly to Oman’s capital.
Otherwise, fly into Muscat and visit nearby cities by bus. This is a great alternative to flying into Salalah as its airport is a tad more limited.
There is a dedicated bus between Dubai and Muscat that operates three times a day, seven days a week. The bus service is offered by Mwasalat and is 6 hours in length. Although, it may be longer depending on the traffic and border control. You can buy the ticket at the Rashidiya station in Dubai, but they don’t have an online portal yet.
Although there was a ferry line between Iran and Oman, the service was suspended a few years back. Now, there aren’t any international ferry lines between Oman and its neighbours.
Passport & Visas
Citizens from GCC countries do not need a visa to visit Oman. At the time of publishing, citizens from 71 countries can apply for an Oman eVisa online. At the time of publishing, a 10-day visa costs OMR 5 and a 30-day visa costs OMR 20. It took me 10 minutes to fill out my application online and approximately 4 hours for the visa to be approved.
Your passport must be valid for 6 months at the time of entering Oman. Here’s a kicker! If you are an US or Canadian citizen, you do not need an Omani visa if you have a valid UAE visa and are entering from Dubai. However, this visa must have a 21-day validity remaining, meaning you will be allowed to stay in the country for up to 3 weeks after entering from Dubai. I know this can be confusing, but here’s a comprehensive article on your Omani visa application process.
A 10-day visa can be extended by 10 days (OMR 5) and a month-long visa can be extended by a month (OMR 20). Both visa extensions can be applied for from the ROP Visa Information Counter at the Muscat International Airport.
Be careful! For every day that you defer your exit from Oman without a valid visa, you will be charged OMR 10/ day.
Money in Oman
The Omani Rial is the local currency. Due to the tight monetary policies in Oman, the rial is one of the strongest currencies in the world (OMR 1 = USD 2.6). However, baisas are usually used in the country (OMR 1=1000 baisas), so get your change ready! Unimoni Exchanges are dedicated money exchangers in cities. They can be easily located on Google Maps.
It may be really difficult to find a money changer in the villages.
Where to go in Oman & Travel Itineraries
The most difficult aspect of planning your Oman trip is deciding how long to stay, and where to go. It is a country rich in nature and culture, so there are many options!
The most popular places are:
Muscat, the Capital of Oman and the largest city in the country
Nizwa, home to the famous Omani fort and gold souqs
Salalah, the largest city in the South and a popular beach destination.
Sur, an old city with the tradition of hand-making dhows
Bahla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Buraimi, is a town bordering Al Ain in the UAE
Ibra, a small village in the Wahiba Sands
Matrah, historic town with one of the largest seaports in the region
Sohar, Sindbad’s home (remember Legend of the Seven Seas from Arabian Nights?)
Masirah Island, a popular beach and diving destination for locals
Accommodation in Oman
To be honest, Oman is not the cheapest destination due to its accommodation costs. Compared to its neighbors, there aren’t too many hotel options available, especially outside of major cities. In Muscat, you can find budget options for as low as USD 30/ night. In the country-side, such as hotels in jebel shams, rooms can shoot up to USD 400/ night during tourist season!
There are a number of hostels around the country, usually priced between USD 28-55 during low-season. This is a great place to meet fellow backpackers.
If you are looking for cost-effective options, a mid-range hotel priced USD 60/night will be clean, sufficient, and accommodating. They are great for a relaxing trip!
Finally, on the upper end, there are some gorgeous resorts that offer beautiful value. A number of sea-side resorts are built like palaces and offer excellent service. If you want to relax by the pool after an adventurous day, this option might be for you.
Best Accommodation Booking Sites
Airbnb and other unregistered hospitality platforms/venues are illegal in Oman. (but Couchsurfing in Oman is great if you are looking to backpack through the country).
Starting from 2020, there will be a new 4% tax from customers from hotels and restaurants that are located in tourist areas and managed through franchise contracts.
How To Get Around Oman
Domestic transportation in Oman is not the greatest. There are a few bus services between bigger cities and a number of ferries. However, it’s quite difficult to find transport to the mountains and deserts. But fear not, here is a thorough guide:
Hitch Hiking in Oman
Oman is not a difficult country to hitchhike in. In fact, hitchhiking seems quite common in the country. During my time there, I often see locals and foreigners alike standing the side of the road with their thumbs sticking out. After asking around, my friends informed me that due to the lack in public transportation and general customs, hitchhiking has been a normal way for a lot of people to get around the country.
Of course, be careful if this is the route that you’d like to take!
Buses in Oman
The main public transport provider in Oman is Mwasalat. The state-owned company offers daily buses to/from major provincial cities for less than OMR 10. Tickets can be purchased with cash from the bus driver, but I’d recommend you to make reservations for longer journeys just in case! Mwasalat buses are generally on time. They are air-conditioned and comfortable. This bus operator also provides inner-city services in Muscat, Salalah, and Sohar.
A few buses operated by private companies such as Moon Travel and Al-Sumri Transport also provide long-distance services between Muscat and Salalah.
Click here to see bus timetables!
There are some shared taxis/baisa buses that operate along the highway and bus stations. Depending on where you’d like to go, this can be a good alternative for inner-city travel and/or transfer from the airport. Shared taxi for long-distance travel can also be taken at a number of bus stations.
Taxis are generally easily available in major cities. Marhaba Taxi is a major player and also offers an app similar to Uber. However, taxis in Oman can be quite expensive.
You can negotiate the cost beforehand with the taxi driver if they aren’t using the meter. This may be a good option if you are dividing the cost between several people.
If you are traveling between cities/ going into the wadi, there are numerous travel agencies that provide personalized transportation services between tourist destinations. Drivers can be hired at a daily rate.
I’d definitely recommend renting a car if that’s an option for you. Overall, it is a lot less hassle than all the other options above. It’s easy to do a road trip in Oman since the highways are very well maintained. The mountain roads are a different story and thus, I’d recommend doing a day/night tour if you’d like to visit Jebel Shams or another mountain in Oman.
Here is more information on driving in Oman, including some tips and regulations that you should know!
The National Ferries Company (NFC) is a government-owned company that offers services between a number of destinations. If you plan on visiting Masirah Island, you’d need to hop onto a ferry. The website has an operating timetable that will be very useful for your Oman trip planning. Head to their office to purchase tickets. Remember to bring a valid ID/ visa (if applicable) along!
Lastly, domestic flights are a great option in Oman. Although they aren’t the most affordable when compared to the methods of travel above, they are great for large distances if you are short on time. I’d recommend you to grab a flight between Salalah and Muscat if you’d like to visit both destinations during a short stay in Oman.
You can also fly between Muscat and Masirah Island, and Masirah Island and Salalah. Or, travel by land during one leg of the trip and fly for another. You can take a look at specific itineraries to decide which method of travel will suit you best on your Oman trip.
Estimated Travel Cost
Oman isn’t a cheap country to travel in. Due to its lack of public transportation, one of the most expensive aspects of an Oman trip is getting from place to place. Otherwise, accommodation is reasonable and the meals are cheap.
Here are a few estimated budgets for two people:
Absolute Backpacker: OMR 20/day (couchsurfing/ camping, some hitchhiking, shawarmas)
Budget Traveler: OMR 40 (hostels, buses, some decent meals)
Mid-range Traveler: OMR 60-80 (hotels, rental car, good meals)
High-end Traveler: OMR 80+ (nice hotels, rental car, good meals)
Oman is not cheap.
Pockets may run very steep.
Worth every (Omani) rial.A Haiku
At the end of the day, everyone’s budget will differ based on what they do, where they go, and what they eat. This is especially the case if you’d like to include a few day trips and visit all the attractions. Oman isn’t the most affordable country to visit, but it’s worth every (Omani) rial. You can cut down costs by going camping once in a while and doing a barbeque with store-bought ingredients. Here’s a guide on some of the best camping spots in Oman!
What to Pack for your Oman Trip
Luckily, Oman’s subtropical warmth means that you don’t have to pack any heavy jackets or rain gear. Nonetheless, it is always important to respect local customs. As a Muslim majority country, people in Oman are dressed very conservatively.
Although there is not need to wear an abaya, as do most women in Oman, it is a good idea to wear something light and loose. Aim to cover your shoulders and arms. If you like to throw on a dress or skirt, its hem should reach below the knee. I prefer longer dresses that reached my ankle. There aren’t many publish washrooms in Oman and most of them are in mosques. Thus, it is a good idea to bring a shawl or scarf so you can cover up whenever needed!
Other Essential Items:
Hat and scarf/shawl
A pair of hiking shoes
Swim wear & sunscreen
A type G plug adaptor
Power bank (you might be in the mountain for a day or two)
Internet & Phone Coverage
Many accommodation providers and some restaurants will have wifi for keeping in touch with home. However, we always buy a local sim card so we don’t have to worry and because they are so cheap and easy.
You can get one at the airport in minutes and even buy one beforehand here.
Other Things to Know for an Oman Trip
In Oman, a typical workweek is from Sunday to Thursday. It is important to note that due to prayer time, businesses are usually closed for an hour between 1 pm to 2 pm. Always grab lunch before or after this time slot.
Fridays and Saturdays are the weekends and you can find restaurants and shops open a bit longer into the night.
Oman is known for its delicious shawarma and amazing juice. You can walk into any small shop and grab a fresh drink and a warm snack for less than OMR 1.5. I recommend the pomegranate & pineapple mix!
Muscat is also populated with mishkak (skewered & grilled meat) and burger joints. They are usually out in the open and frequented by men. Although, no one gave me a second glance when I joined in on all the chow down.
Alcohol isn’t illegal in Oman, but there are numerous regulations. Only certain places offer beverages and they can be quite expensive in the country. If you’d really like a drink during your trip, you can grab a duty-free bottle from the airport before entering the country. Otherwise, a drink can cost up to OMR 5 at a bar.
Ramadan is observed by Muslims and generally lasts for a month every year. During this time, the Muslim population will fast between sunrise and sundown. In Oman, it is discouraged to eat or drink in front of a Muslim person during Ramadan, and under Article 49 of the Sultanate’s Penal Code, it is illegal to do so in public.
Although your hotel will provide dining options during Ramadan, most restaurants and cafes will be closed during the day. A handful of tourist attractions will also be closed during this period.