Want somewhere cheap to travel to from Dubai? Wondering how Oman compares to Dubai? Is Oman safe? I will be writing a full guide to Oman and what specific sites you should go see but I haven’t yet seen enough of the country to really do it the full justice it deserves. So I’m going to tick a few more places off the list before I do a full travel guide. I’m not sure when I’ll get chance to return but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing some of the beautiful Wadi’s and exploring the very different Salalah in the near future. So if you’re thinking of going to Oman, here are my top 10 tips before you go:
Let me know what you think and if it they helped.
Tip 1 – Take cash with you and have some for the airport
As a Dubai resident you get a discounted one month tourist visa for 5 OMR (instead of 20 OMR *updated 05/02/2018*) and while they will exchange any currency for the visa, it’s probably easier to just take cash with you since Oman is still a mostly cash dependent country. I’ve gone to supermarkets where they’ve told me the card machines aren’t working and still many places don’t accept cash however it is changing but it’s best to make sure you have some cash at all times. Dubai Mall and Dubai Airport are one of the best places to exchange money, with low fees and good exchange rates so it’s best to change in here in Dubai before you go.
Tip 2 – Don’t depend on wifi being available
It’s a little bit hit and miss on whether there’s wifi and if it works. Even in hotels, the connections can be slow and unreliable. It’s better than some countries I’ve been to but if you go into the desert and other more remote locations, you’ll probably have to go without your phone signal and wifi. You can easily buy Omani sim card if you plan to be there for a longer time but then in the desert and mountains you won’t be able to get phone signal either and if you can, it’s unlikely to be strong enough for the internet. I struggled to send even a WhatsApp when in the desert but take it as an opportunity to detox yourself from your smartphone addiction.
Tip 3 – Dress conservatively
If you’ve been to Dubai as a none Muslim, you may be used to wearing strappy tops and shorts in public. You may even be a little more conservative, eg wearing clothes covering the shoulders and to the knee. In Oman, I would advise wearing full-length trousers or skirts and at least semi-long sleeve top since most places I visited, I didn’t see anyone without full-length trousers on. When I wore a dress with a long sleeve light jacket I did feel stared at despite it only showing my calves. It’s unlikely anyone would say anything but personally, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable covered. It isn’t necessary to wear an Abaya but it’s definitely more conservative than Dubai.
Tip 4 – Hire a car
Public transport in Oman is pretty patchy and even getting taxis can be a challenge. Late at night (after 11pm) there are hardly any taxis at all and some locations you never ever see taxis no matter what time of day it is. If you’re wanting to see the full beauty of Oman, you’re going to need to drive and I wouldn’t advise to just stay in Muscat. Even if you just explore Muscat, the different attractions and city itself is very spread out. It takes around 30 minutes driving from one side of Muscat to the other. The driving style is pretty aggressive too, so good luck! But if you’re used to driving in Dubai, you’ll be fine!
Tip 5 – Drive to a coffee or tea shop
You’ll see these dotted through out Oman with Coffee or Tea written in big letters in English. You’ll see lots of Omanis pulling up, bibbing their car horn and men with trays running out with small paper cups. Not only is Karak (spiced tea) an amazing tasty drink but it’s also super cheap. You’ll be able to get two cups of tea, two portions of Omani bread and two bottles of water for around 1 OMR (roughly 10 AED). Other places do different sandwiches, fruit juices and wraps for pretty cheap too. These are definitely the cheapest places to eat and drink.
Tip 6 – Take your swimming gear
Oman definitely has some of the best natural places for swimming, with it’s beautiful sink holes and wadi’s. If you don’t go swimming in Oman, you’re definitely missing out! If swimming isn’t your thing, maybe just enjoy the natural beauty of the water instead? They’re still worth a visit.
Tip 7 – If you have the time, spend two weeks or more there
To really see what Oman has to offer, you’ll need at least two weeks to drive out of Muscat and tour the different parts of the country. There’s turtle sanctuaries, wadi’s and historic towns all within a couple of hours driving from Muscat. Muscat’s main sights can be done in 2 to 3 days. The month visa is single entry so it’s definitely worth making the most of it! I would then do a second trip and fly direct to Salalah from Dubai since it would be a lot of driving to everything. Salalah is very different to the rest of Oman so it’s worth checking out.
Tip 8 – Make friends with the locals
Omanis are very friendly people and will definitely help you out if you ask. They are truly proud of their country and will try their best to make you have a good experience of Oman. I’ve been bought water, food and treats while sat waiting. They’ve even give me a lift into the city centre when I couldn’t find a taxi. Part of what makes Oman so great to visit is how amazing the people are.
Tip 9 – Avoid Summer time
The best time is in winter, early spring and late autumn, my personal favourite months are October/November and March. Although some of my friends have said they prefer December and January and find October/March too hot still but I enjoy weather in the low 30s. The great thing about Oman is you can drive up into the mountains to escape the heat where it’s typically 10 degrees cooler. The Summer is like Dubai and it’s just too hot and there will be a lot you can’t because of this.
Tip 10 – Friends will need to buy alcohol at the airport
This can be great as a Muslim since you won’t have to worry about drunk tourists in hotels but if you are travelling with friends who drink then they’ll need to purchase it at the airport. The majority of hotels are dry. Advice online says this can only be done via Muscat Airport (it’s not allowed via land crossings if you plan to drive) and non muslims over the age of 21 are allowed up to 2 litres or 24 cans according to Oman Airports website.
Thanks for reading and enjoy Oman!