Oman is a small nation in the Middle-East with a truly larger-than-life unique flavor all its own. From sun-kissed beaches to golden deserts, from palm-fringed oases to soaring mountains, you can find a bit of everything in Oman!
This is a truly special country that, we think, is a bit underrated. Visiting Oman was such a moving experience for us that we’re always eager to share with other travelers tips for visiting this amazing place. Which is why we’ve written up this beginner’s guide to traveling to Oman! Read on for a few tips on how to dress, where to eat, and more!
How to dress
Oman is a Muslim country, which means that conservative clothing is a must. While they do seem to take a ‘live and let live’ approach to foreigners wearing tank tops, shorts, and bikinis in some places, Oman is still pretty conservative–especially when it comes to women. If you want to be a good traveler and avoid coming across as an ignorant tourist, try to dress more like a local. This means pants and loose tops that cover your shoulders and arms. We know that the hot weather makes this seem unappealing, but you can buy lots of great light-weight clothing that keeps you covered and cool at the same time. You’ll also have more protection from the sun if you cover up, which is an added bonus! I (Katie) opted for wearing what I usually wear in India, which is pants with a kurta, while Gaurav could get away with shorts and t-shirts.
Where to eat
We know how important food is to other vegetarian/vegan travelers which is why we like to recommend great no-meat places to dine. Omani culture does embrace meat-heavy cuisines, but the good news is this doesn’t mean you’ll need to pack a suitcase full of vegetarian friendly foods or go hungry. 20% of Oman’s population is made up of Indians, which means you can find great Indian food everywhere—even outside of Muscat! This means lots of delicious vegetarian Indian fare (though it’s not usually vegan as Indian food is cooked with ghee/clarified butter), and there are a few vegetarian options for local cuisine as well. Don’t miss out on trying khubz ragag–Omani bread which is served with a variety of toppings. Our favorite combo was honey and goat’s cheese which we’d eat for breakfast along with a side of milky chai (tea)!
Getting around Oman can be incredibly difficult without a car, which is why you should consider renting one if you’re going to be exploring beyond Muscat. We’ve written up an entire guide to help you decide where to rent and what type of car to get, so give that a read if you need a hand with car rentals! Oman is rapidly changing and there are lots of new mega-highways being laid out across the country. This make exploring a lot easier, but unfortunately the public transport system—such as buses and trains that travel around the country—is still not quite there yet. Quite simply, Oman is a nation that’s meant to be explored by car.
On the road
As we explained in our blog post about renting a car, you will most likely get lost once or twice while traveling around Oman. We’ve gotten spoiled over the years because Google Maps seems to function really well almost anywhere, but this doesn’t seem to be the case in Oman! Google Maps gave us directions to completely different places a few times, and there were other occasions where it simply wouldn’t work at all. A healthy sense of adventure (or a good GPS system in your car) is a must for travel in Oman!
One of the huge highlights of traveling in Oman for me (Katie) are the chai and coffee shops located along the roads. You’ll see these everywhere and it’s very common for travelers to stop multiple times during a trip for a quick chai refresher. The best part is, you don’t even have to get out of your car! The minute you pull up, someone will come out of the shop and right up to your window to take your order. If they don’t, a simple honk will alert them that you’re outside. You’ll have your food brought to you on a plastic tray and that’s when you pay up. It’s cheap and good fare and you can buy snacks (such as khubz ragag) at these stops too.
Paying for things
Cash is king in Oman, so make sure you have plenty when you set out on the road. You can find hotels in smaller towns that take cards, but it’s better to be on the safe side as most restaurants and chai shops will only take cash. You’ll also need cash to pay for entrance tickets to historical sites such as forts. We use Monzo when we travel and always ask first if cards are accepted wherever we are. If they take cards we prefer to use that method and save our cash for when we’ll really need it. It’s up to you to decide how you’d like to plan out your cash spending!
Are there any other tips you’d like to know about visiting Oman? Leave a comment or question below in the comments section and we’ll do our best to answer!