Although Oman isn’t much on the tourist radar, it should be. This gorgeous country has many different natural sceneries, from brilliant beaches to mountains and deserts.
It’s certainly not hyperbole to refer to it as a nature-lover’s dream, but there’s also plenty to explore in Oman’s bustling cities, too.
From baby turtles to stargazing to shopping at some of the Middle East’s most posh retail locations, Oman is a unique, off-the-beaten-path place to spend your vacation.
These travel tips and tricks will help you make the most out of your time in this hidden gem of a country. Let us be your guide!
Why You Should Visit Oman
The better question might be, why shouldn’t you visit Oman? In addition to its pristine cities and amazingly rich culture, it’s also full of UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Nakhl Fort, Bahla Fort, and the Bat, Al-Khutm, and Al-Ayn Archaeological Sites.
One major draw are the Wahiba Sands night-time desert excursions where visitors can witness a completely pollution-free night sky full of stars. Oman has jungle waterfalls, beaches, and plenty of snorkeling and diving opportunities.
Turtles also make their homes on the shores of Oman, specifically at Ras Al Jinz, and the food is next-level delicious. If you’re looking for fun souvenirs, check out any of Oman’s major cities in town and have fun haggling over the price of pottery and goods.
Muscat, Oman’s capital city, has world-class shopping and some stunning architecture that you won’t see anywhere else on the planet. Visit Muscat City Centre for a plethora of different shops and luxury brands.
Overall Best Time to Visit Oman
One of the best times to visit Oman is during January. You can attend Muscat’s annual folk music festival and Oman tends to be cooler in January, with average temperatures of 70 degrees, although it can get hotter.
January is also the best time to explore outdoor attractions because cooler temperatures in Oman still feel warm compared to other regions. You can still experience temperatures in the 80s at times.
Night-time will be a little chillier, so bring some lightweight, long-sleeved outfits. On the other hand, if you’re looking forward to taking advantage of some of Oman’s premier shopping, summer might be your best option.
While Oman’s winters are downright idyllic, their summers can be exceptionally hot with temperatures in the mid to high 90s.
Most people stay in and enjoy the air-conditioning during the sweltering summers. You can expect cheaper flights and you won’t have as many tourists. Shoulder season, or the periods between winter and summer, can be hit or miss in Oman.
You could get discounts on flights and accommodations, though. So think about what you want to do and plan accordingly. Sometimes gambling during shoulder season can pay off.
Cheapest Time to Visit Oman
Autumn and summer tend to be the cheapest times to visit Oman when temperatures are in the 80s and 90s. You’ll generally find excellent deals on airfare and fewer crowds, but be advised that the weather can be super scorching.
Although there are plenty of indoor activities to do in places like Muscat, those outside the big cities might not have as much of an enjoyable experience.
If you’re in Muscat, check out the National Museum, Mohammad Al Ameen Mosque, or Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum.
Check the weather before you go, and make sure you book accommodation with air conditioning so that you’re not too hot at night. Pack lightweight, light-colored clothing that fully covers your body but still allows for plenty of air circulation.
Least Busy Time to Visit Oman
Oman’s low season runs between June and September, when temperatures peak and hit the high 80s or more.
Although you can get spectacular deals on accommodations during this time, prepare for boiling temperatures and not much access to the outdoors. On the other hand, there are fewer people in Oman during the summer months and early fall.
So if you’re looking for a luxe vacation, or to do a lot of shopping in one of Muscat’s many malls, consider making the trip during these months.
Additionally, you can visit Ras Al Jinz Beach to see green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. If you visit during the summer months, remember that you need to stay hydrated and watch out for temperature-related fatigue.
Drink more water than you reasonably think that you need to, visit air-conditioned buildings and cooling stations often, and wear sunscreen, even if it looks overcast outside.
Worst Time to Visit Oman
Most people agree that the summer months and shoulder season — when temperatures are often in the 90s — are not the greatest time to make your trip.
It’s extraordinarily hot, and traveling or trekking in the desert or mountains would be both brutal and physically exhausting during this period.
Plus, Oman is a very conservative country, and it’s not considered polite to go outside wearing minimal clothes, especially for women.
If you do travel during the low season, consider either staying in an all-inclusive place like Muscat or heading to Oman’s Dhofar area, where it tends to be rainier and cooler. The Dhofar region also has turtles, making it a popular spot for summertime travel.
You can also camp out in the desert in a Bedouin tent or visit the Lost City of Ubar. On the other hand, Oman’s winter can be incredibly unpleasant if you’re interested in saving money and avoiding crowds.
You’ll certainly pay more and have to wait at attractions. Ultimately, the best thing that you can do is figure out how you want to spend your time before booking your ticket and weigh the pros and cons of each.
Things to Consider
Omani culture is certainly different from many places in the Western world. It’s essential to understand it and respect local customs and traditions, especially if you want to have a smooth, pleasant time in Oman.
These things to consider will help you make the most out of your trip and avoid unintentionally offending your hosts and fellow travelers.
- Keep your voice down on the street so as not to irritate the elderly or locals.
- Dress modestly. Not only will modest dress help you fit in and be more respectful, but there could also be dire consequences for stepping out of line.
- Prepare for scorching temperatures, and remember to stay hydrated.
- Get an adapter before you leave. Universal adapters are handy and will work in Oman. It’s best to get one before you depart because they will be significantly more expensive at the airport.
- Don’t turn down hospitality. In Oman, it’s very common for people to offer you food, dates, and incense. Accept it graciously not to offend your hosts.
- Although tipping is appreciated in Oman, it’s not expected.
Avoid Hot Topics
While Americans talk openly about politics and religion, even with strangers, it’s not considered polite in Oman. Omanis are generally very religious and don’t take kindly to people criticizing things.
Most of the time, people will be too polite to ask you to stop talking about something, so read social cues, and if you think a topic is off-limits, avoid it. Additionally, although Oman is relatively safe, the country still does have some problems with terrorism.
It’s wise to register with your embassy before you travel so that you can stay apprised of any issues or concerns during your stay. As a United States citizen, you can register with STEP or the American State Department, before you travel to Oman.
Finally, it’s a good idea to purchase international traveler’s insurance. It can cover various issues, including unexpected international medical costs and travel cancellation.
Drink Alcohol With Caution
Even if you can find liquor in Oman, avoiding it’s a good idea. Alcohol is close to being taboo in Oman. It’s against the law to drive even mildly intoxicated, and tourists should not drink at all during holy months like Ramadan.
While it might be okay to have a glass of wine in your hotel room, public intoxication is a massive no-no in Oman, and you could get in serious trouble for it. Public drunkenness is not only rude, but it’s also illegal.
If you do decide to drink, exercise serious caution. Despite the country’s customs, Omani people understand that tourists like to drink, and many larger hotels and restaurants will offer libations.
You can also buy alcohol at the Omani airport. Imbibe if you want to, but understand the serious social and potentially legal ramifications.
Practice Smart ATM Safety
If you’re visiting a larger city like Muscat, expect to see a lot of ATMs that will dispense the local currency. You don’t need to exchange it in advance, but follow safe ATM practices when withdrawing money.
- Remember that local ATMs in cities typically have lower fees than those at airports.
- Remember to use ATMs in well-lit areas or during the day.
- Always use ATMs that are affiliated with banks.
It’s also a good idea to tell your bank that you’ll be traveling to Oman, so they don’t freeze your bank accounts unexpectedly.
Oman is a Muslim country, and it’s full of beautiful mosques. Although mosques are tourist destinations, they are primarily houses of worship, and you should treat them as such.
- Don’t speak loudly or swear in a mosque.
- Do not disturb anyone who might be praying in the mosque.
- Respect dress codes in mosques. Women must cover their heads, take off their shoes, and avoid certain areas in the mosque.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s totally natural to have questions if you’re new to traveling to Middle Eastern countries. But don’t worry — our travel experts have rounded up several of the most frequently-asked ones below:
What currency do people use in Oman?
People use Omani Rial in Oman. You can also use major credit cards in cities, although smaller vendors might not take them.
What language do people speak in Oman?
Most people speak Arabic in Oman, especially in more rural areas. Although you’ll hear Arabic in big cities like Muscat, you’ll also hear English and sometimes Hindi, Baluchi, or Swahili on the streets.
What basic phrases should I learn in Arabic?
Although you’ll mostly run into people who speak English, basic Arabic phrases will go far. “Marhaba” is a pleasant and polite way to say hello, and “shukran” is thank you.
Can I buy alcohol in Oman?
You can buy alcohol in Oman, but you might not want to during your visit. Oman does not have a drinking culture, and they see alcohol on par with other types of drugs.
Is Oman safe?
Oman is relatively safe, even in larger cities. Since Omanis frown upon drinking, you won’t see the types of antics that you’d get from destinations. As long as you follow the rules, you should be fine.
So, When Should You Go to Oman?
If you want to avoid crowds and are okay with the heat, head to Oman during the summer or shoulder season. On the other hand, if you want to spend a lot of time outside, winter is an excellent time to see the best of Oman.
It’s up to you and totally contingent on what you want to do while you’re there. But, with so much to see and do, and no real bad time to go, what are you waiting for — book your trip today!