Why I Went There?
Recommended by a friend, I chose Oman to be my first introduction to the Middle East. In a span of two and a half months I would also visit United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait before going to the Horn of Africa to Djibouti, Somalia, and Eritrea. I would then go back to the Middle East for four weeks in Iran.
Where Did I Go?
I flew to the capital city of Muscat from Bangkok with a stopover in New Delhi. After a few days of acclimatization, I rented a car and drove east to the coastal town of Sur, using it as a base for day trips to a couple of wadis and Sharqiya (Wahiba) Sands. I then headed west to Nizwa, from where I visited Bahla, Al Ayn, and Misfat. From there I returned to Muscat to visit the great Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque before leaving the country by bus to Dubai.
My Other Blog Posts on Oman
Muscat, And First Impressions of Oman
Sur, Wadi Shab, and Wadi Bani Khalid
Majestic Sharqiya (Wahiba) Sands
The Goat Market in Nizwa, Oman
Bahla Fort, The Tombs of Al Ayn, and Misfat Al Abryeen
A Visit to Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
After Thailand I stopped traveling with Jenni so it was back to traveling solo.
The exchange rate was 2.60 USD to 1 Omani Rial. Hotels were the biggest expense, while food was reasonably priced. Entrances to places are either free or very cheap.
Total Days: 14
Total Expenses: 1,307 USD
Average: 93 USD/day
Some sample prices:
Simple meal: 4-6 USD
Basic hotel room: 40-60 USD a night
Rental Car: 26 USD per day
1 liter of gasoline: 0.40 USD
How Is It Like to Backpack in Oman?
Oman is a modern country that has maintained its tradition. There are no tall skyscrapers and it’s not filled with shopping malls and fancy restaurants like its gulf neighbors (UAE, Qatar, Kuwait).
It’s not a cheap country and it’s not built for traveling as a backpacker. There were no hostels at all when I visited, so hotels are the only option unless you want to do camping.
There’s also very limited buses between cities, and almost no city buses at all outside of Muscat. Renting a car is the way to go, as it’ll save you lots of time and give you the freedom to go anywhere. At 26 USD a day, it is affordable especially with the very cheap gasoline prices. Keep in mind that many rental companies have restrictive mileage limits when you book a car in person. The country is big so you really want unlimited mileage, which you can get by booking online. The roads are modern and in great condition, but people drive erratically.
You’ll see almost no other backpackers in the country, and I found it hard to meet locals. It was more of a solitary trip, which I didn’t mind.
I found the food to be underwhelming. You’ll find a lot of Indian food because of the large number of migrant workers from that country.
Alcohol is hard to find. From what I gathered, they are only available in certain hotel bars and shops (where you need a license to buy).
I really enjoyed my time in Oman. At the beginning I felt a bit out of place, but after I rented a car I was able to freely explore the country. There’s plenty of beautiful nature with beaches, mountains, and sand dunes. Of the four Arab countries I visited (along with UAE, Qatar, Kuwait), Oman was the most authentic and enjoyable for me.