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Oman is warm sands and turquoise bays … rugged coastlines and sweeping deserts … traditional towns and Bedouin charm. For travelers who want to immerse themselves in an authentic experience of Arab life, Oman rolls out the welcome mat. Here you can surround yourself in breathtaking natural beauty while exploring the cultural heritage of a people that will spare nothing to extend the deepest hospitality and the warmest welcome.Help Me Plan My Trip
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If you have a longing to experience Arabia at its most authentic, you’ll find no more rewarding experience than a trip to Oman. Unlike many other parts of Arabia (like the United Arab Emirates), Oman is not steeped in wealth and luxury. Its culture still has a strong connection to the past—and that is a heritage that its people are willing to share with open arms with travelers.
No matter what you are interested in, there is so much to see in Oman that it is hard to know where to start.
One recommendation is to pay a visit to Nakhal Fort or Bahla Fort. Both of these walled cities were constructed centuries ago and feature stunning battlements and towers and incredible defensive fortifications.
For those in search of natural beauty, a trip to Jebel Shams, the highest peak in Oman, known as the “Mountain of the Sun,” is an unforgettable experience.
Also breathtaking is a camel ride across Sharqiya (Wahiba) Sands, the gorgeous windswept dunes where the Bedouin tribes still thrive with their traditional ways of life. Partake in their incredible hospitality and enjoy a night under the stars. Watch in wonder as the sun rises over the desert at dawn. A venture across the Sands is an experience you will take with you for the rest of your life.
When Your First Oman Tour Ends … You’ll Be Ready to Book Your Next One
There is so much to see and do in Oman that you cannot possibly fit it all into the space of a single trip, even a long one. Plus, the welcoming people of Oman will make you feel right at home, so much so that when you leave, a part of you will linger behind, walking the desert sands in your soul.
Oman’s history dates back for thousands of years, but the modern version of the country has only existed for a couple hundred years. The culture and language are Arabic, with Bedouin tribal life continuing to play a central role in modern Omani society. Islam is the predominant religion, informing many aspects of everyday life.
While in Omani cities, you will walk among whitewashed buildings several stories high along with mosques and minarets. Indian Mogul architectural influences dominate, but there are some modern stylistic embellishments as well. If you are invited into an Omani home, you will notice that there are separate rooms for men and women as well as their same-sex visitors. Some spaces are open (those used for marriages for example), but the seating is still segregated.
If you are a woman visiting Oman, you may find men hesitant to interact with you. Omani women do not have a very visible role in most parts of society, but you will find that they have a more prominent visible role among the Bedouin tribes. Visiting the tribes in the Wahiba Sands affords you a great opportunity to meet these women and interact with them.
Oman has a great history in the arts. Oral tradition is very important here, especially poetry and genealogy. Handcrafted goods are no longer as common as they once were, but while visiting Oman, you may purchase jewelry, pottery jugs, woven baskets, and other beautiful traditional crafts as mementoes of your trip.
When to Go on an Oman Vacation
Oman’s temperatures range from warm to hot. For this reason, you probably want to steer clear during the really blistering summer months of June-August. The rest of the year is reasonably temperate, with the best months being October-April. You do not really need to worry about rain; there are showers in January and February, but no heavy downpours except along the south coast.
What to Do
Nakhal Fort – This beautiful fort was constructed in 1834. For anyone with an interest in defensive structures, Nakhal is a gem. Exploring the structure, you will find spiked doors, towers designed to repel cannonballs, and other extraordinary features. The ramparts also provide a lovely view of the Batinah plain.
Bahla Fort – This Unesco World Heritage Site was designed six centuries ago, and is considered one of the world’s best walled cities. Interpretive panels throughout the site provide you with information about the history and design of the fort. Also well worth checking out is the mud-brick settlement surrounding the fort.
Sharqiya (Wahiba) Sands – Wahiba is where to go if you want to explore Oman’s iconic sand dunes and immerse yourself in Bedouin culture. You will receive a warm welcome from the tribes here and have a chance to find out what nomadic life is really like.
Jebel Shams – Hike to the top of the “Mountain of the Sun” to behold a spectacular view of the nearby Wadi Ghul, also known as the “Grand Canyon of Arabia.”
Grand Mosque – If you want to behold truly spectacular Islamic architecture, look no further than the Grand Mosque in Muscat. Incidentally, you can see the second-largest hand-loomed Iranian carpet on the planet here. 600 women worked on it for four years before it was complete.
There are many opportunities to buy traditional wares in Oman, some of them quite surprising. Believe it or not, one of the best places to go to pick up a carpet is Jebel Shams. Carpet sellers trek up the mountain to sell their striped rugs to tourists along with spindles and other souvenirs.
Another place to stop and shop is Nizwa Souq. Pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy, and definitely check out the local crafts. Particularly famous are the curved daggers known as khanjars. You can find some excellent deals in the marketplace, but keep in mind that most wares in Oman are not cheap. This is because you are paying for exquisite handcrafting.
There are lovely accommodations to fit every budget throughout Oman including some beautiful five-star resorts right along the beach.
While you are in Oman, be sure to try some of the delicious traditional cuisine! Here are a few dishes to whet your appetite:
Albadhinajan mae tawarikh – This cake is made out of dates, eggplant, and onions.
Kabsa – This actually is an umbrella term for a number of mixed rice dishes which are found throughout the Arabian world. Typically the rice is long grain and mixed in with meat and vegetables along with a special spice mix.
Kebab – This is a form of grilled meat on a stick, popular around the world.
Harees – This is a porridge-like dish which consists of wheat mixed in with meat.
Kahwa – A special type of Omani coffee, this drink is served with cardamom powder mixed in, and may be accompanied by halwa (a confection) or dates. It symbolizes hospitality among the Omani people.