Oman is suitable for a variety of trips. The core of most visits is going to be time spent in the north of the country on a circuit combining Muscat, Nizwa and the surrounding mountains, in the desert, and some time on the coast (to see the nesting turtles).
This would normally take about a week depending on what you choose to include.
There is then the option of rounding off your trip with either a bit of culture, by flying to the stunning Musandam Peninsula, or by flying down to Salalah to see an area that is quite different from the rest of the country.
Finally there is the option of spending a few days in one of the excellent Muscat hotels to relax, unwind and enjoy a bit of sunshine.
What to expect in Oman
It is important to remember that tourism has not yet really taken hold in Oman, and as a result the quality of some services (guides, hotel staff etc) is not yet as good as elsewhere.
The policy is to employ Omanis wherever possible, and it will take time for them to gain the necessary experience in dealing with international visitors, but as long as you are aware of this before you travel there is no reason to let it put you off visiting this wonderful country.
While Arabic is the official language, Oman is a melting pot of cultures. English is widely spoken, as is Hindi; Swahili and Baluchi add some more spice to the mix.
A tip of 10 percent is considered the norm at hotels and restaurants. It is not normal to tip custodians of museums, forts and such like.
Food & Drink
Outside the hotels most restaurants are either Indian or Lebanese, with Omani cuisine noticeably absent. Traditional Omani cuisine is fairly simple, but by using various marinades and impregnating meat with spices, the result is a mouth-watering concoction which stimulates the taste buds. Chicken, fish and mutton are regularly used in dishes. Rice is used widely and is served in a variety of ways, from steamed to elaborate concoctions bursting with meat and vegetables. Breads range from the plain to those flavoured with dates, sesame, thyme and garlic. For desert, Omani halwa, or sweetmeat, is a traditional favourite. A favourite drink is laban, a salty buttermilk. Yoghurt drinks, flavoured with cardamom and pistachio nuts are also very popular.
Generally, Oman remains very traditional. Shorts are fine on the beach, but not anywhere else. Women should wear garments which cover their upper arms and their legs at least to their knees, both men and women are expected to dress conservatively in public places. Etiquette is essential to consider in Arab countries; on the whole Oman and her neighbours are deeply conservative countries and it is important (and sometimes a legal requirement) to conform. When taking photographs of locals, especially women, always ask permission first. Taking photographs of military establishments is not allowed. Non Muslims are not allowed to enter Mosques (with one or two notable exceptions). During Ramadan, do not eat, smoke or drink in public.
The official currency is the Omani Rial (OR). One Rial is split into 1,000 baisa (bz). ATMs & credit cards are widespread in Oman and many of them, particularly those belonging to HSBC, are tied into international systems. The most popular card in Oman is Visa but Mastercard is also accepted.
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website.
When to go to Oman
You'll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Oman.