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11 Fun Things to Do in Oman

Mary and her husband work on international projects and have travelled to many places in Spain.

Nizwa market

Nizwa market

Oman: The Dream of Old Araby

Like the smell of frankincense in the warm desert breeze, the scent of rare spices, the chatter of the souks, or the roaring silence of the desert? Then, the Sultanate of Oman is for you.

This Jewel of the Gulf, with its wadis and deserts, its beaches and mountain areas and its forts, old souks, weekend village markets and camel racing, has caught the imagination of almost all who come to its shores.

Oman's capital city, Muscat, lies on the Arabian Sea along the Gulf of Oman and is close to the strategic Straits of Hormuz. Presently, it is the capital of the Sultanate as well as its commercial center. But the other areas have something unique to offer as well. Thus, it is not surprising that a cruise ship anchored in Muscat or Salalah, another port city, almost daily.

I was lucky that my husband got a consulting contract there, so we had a chance to explore the place. We went out of town every weekend and explored areas with our knowledgeable guide. We went to tiny villages, picnicked in the desert, visited families, and had a perfect time.

Nowadays, when we talk with other people about Oman, all of them say how welcoming and kind the Omanis are. So, if you have not yet been to Oman, go now and experience a more authentic Middle East culture.

Camel ride in Oman

Camel ride in Oman

Map of Oman

Fun things to Do in Oman

Many unique and exciting places dot Oman. These places still have traces of the old Arabic culture with markets selling things the old way, villages still unaffected by major digital westernization and people living their traditional methods.

So you can have fun exploring Oman.

The roads are in top shape, so you can easily rent a car and drive. Beware, though, because they drive very fast there.

Oman

Oman

1. Stroll the Port of Muttrah

The Port of Muttrah in Oman's capital city, Muscat, is one stroll you must not miss. With the 16th-century Portuguese forts, Al Jalali and Mirani, you can enjoy a walk along Mina Sultan Qaboos and admire the yachts and ships moored at Muscat's main trading port.

Remember, Oman's history dates back to antiquity, so visit its traditional bazaars to breathe in the glorious past, Souq Muttrah and Sour La-Al-Lawatiah, a small community of houses surrounded by an old wall.

Just going around the souq transports you to the traders of antiquity who ply their goods in the same way. Smell the exotic spices, perfume, and frankincense and buy some to take home.

Muttrah in Oman - One Place you must visit in Oman

Muttrah is one place you should not miss when you visit Oman.

You can see in this video the reason why this is a place to be.

Oman Beach

Oman Beach

2. Enjoy Oman's Beaches

Stay at the Al Bustan Palace, where you feel surrounded by rocks much higher than you are. Then, as you go down, you see the ocean expanding its horizon in front of you. Enjoy Al Bustan's breathtaking foyer with Omanis in native costumes preparing frankincense. Burning frankincense seems to transport you to a magical place.

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Al Bustan has its beach and garden. If the Al Bustan price is too much for your budget, the Crowne Plaza and the Shangrila are also along the coast. You can enjoy the sunset from your room. The views awaken the painter in you. I did several paintings when I was there.

We also enjoyed walking on the beach from the Crowne Plaza to the shopping center about a kilometre away, having coffee on the way and mixing our unique perfume in one of the bazaars in the shopping center.

Best Beach Resort in Oman - Al Bustan Palace

Best Beach Resort in Oman - Al Bustan Palace

3. Visit the Al Alam Palace

Al Alam Palace is the ceremonial palace of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. Visitors are not allowed inside but the outside is quite impressive. It is surrounded by the Mirani and Jalali Forts built by the Portuguese in the 16th century.

As traditionally practiced by his predecessors, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos still continues to visit his people today, even those in the remote villages. Camping in the desert most of the time, he listens to his people about their lives and concerns. The Omanis love their desert. It is their life. Watch them hold the sand as they sit in the desert.In this picture, you can see how much our Omani guide loves his desert. They are one with the sand.

Nizwa Market

Nizwa

Nizwa

4. Visit Nizwa's Old Fort and Souk

Nizwa is an old fort. This fort is a monument to the Omani architectural ingenuity in the Ya'rubi era. Trudge through the Falaj Daris, a world heritage site that may date back two thousand years. A falaj is a channel that brings water, often over many kilometres, from underground sources or springs to support agriculture and domestic use.

Don't miss the souk in Nizwa. It is bustling with vendors selling everything from meat, fish, fruits and vegetables to spices, dates, gold and silverware. Nizwa, renowned for its silver jewelry, is considered the best in the country in making Khanjar. You will enjoy watching Nizwa's masters make Khanjar (curved daggers worn by the Omani men with their ceremonial clothes).

If you are there on a Friday morning, go early and zip to the far end of the souk, which hosts a lively livestock market in the shade of date palm trees. Local farmers parade their cows, goats and sheep to be inspected, auctioned and sold to the highest bidders. This livestock market is a hands-on event...no corral...you and the goats are eye to eye, and you have never seen bargaining like this before! This scene provides not only amusement but an opportunity to observe local traditional customs. And watch out...you can become part of the good-tempered bargaining.

Nizwa, Oman's Old Souk - The Old Fort

Nizwa, Oman's Old Souk - The Old Fort

5. Cruise in the Oman Dhow

Having descended from the great sailor, Sinbad, the Omanis are great seafarers. They have perfected the building of the dhow, the traditional boat used in Oman. Cruise by dhow along the magnificent coastline. Stop at Bandar Khayran, calm waters and isolated beaches, to swim and snorkel. Lots of fish and turtle action, so take a mask. Or have a picnic and walk or lounge on the beach.

I was impressed with our boat driver. He knew just the right places and the right time for snorkelling. Not only that. He was ready when I went up because there were some algae, and they ended up in my hair. He had a big bucket, and he washed these from my hair. I found the Oman people friendly.

Cruising Oman's Magnificent Coastline

Cruising Oman's Magnificent Coastline

6. Go Dune Bashing in Oman's Desert

Visit the desert. The most renowned Omani desert is Sharqiyah Sands (formerly Wahiba Sands), with its dunes rising to nearly 200 meters. Go dune bashing, and see how loud you scream in terror! Sleep out in Barsti huts, Omani BBQ under the stars, ride a camel and eat with the Bedouins. Your hotel can arrange this for you.

We had an excellent and knowledgeable guide when we were there. Our guide had contacts in many villages, some not frequented by tourists. Through his connections, we had a taste of what it is to be in an Arab house in the middle of a desert, dropped in on some of the tiny villages, met some families, and of course, dune bashing. It was exhilarating.

Oman's Desert

Oman Desert

Oman Desert

How was your Oman desert experience?

The Vast Desert of Oman

The Vast Desert of Oman

7. Visit Salalah, City of Antiquity in Oman

Visit Salalah, the Perfume Capital of Arabia. Referred to as the "perfume capital of Arabia," Salalah is a city of antiquity, boasting the ruins of a fortified town Sumharam, an important port from 100BC-400AD, and the resting place of the Koranic prophet Ayoub, Job in the nearby Jabal Qara.

The Port of Salalah, located approximately 15 km southwest of the city, is one of the primary entry points to India, the Middle East, and Africa.

Salalah is a must visit when in Oman

You have to put Salalah in your itinerary. It is the capital of the province of Dofar. You can't miss this old port. The mountains change at different seasons and it is carpeted with flowers in the spring.

Camel Race in Oman - Jockeys Under 5

Camel Race in Oman - Jockeys Under 5

8. Go to a camel race

Watch a camel race. Omanis take pride and complete care in raising their camels, implementing rigorous methods of taming and nourishment. Camels bred for racing undergo intensive training to compete at national and international levels.

They give names to the camels reflecting their respective abilities and endurance. They draft the Jockeys for their size (or lack thereof), and some make professional debuts around five years old. The races are generally held on public holidays and during National Day celebrations.

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How was your experience? - Share with us

sultanate-of-oman

9. Take Oman's Luban Route

Go through ancient cities.

Take the Luban (frankincense) route. This route comprises the ancient cities of Al-Blaid and Shasr, Khuwr Rori, and Wadi Dooka, locations that collectively contributed to the flourishing of the frankincense trade for many centuries.

sultanate-of-oman

10. Visit the Old Villages in Oman

Peaks, Gorges and Wadis

Visit the villages of Saiq, Wadi Bani Habit (the town of the old houses) and Al Ain. These villages overlook a spectacular landscape of dramatic peaks, gorges and wadis.

The roses of Jabal Al Akhdar fill the air with fragrance when in full bloom (March / April). Villagers here distill Rose water in their homes following the age-old methods of their ancestors.

11. Go diving in Khasab at the tip of Musandam

You may not associate Oman with diving, but this area is one of the most sought-after diving destinations.

Oman has become our favourite destination in the Middle East. Here, you can still experience what old Araby was.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Mary Norton

Have you been to Oman? - Add your comments

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 24, 2020:

I'd so love to see a camel race. I've seen a camel run in the movies before. What a comical gate they have.

Blessings,

Denise

Tiarna Georghiou from Brisbane, Australia on May 04, 2020:

Fantastic article! I would LOVE to go to Oman one day, it looks like an incredible place. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Mansoor from Oman on June 18, 2019:

We can have oman perfume as well. with named omanluxury. They are using pure frankincense to make there perfume and oil based fragrance. Which enhance your style and fashion. Smells really unique and nice. http://www.omanluxury.om

Robert Sacchi on July 24, 2018:

Oh well.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on July 24, 2018:

Sorry, Robert. I am just improving my writing right now so I am not thinking of a book at all.

Robert Sacchi on July 23, 2018:

Another impressive place you have visited Thanks for sharing. Have you considered compiling your experiences into a book?

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 15, 2018:

Peggy, Oman was really fun for us. Every weekend, we would get out of the city and the tour guide would bring us to visit some of the villages where his friends lived. We enjoyed it so much.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 15, 2018:

What a fascinating tour of Oman you took us on in this post of yours. I enjoyed your photos as well as your videos. Loved the music in that last one from the movie Titanic. It seemed appropriate when looking at all those ruins. You are opening my eyes to parts of the world that I will never see in person. Thanks!

Khasab Sea Tours on November 01, 2015:

Nice place to visit.

B-West on September 08, 2015:

Wow!! coming from an African-Nigerian to be exact ,who has only been to SouthEast Asia, you really make me yearn to be there.. someday!someday! i shall. Lol!

poetryman6969 on May 15, 2015:

It's an interesting place but I wonder how they treat women there. Especially western women.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 12, 2015:

You are right. Sometimes, I think it is better that way so some of those villages continue to retain their charm and uniqueness.

Blackspaniel1 on February 11, 2015:

It is one of the smaller, and les often in the news, nations of the region that it can easily be overlooked.

WriterJanis2 on May 21, 2013:

I would love to visit the desert, then spend some time at the beach.

anonymous on May 10, 2013:

I've never been to Oman but it is clearly worth the trip.

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on May 10, 2013:

Don't know if I will ever manage to visit Oman, but would definitely like to spend at least one day in a real desert.

anonymous on September 01, 2012:

Finally got around to reviewing this lens. I shared it via Pinterest. I had a hard time though. Had to make an executive decision. Places I'd Like to go OR Education? I pinned it to my Travel board but I wanted to pin it to Education because I learned so much :) http://pinterest.com/pin/183943966001392984/

BestRatedStuff on May 21, 2012:

Beautiful desert scenes.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on May 15, 2012:

Your articles really do make me feel as though I am right there. I love all the photographs of Oman. Seeing the world through your eyes is wonderful.

goo2eyes lm on April 15, 2012:

i squidliked this lens in nov. and i just came back as an angel. got my wings in 2012.

goo2eyes lm on April 15, 2012:

i haven't been to oman but i visited u.a.e., abu dhabi to be exact. oman is a nice place and i envy you because you have travelled a lot more than i did. blessings.

anonymous on March 12, 2012:

It looks like an amazing place, I have actually not heard of Oman before now, you captured it so well, beautiful descriptions and photography.

anonymous on February 20, 2012:

My Father has been there and he show me many of the Sights and even sounds of Oman! I guess this still hold true, there is Beauty and Magic all over the Wonderful World; the trick is to find it, cherish it and share it!

anonymous on February 16, 2012:

I went to Oman several times before it was open to the public - great place and the Al Bustan Palace hotel is fantastic in real life

Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on February 12, 2012:

I've never been to Oman and knew very little about it before reading this lens. It looks like an amazing place. ~ blessed

norma-holt on February 11, 2012:

Had to come back here and bless this lovely work and feature it on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012. Hugs.

anonymous on February 02, 2012:

Returning to the Jewel of the Gulf to mix some angel dust in with the dessert sand, Oman is truly a multifaceted gem of great beauty.

sousababy on February 02, 2012:

Never been, thank you for the virtual tour. I'd remember to bring sunblock and my Tilley for sure!

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 30, 2012:

@vkumar05: Thank you so much.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 30, 2012:

@Redneck Lady Luck: Thanks for the encouragement.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 30, 2012:

@Lindrus: Thank you. I enjoyed my stay there.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 30, 2012:

@miaponzo: Thank you so much for the blessing.

miaponzo on January 27, 2012:

I haven't even though I'm really really close!!!! I WANT to go!!!! Blessed!

Lindrus on January 20, 2012:

What a cool place! Or should I say hot?.... Thanks for making it come alive with your writing!

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on January 12, 2012:

Your writing is so very beautiful that I can almost feel myself in the Sultanate of Oman. I think that you should try your hand at writing an adventure story set in the past...you are magical.

vkumar05 on January 07, 2012:

The best work I have seen till now on Oman. Great share

Barbara Walton from France on January 02, 2012:

I've never been anywhere as 'exotic' as this. I'd love to go, but in the meantime, thanks for this wonderful glimps into another world.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 01, 2012:

@niceman91 lm: Not really expensive. We were lucky we were there for work so our allowance covered much of our expenses but compared to Europe, it is not expensive.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 01, 2012:

@CruiseReady: I was surprised, too, when we first went there. It was for work so we did not really search but it was really amazing.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 01, 2012:

@SquidooPower: Thank you so much. You are very encouraging.

SquidooPower on December 18, 2011:

Yer killing me. Every time I'm supposed to be working I see another fascinating lens of yours (like this one!) and I end up reading it instead of working. Nice job. Thanks for sharing.

CruiseReady from East Central Florida on December 04, 2011:

What a beautifully done lens about Oman. It does its job- it made me interested in going there!

niceman91 lm on December 03, 2011:

I've never been to oman yet,just around bahrain.quite expensive BD.Great info! :)

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 01, 2011:

@goo2eyes lm: I am not sure now but will check this out.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 01, 2011:

@norma-holt: Thank you so much for your generous comment.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 01, 2011:

@junecampbell: It is stunning. We always went out for picnics in the weekend.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 01, 2011:

@moonlitta: We were lucky to have a work assignment there.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 01, 2011:

@iijuan12: Thank you so much. I really appreciate your blessing.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 01, 2011:

@iijuan12: Thank you so much. I really appreciate your blessing.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 01, 2011:

@dahlia369: Thank you so much for the blessing.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 01, 2011:

@KeepsakeIdeas: It is, I was impressed.

goo2eyes lm on November 30, 2011:

i have been to u.a.e. up to fujairah or ras-al-kaimah. i have a small poll lens with pictures of oman. under Squids starting with O, Are you in this List?

norma-holt on November 29, 2011:

This lens reads like a documentary. It is well structured with beautiful descriptions and pics and a good advertisement for the region. Well done.

June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on November 29, 2011:

What stunning scenery. I would love to see it some day.

moonlitta on November 28, 2011:

You chose a truly unique destination! Loved the trip with you -stay blessed:)

Shannon from Florida on November 27, 2011:

I haven't been there but would love to go. Nice lens! Blessed and liked.

dahlia369 on November 08, 2011:

What an amazing place - and so beautifully presented in this lens. Much blessed! :)

KeepsakeIdeas on October 28, 2011:

Oman looks magical, with always something to see and do!

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 18, 2011:

@Sylvestermouse: Thank you so much for the blessing.

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on October 18, 2011:

Wow, this is beautifully written and gorgeous pictures!

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 18, 2011:

@indigoj: Yes, it still has retained its desert and souk culture.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 18, 2011:

@anonymous: Yes, the camel race fascinated me as the kids are so young but very competent.

anonymous on September 15, 2011:

Dear Aesta,

I have heard a lot about the camel race, it must be very interesting. Oman looks to be a magnificent place to visit.

Indigo Janson from UK on September 14, 2011:

What a beautiful place! I'd like to see Oman one day. It looks like it has a rich culture and a great deal to discover.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 10, 2011:

@bhavesh lm: Thanks. I did enjoy my stay there.

bhavesh lm on September 07, 2011:

Awesome lens! Great info, terrific pictures. Thanks for sharing.

DuaneJ on September 06, 2011:

Stunning and beautiful page!

KimGiancaterino on August 15, 2011:

Thank you for this beautiful tour of Oman!

laki2lav on August 05, 2011:

I love to travel and this page have really sparked interest in visiting this unique and unusual country. Thanks for the info.

CruiseReady from East Central Florida on July 09, 2011:

You really are making me think I would love to see Oman

Seeking Pearls from Pueblo West on July 03, 2011:

Lovely and interesting tour. I have never been to Oman but would enjoy visiting.

anonymous on June 11, 2011:

Thanks for the virtual tour of Oman. Beautiful lens indeed.

anonymous on February 25, 2011:

Thank you for this lovely visit to Oman, I loved it from your opening line that drew me right in to your wonderful experience. You shared that the people of Oman love the desert..and you told of that intimacy of watching them hold the sand in their hand, sweet!

howtocurecancer on November 12, 2010:

Very, very interesting. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on October 05, 2010:

Interesting lens, deserve a much better ranking! I have only travel to Oam via my stamp collection. Thank you for the well written guide!

Anthony Godinho from Ontario, Canada on September 07, 2010:

Beautiful lens on Oman and well-written! I've never been to Oman, but lived in Dubai for 6 years. I would have loved to visit Oman, but somehow when vacation time came up, it was time to head to Goa to see my family. Well done! :)

sprevendido25 on April 20, 2010:

I never thought Oman is a must-see until I read your lenses. I can't wait to read your next lens!

nort43 on April 20, 2010:

Oman is the best visit in the region. I really agree that those who judge the area based on Abu D and Dubai have really missed out on the marvellous tranquility of real desert people.

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