Oman vacations travel guide

2 minute summary

Oman is a bit like Disneyworld in the desert. Centre stage there is The Sultan himself, there are beautiful castles everywhere, stories of princes and princesses, desert and mountain landscapes sweeping down to turquoise seas, all with a perfect ‘Technicolor’ edge to them. And then there are the rides. Drive across the endless dunes in a 4X4 into ‘infinity and beyond’. Or ride across the ocean waves being chased by pods of dolphins. Except these rides have no queues because Oman is all about space. You can go in search of Nemo but never find him as the fish and coral are so overwhelming when you snorkel or dive here. Or you can hike through the natural wonders of a wadi for Oman’s own ‘Fantasia’. For more details see our Oman travel guide.

Food, shopping & people

Travel like a local on your Oman vacation

Eating & drinking in Oman

Qahwa is Omani coffee, with a hint of cardamom. Often served with halwa.

You will never be short of a date in Oman.

Shuwa – meat marinated in spices, wrapped in banana leaf to marinate and kept in a hole underground containing fire to be cooked for 1-2 days.

Sewyah is a delicacy made from sweet noodles, usually had for breakfast sometimes accompanied by an omelette.

Seafood is everywhere. But don't eat hammour fish, now highly endangered due to overfishing.
You shouldn’t overstay your welcome by having more than three cups of coffee…it is so strong, you will probably need to excuse yourself anyway.

People & language

Arabic is, of course, the national language, but many Omanis speak good English and a considerable amount of Omanis also speak Swahili and Hindi. There are also various other indigenous languages such as Jabbali in the Dhofar region and Kumzari and Shihhi Arabic found in Musandam. There is a sizeable Indian immigrant population, so you will also hear a lot of Hindi spoken.
The most common greeting is Salam alaykum , or ‘Peace be upon you’
The most common reply is Wa alaykum as-salam , meaning ‘And upon you be peace’

Gifts & shopping

Oman is THE place to buy Frankincense (and is one of the few countries in the world where it is grown). It’s like going to Provence and not buying lavender. You can also buy beautiful frankincense burners from pottery to pewter.

Amouage perfumes are also a common gift to buy from Oman, seeing as it is the home of this luxurious brand.

Dates are everywhere and the perfect gift especially nice stuffed with nuts and crystalised fruits.

Seek out local honey, especially the wild one from bees hiding in high mountain caves

Rose water, made from roses grown in Al Jabal al Akhdar in Dakhiliya region is also commonly found in Nizwa market

Omani silverware khanjar is famous, but you have to sift through the Indian imports if you want the real thing - best place Nizwa and can also be widely found in Muttrah souq.

Fast facts

How much does it cost?

Punnet of apples from market stall - £1.50

Bottle of beer/wine in a hotel - £5/£20-30

Chicken Shawarma in small restaurant - £1.50

Lunch in local restaurant - £4.50

Full tank of petrol in 4X4 - £8

Meal in a hotel - £30 - £35

A brief history of Oman

Oman may be one of the newest countries to modern-day tourism, but is actually the oldest independent Arab country with 5,000 years of history and culture. It still has a proud independent feel seeing as Oman was one of the leading countries in international trade among its Arabian counterparts. During the Omani reign, the Omani empire developed a connecting network of countries ranging from South Western Asia to East Africa. Oman's ship Al Sultanah that docked in New York on April 13 1840 was the first Arab envoy to ever visit the New World – making it the second Arab country to sign a trade treaty with the U.S. Read more ▼
Photo credits: [Photos: Oman Ministry of Tourism]
Oman highlights tour

Oman highlights tour

Journey through Oman's ancient cities, mountains and deserts

From £2795 12 Days ex flights
Tailor made tours of Oman

Tailor made tours of Oman

Privately escorted mystical trip of stunning Oman

From US $1999 8 days ex flights
Oman small group tour

Oman small group tour

Ancient spice trails, Wahiba Sands, superb coastal scenery

From £1799 8 Days ex flights
Luxury culture holiday in Oman

Luxury culture vacation in Oman

Muscat, Sur and the Bedouin of Wahiba Sands in Oman

From £1699 7 Days ex flights
Oman cycling & trekking vacation

Oman cycling & trekking vacation

5 night cycling and trekking adventure in Oman

From £1395 6 Days ex flights
Oman vacation on a shoestring

Oman vacation on a shoestring

Rustic excellent value-for-money vacation to Oman

From £1650 8 Days ex flights
Oman family vacation, private departure

Oman family vacation, private departure

An amazing Oman off road adventure your family wont forget

From £2795 14 Days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: Marc Veraart]
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