Is Oman one of your bucket list travel destinations? Here are 10 reasons why I think it should be! And for those of you who haven’t ever considered it, here are a few things that I loved about it, and reasons why it should be an option for those looking for a unique travel experience.
10 Reasons Why You Should Travel Oman
1. Shopping in Arabian Souq’s
Concealed within a maze of narrow streets you will find many treasures to bring home at the Omani Souq. The alleyways smell of oud and frankincense and the shops are packed full of colorful scarves, fragrant perfumes, handmade ceramics and so much more. The further you walk the more immersed you will become in this unique shopping experience.
My favorite place to shop was the Mutrah Souq in Muscat. This particular souq is located next to a beautiful cournish and several mosques which creates an ambiance unlike any other. We spent hours roaming the shops and chatting with the owners. It’s easy to spend the day here as the shop owners are very friendly and will offer you tea and treats on arrival.
2. Following the Frankincense Trail
The Frankincense Trail located in Southern Dohfar is a Unesco World Heritage Site famous for its history as the most important commercial trading route in Southern Arabia.
As you enter the site you will find the Frankincense museum on your left and of course a forest of 5,000 Boswellia sacra trees on your right. These magical trees produce an aromatic sap that we in the West often refer to as frankincense. What most of us don’t know is this sap has been used for thousands of years for everything from incenses and perfumes to medicine.
3. Exploring Wonderful Wadi’s
After a short hike or boat ride, a sanctuary will appear surrounded by palm trees, rolling mountain views, and freshwater pools and that’s when you know you’ve made it to the Wadi. Oman is filled with these Oasis’s that have become very popular with tourists and locals alike. This goes to show that these natural beauties are well worth the visit. Always keep in mind to wear proper shoes and bring plenty of water as many wadi’s require a trek and do not have a canteen for last minute purchases.
My top pick is Wadi Shab, located in Sur. After a short, yet adventurous hike through beautiful mountain scenery we arrived at a stunning blue lagoon tucked between a deeply carved canyon. At the end of the wadi, there is a narrow opening in the rocks which, should you brave the swim, rewards you with a beautiful deep-water cave complete with a waterfall and rope to swing into the plunging depths below.
4. The Amazing Omani People
Omani’s are humble people who take etiquette and courtesy very seriously. The combination of an ethnically diverse nation mixed in with strong family values and high education standards creates a unique group of people.
One aspect that is sure to stand out about Omani’s is their noteworthy fashion sense. The people have created a style that is somehow both progressive and traditional. Although the culture of Oman is conservative the people are not afraid to show their individuality and encourage tourists to do the same.
5. Haunted Arabian Forts and Castles
There are well over 500 forts and castles in the Sultanate of Oman packed full of history. These architectural wonders can reach alarming heights and come with a unique design, including false doors, spooky haunted tales, secret entrances and traps to pour boiling date syrup on potential invaders.
The current ruler of Oman, his Majesty Sultan Qaboos, has worked hard to ensure these glorious structures are preserved and represented with historical accuracy. I encourage you to pick up a leaflet or google some information about each building you visit as the history is truly fascinating and will add a lot to your experience.
6. Discovering Islam
Almost all Omanis follow Islam; more specifically Ibadism (Oman’s official state religion), a school of Islam said to be founded 20 years after the death of Prophet Mohammed. Shi’a and Sunni are also practiced in Oman on a smaller but still very relevant scale.
Omani people love to answer questions about their religion and encourage others to discover Islam as they journey through the middle east. Islam’s influence is woven into the fabric of Omani society from its architecture to its traditions and customs, quite simply it is everywhere.
7. Stunning Landscapes
Whether you want to ride camels with the Bedouins across vast desert planes, relax on white sand beaches or hike through jaw-dropping mountains, Oman’s landscape will not disappoint.
Oman’s beaches came with the greatest surprise, they were empty. No tourists, and no locals, just you and the water. It felt as if we had found our own private slice of heaven, not to mention it was a great way to unwind before carrying on with our hectic travel schedule.
I highly recommend spending a day of desert fun with a local Bedouin family. The sand seems to swallow the big cities and leave behind the still, silent, and stunning beauty of the Arabian desert (plus a few camels of course).
8. Smoking Hookah with Locals
The hookah bars are a great way to witness the younger crowds in Oman and enjoy a different way of smoking tobacco (more commonly referred to as Shisha). Choose from an array of flavors such as rose, mint, lemon, or peach and a waiter will arrive back at your table with a large glass contraption topped with hot coals and long hoses to smoke from.
9. Oman’s Food and Drink
With influences from northern Africa, Persia and the Mediterranean, Oman has a great selection of mouth-watering cuisines to choose from. I enjoyed Shuwa the most, a traditional meat dish that is coated in oil and spices, wrapped in palm leaves and cooked slowly on hot embers underground.
As for drinks Khawa and Karak are the most common. Khawa is Omani coffee served in a traditional coffee pot called an Ebrik. This coffee typically contains cardamom pods, which adds a unique flavor, that I have adopted into my coffees at home. Karak is Omani tea and is served several times throughout the day. You can find this tea anywhere in Oman, whether your shopping in the Souq or driving through the desert, someone will have it and given the opportunity I am almost positive they would love the opportunity to offer you a cup.
10. Arabia that is Clean and safe
Oman is a wealthy country known for its well-kept streets, efficient police force and low crime rate. Tourists often camp in the desert and walk the streets late into the evenings without incident. The only safety risk I experienced while in Oman (which I take full responsibility for) was attempting to drive without a 4×4, I highly recommend spending the extra for this.
Chelsea Klapwyk – Assistant Writer editor & Photographer
Chelsea is an avid reader, writer, and fitness junky with a passion for travel. Starting out as an editor she quickly became enthralled with photography and has recently jumped into the writing arena. Although she is self admittedly a clumsy novice, she is excited to share her stories of how she navigates her way through the difficulties all new backpackers face. Chelsea has worked closely with Uncharted Backpacker for the past year and has added a refreshing new dynamic to the team.