2019/06/16

Oman – the perfect destination for seekers of Arabian Nights

Location

Where to go, where to stay in style & best time to visit

 Do you feel like immersing in a world out of One Thousand and One Nights? One of the best places to this is unquestionably Oman, or officially the Sultanate of Oman, an Arab country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Oman has everything to be a perfect travel destination. Its landscape is surprisingly varied, it is safe, peaceful and open, and it has a lot to offer for the discerning traveler. When planning my fourth stay here together with my husband and friends, I decided that it was high time exploring the country further than “just” Muscat or Nizwa and heading to the far south in Salalah and to the rugged fold-mountains in the massif of Jabal Akhdar.


General

A few words to the country of Oman, for the uninitiated … Before Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, hereditary leader of the country, took power in 1970, Oman was a weakly developed country. Under the prudent leadership of Sultan Qaboos this Arabic state was modernized - using oil revenues -, and this without becoming a high-rise hypermodernity following the example of Dubai. Instead the traditional character of the country was preserved but along with an openness towards foreign influences.

Oman has a relatively diversified economy - at least compared to neighboring states -, but it still remains dependent on oil exports. Tourism is the fastest-growing industry here, the country is even considered the undisputed leader in this area in the Middle East.

Top travel destinations & where to stay in style

As to the most important travel destinations within Oman, here is all you need to know in this matter.

Muscat

Many visitors stick solely to Muscat as it is a perfect destination for beach vacations. Beyond that the capital city has more than enough to justify a multiday stay, i.e. an imposing mosque, an impressive opera, nice forts and government buildings, a lively souk. And if you want to go a bit further, Nizwa, an ancient city which was the former political, and religious capital for centuries, is only a two-hour drive away.
See here my blogpost about Muscat with recommendations where to stay in style and what to do here.

Nizwa (North)

If you would like to get more than just an impression of the historic city of Nizwa with its many sights in town - think of its mighty fort or its many different souls - and also its surroundings - e.g. Bahla Fort, Jabrin Castle or the mountain village of Misfah -,
then it may be a good idea to spend maybe one or two nights here.
With regard to accommodations for demanding travelers here, I am afraid there is not much choice in Nizwa itself. On the occasion of my first trip to Oman anno 2004, we (two families) stayed at the Golden Tulip Nizwa, which seems to top the list of recommended lodgings onsite and which is comfortable but not exactly upmarket. An alternative might be exploring the sights here from one of the two luxury hotels in the nearby Jabal Akhdar, more about this right in the next chapter.

Jabal Akhdar (North)

A mountain stay in Jabal Akhdar ("The Green Mountain") is a great thing to do in Oman as it allows you not only to escape the heat in Muscat or Nizwa but also to discover a different Oman that is well worth exploring with its picturesque mountain villages complete with fruit and rose plantations on terraces and its wadis (dry riverbeds except in the rainy season).

A plus here is the facht that there are two luxury hotels onsite, which will satisfy the discerning traveler (Alila Jabal Akhdar
and Anantara Al Jabela Resort).
More on this subject you will find in my next blogpost where I report on my stay at the former and give some glimpses of the latter as well as I advise on what to do when visiting this gorgeous mountain area.

Wahiba Sands (North)

If you fancy a desert stay, then head to the biggest inland desert of Wahiba Sands, about a three-hour drive from Muscat. While my husband and I did not stay here, but only made a day trip to this desert with rolling hills and rippled waves of sand,
here a blogpost from fellow bloggers about staying at the Desert Nights Camp.


Salalah (South)

Down in the far south not far from the Yemeni border, there is Oman's second-largest city of Salalah, whose climate differs a bit from the rest of the Sultanate. It boasts not only great beaches but has also some sights in town and in the surroundings that are worth visiting.
Good news for travelers looking for luxury accommodations, there is a gem of a hotel right in Salalah (Anantara Salalah Resort Oman)
and another premium one under construction in the area, although with an indefinite opening date. One of my next blogposts will cover all the details of my recent stay here accompanied by activities to do in the area.


Musandam (North)

This Omani enclave at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates, is home to the (very) upmarket Six Senses Zighy Bay resort. From what I hear (I have not been here), this seems to be a great beach destination with few opportunities for sightseeing best to be reached from Dubai (not recommended from Muscat). See here a hotel review from a fellow blogger.


Best time to visit Oman

In terms of climate, Oman has one of the hottest ones in the world, like the rest of the Persian Gulf. The average summer temperatures in Muscat - the capital and the most visited place - are between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius (86 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit). Best time to travel to Muscat is from November to March.

In the south – in Salalah and surroundings – there is a tropical-like climate
receiving seasonal rainfall from July to September as a result of monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean. Probably the best time of year to go here is from October to April.

As to Jabal Akhdar, the mountain area, the temperature is around 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than in Muscat or Nizwa and therefore a year-round destination for western travelers, although I would not recommend going to Oman just for this part of the country.

Overall

Oman is the place to go on the Arabian Peninsula for travelers seeking oriental experiences in a safe environment with an open-minded attitude to Westerners. It boasts varied landscapes from idyllic beaches to rugged mountains and rolling dunes. A lot is also offered for a culturally interested crowd
and if you like luxury lodging, no problems here either! Come here for a great beach vacation but keep in mind that the real romance of Oman is to be found away from the coast!

For Muscat have a look at my blogpost about where to stay in style and what to do and come back later to check out my soon to follow blogposts about Jabal Akhdar (mountains) and Salalah (southern coast) with the same topics.

Date of last visit: April 2019


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3 comments:

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  2. Very nice post. Longing to go back soon ��

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    1. Thank you very much! It is really a worthwhile place to go ...

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