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Trip Report Oman Trip Report

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Oman was the 7th Arab country I've been to. But for those new to the region, it is the perfect introduction to the Arab world. Much more authentic than the Dubai or Qatar, but with far fewer hassles than Egypt or Morocco. Drivers are sane, you are unlikely to be scammed or cheated and there is much less cigarette smoke than elsewhere. And there are beautiful mountains in every direction.

LP guide to Oman, UAE and Arabian Peninsula leaves much to be desired. LP books have gotten shorter, more expensive and are full of errors and typos.

Flights - Oman Air from Dubai. 40 minute flight, polite and attractive crew.

Visa - If you arrive directly from Dubai, just show them your Dubai stamp and the visa is free. No need to wait in the visa line.

Hotel - Ruwi Hotel - This is a good option, affordable, rooms mostly clean, everything works properly, nice pool. My only issue was that I asked three different staff members and none could recommend any restaurants nearby. But i did find an Indian vegetarian place just across the highway.

Muttrah - This was my favorite part of Oman. Try to see it at different times of the day. The souk is fun to walk around and the merchants won't bother you too much. Walk further down the corniche and find some nice parks and forts and climb the watchtower for a nice sunset view.

Sultan's Palace - You can't enter, but after taking some pics, it's a good area to walk around. The mosque across from the palace gate is open to visitors from 8-11 AM and there are nice views along the sea.

Grand Mosque - It is nice, but overrun with busloads of tourists which makes it hard to appreciate. And German an British tourists look ridiculous walking around in Omani dishdashas.

Qurm - the beach here is ok. The water is nice and the views are great, but the sand is muddy and for some reason, Omanis like to drive on the beach. This is also where a lot of westerners hang out. Despite what some might recommend, there is really no reason to pay to enter a beachfront hotel for the day. The hotels are next to the beach, but not on it and don't seem to have any beach facilities.

Seeb - LP recommends this as a non-touristy seaside town. That it is, but it is a bit rundown and then beach is dirty and full of cars and stray dogs.

Muscat Festival - It is somewhat festive and if you have the time you might want to check it out. There are some sound and light shows, several stands selling Omani bread (essentially Indian parathas) and lots of corporate sponsors.

I hired a cab for the day to go to the Nizwa fort, walk through the date orchards of Misfat and see the Yemenite mud houses of Al Hamra. All are highly recommended. With a less rushed schedule, I could have spent a lot longer in each.

Costs - Much less than expected. Not sure why everyone says Oman is so expensive. Hotel was reasonable, food was quite cheap and taxis are quite cheap by American standards. A large bottle of water is 200 baisa or about 50 cents, a fraction of what it is here in NY.

Service - In restaurants and hotels is not great. No one was rude, but most were not all that friendly or welcoming, which is surprising in this part of the world.

Meeting Omanis - It's not so easy to do. But take some long taxi rides and get to know the drivers, meet some nice people and learn everything you'd ever want to know about life in Oman.

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