4 Best Sights in Bidiyah, Oman

Wahiba Sands Desert

Fodor's choice
Wahiba Sands Desert, Bidiyah, Oman, Africa and the Middle East
(c) Cameo | Dreamstime.com
About 3½ hours from Muscat, the Wahiba Sands is a gorgeous sea of sand dunes whose only inhabitants are Bedouin tribes, who still maintain a semi-nomadic lifestyle. It is one of the most popular destinations for domestic tourism. Dune-bashing—driving over the mountains of sand in modified four-wheel-drive vehicles—is a favorite activity for locals, who happily queue to race up the hills, a tricky task that takes practice so as to not get stuck in the drifts. Desert crossings are done in convoys of 4x4s that crawl through miles of dunes over a period a days, camping along the way; it's another popular pastime in the winter, when the weather is mild. The Bedouin who live there are friendly and open to sharing their culture. Women set up tents near the beginning of the dunes, where they sell their traditional woven handicrafts. Their vibrantly colored dresses and curvaceous black face-masks are beautiful. The men will often visit camps in the deep desert to share a meal or a drink, or simply to meet visitors camping in their desert. From mid-October through April there are camel races as well. In season, numerous desert camps are set up to enable visitors to get a taste of desert life. If you haven't already arranged a tour from Muscat, many of the desert camps will pick up day-trippers without their own 4x4s from the town of Bidiyah for a fee.

Bidiyah Museum

The small Bidiyah museum is designed like a traditional Omani house and features a collection of old rifles, silver-handled khanjar daggers, and mannequins showcasing traditional clothing from the region. The roof terrace houses beautiful carved wooden doors and offers great views over the dusty town and the small Mintarib Fort across the street.
2 Building 2881 Way., 2333 Way, Oman
24-605-013
Sight Details
Rate Includes: 1 rial, Sat.–Thurs., 9–noon and 2–6

Jami al-Hamoda Mosque

Jami al-Hamoda Mosque, Bidiyah, Oman, Africa and the Middle East
(c) Kstepien | Dreamstime.com
An hour south of Bidiyah, the quiet town of Bilad Bani Bu Ali is a tourist destination in its own right, drawing visitors for its watchtowers, old fortified houses, forts, and ancient city walls. The town is filled with charming homes decorated with intricate tilework, colorful metal-work, and carved wood doors. The most interesting of the ancient abandoned structures in town is the Jami al-Hamoda Mosque, notable because of its unusual construction featuring separate 52 domes and a falaj (water channel) that was once used for ablutions. To find the old mosque, head for the fort and make your first left after passing it. From here, you will need a four-wheel drive vehicle to get through the quarter-mile of sand that separates the paved road from the mosque, which will be on the left. If nothing else, the scenic drive is a bit of an adventure.

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Wadi Bani Khalid

Wadi Bani Khalid; Bidiyah, Oman, Africa and the Middle East
(c) Darezare | Dreamstime.com
A 35-minute drive from Bidiyah, Wadi Bani Khalid might be all the more lovely because of its position in the dry deserts of the Sharqiyah region, the shock of its turquoise water making it feel like a true oasis in the otherwise golden and beige landscape. When you arrive, you'll see a very artificial-looking park with toilets, a café, and concrete walkways along the water, but at the end of this stretch the natural wadi begins. Carefully make your way over the rocks and into the deeper waters, a 15- to 20-minute hike down the wadi, and you will come to a deep pool surrounded by waterfalls. More adventurous travelers can climb the rocks and jump into the roughly 9-meter-deep lake.
Sur St., Oman