Solo Travel in Oman
Types of Girl about the Globe (GatG) – Desert GatG, Historical GatG, Nature GatG, Ocean GatG
Oman is one of my favourite countries! It is really safe, the scenery is mind-blowing and the hospitality is outstanding. Tour guides and staff in accommodations speak English and the country is easy to navigate its way around. If you’re planning a solo trip to Oman, this guide covers what to see and do in Oman and how to get around Oman.
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Muscat is the capital of Oman and an ideal place to begin exploring the country. The capital has been designed to retain its connection to the desert and nature. No building in Muscat is more than a few stories high so you can see the deserts or the sea with minarets from the mosque piercing the sky.
Muscat has manicured lawns, bright flowerbeds and fountains along the roadside. You honestly feel as though you have stepped into another world especially if you’re down by the port.
If you start at the port, you can watch the fishermen as they bring in the local catch for the day at Muttrah Fish Market. Inside this white covered market you can find all types of fish from red mullet to kingfish and tuna. There are even live crabs! Plus you get to buy any types of dates that you can imagine within the fruit and vegetable section.
Just a few steps from the fish market along the Mutrah corniche (the waterside area) is the Mutrah Souk, one of the oldest souks in the Arab world (it dates back 200 years). It is one of the attractions in Oman with its winding alleyways of gold and silver and traditional garments and trinkets from Oman. Its within this inside market that you can buy Omani silver, incense and Arabian scents. You don’t get hassled either. Local sellers may say hi or try to get you to into their shops but it’s all friendly so keep walking by if you don’t intend to buy anything.
If you keep following the corniche along the promenade you’ll reach the giant Frankincense Monument on the hillside, representing the Frankincense history of Oman that is an integral part of its heritage.
You can learn more about Oman’s history at the Bait Al Zubair Museum. Oman is ruled by one of the oldest dynasties in the Middle East and displays its cultural heritage within this museum that was opened in 1998. Inside you’ll find weaponry, old costumes, jewellery and coins from the past. It’s an interesting insight into the culture.
Also along the coastline are two of the forts in Oman. Al-Mirani Fort and Al-Jalali Fort are two forts that look out over the Gulf of Oman. Both of these forts were built by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
One of the biggest Muscat attractions is one of the most important Oman places in the city. The Qaboos Grand Mosque is open to visitors and is free to enter. Inside you’ll find marble courtyards and a women’s and men’s prayer hall. The men’s section has intricate musical art with a Persian carpet that took several years to complete. It really is breathtaking inside and be sure to look up at the giant crystal chandelier. Remember to take your shoes off before entering.
In the evenings, one of the places to visit in Muscat is the stunning Opera House. Located on Sultan Qaboos Street, the Royal Opera House Muscat was the first Opera House in Arabia. Inside it contains the largest mobile pipe organ in the world. You can take tours or watch an opera or a concert. Even the exterior is beautifully lit up at night.
From Muscat, you can take a day trip to Nizwa. Nizwa is an ancient city that used to be Oman’s capital during the 6th and 7th centuries. The Nizwa Fort is one of the oldest forts in the country and one of the places to see in Oman.
Inside you can learn more about the history of the fort, watch traditional crafts, buy pottery, coffee and dates and climb the steps to the top for a spectacular view of Nizwa. Visit here on a Friday morning and you can witness the cattle market too.
Jebel Shams is Oman’s highest peak. At more than 3000 metres high, it is described as Oman’s Grand Canyon. Jebel Shams is one of the Oman tourist attractions you really shouldn’t miss. You can just visit it for a day or arrange hikes into the canyon, stopping at local villages along the way. If you do a day tour here from Muscat you’ll stop at Al Hambra, an abandoned village which dates back to 400 years old. Some of the locals still live here and you can visit the local museum to find out more.
Wadi Shab & The Bimmah Sinkhole
If you are travelling onto Sur, you can visit two other Oman famous places that are both reachable on a day tour from Muscat. Wadi Shab and the Bimmah Sinkhole are both stunning.
Wadi Shab is an impressive canyon with crystal clear water that you can swim in. When you arrive at the entrance of the Wadi, you take a short boat ride across the water to begin the hike (less than a minute’s ride!) If you’re brave enough there’s a small gap when you reach the end of the hike that takes you into a beautiful cave. This area is so safe that you can even leave your valuables outside the cave.
When you see the Bimmah Sinkhole you’re sure to say “wow.” This natural wonder is a 65-foot deep natural sinkhole situated just off the road in between Dihab and Bimmah (hence the name). You can walk down the steps to get there and swim in its waters to cool off from the midday heat. If you’re lucky you may see other swimmers jumping from the cliffs into the sinkhole. The sinkhole resembles a cenote in Mexico.
Wadi Bani Khalid
Wadi Bani Khalid is another must-see and one of the most beautiful places in Oman. This oasis is dotted with palm trees and it’s easy to see why it’s the most visited wadi in the country. When you’re swimming here you do need to keep your clothes on as swimwear isn’t acceptable. Swim in a t-shirt and leggings if you can as you need to be covered from your neck to your knees. You soon dry off afterwards.
Wadi Bani Khalid is also near Wahiba Sands. This stunning reddish desert is home to Oman’s Bedouin heritage and you can stay overnight in a desert camp or go dune bashing in a 4×4.
If you’re into maritime history, Sur should be on your Oman itinerary. This port city was once famous for dhow-building and you can visit the Dhow factory and see workers building dhows. Even if you’re not a boat lover, it’s worth a visit as it’s only 2 Omani Rials to enter. Like everywhere in Oman, Sur has a charm to it. You can walk along the Sur corniche and admire the murals that the locals create along its wall.
Al Ayjah is a lovely area too. This traditional neighbourhood was once cut off from Sur but is now connected by the suspension bridge. Walk up the steps of the Al Ayjah lighthouse for good views or for an even better vantage point of the surrounding area, the watch tower of Al Ayjah is the perfect place to climb for dusk.
Oman is home to several turtle species and one of the places to see them is at Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve, visitable from Sur. If you love wildlife this reserve offers turtle viewing at night. July to October is the best time to see the Green Turtle that migrates through this area. Ras Al Jinz beach is renown for watching the nesting process of the turtles and is only a 45 minute drive from Sur.
Everywhere in Oman is stunning but there is something so special about the city of Salalah, the capital of the country’s Dhofar province. Located in the south, this area is the greenest area in the country.
Every year the monsoon turns it into lush terrain meaning that it attracts visitors from the Middle East who come to escape the desert heat and enjoy the cooler temperatures that it offers. It also has a historical significance being home of the Frankincense tree and you can learn more and see one of the trees at the Frankincense Museum.
Just a 35 minute drive from Salalah is Khor Rori. The ancient city of Sumhuram was once part of the Frankincense route and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city overlooks a lagoon and was enclosed by city walls. The ruins date back to the 4th century BC and you can wander around the old city to see the Temple of Sin, one of the important structures here. Take a look inside the museum to see artefacts that were excavated from this region. The entrance fee is 2 Omani Rials.
Because of the monsoon, depending on which time of year you travel here, you can see many waterfalls. Wadi Darbat waterfalls are easy to see any time of the year and are on the way to Darbat. Other waterfalls are Ayn Khor, and Ayn Athum. Darbat Park is near Salalah and is popular on the weekends. You can take a boat ride along the canal of the Wadi Darbat for 3 Omani Rial for a 30 minute ride. On the way to Darbat Park you pass donkeys and goats too!
Being on the coast means that Salalah also has beaches and one of the most popular in the city is A’Dahariz Beach (especially on Fridays). On this beautiful stretch of sandy beach you’ll find coffee shops and restaurants. Walk along the white sands or go horse riding at dusk along the water’s edge. As well as having an abundance of wildlife you can also spot flamingos here too.
Salalah Gardens is a lovely place to spend the evenings. The fountain lights up and you can sit at one of the cafes or restaurants and people watch or venture inside the mall and window shop. Make sure to look at the gold souk which is down a small corridor.
Oman is one of my favourite countries. If you were feeling apprehensive about travelling here, I hope that this guide has reassured you how safe and beautiful this destination is. It really is a mystical place to visit and an ideal starting place for solo female travellers who want to see the Middle East.
Tours in Oman
Unless you have a car and can drive yourself around the sites, taking tours in Oman can be expensive especially if you are solo travelling here and have to book tours for one person. Even though the country is incredibly safe, it can be easier for solos to take group tours especially if you don’t drive. That way you can really explore the country instead of having to take day tours from different cities and travel with like-minded others too.
G Adventures offer group tours to Oman. Their 8-day Highlights of Oman tour starts and ends in Muscat. You stay overnight in the Wahiba Sands and visit the Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve and Grand Canyon of Oman. The tour is a mix of public and private transport. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company.
Day Tours – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and day tours in Oman and they use local companies. Although some of the tours require a minimum of two people, there are several to choose from where you can join as one person, including a day trip from Muscat to Wadi Shab & the Bimmah Sinkhole, and a Dimaniyat Islands snorkelling tour. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online.
Accommodation in Oman
Oman doesn’t really do budget accommodation. You can camp here if you’re here on a budget as it is safe but if you don’t feel comfortable you can choose from one of the hotels instead. Hotels generally have a gym and a pool and some have a sauna and steam room too.
When you book accommodation in Oman, bear in mind that the accommodation prices you see may not reflect the actual price. Several taxes are added to the accommodation so it isn’t the price that it is advertised at. But, the level of accommodation is superb. A 3-star property feels like a 4-star and the hospitality is fantastic here.
In the Middle East, it also seems customary to play music on the floors of the hotel from the morning to the evening. Ask for a room away from the elevator if you are a light sleeper. To find the best accommodation for solos, click on the link below and read the reviews from solo travellers.
For those looking for an apartment within the capital, the Citadines are an ideal option. I loved the design of this aparthotel and my room had everything I needed including a desk and a kitchenette. The staff are really welcoming and friendly too. There’s a pool and a gym and a good restaurant on site and they also arrange airport transfers. Plus the supermarket is a 10-minute walk away (with an ATM). Tours can pick you up from here. Choose from a studio deluxe, a studio premier or a one-bedroom executive or premier.
- Prices from £92 / $115 per night for a studio deluxe
- To book, check prices or availability for Citadines Al Ghubrah Muscat
The Swiss-Belinn is a new hotel in Oman. If you don’t have a car, this 3-star hotel is perfect. I love this place, especially the motivational messages around the hotel and in the rooms. The interior design is stunning, the rooms are spacious with lots of light and the view is fab too. There are cafes and restaurants walking distance away and a public beach just 15 minutes on foot. The staff are amazing and the food in the restaurant is fantastic quality. The hotel is nearer the airport than the port. Choose from a superior or deluxe king room or a king room with a sea view. You can even upgrade to a suite.
- Prices from £50 / $63 per night for a deluxe room
- To book, check prices or availability for Swiss-Belinn Muscat Oman
I love this hotel! The customer service is amazing and the hotel is just stunning. Salalah Gardens Hotel is a 4-star hotel in Salalah that is set in its own complex. There’s a large pool with a separate sauna and steam room for women and the breakfast hall is just stunning. Dinner is served in the ‘Waves’ restaurant and there is a supermarket and huge mall just steps away from the hotel. The gardens are beautiful with a colourful fountain at night and you’ll find the ‘Salalah’ sign here too! Choose from a deluxe room or an executive suite
- Prices from £63 / $79 per night for a deluxe room
- To book, check prices or availability for Salalah Gardens Hotel
Sur Hotel is a good hotel centrally located in Sur. The staff here were really welcoming and friendly and even met me from the bus stop when my bus arrived (less than 5 minutes walk away). Reception is open 24 hours and there are restaurants nearby. It is a one-star hotel and the rooms are a bit outdated so don’t expect too much but the staff definitely make up for it.
- Prices from £63 / $79 per night for a deluxe room
- To book, check prices or availability for Sur Hotel
Travelling Around Oman
Travelling around Oman is easy if you hire a car but there is public transport if you don’t want to drive yourself around. The infrastructure is good to drive but you may need a 4×4 to drive off-road to certain destinations such as the road to Jebel Shams. You also need to be careful of camels crossing the road in Salalah.
Intercity buses run from Muscat to other cities. You can take the bus from Muscat to Sur in less than 5 hours. Bear in mind that the buses are cold with air-conditioning so take a cardigan or fleece with you on the bus.
Buses leave from Burj Sahwa Bus Station, near the roundabout with the big clock. I took the number 36 bus which left Muscat at 14:30 and arrived in Sur at 18:50. The cost was only 4.50 Omani rial. There are USB chargers on the bus.
From Sur to Muscat my bus was due to leave at 8:30 am but it came at 9 am so expect them to be a bit late. Buses also leave from Mwasalat and then go to Burj Sahwa before heading to Sur.
Orange and white taxis operate in the country and apparently by the port, they will ask you if you need a taxi. They also honk at you if you’re walking along the road so it’s easy to flag one down. For an easier way to use taxis, there is an app called oTaxi. It’s really easy to use (similar to Uber) and it’s also cheap. You can’t use it from a 4 or 5-star hotel as they expect you to use the hotel taxi instead.
- Can I drink the water? Yes, it’s drinkable but you may prefer to take a water filter with you.
- Is tipping expected? Tipping is always appreciated here. The customer service and hospitality are amazing. Tip at least 10% if you can.
- Fixed price or barter? You can barter in the souks.
- Any ATMs? Yes, you’ll find them in the main areas such as Muscat, Salalah and Sur. Look for them at the banks and supermarkets.
- Which side of the road do they drive? The right-hand side.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes. You can find vegetarian restaurants in Muscat, Sohar, Salalah and Sur. Muscat has the greatest number of vegetarian restaurants.
- Any Seven Wonders of the World? No, but Oman has stunning places to visit!
Map of Oman
Plan a Trip To Oman
If you are ready to solo travel Oman here are some useful links to help you to travel Oman alone including airlines which fly there, vaccinations required and events and festivals.
Current Time in Muscat
Budget – £125+ a day
Capital – Muscat
Population – 5.107 million
Language spoken – Arabic but English is also spoken.
Local Currency – Omani rial
Do I need a visa? For British Citizens, you receive a visa on arrival for 14 days
The Best Time to Go to Oman – December, January and February