capital: Muscat | government: Monarchy | currency: Rial (OMR) | area: 309.000 km2 | population: 3.4 mil. | language: arabic
Oman feels, without exaggerating, like a country straight out of 1001 Nights. Bustling spice souks, wooden dhows delivering their freshly caught goods to fish markets, where local life can be observed at it’s purest.
In addition to an almost legendary hospitality, Oman also offers an unexpected abundance of different landscapes. The sheer rock walls of Wadi Ghul, Oman’s version of the Grand Canyon, soaring up 1000 m and more. The white sand beaches that can be found all along the 3000km long coastline are often completely secluded. The turquoise water is warm and pristine. Evergreen wadis cutting through rugged mountains, goats sitting in trees and camels leisurely strolling over golden sand dunes (and often enough over highways and through villages). Welcome to Oman.
Oman – Costs
Oman isn’t a cheap country, especially when it comes to finding a suitable accommodation. While in other countries, hostels are always a safe bet, there are virtually no youth hostels to be found in Oman.
And the prices for budget hotels aren’t particularly low either. A budget hotel in Muscat sets you back around 25 OMR for one night (around 60 € or 65 $) in da double room and you won’t really find cheaper places in smaller cities or villages.
Shared apartments and double rooms can be found on Airbnb starting from as little as 20 OMR per night. However, this is only an option for for bigger cities like Muscat, Salalah, Sur and Nizwa.
Wild camping is your best option when you’re traveling on a budget. It is legal almost everywhere (obviously not on private grounds or in military areas). Oman is safe (a current report of the World Economic Forum suggests that Oman is among the safest countries in the world for tourists). But the best thing about wild camping: it is completely FREE. With only 13.5 inhabitants per km2, Oman is not exactly a densely populated country. That means, suitable, as well as breathtaking camping spots, can be found behind every corner.
It’s fairly easy to find delicious and cheap food in Oman. A good meal (including a soft drink) in a local restaurant costs around 3-4 OMR. This can actually be a cheaper option than cooking yourself.
The food in supermarkets, especially in hyper marts like Carrefour, is reasonably priced. Grocery stores are perfect to stock up on supplies for the next in the wilderness. The big markets often have an area where you can get everything from warm snacks (like samosas for 0.25 OMR per piece) to whole meals (chicken with salad and rice for 2 OMR).
Local fruit and vegetable markets are another good place to find a cheap eat or stock up on snacks and supplies. If you feel like a fresh fish for your BBQ, just head to a nearby beach and talk to a fisherman. Maybe you’re lucky and even get some fish for free.
MWASALAT is the leading public transportation company in Oman and is run by the government. Besides daily connections between major cities, a public bus system was recently established in Muscat.
A bus ride within Muscat costs between 0,200 and 0,400 OMR (depending on the number of zones you travel). That makes it almost as cheap as the so called baisa buses. These mini buses are not easy to navigate though. They don’t have any signs displaying their destination. Just flag one down and ask. They normally charge 0,200 OMR per ride (for locals). If you feel brave and don’t want to negotiate a price at the beginning, just put 0,200 OMR in the drivers hand when you’re getting off and see if it works.
Taxis are a rather expensive mode of transportation. Between suburbs it shouldn’t cost more than 10 OMR. You can get an overview here.
A decent rental car is a good option to explore Oman. A compact car costs from 15 OMR per day. The price for a 4WD starts at around 25 OMR per day. With 0,200 OMR / liter, gas is rather cheap. Keep in mind, that having a rental car equips you with the necessary flexibility and autonomy for wild camping. It therefore might cost you less in the end, than traveling around by bus and sleeping in hotels.
Sights & Activities
Most sights in Oman – like mosques, souks, markets and even most museums – are free or can be visited for very little money. The admission fee for the fort in Nizwa is only 0,500 OMR.
When it comes to activities, the price range broadens. Hiking, trekking and swimming are obviously free. A turtle watching excursion in Ras Al Jinz costs 5 OMR, while a night in a desert camp easily sets you back 70 OMR.
Estimated Daily Budget – 23 OMR
This daily budget is based on the assumption that you:
- rent a 4WD (shared among two persons)
- camp most of the nights
- eat in local restaurants or cook your own meals
- stick to rather inexpensive activities
- buy some souvenirs
Average Daily Expanses
- Transport – 13,5 OMR
- Car (4WD) – 12 OMR
- Gas – 1,5
- Food – 4 OMR
- Souvenirs – 2 OMR
- Miscellaneous – 2 OMR
- Accomodation – 1,3 OMR