Oman Travel Tips

Climate/Clothing:

From May to August it is very hot and humid in all parts of the country except Dhofar. The climate is best from late September to early April. Rainfall varies according to the region. During the period June to September there is light rain in the Dhofar region with heavy fog across the hills.

Lightweight cottons are advisable throughout the year, with a warm wrap for cooler winter evenings, mountain excursions and overworked air-conditioning in shops and restaurants.

Language:

Arabic is the official language. English is widely spoken. Swahili is also spoken by Omani descendents from East Africa. German and French are spoken by some hotel staff while Urdu, Farsi, Hindi and Tagalog are widely spoken by Omans large expatriate workforce

Religion

Predominantly Muslim, including Shiite Muslim, Sunni Muslim and facilities for the worship of other religions

Conservation/Code of Conduct:

Shaking hands is the usual form of greeting. As far as dress is concerned, it is important that women dress modestly beyond the hotel grounds, ie long skirts or dresses (below the knee) with covered shoulders men should wear trousers and shirts with sleeves. Tight-fitting clothes should be restricted to hotel restaurants to avoid giving offence although this is not strictly followed by some Westerners. Shorts should not be worn in public and beachwear is prohibited anywhere except the beach. Collecting seashells, abalone, corals, crayfish and turtle eggs is also prohibited. Dumping litter is forbidden. It is polite not to smoke in public, but generally no-smoking signs are posted where appropriate. Homosexual behavior is illegal

Passports and Visas:

Passport valid for at least six months required, American and Canadian Citizen required visa and return ticket to enter Oman. Visa could be obtain up on arrival to Oman Seeb International airport for $20.

Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in the USA: 2535 Belmont Road, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 387 1980

Currency:

Omani Rial (OMR) = 1,000 baiza. Notes are in denominations of OMR50, 20, 10, 5 and 1, and 500, 250, 200 and 100 baiza. Coins are in denominations of 50, 25, 10 and 5 baiza. The $1 US Dollar = 0.38 OMR approximately, you may find the exact exchange rate at this website www.xe.com.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

All major credit cards are accepted here, including to a lesser extent American Express. ATMs are widely available throughout the county

Travelerís Checks

Easily exchanged. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take travelerís checks in US Dollars

Hotels

There are currently too few hotels for the ever-increasing number of visitors to the country. This means that hotels (which are ranked from 1 to 6 stars) are often full and the prices high, especially in the capital, Muscat. Value for money in the top end accommodation is good but there is very little on offer at the lower end of the scale. In many towns there is only one hotel and wherever you plan to visit in Oman it is wise to book first. The pocket-sized Oman2Day, published monthly, has a handy accommodation listing.

Food and Drink

Numerous restaurants have opened in recent years, but many people retain the habit of dining at hotels - in Muscat at least. There is a wide variety of cuisine on offer, including Arabic, Indian, Oriental, European and other international dishes. Traditional coffee houses and international-style chain coffeeshops are popular. In other parts of the country, except in Salalah and Nizwa, most people eat at home so the main options for dining are small coffeeshops, occasional Lebanese or Turkish restaurants and roadside shwarma (shaved meat) stands

National drinks:
Kahwa (coffee strong, bitter and flavoured with cardamom, served with halwa and lokhemat).
Mixed fruit juice (mango, pomegranate, orange and avocado layered in long glasses).

Things to know (Alcohol Drinking Rules):

Waiter service is usual. Muslims are forbidden to drink alcohol, but most hotel bars and restaurants have a bar for guests. Visitors are only allowed to drink alcohol if they purchase drinks from licensed hotels and restaurants. To buy alcohol for home consumption, Western nationals must obtain a licence from their embassy.

Tipping:

Becoming more common 10 should be given in hotels and restaurants with licensed bars but is not expected in more casual restaurants

Electricity:

220/240 volts AC, 50Hz.

Shopping:

The newly expanded Muscat City Centre mall boasts over 140 shops, with many designer goods for sale. Other malls include Markaz Al-Bahjah and the Lulu complexes. More modern shops are centred around Shatti Al-Qurum. Qurum itself was hit badly by the 2007 cyclone Gonu, and may take some time to return to full capacity. The two main traditional souks (markets) are located in Muttrah and Nizwa, although most towns have a souk of some description. Traditional crafts include silver and gold jewellery, khanjars (Omani daggers), coffeepots, saddles, frankincense (the sap of a tree that grows in Dhofar in the south of Oman), handwoven textiles, goat hair carpets, baskets and camel straps. Antique khanjars (over 50 years old) may not be exported. It is wise to check with the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture for the necessary documentation before purchasing.

Health Precautions:

Diphtheria Sometimes, Hepatitis A Yes, Malaria No, Rabies Sometimes, Tetanus Yes, Typhoid Yes, Yellow Fever No*

Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where Sometimes appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

* A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers arriving from an infected area.

Oman Public Holidays for 2010:

  • 1 Jan New Years Day.
  • 26 Feb Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet).
  • 9 Jul Leilat al-Meiraj (Ascension of the Prophet).
  • 23 Jul Renaissance Day (Marking the start of he reign of Sultan Qaboos).
  • 11 Sep Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan).
  • 18 Nov National Day and birthday of HM Sultan Qaboos.
  • 17 Nov Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).
  • 7 Dec Islamic New Year.
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