The joy of travelling is one that can’t be explained until you have experienced it yourself; that being said – some experiences can be particularly memorable and some, not so much. If we are to be specific, some of the joy also comes from visiting that which is fairly unexplored. Underrated and unique, there is more to OMAN than meets the eye. Our cause for its worthiness, below-
Sultanate of Oman: Feel and Vibe
Its balmy breezes are particularly pleasant during the colder months of November, December, January and February (a note to remember when booking your tickets through Oman Air). Evocative of a different vibe than you’d expect at most Arab countries, this vibe is perceived as peaceful, warm and welcoming.
Where to Stay: Cities and Hotels
Muscat (the capital of Oman), Salalah, Seeb and Sur are the country’s most popular cities; their charm lies in undiscovered terrain, beautiful palaces (those glorious domes and minarets) and museums as well as traditional souqs. There are many places to consider staying at, here – for instance, the Silfawy Boutique Hotel to experience its water-taxi services, the Deserts Night Camp (a luxurious tent-like cottage set up in the sands to give you a taste of the ‘sheikh’ life without the discomforts felt by the yesteryear Bedouin), and Turtle Beach Resort to walk on the beach and watch green turtles scuttle over the shores. For a comfortable albeit luxurious stay, the Grand Hyatt Muscat is a suitable pick.
What to See: Monuments and Must-visit Places
Our top recommendations are: Bayt Al Zubair, Bahla Fort, Grand Mosque, Jebel Shams, Kumzar Fishing Village, Musandam Peninsula, and the Sultan’s Palace. Bahla Fort is a beautiful sandstone fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) whose expanses one should explore and tread on foot; take a moment to revel in its history and craft of pottery. Jebel Shams (as its name suggests; Shams is Arabic for Sun, it is called ‘Mountain of the Sun’) is Oman’s highest mountain giving one a spectacular view of Wadi Ghul (the Grand Canyon of Arabia) from the top. Kumzar Fishing Village will give you a glimpse into the lives of the locals and fisher folks; while sunbathing by the blue waters of Musandam Peninsula will surely soothe your weary soul.
What to Eat: Food and Drink
There is much to be said of the Omani cuisine; rich in spices, bordering on dry to somewhat simple – their fare is still both delicious and hearty. Indulge in their Kahwa (an aromatic coffee blended with cardamom spice), grilled kebabs and saffron rice, date-made cakes and puddings; and of course, the typical Arabic fare (Baba Ghanoush, Falafel, Shawarma).
What to Take Back: Experiences and Souvenirs
A hearty helping of their traditional spices (bought in sealed boxes or packets, of course); carpets and rugs; incense-burners (look out for those particularly artistically decorated ones); silver daggers to adorn your walls perhaps (Khanjar); and gold (should their jewellery designs appeal to your liking).
featuring photos by Matteo Russo & Krista
Writing stories and making illustrations are what gets me by, these days; I also harbour a fondness for coffee shops, dusty libraries, fragrances, jewellery boxes, and vintage stores.