Oman, or officially known as the Sultanate of Oman, is a country in the Arabian peninsula in the western part of Asia. It holds a very strategic position on the mouth of the Persian Gulf. The country shares borders with many Arab countries which include United Arab Emirates in the North West, Yemen in south west, Saudi Arabia in the west and also Pakistan and Iran at some points. The country is definitely rich in heritage, and its tourism industry is continuously booming.
The country has the most diverse climate in the whole of Middle East. The capital of the country Muscat was named as the second best city in the world to travel by the travel magazine Lonely Planet, and it was named as the capital of tourism for the Middle East as well. Therefore, the number of tourists visiting Oman has increased significantly over the last few years. If you are also planning to visit Oman in near future, it becomes important that you know about some of the important traits of the country so that travelling can be made easier for you.
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Here are some important tips which you should keep in mind when travelling to Oman for the first time.
- Best time to visit – Since Oman is a hot place in terms of climate, you should definitely look for the best time to visit the country. Summers in the country are hot and humid, so it will be uncomfortable to go around and enjoy all the sights during this time. However during the winter months, from November to March, is the best time to visit the country. During these months, you can comfortably enjoy all the sights and also not be bothered by the hot and humid climate. If you are visiting the Ras – al – Jinz, then the best time to visit is during the months of September to November when you can see the turtles lying around. Ras al-Jinz is the eastern-most point of the Arabian Peninsula, serving as the nesting site for green turtles. It is also home to Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve, which is a sight to behold for sure.
- Safety in the country – Despite popular beliefs of the Arab countries, you will find the country of Oman is extremely safe. The Omani people are very warm, kind and open to visitors. If you are stuck anywhere during your tour, you can be assured that they will guide you and help you in times of your despair. Oman is one of the terrorism free countries according to the Global Terrorism Index. Hence you should not be worried on that front. However, you need to follow some safety tips to makes the trip easy in the country. First and foremost, you should carry plenty of water, especially when you are visiting the desert. The temperatures can easily hit 40 degree Celsius. You can get 10 litre water bottles at super markets, so carry them along. You should also keep food items handy as sometimes you might not find shops that easily in the area. Some travellers tend to go about themselves in the country, in such cases, you should make sure you consult an expert and get the road maps and routes so that you don’t get lost. It is also important that while driving, you should stay alert. Since there are a lot deserts, you might find wildlife around. Hence, in such situations it is best to hire a driver who can take you where you want to go. Also one should stay clear of strangers who approach willingly. Oman is a safe country, but there are people who might not be as safe to approach as others.
- Social etiquettes in the country – We all know that Arab countries are very strict with their social etiquettes. It is important that you respect their culture and also dress accordingly. As far as possible, women should dress to cover their arms and legs. Yes, shorts are allowed, but only on the beaches. The men are also requested to dress conservatively. It is also important that you do not show any public displays of affection. Things such as hugging, kissing and holding hands in public are not appreciated. Omanis are very conservative and do not appreciate such gestures in the public. It is also illegal for you to show anger in any sort of way. Anger, including verbal abuse and violence, is an absolute no-no in the country. You should also make sure to not get drunk in public, however you might find hotels which have licenses for keeping alcohol. Another major social etiquette includes not drinking, eating or smoking during Ramadan. Ramadan is the festival of Muslims where they fast for numerous days, hence you should make sure that you do not eat or drink in public during the fasting hours. Keeping in mind these social etiquettes is very important during your visit to Oman.
- Money and language – One major problem that most travellers face is the problem of communication and money management. The currency of Oman is Omani Rial and one Rial is split into 1000 biaz. You will find that most of the places in the country accept cards except for the local shops. Therefore it won’t be a problem, as you will also find various ATM’s in the country. Therefore use of credit cards and debit cards is not a problem. You will find the most used is the Visa Card however Master Cards are also accepted. The official language used is Arab, however you will find people who are well versed in both Hindi and English too.
- Food – At the hotels, you might find a variety of cuisines available with your ordinary comfort food. Omani cuisine is very easy to make. It includes a variety of meats, which have been impregnated and marinated well with varied spices. These are served with an assortment of breads, mainly garlic bread, along with traditional buttermilk, known as laban, topped with pistachios and cardamom. If you visit a restaurant, you might wonder if you should tip or not. Unlike in the western countries, tipping in Oman is not an ordinary custom, but you can opt for it if you like the service.
See also: How to dress in Oman?
These are some of the important things which have to be kept in mind when touring the country of Oman. The people in Oman are very friendly, so you should not hesitate to ask any one for directions or for clearing out your queries regarding any matter. The country is rich with heritage, and also has a variety of tourist spots. For a better travelling experience, it is advised to plan out before hand which sites you would like to visit.
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