The Oman Travel Guide 2019

 Oman was voted as one of the top destinations for 2018 and since then we knew we had to visit. Oman is extremely divers and has many route possibilities. We’ve created the ultimate Oman Travel Guide for 2019 so you can get off the beaten track.

There are a few things that you need know about the Sultanate of Oman.

  • Oman is a safe country
    Yes, there are still some misconceptions about this. Oman is in fact one of the safest countries is the middle east and the crime rate is low. We advise you to check your local travel advise agency, but there wasn’t a moment that I felt unsafe. The people of Oman are extremely generous and welcoming.
  • You need to apply for a visa
    A 10 day visa will cost you about 12 Euro, and is available online. Print it and bring it with you. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months. Other visa’s are also available.
  • Warm weather is guaranteed
    Oman is warm throughout the year with the hottest season between June and August. October up to April are the most pleasant.
  • Respect the Omani culture
    Oman is an islamic country, therefore it’s wise to bring a kaftan and head scarf when visiting the Grand Mosque and some public area’s. In most hotels and Wadi’s, you can wear summer clothes, but bikini’s are not always accepted everywhere. Bring a shirt and long trousers just in case.
  • Oman is a rich country
    For this reason is also not the most affordable one, and you can compare prices with western Europe.
  • Rent a car, or get someone to drive you around
    Because Oman is so widely spread open, that the distances between the highlights are far. Sometimes you need to drive for 2 hours to get somewhere. Public transport and taxi’s are used in the capital.

Where to start and stay
The capital of Oman is Muscat and the perfect place to start your trip from. You can choose between different hotels, both luxury and the more standard ones. We stayed in the Chedi Muscat, which is top range, but well worth it if you want to go all out for your first night. Hotel rooms vary between 300 and 1000 euro per night.

The Chedi Muscat in Oman
The longest pool in the middle east

Chedi Muscat Oman
My condo in the Chedi Muscat

From Muscat you’ll start your trip though Oman. Along the way we tip you the best accommodations with links and details. 


The Route
Oman is widely spread out so the best way to get around is by car. If you are with a group of friends you can hire a 4×4 car, but you can also book a tour guide that will show the the best of Oman. We were driven around by Desert Flower Tours which we highly recommend. It’s run by locals who know Oman like the back of their hand. They have previously worked with magazines, photographers and travel TV crews, so they know what they’re doing :-). Different routes and tours are available and they can be tailor-made. The route we took took 5 days and looks like this:

Get ready to go off the beaten track

Day 1: Muscat
Muscat is full of beautiful architecture and culture. Don’t miss the Grand Mosque which is very impressive. TIP: dress accordingly; Pants or an abaya that cover all body parts. They do have traditional clothing for rent before you enter, and we advise you to bring your own head scarf. The Grand Mosque is home to the second largest carpet in the world (until Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque stole that title). It took 600 women, 4 years to wave!

Grand Mosque Oman
The impressive Grand Mosque of Muscat

The Mosque can hold up to 20.000 people praying, and there are tours available. We prefer just to walk around and discover the many photogenic corners of the all white Mosque. Prayers are held 5 times a day, which makes the experience even more special. 

Grand Mosque Muscat

Visit the Royal Opera House for a quick look around and take a look at their impressive instrument collection. If you can, visit the Al Alam Palace of the Sultan. It’s a modern and colourful building, overlooking the waters of Oman. If you like to buy a souvenir you can make a stop at the Souq van Mutrah here you can buy spices, jewellery and clothes. This market is a bit touristic, but nevertheless nice to walk around.

Royal Opera House Muscat
In front of the Royal Opera House


Day 2: Hajar Mountains
From Muscat you can drive towards the mountains of Hajar. Stop for lunch at  the Muscat Hills Resort, which is a wonderful beach club/boutique hotel with an Ibiza kinda vibe. They offer a Mediterranean menu, overlooking the private bay of Al Jissah . If you can, stay the night in one of their beach houses with outdoor showers!

Muscat Hills resort
Relaxing at Muscat Hills Resort

You can decide to relax at the beach club a little bit longer (bikini’s allowed), or head into the mountains before evening falls. Anyhow, there is so much more waiting for you along the way..

Oman Mountains

Nature in Oman is not to be compared to anything else. 

Oman Mountains

Driving through the mountains is something special. You see the landscape changing as you go up. Stop at several viewing points and local eateries like Bimah Guesthouse where you can enjoy a local Omani style buffet. TIP: bring some travel sickness tablets, the hairpins in the mountains can make you feel a bit nauseous.

Driving though the mountains on Oman

One of the highlights is Jebel Shams, the grand canyon of Oman. The view is stunning! To get here, you drive past local villages like Balad Sayt and Al Hamra. If you like to hike, this is the place for you. There are short or longer hikes available (W4 and W6 pathways) that will take you past waterfalls and local villages such as the ancient village of Al Khateem.

Lunch break in Oman
Having a break at Bimah Guesthouse

Jebel Shams Oman
The amazing view over Jebel Shams

We slept at mountain eco camp Sama Heights, located in Jebel Shams.This fully-fledged eco resort is the first of its kind in the Sultanate. They offer mountain view private villas made from Omani stone and recycled materials and you can also sleep in Bedouin style tents. When you wake up, the sunrise behind the mountains make it worth your while. We also enjoyed the dinner buffet, with lot’s of vegetarian options!

Sama Heights Resort, Oman
Sama Heights


Day 3: Nizwa & Wahabi Sands
Nizwa one of Oman’s ancient cities and used to be Oman’s capital city. It remains a popular stop for shopping. You can visit the traditional goat market where they auction livestock. It may be a bit daunting at first, but to be fair, I prefer the traditional way compared to the livestock factories back home. Nizwa is also known for the ancient fort, that overlooks the old city.

Nizwa Fort
Nizwa Fort

Nizwa Oman
Nizwa Market

If you have time, grab lunch at Al Aqr Traditional Restaurant and order a mint/lime juice to cool off on their rooftop. They serve delicious homemade humus and baba ganoush, plus other traditional Omani dishes.

Mint juice Nizwa, Oman

Wahabi Sands
After a stroll around Nizwa, you drive towards the Omani desert named Wahabi Sands. As you drive towards the red sand, turn up the Arabian radio to get the real desert vibe! If your tour guide drives a good 4×4 car, he will drift across the sand, and slide sidewards off the sand dunes. Pretty awesome!

Sand driting 4x4 in Oman
Dune bashing

Oryx Arabian Camp Oman from above
Overlooking the camp

Wahabi Sands Oman
Photo by @inhetvliegtuig

In the desert are several camps where you can spend the night. We stayed at the Arabian Oryx Camp, with cute stone houses, and a perfect location. From here you can book several activities such as sand boarding, quad or camel riding, and safari’s though the desert. We advise you to stay for one night.

Oryx Arabian camp

Oryx desert camp Oman
How cute is my room!


Day 4: Wadi Bani Khalid
Take your time and enjoy the morning sun in the desert before heading towards the next adventure. Wadi Bani Khalid is not from the desert and the perfect spot to cool off when it’s hot. Mind you, during the weekend a lot of locals will also come here, so it can get quite busy. If you want to swim in this valley, you need to dress accordingly, No bikini’s allowed!

Wadi Bani Khalid Oman

Wadi bani Khalid

You can also have lunch here, but reserve a table as soon as you arrive during lunchtime. This way you’ll get the best view and saves you waiting for a table. From the restaurant you can walk all the way past the water stream and you can also find the ropes in the water if you feel like playing around.

Oman’s lush northern coast lies between the sea and inland mountains.


Day 4/5: Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve
From Wadi Bani Khalid, you need to drive for about 2 to 3 hours until you reach this special place. If you have never seen sea turtles before, it’s a must do! This turtle reserve is located next to the … coast where many sea turtles lay their eggs during a certain period. Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve protects the turtles by organising controlled tourists visits that are done with professional guides.

It’s so magical to see these animals walk into the water, knowing they will return to the same beach in a few years

If you book the night here you have 2 options to see the turtles. One in the evening around 9pm, and one at 5am, when the sun comes up. I opted for the evening watch and it didn’t disappoint! We saw at least 8 turtles coming out of the water, returning, and we saw one female laying her eggs! Turtles are deaf, so they don’t hear you, but they can be sensitive to light. Therefore, the guide provides a special torch so you can watch the turtle without interfering them. It was stunning!

Luxury Tent Oman

Luxury view from tent Oman
Not a bad way to wake up!

We advise you to book one of the luxury tents to make your experience even better. Tents are equipped with a bathroom, airconditioning, TV and a comfortable bed. Book your visit here.


Day 5: Wadi Tiwi & Wadi Shab & Bimmah Sinkhole
On this last day you’ll slowly make your way back to Muscat. There is no time for sleeping in the car, because the landscape you are about to see is out of this world, really.

Lighthouse Sur, Oman
The Sur lighthouse

You can stop at various locations such as coastal town Sur, where they still make the traditional wooden ships that Oman used up until the early 70’s. Here you can also find the lighthouse overlooking Sur and the water which is also full of sea turtles!

The Bimmah Sinkhole will be the highlight of this day. I expected it to be extremely busy, but funny enough, I didn’t see that many tourists. I even got a great photo opportunity 😉

Sinkhole Oman

Oman Sinkhole
Bimmah Sinkhole

Oman
The roadtrip of a lifetime

Verdict: Oman is safe, welcoming and for those who like adventure. Oman even has beaches, but it’s not the Mediterranean of course. If you decide to visit Oman, it’s more likely to be an active holiday, with long (stunning) car rides, great food, interesting culture and nature you cannot compare to anything else. If you want to bring your kids I say, do it, but from the age of 5 years or older.

In one sentence; Oman should be on your bucketlist!

Love,

Elke

These are the Top 10 Countries to Live in According to Expats

Expats are everywhere nowadays. Businesses expand abroad more than ever and like to bring in clever, hardworking foreigners who seek adventure and a change of scene. Expat Insider did some extensive research and looked at several topics such as; Quality of Life, easy to settle, personal finance, family life, cost of living etc. We also did some research ourselves by asking around in several Expat groups on Facebook, and these are the combined results!

10. Oman
This country may not come to mind immediately, but according to many expats around the world, it’s a good place to live. Oman is a safe country with a low crime rate, so it’s a particularly good environment to raise young children. Accommodation is usually included within an employment contract, which is also a big plus. Downside; it can be very very hot, so hard to move around.

oman

9. New Zealand
If you scoop around the internet, you see mixed results for New Zealand, and sometimes you don’t even find it in the top ten anymore, but we did a little of research on our own and discovered that many of you actually enjoy working in New Zealand. Yes, it’s expensive, but wages are good, the quality of life is (stunning nature for one!), and friendly people.

Expat Syndrome’ is a condition whereby many expatriates see mostly either the best of their own nationality and the worst of the locals, or see the opposite.

8. Netherlands (Amsterdam)
Everybody speaks English, there is a comfortable way of living and settling in is (fairly) easy. Those were some of the reasons why Amsterdam made it to the top ten. Downside; The Netherlands has one of the highest tax rates of Europe, but on the flipside, The country has also been ranked as one of the places where people are the happiest.


Amsterdam, still popular with expats

7. Costa Rica
It’s sunny, the people are friendly and life is easy according to expats around the world. Costa Rica is popular amongst expats, but they didn’t make it further up the list because they didn’t score very high when it comes to personal finance. If you live there it’s fine, but is it a place to make future plans? Many expats didn’t think so.

Costa Rica
We can see why people like Costa Rica

6. Denmark
No surprise that yet another Scandinavian country tops off a good-place-to-live list. Expats voted Denmark in the top three last year, and after talking to

5. Czech Republic (Prague)
Surprisingly, Prague scored poorly on settling in (such as making new friends, speaking the language), but scored really high on work-living and urban-living. Prague seems to be a great place to make a career, or at least use it as a stepping stone.

Bahrainis are very friendly and welcoming. Everyone speaks English.

Prague
Pretty Prague is doing pretty well

4. Mexico
It’s funny, because we keep hearing more and more people in our direct circle of friends, talking about moving to Mexico. Why? More than half of the people asked, give friendliness of locals highest rating. Cancún is the most popular city to live in, with Playa del Carmen and Tulum close behind. Mexico may not be the safest place, so people tend to be extra careful.

3. Ecuador
Surprise surprise, this country made a huuuuge comeback. We did hear that Equador was doing well a few years back, but dropped back in the list. Four out of five expats say that there is a good financial balance and that the way of living is good. (I’m sure the good weather also helps)


Pink walls in Ecuador

My favorite place to work and live would be on the Moon, coz humans are the worst living parasites. -Unknown Expat

2. Taiwan
Coming in at number 2 is Taiwan! Most expats asked, rated this country as having good healthcare, job security and quality of life.

Taiwan City
Taiwan from Elephant Mountain

1. Bahrain (Manama)
It’s a clear winner! In case you don’t have a clue; Bahrain is located just above Quatar and part of the Arabian Gulf. It’s capital, Manama, scores really good on urban work life. The city shows generally good results in both the Job & Career and the Work-Life Balance subcategories of Expat Insider. It’s also a popular place to live for expat families.

So there you have it, the Expat top 10! What’s your favorite place to work and live, and why?

Love,

Wander-Lust

 

 

According to Google, these Destinations will be hot in 2018

Good old Google. They know everything about us, well almost. They monitor our behaviour, and know exactly what we clicked on, for how long and where they loose us. Whatever you may think of it, our behaviour can also predict the way we are traveling and will travel in the near future. Every year Google releases a Year In Search data report and when it comes to travel related searches, you can see which destinations are growing popularity.

While this year, destinations like Morocco, Iceland, and Bali took the lead, we have some new contenders for 2018!

1. Taiwan
Why the hell not actually! Taiwan hasn’t really come to mind immediately but thinking about it, this destination is totally stunning. The small island on the South East coast of China has national parks, cute teahouses and skyscrapers. Perfect for a couple of days exploring. Will this be the new Hong Kong for 2018?

2. Barcelona
Still one of the best cities in the world (we always go back there once a year!). There is a beach, the food is seriously addictive and it’s always warm. Even though there was a terrorist attack, it doesn’t stop people from going here. Next year, it will be populair once again.


One of Europe’s most popular city

3. Hawaï
More and more people are looking for paradise and Europeans are looking into Hawaï like crazy. We don’t blame them. Tropical forests, wonderful people and stunning beaches and reason enough to book your ticket.

4. Las Vegas
Vegas Baby! Maybe it’s hard to believe but people are actually looking to explore a little outside Las Vegas too. Did you know that there are some of the most amazing canyon’s out there? You can combine a few days of craziness with a couple of days roadtrippin’ and hiking.


Dreaming of Hawaii? Photo by @travelinhershoes

5. Hong Kong
People go here for the nightlife, food and impressive culture. Sarah is visiting Hong Kong this January and I have been there a few years back. 

6. Oman
We’ve seen Morocco, we’ve seen Dubai. People are ready for another beauty and next year it might be Oman.

7. Maldives
For all the couples out there, this is heaven. The economy is growing again (at least in some countries), and people want to treat themselves. The Maldives is the perfect place to do that.

8. South Korea
In early 2018, the Winter Olympics will be held here. Tourism will pick up and it’s no wonder that Google has tracked these numbers. But besides that, South Korea is diverse and the airport is close to town. The food is super innovative and goes from high end to briljant street food.


The food in South Korea is something special

9. Myrtle Beach
Sat whaat? This is a coastal town in South Carolina and popular with families. Why? Along its beachfront boardwalk are arcades, souvenir stands and restaurants and an amusement park by the sea that includes the larges ferris wheel of the country. This search was extremely popular for the States.

10. Hamburg
We’ve heard it many times last year; Hamburg is the new Berlin. With the new Elbphilharmonie building, this harbour city made a comeback and is here to stay in 2018.


Industrial and cool, hamburg will gain popularity in 2018

Destinations we think are going to be hot in 2018?
Well, a little bit different than what Google says but here’s what we think:

1. Mexico
This is because we’ve seen soooo many influencers going there the past year. They have planted the seed and have inspired many around the world to go here.

2. Malta
This tiny little island is located at the end of Italy’s boot and is perfect for a quick getaway. Mind you, Malta doesn’t have a lot of beaches but it certainly has a lot of culture to make up for it. To read more about Malta, check out this quick guide.

3. The Nusa’s
Our guest editor said it; she cheated on Bali with the Nusa’s and we think you are going to do the same. Get away from the tourist overload on Bali and check out these pretty islands. For pictures and tips check her article.


Cheating on Bali with the Nusa’s?

4. Georgia
We haven’t been but heard so many great stories about this hidden gem. It’s the kind of destination where you say; “wow, I didn’t realize it was this beautiful!” Mark our words.

5. Hawaï
Yes, we agree with this one! Like Google, we think this destination will be explored more than previous years.

So where are you heading in 2018?

Love,

Elke

Start 2017 by adding these destinations to your bucketlist

Let’s start 2017 fresh and positive! We believe that traveling makes you richer and makes you appreciate all the beauty in this world. Let’s start by adding these destinations to your bucketlist and putting your travel plans on paper. Where will you go this year?

The Philippines
I’m happy to say that I’ve finally managed to cross this country off my bucketlist because it had been on there for a while. I flew over to Manila last December to continue my way over to Cebu, Bohol and Palawan. So why visit The Philippines this year? Unlike Thailand, this country doesn’t have a lot of tourist, yet. But The Philippines are becoming more popular with couples, friends and backpackers. It’s Asia, so it’s cheap and there are more than 7000 islands for you to enjoy. The people here aren’t ruined by tourism and almost everybody speaks English which makes it much easier to communicate. Planning to go this year? The best time to visit is between november and March when the typhoon season is it’s lowest. For tips about where to go and what to do check out my articles about The Philippines.

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Elke relaxing in the Philippnes

Iceland
This country may not have the long stretched beaches you are longing for but this year it’s time for something a bit different maybe? Iceland is a place full of untouched nature. Located in the North-Atlantic ocean close by the Arctic Circle, Iceland has a lot of options to feed your wanderlust. Many bloggers have visited Iceland last year and all of them were stunned. You may not know this but this country enjoys refreshing summers and surprisingly mild temperatures in winter. Visit the amazing Blue Lagoon or the Gullfoss waterfall located in the canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. Check out WOW Air for cheap tickets to Reykjavik.

Iceland

Colombia
For the world mostly known for the Farc (a guerrilla army) and drug trafficking by the cartel of Pablo Escobar (in the eighties responsible for 80{8b669be72a7f340f9ef2d6d852585cd40ddf0e79ccf763f3ea93c1234c3d888b} of the drug traffic to the US). But there is so much more to this country: a stunning countryside, a passion for salsa, amazing beaches and an artistic heart. Grab your backpack and start exploring this beautiful country that is so worth adding to your bucketlist this year. To read more about Colombia and get some inside travel tips, check out Jolien’s story here.

Colombia
Photo by Jolien Klazinga

Let’s make 2017 the year of new chances and exiting travel destinations

Papua New Guinea
Visitors should note that travelling in PNG is challenging to say the least. Paved roads are rare to traveling is quite bumpy and sometimes you’ll need to cross a few rain-forests and rivers. The weather can be quite unpredictable so it’s difficult to say when it’s the best time to go but May to October would be your best bet. But once you get there you will be rewarded with the most amazing rugged ecological beauty, little known dive sites, stunning peaks and sleep in real rainforest villages where you’ll meet the tribes. The best part of this country has to be the amazing Raja Ampat, located just off the northwest tip of West Papua. Raja Ampat is a cluster of over 1,500 small islands which lay in the province of Indonesia. Get your diving gear ready because Raja Ampat is called the amazone of the ocean. To get there you must fly over to Sorong in West Papua (flight go from Bali for example) after that you’ll have to make your way to Waisai, which is the capital of Raja Ampat.

Liss Connell
Raja Ampat. Photo source by Liss Connel

Oman
We haven’t been but we sure wanna go! With more and more flights going to Oman, the opportunity is bigger than ever. This Arabian jewel has lot’s of luxury accommodations available to make this trip unforgettable. Oman is not just for couples or adventurers though. A family futuristic theme park is set to open this year called the Majarat Oman. Check the best rates to Oman via Skyscanner.

oman
Find oasis in Oman Source

Canada
If we must believe the Lonely Planet’s judgement, Canada is the number one destination for 2017. Why? “Canada is always popular with us,” said Lonely Planet‘s Canada destination editor Alex Howard, in an email. “But there are several things going on in 2017 that made it number one. First, it’s the country’s biggest birthday party in recent memory with the sesquicentennial next year, and they won’t be shy about celebrating. Also, international travelers can expect their money to go further due to the weak Canadian dollar, so now is the time to start planning a trip.” Sounds good to us!

Canada

Are you adding any of these destinations to your bucketlist this year?

Love,

Wander-Lust