It can sometimes be really hard to save-up for a holiday, as the expenses of our daily lives sometimes get in the way. Most of the time this happens when we want nothing more than a holiday escape. Lucky enough for us Oman is just over the border and I was so excited to visit and see the vast natural beauty of this wonderful country, and I did it on a low budget.
Traveling to Oman
There are a number of ways to travel to Oman and this really depends on where you are going, your budget and what you want to experience. I have visited Oman on two different occasions, on my first trip I flew with Fly Dubai, where on average a ticket would cost you AED 600 per person (this may vary depending on the time of year and the time of your flight). If you like the convenience of a flight then this option is perfect for you.
Or if like me you want more of a road trip through the beautiful scenary of Oman, the Hatta mountains, farms and villages then driving to Muscat through the Oman border is another great option. If you are driving your own car or a rent-a-car make sure to check that they have Oman insurance coverage. Driving to Oman – Muscat takes aprox 5 hours through the Hatta border, including stops at both borders UAE and Oman ( time at the borders vary day to day ) and don’t forget your passport and some cash to pay for the UAE exit fee and visa to Oman. I absolutely loved the drive to Muscat and I wouldn’t have it any other way travelling to Oman again, it makes the trip a million times more interesting.
Where to Stay on a Budget?
On both occasions travelling to Muscat I was looking to stay at budget hotels because I wanted to discover the city and the mountains of Oman – I wasn’t looking to stay all day at a hotel on a beach (even though Oman has some amazing beaches!!)
Hotel Ibis Muscat – If you have stayed at an Ibis Hotel before then you know what to expect. The hotel was clean and offered your basic budget hotel accommodation – smallish room enough for 2 people. I will say, the beds and pillows were very comfortable. I never ate at the hotel as I was always more interested to eat outside but the breakfast menu looked ok, should you want to eat at the hotel. Although, I would recommend the most beautiful Starbucks you have ever seen (more in a minute). I booked through Booking.com where an average night is AED 300, and the great thing is that there is free cancellation and no pre-payment needed, an ideal budget hotel. It is conveniently located around 20 mins from Muscat City Centre and 10 mins from the beach.
Weekend Hotel – Another good convenient and affordable hotel in Muscat located very close to the city centre. Don’t be put off by the strange and comical interiors, the hotel was clean, comfortable and quiet with great service. All you can really want from a budget hotel, the rooms are of a good size and the beds very comfy with complementary wifi. If you have a car there is also covered private parking right outside the hotel. I booked again through Booking.com where an average night is AED 250. The breakfast on offer is quite basic so I would recommend eating outside again at that amazing Starbucks I am about to mention.
The Most Beautiful Starbucks
Although this is the only photo I took of the Starbucks on the Shara’a al Hob Road(Love Street) which is actually a nick name for the road. I think you can see why this is the most beautiful setting for a Starbucks. Right on the beach and overlooking breath taking views of the Muscat City and mountainous back drop. It is a very quiet and peaceful place in the morning for breakfast and ideal for a beach walk. There are a number of restaurants and coffee shops located on this road.
Off Roading on Snake Canyon up to Jebel Akhdar (not for the faint hearted!)
I had never driven up the side of a mountain before but I was in safe hands with people who have experience in off road driving. Snake Canyon is a dangerous route but also a beautiful one and I would only recommend going with an experienced driver as the roads are very narrow. Driving up to Jebel Akhdar took us around 3 hours and it was the most amazing 3 hours of my life travelling through the most crazy scenery. There are a number of routes to go up Jebel Akhdar so make sure you have a map and GPS. In order to go to Snake Canyon you have to pass through Rustaq. One of our first stops on the way was to walk to through an amazing un-touched canyon between two mountains which had so many small wadis. The rocks in this area are so beautiful with so many different shades of grey, white and brown.
The trip takes you through so many different scenes including rock formations and green Oasis’s. Once at the top you know that the 3 hour drive was so worth it that you don’t want to leave. The air is so fresh and a few degrees cooler when we visited in December. If you get the chance to stay at one of Jebel Akhdar’s Hotels then you must, as the view is breath taking.
Road Trip to Wadi Shab in Tiwi
Another trip you must take if you like the outdoors is to visit Wadi Shab in Tiwi, it is again around a 3 hour drive from Muscat but you will stop off so many times as the view is insane and so photo worthy! One of the first stops we took was at the most incredible un-touched beach close by to Bimah. The amount of sea life and shells was like no other I had ever seen, we even saw a large Octopus swimming close to the rocks in the crystal clear waters.
Driving up to Wadi Shab you pass through so many small villages that you think how do people live here as there is no real electricity or running water, only that from the mountain, its really like going back in time. Once we arrived at Wadi Shab I literally had to pinch myself, I felt like I was on the set of a Jurassic Park movie as the size of the rocks and the mountains were so large I had never seen anything like it before. The rocks in the Wadi have this beautiful smooth texture and are bright white and grey. The pools of water are really lovely with a lot of life in them. I would have loved to have swam in some of the larger ones. You really feel one at nature on this trip, there were so many natural waterfalls we passed coming straight from the top of the mountain. You will never forget the beauty of Oman on these road trips!
If you are looking for more things to do in the city then one of my favourite spots was the Mutrah Souk – a really old and authentic souk located right opposite the sea. I did a little wandering and my favourite shops were the treasure trove shops as I call them. Full of jewellery, old metal armour, helmets and other random trinkets. I also loved the shops selling perfumes and oils in glass bottles. A little drive away from the souk is the Al Alam Palace which is absolutely beautiful and you can walk around the square in front of the Palace which is right on the sea and set between a number of high rocks with old forts, which is really nice to see.
I will definitely be visiting Oman and Muscat again, so if you have any other recommendations of places to visit please share. Happy travelling!