In this Oman travel blog I share with you my experience of self drive in Oman and my Oman road trip itinerary for 10 days. We traveled as two girls mostly in the North of Oman.
From Dubai or Ras al Khaimah to Muscat by road
We flew from Europe with Pegasus to Ras Al Khaimah where we stayed for a few days before driving to Muscat.
We had a chauffeur for our transfer. Unless you live in the UAE and his is the best option as car rental is very expensive if you wish to cross the border. Border crossing was made at Hatta. From Ras Al Khaimah it would have been quicker to cross at Malaha but our driver told me that tourist mostly can only cross at Hatta. Decision depends on the officer at the border. If we would have tried to cross at Malaha, we would have taken the risk to have drive back to Hatta.
To cross the border, you have to pay a fee of 10AED per person + 5AED fee
A few kilometers later, you have another stop where you need to do your visa for Oman – it will cost you 10Riyals for 10 days.
After this we drove to Muscat via Route 5. The route is pretty boring but there is not much more other choices. Going to Route 1 would add much more time to your itinerary. The way from Ras al Khaimah to Muscat took us around 8 hours because of the time we spent at the border.
Self drive in Oman – Is traveling Oman safe as a woman?
As I mentioned above, we were two girls traveling through the North of Oman. Indeed, our driver dropped us in Muscat and went back to Ras Al Khaimah. After this we renter a car from the airport. A 4X4 cost us around 500 Euros for 10 days. A lot of local car rental send us prices but most were above 1000Euros. We prefered to book online. I can always recommend to book with Sunny cars as all insurance are included.
Anyway, self driving in Oman was fine. Roads are new and in very good conditions except for the mountain road to Jabal Shams, but Google maps is not up do date as the new roads are not on the map yet but once you get it, it is quite easy to find your way around.
Traveling in Oman as a woman was totally fine as well. In many Middle Eastern or North African country women are worried to travel alone but I never experienced any problems (I traveled to Iran, Jordan, and Morocco). In Oman people were very friendly and helpful. We did not experience cat calling or anything similar.
Our 10 days self drive Oman road trip itinerary
Day 1 – Muscat opera house, corniche and Mutrah souq
We arrived in Muscat in the late afternoon and directly checked in at the Chedi Muscat, an amazing luxury beach hotel. We had dinner there and started exploring Muscat the next day.
We went to see the beautiful Muscat Opera house and the Mutrah Souq. Note that the Souq opens at around 4PM. I loved it as it still felt quite authentic and prices were very cheap. Also I visited the gold souq where I came into discussion with an Omani who teach me how to buy Gold in Oman.
After this we had a little walk on the corniche in Mutrah aka the old city of Muscat. It was lovely to see the locals in their daily life (we were there on Friday). We even met a group of women with who with sympatized with and went for dinner to their home.
Later that day, we drove toward Wadi Shab.
Day 2 – Wadi Shab and Bimmah Sinkhole
We wanted to stop at Bimmah Sinkhole but since we spontaneously went to a Omani family the night before we didn’t, but it looks incredible. It is a sinkhole, in a limestone in which you can swim.
Instead, we slept at Sama Wadi Shab resort, a little hotel by the beach. It is not luxurious but charming and the view over the Sea when you wake up is priceless.
In the morning we drove a few minutes to Wadi shab. Wadi or canyons are very famous in Oman and Wadi Shab is one of the most popular one. After a 40 minutes walk, you will be able to swim in the turquoise water of the canyon. It is so cool, don’t be afraid and keep swimming until you arrive at the cave. Enter it and you will be rewarded by a waterfall inside. It is so cool. If you are up for more adventure, climb the rope next to the waterfall and go even more further into the canyon!
Tip : If locals are around, wear appropriate clothing : T-shirt and long short for women! When we visited I was able to wear a bathing suit as the Sultan died the day before and locals were mostly at home.
Day 3 – Got to Sur, the home of Sinbad and avoid Turtle beach
On our third day, we visited turtle beach. Excursions start from your hotel either very early in the morning or at night. While it was really worth it a few years ago, a guide told us that it got so popular that the tour only lasted 5 minutes until another group comes. Not enough to actually observe turtles. Instead, I recommend to stay in Sur, it is a very lovely town on the way to turtle beach where you will have the feeling that time has stopped. People like to say it is the home of Sinbad. I really liked it. Don’t miss the beach for a glimpse into local’s life, the lighthouse, the old house and the Dhow yard.
Day 4 and 5 – The dunes of Wahiba sands
If you would like to experience the desert in Oman, the closet place to Muscat to do so in Wahiba Sands. There are several camps available but I can recommend Desert Night Luxury Camp as it is a luxury campsite. Glamping instead of camping! Also they propose different desert experience like quad, camel riding etc
All this without mass tourism!!!
Day 6 and 7 – Jabal Akhdar
From the desert, we drove toward Jabal Akhdar. The drive was quite long so we decided to visit another Wadi. This time we went to Wadi Bani Khalid. It is a beautiful canyon also and mostly frequented by locals. Here it is strictly forbidden to wear bikini and bathing suits. You can still bath in a t-shirt and long shorts. If you are not into bathing, you can still visit the area and the cave!
We spent two days in the mountains of Jabal Akhdar aka the green mountains of Oman. It was pretty amazing and the best memories I have from Oman. Don’t miss my article about my experience at Alila Jabal Akhdar for more informations.
Day 8 – Goat market in Nizwa
Nizwa is the cultural city of Oman and is still very traditional. I liked it a lot. If you plan to go to Nizwa you should plan your trip on a Friday. Be there VERY early morning (around 7AM) and go to the goat market as it only take place on Fridays. It is definitely once in a lifetime experience where the goats and their sellers walk in a circle in front of potential buyers. Also during that time you might have the chance to see bedouin women wearing their typical Batoola aka face mask.
Other things to see in Nizwa are the fort and the souq that is the best place to buy souvenirs in Oman in my opinion!
Day 9 – Sunrise and hike at Jabal Shams
We did not sleep in Nizwa but went up to Jabal Shams in the morning so that we could wake up to see the sunrise. We slept at Sama Heights resort, the same hotel chain than we stayed at in Wadi Shab. Again, here not luxury but definitely a charming hotel. In the morning we watched the sunrise from Jabal Shams viewpoint 3.
After this, we did the balcony hike that had amazing views over the canyon. If you decide to go until the village, it will take you 3 hours in total.
Day 10 – Back to Muscat
On our last day we went back to Muscat and visited the famous mosque, went to Lulu and had something to eat.
We flew in the evening back to Europe with Pegasus airlines. They offer cheap flights to the Middle East with a stopover in Istanbul. Super convenient!
More suggestions for your Oman road trip itinerary
Of course in 10 days it is not possible to see all of Oman as the country is very big and there are a lot of things to do. If you stay longer you should definitely go South towards Salalah that is around 13 hours drive from Muscat. Locals love this part of Oman especially when it get very warm in June, July and August. Salalah, indeed, has a different climate and a more lush landscape.
If you are looking for diving options, head over to Masirah island or Daymaniyat Islands close to Muscat.
One trip to Oman is definitely not enough and I am already planning to go back. One of the most incredible country ever! Regarding the self drive I can totally recommend it. You don’t need to book an organized trip to visit Oman. It is totally doable by yourself.
In case you want to book day trips from Muscat, see below a few suggestions.