U.S. citizens need a valid passport and visa to travel to the Sultanate of Oman. Passports should be signed and valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip. U.S. citizens may obtain a tourist visa for stay up to 10 day at the port of entry for OMR5 (Approx. US$13). For a single-entry tourist visa on arrival is OMR20 (approx. US53). U.S. citizens are subject to all Oman immigration laws, which can be complex and demanding, and should familiarize themselves with such laws before traveling to the Oman. Make sure that you have enough empty pages for entry and exit stamps in your passport to ensure your entry and exit. Travelers should be careful not to stay beyond the date permitted on their visas in order to avoid overstay fine when departing the country.
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Please note: Each traveler is fully responsible for bringing and acquiring travel documents (e-tickets, hotel and travel vouchers, etc.) necessary for his or her itinerary. If you are not a citizen of the United States, your entry requirements may vary—please contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the country or countries to be visited and obtain the specific requirements for entry.
Please refer to the instructions given in your itinerary confirmation. If in the event that you are unable to locate our representative, please call the local contact number as specified on your voucher or confirmation itinerary for immediate assistance.
Population: 3.29 million (July 2015 est.)
Largest Cities: Muscat, As Sib al Jadidah, Salalah, Bawshar
Religion: Muslim (Islam- official) 86%, other (includes Christian, Hindu) 14%
System of Government: Absolute monarchy
The Sultanate of Oman operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), plus 4 hours.
At 9:00 am anywhere in the Oman, it is:
*Note: Add one hour to local time during Daylight Savings Time.
A good source of health information for travelers is the Center for Disease Control (CDC). You can visit the CDC web site at http://www.cdc.gov. You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Please ensure that we are aware of any physical disability or frequent of ongoing medical requirements. Sightseeing may require, at minimum, the ability to walk at a moderate pace for a mile or two, and the balance and agility necessary to climb stairs, enter and exit buses and boats, and navigate uneven or cobble-stoned streets. Some sightseeing stops do not have elevators or wheelchair access. Bring medications in their original, clearly labeled containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles be sure to have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity. Most hotels will provide complimentary bottled water and additional bottled water can be purchased throughout your trip.
The Oman unit of currency is the Omani Rial (OMR) = 1,000 baiza. Notes are in denominations of OMR50, 20, 10, 5 and 1, and 500, 250, 200 and 100 baiza. Coins are in denominations of 50, 25, 10 and 5 baiza. Foreign currency and traveler’s checks can be exchanged only at authorized agencies such as banks, exchange offices, and hotels. ATMs are located on most major streets, in shopping centers, and at some hotels. All major credit cards are accepted. The exchange rate is constantly fluctuating, but it can be found to be approximately 1 USD = 0.35 OMR. For the most updated exchange rate, please check www.xe.com.
Electrical service in the Oman is supplied at 220/240 volts and 50 hertz requiring three-pin wall plugs. Bringing an adaptor is a good idea if you are planning on using electronics (i.e. cell phones, laptops, cameras, etc.) during your trip.
The cuisine of Oman can be described as a mixture of Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. The spices used in stews and soups came to Oman by way of the spice trade from India, but the traditions of grilled meat and preserved fruit came by land from the Arabian peninsula.
Muscat is the dining center of Oman and the best place to try some of the more interesting dishes of the Sultanate, including spectacular seafood hauled fresh from the Arabian Sea.
As a rule, Omani cooking is less spicy than in other parts of the Gulf, with lots of dishes based on lamb and chicken, usually served with rice, or fried together with rice in local versions of India’s biryani. Some of the tastiest dishes are reserved for big religious festivals. Locals eschew alcohol in favour of strong coffee, flavored with cardamom and served with dates and other sweet treats.
Muslims are forbidden to drink alcohol, but most hotel bars and restaurants have a bar for guests. Visitors are only allowed to drink alcohol if they purchase drinks from licensed hotels and restaurants. To buy alcohol for home consumption, Western nationals must obtain a license from their embassy. The legal drinking age (for non-Muslims only) is 21.
In Oman, the official language is Arabic. English is widely spoken. Swahili is also spoken by Omani descendents from East Africa. Other common languages spoken are Persian, Hindi, Pashto, and Tagalog.
Oman is known for its tropical climate but its still subject to seasonal changes. The climate differs from one area to another. In the coastal areas summer is hot and humid while in the Interior it’s hot and dry. The higher mountains such as Al Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountains) and Jabal Shams (Sun Mountain) enjoy a moderate climate throughout the year. The monsoons bring rain to the southern coast of Oman especially around the area of Salalah. While regions in the Arabian Gulf try and beat the heat during peak summer times, the Dhofar region enjoys a moderate climate with heavy monsoon rains between May and September
Winter falls between December and March with an average temperature of 77-86ºF with light occasional rainfalls, though heavy rains can be expected. This is referred to as the High Season, when most visitors to Oman choose to travel.
This will be contingent on your own personal preference and the time of year you are traveling. Generally, we suggest that travelers pack lightly and to bring comfortable, casual clothes in natural, “breathable” fabrics because of the humidity. Choose versatile styles that can be layered. A lightweight (preferably non-plastic) raincoat or poncho is a good idea, as well as a sweater or lightweight jacket for early morning/evenings and air-conditioned buildings. A sturdy, comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must, as sandals may not be comfortable for some sightseeing activities. Some hotels have pools, so you may want to pack your swimming suit. Do not forget to bring sun block, sunglasses, insect repellent, pocket packs of tissues, a sunhat, an umbrella (for both the sun and rain), and any medications you may need. Most hotels offer reliable laundry and dry cleaning services.
Deciding what to wear in the Oman can be challenging if you are trying to dress for the desert heat while also trying to respect Islamic traditions. Always wear what you are most comfortable traveling in, but a reasonable amount of modesty ought to be exercised. Knowing what to wear relies heavily on which part of Oman you are traveling to. Although Muscat, for example, is considered to be a bit more liberal than other parts of the country, it is still an Islamic state that adheres to traditional values. Be respectful when deciding what to wear and dress in clothes that would not offend the local culture. In most areas, comfortable, casual clothes such as short sleeved shirts, long trousers, long skirts, etc., are great for sightseeing. Remember that temperatures are likely to be hot and humid so wearing light, loose fitting fabrics is a good idea.
When walking around and visiting shopping malls or souks, women are to be covered from their shoulders to their knees. Long sleeve tops, short sleeve T-shirts, and three-quarter trousers are acceptable. Also, no tight, revealing, or see-through clothing should be worn. This means that one should avoid tank tops, spaghetti straps, shorts, mini-skirts, etc. Signs at the entrances of shopping malls and souks remind visitors to dress modestly. When visiting more traditional souks, women should dress a little more conservatively as to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
When visiting a mosque in the Oman, bear in mind that these are places of worship, so one should dress politely in modest and conservative clothing as they would at any other religious place. Clothing such as short sleeve T-shirts, polo shirts, and bottoms or skirts that cover the knees are acceptable.
For both men and women, plan to cover most of your body, including your shoulders, upper arms, and legs.
Women: Women should have all skin covered; knee-length skirts or pants are required. Sleeves should reach each wrist and the hair should be covered by a headscarf. Pants or skirts that are too revealing, clingy, or tight should not be worn.
Men: Men should wear long pants and plain shirts without messages or slogans when visiting mosques. Short-sleeved shirts are acceptable as long as the sleeves are not shorter than average. If in doubt, wear long sleeves.
Socks are also a good idea since you will have to remove your shoes before entering a mosque as part of the Muslim tradition. Usually a robe or shawl will be provided for those with inappropriate clothing attire, but it may be a good idea to bring your own as they are always being reused.
Hotels may impose a hefty charge on international calls. Check your hotel’s policy before placing any calls. To avoid hotel markups you can use a calling card from your local long-distance carrier. A number of United States cell phones manufactured today have the ability to operate overseas on the GSM (Global System for Mobile) standard. We recommend that you contact your cell phone service provider to determine if your phone operates on the GSM and what, if any, activation may be required. In the Oman, reception on any cell phone can be unreliable and unpredictable. In some locations, transmission is not possible at all. If access to e-mail is of critical importance during your trip, please check availability in advanced. You can avoid international roaming charges by purchasing a local SIM from outlets at Oman’s airports and retail stores. A starter pack costs approximately OMR2/USD$6, a passport is required when purchasing. Most hotels have business centers or in room WI-FI service, surcharges may apply.
The nationwide emergency phone numbers are:
On the Border of the Great Desert: A Journey in Oman by Samuel Barrett Miles
Lonely Planet Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula (Country Guide) by Jenny Walker, Stuart Butler, Anthony Ham, and Andrea Shulte-Peevers
Insight Guides: Oman and the UAE