As I mentioned in my Oman road trip itinerary, Oman has yet to be discovered by tourists. A good thing really, because you’ll have all the beautiful places to yourself!
I don’t know why there are not more people visiting Oman, it’s such a beautiful country! Perhaps because there are several misconceptions about the country, such as:
Oman is only desert…
WRONG! Oman has mountains, beaches, wadis and a lot of cultural heritage. I spent 2 weeks exploring the country with a 4×4 Nissan Xterra from Mark Tours. and every day I came across another beautiful place or amazing view.
Oman is not safe because it is in the Middle East…
WRONG! Oman is very safe and people are so helpful and nice. We got offered a ride to our hotel twice, were invited for traditional Omani tea and dates, guided to a beautiful hidden pool by a local and cheerfully greeted wherever we went.
The fisherman in the photo above insisted I took his picture and kept talking to us in Arabic. I wish a spoke a few words, that would have been really nice!
What’s also holding people back is that Oman is not a cheap country to travel. However, a very easy way to cut the costs is to go camping! You can read all about our Oman travel budget in this post.
Wild camping is perfectly legal in Oman, you can basically pitch your tent anywhere. Just don’t camp near villages or in wadi beds (risk of flash floods) and remember to clean up your trash. Other than that there are no restrictions to where you can camp! We camped at the beach, in the mountains and in the desert and most of the time we were the only ones there.
We usually went camping for 2 or 3 nights, then stayed at a hotel for a night (you need a shower every once in a while?). In total we spent 19 nights in Oman, we camped for 11 nights and stayed at hotels for 8 nights.
Where to find camping gear in Oman
Since we are traveling for a year we didn’t bring any of our own camp gear from home, except for our awesome air mattresses. We bought the things we needed in Oman, at Lulu hypermarket. We purchased a tent (12.9OR), 2 sleeping bags (8.9OR a piece), a couple of plastic cups (1OR) and 2 spoons (1OR).
At The Sultan Center we bought a very compact stove (10OR), gas (2OR) and a small pan (2OR). We used this to boil hot water and make tea, coffee, porridge and noodle soup. Very convenient when you are camping in the middle of nowhere and another way to cut the costs!
Where to find campsites in Oman
As I said, wild camping is legal in Oman and as long as you keep your distance from villages and other inhabited places you can stay anywhere. But don’t count on any facilities, there are no official campsites in Oman with showers, power and the usual. It’s just you, your tent and the view☺.
That being said, we never really had a problem finding a good spot. A combination of using the Maps.Me app, a really useful off-road guide (with great campsite suggestions) and keeping our eyes open ensured we found a nice place to stay every day.
11 campsites and 5 great hotels in Oman + where to find them
In the map below you can find the location of the campsites and the hotels we stayed at during our trip around Oman. Again, I say campsites but more accurate is ‘places we pitched our tent’?.
1. Campsite Wadi al Khawd
I wouldn’t recommend to stay here if you can avoid it, but because our camp gear shopping took a lot longer than expected it was already dark and we didn’t have another option. Why not recommended?
1. It’s close to a wadi (danger of flash floods).
2. It’s next to a busy road with trucks.
3. There were dogs barking the entire night.
4. It’s very dusty.
The only plus is you can reach the spot with saloon car, so even if you don’t have a 4×4 you can camp here.
2. Campsite Wadi Sahtan
This campsite was everything the previous one was not:
1. It had an amazing view over the valley and of the Jebel mountains when we looked the other way.
2. It was next to a small dirt road to a tiny village, 3 cars passed in total.
3. It was completely and utterly quiet.
The only downside was that it was raining slightly so we decided not to pitch our tent but sleep in our car instead. There is a small coffee shop in Amq, we got dinner and brushed our teeth there. Only reachable with 4×4.
3. Campsite/Picnic area near Al Hoota Cave
Next to a road but not a very busy one. It’s also a picnic place and there is a small coffee shop (which is convenient for dinner/breakfast/brushing your teeth). It wasn’t the most scenic campsite we stayed at but perfectly fine for the night. We parked a little uphill so we weren’t too close to the wadi. The campsite is easily reachable with a saloon car.
4. Campsite Wadi Damm
This was my favorite camp site in Oman! Located at the end of the dirt road leading up to Wadi Damm we found a large flat camping area. The sky was clear, the moon was full and we felt like we were on the edge of the earth. We were the only ones on the campsite, just like we been on the 3 previous ones. Not a single car passed during the time we were there.
The next morning, we hiked up a trail behind the campsite (in the direction of Misfah) and found a perfect little pool for a swim. A super nice place to camp, but only reachable with 4×4.
5. Campsite Jebel Al Akhdar
This was the first campsite where there were more people camping (1 other car!). There are actually two campsites here, we drove to the second one because it’s a little further from the main road (not that it’s a busy road but if you have a choice?).
We found a nice spot, behind a small hill and next to a tree. Keep in mind that it is much colder at the Jebel Akhdar plateau! The campsite is at 2300 meters and the next morning we woke up with ice on our sleeping bags! I’m not kidding you… We were happy we packed our thermo outfits, just our sleeping bags wouldn’t have been warm enough.
The camping is only reachable with at 4WD. In fact, the entire Jebel Al Akhdar area is, you have to pass a police checkpoint at the start of the road up to the plateau. In the past there have been many accidents with failing brakes on saloon cars, that’s why they made the road only accessible for 4×4 cars.
6. Sharqiya Desert Camp site (near Mintirib)
From the mountains we went to the desert and pitched our tent in the sand (securing it with heavy rocks). We camped close to the gravel road, but I think maybe 5 cars passed during the time we camped there, so not a big deal. I wouldn’t drive here without a 4×4 but I read online that some people did.
7. Seaside campsite near Qalhat
It was already late when we started searching for a campsite and we were happy to find a small dirt road leading from the highway to the sea. There was already a car parked with a small tent next to it and we drove a little further down the track and set up camp. Waking up to the sunrise over the ocean was great, unfortunately I forgot to take a picture. Reachable with saloon car if you drive slowly.
8. Campsite Wadi Tayin near Tool
A nice place at the foot of the Eastern Hajar Mountains, near the village of Tool in Wadi Tayin. We parked on a hill overlooking the wadi and next to a small football field. We had a great sunset view and it was far enough from the road to not hear the cars. The ground is solid rock so pegging the tent didn’t work. We secured the tent with rocks instead.
This site is only reachable with 4×4 (we had to cross a small stream to get there). One major downside: there were a lot of mosquito here!
9. Campsite near Finns (Noora Camp Plateau)
Another seaside campsite, next to a picturesque little beach. The campsite is close to the highway but not right next to it so we didn’t hear the cars, only the rushing ocean.
We drove to Tiwi the next morning where you can find several coffee shops (nice for breakfast and coffee?). At the start of Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi there are public toilets. Reachable with saloon car if you drive carefully.
10. Campsite near Bimmah sinkhole
Seaside campsite next to the coast road to Bimmah Sinkhole (also called Dabab sinkhole), good spot for the night. A big plus is the proximity to the Sinkhole park which has a public toilet. Reachable with saloon car.
11. Campsite As Sifah Beach
Our last campsite and a great spot. From our tent we were looking over the ocean on one side and to beautiful mountains on the other. The added bonus was the sensational sunset (which again I forgot to take a picture of, what a terrible travel blogger am I?). The dirt road to the beach is quite bumpy so I don’t recommend going here with a saloon car.
Below you can download the list of campsites, I put them into 2 categories: reachable with saloon car (2 wheel drive) and only reachable with a 4×4 (4 wheel drive).
5 great hotels in Oman and where to find them
Camping in Oman is great, but because there are no official campsites with showers, we stayed at hotels after every 2 or 3 nights of camping. Also, in Muscat and Sohar we didn’t have a car and also stayed at hotels. I list the hotels in the order we visited them, you can find them in the map as well.
Muscat, Mutrah Hotel – 2 nights
We arrived at Mutrah hotel in the middle of the night after 36 hours of travel (we flew from Sri Lanka to Dubai and took a bus from Dubai to Muscat). We were so tired and very happy to finally rest our head on the comfortable bed in Mutrah Hotel. Our room was very big, the bathroom was clean and had a good shower. The room had air-conditioning, a luxury after a month in Sri Lanka where we had mostly rooms with a fan. The staff was very nice and helped us get to activate our SIM card.
Breakfast was not included, but there was a very nice place across the street called Golden City Light where they served delicious dosas, curries and fresh fruit juice.
We walked from Ruwi bus station to the hotel (30 minutes). From Mutrah hotel to Mutrah Souk is about 20-25 minutes on foot.
Bahla, Bahla Hotel Apartments – 1 night
Bahla Hotel Apartments was a nice surprise, the staff gave us a warm welcome and we got a nice room with a small balcony. Good shower, it felt great to be clean again?. Breakfast was included and I particularly liked the vegetable omelet and the (very fat but very yummy) labneh. Wi-Fi didn’t work in our room but it worked okayish in the reception area and the restaurant.
On the corner next to the hotel is a small laundry shop, our laundry took 1 day and we paid 200baisa per item.
Sur, Al Ayjah Plaza Hotel – 1 night
Having spent a couple of days camping in the mountains and the sandy desert it was time for another shower. At Al Ayjah Plaza hotel we were warmly received by the receptionist and given a large room with a soft and comfortable bed. Our room had a balcony and great view over the bay. The bathroom was very large too! Coffee, tea, water and toiletries were provided. There were several WiFi networks throughout the hotel, I could always find one that worked.
Behind the hotel is a small hill with an old watchtower on top. We climbed this just before sunset and had a beautiful view over Al Ayjah and Sur.
Sharqiya Sands, the Desert Night Camp – 1 night
This is the most luxurious tent I have ever stayed at in my life! After driving 10 kilometers through the desert over a sandy road, we arrived at the beautiful Desert Night Camp surrounded by tall sand dunes. Upon arrival we received a cold refreshment towel and traditional Omani karak with dates. We were then shown to our stylish and air-conditioned tent.
The bed was super soft, the bathroom very classy and I loved our porch with comfy green beanbags and beautiful door! There was coffee, tea and water in the room and plenty of toiletries in the bathroom. In the evening we were driven up the steep sand dunes next to the camp and watched the sunset, a magical experience…
After the beautiful sunset it was time for the dinner buffet. I tried a little of everything (well, almost everything, there was so much to choose from!) and if I have to pick one favorites dish it was the Umm Ali, Omani style bread pudding, very yummy☺. The breakfast buffet was extensive too and I particularly liked the creamy hummus (I could eat buckets of hummus, so good!).
• Agoda rating: 9,1 | Booking rating: 8,9.
• I received a complimentary stay at the Desert Night Camp, prices start at €155 per night (dinner and breakfast for 2 people included).
• Check the Desert Night Camp on Agoda and Booking.
Sohar, Radisson Blu – 3 nights
An amazing hotel, we had the best time! I am not even ashamed to say we didn’t leave the hotel during the 3 days we were there. I spent my days relaxing by the pool, chatting on FaceTime with my family and trying to catch up with the blog. Oh and eating… we ate a lot!
The breakfast buffet was the best I have seen in my life: from French pastries to Indian curries and from prepared-to-order-eggs to my favorite station: CHEESE! Big blocks of soft brie, chunks of silky soft goats cheese, grilled halloumi, feta and several other cheeses… I had to seriously restrain myself from not eating only cheese. But that would have been a shame because I also wanted to try to the Oreo milkshake, the muesli and the banana bread. And that was only breakfast?.
For lunch we had Italian, gnocchi with cheese sauce (I know, addicted much) and lasagna. And as if that wasn’t enough we had Thai for dinner at the beautiful Amaranthai restaurant. All the Thai dishes were delicious, if I had to pick a favorite it would be the chicken satay and creamy Tom Kha Kai soup. Okay, enough about food.
What made our stay even better was the friendly staff, we felt really welcome and had a great time chatting with several members of the very international staff (Morocco, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and more).
Our room was great, nice view over the sea and the bed was absolutely divine, it was like sleeping on clouds. Camping is great, but nothing beats a comfy bed! The rain shower and bath tub washed away the last camping dust and after 3 relaxing days we were as good as new and ready for our next adventure: hiking to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal!
• Agoda rating: 8,6 | Booking rating: 8,4.
• I received a complimentary stay at Radisson Blu Sohar, prices start at €100 per night.
• Check Radisson Blu Sohar on their website.
That’s it, my accommodation guide to Oman! I found camping and staying at hotels the perfect combination, the freedom of camping in the middle of nowhere and the comfort of a soft bed and a shower in the hotels. Enjoy your trip to Oman and let me know if you have any questions!
Read how to travel from Dubai to Muscat via the Hatta border by bus in this post.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Mark Tours Oman, Al Ayjeh Plaza Hotel, Desert Night Camp and Radisson Blu Sohar. Nevertheless, all pictures and opinions are my own.