While most of us are still stuck from traveling, let me take you back in time; September 2016 to share this amazing girls’ trip to the Middle East! You might be wondering why here? Or are you sure? Oh well, let’s get this party started! Here’s to an Unforgettable Girls Trip in Oman!
Oops, where is Oman?
The Sultanate of Oman is a country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula and this is the oldest independent state in the Arab world. Muscat is the capital and largest city with Muscat International Airport (MCT) as the main airport. There are other three international airports: Salalah – SLL; Duqm – DQM and Sohar – OHS.
Having sixteen airports with IATA codes, can you imagine how vast Oman is?
Situates at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and shares land borders with the following countries: Northwest – United Arab Emirates (Dubai is one of the seven states!); West – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Southwest – Yemen. Also, it shares marine borders with Pakistan and Iran.
Umm… this may sound treacherous to you, but fear not! Let me show you how safe Oman is. Definitely one of the underrated tourist destinations in this part of the world. By the way, the state of Oman is a very neutral nation. So, don’t worry!
Planning for a Getaway!
Going back to the question, why in Oman? Around this time, I was a working expat in Doha, Qatar. Sometimes, we need a short getaway that puts us back on track with our sanities and routines. One of my closest friends, Chez Ara moved to Oman, so yours truly Vinn and Kai decided to give her a quick visit.
Planning? Oh well, Kai and I just look for flights that will depart Qatar Thursday evening or the wee hours of Friday and get us back after the weekend. Our visa and the rest of the itinerary, are arranged by our host. We just said YES to everything on the list, no questions asked.
The departure from Qatar
Flight confirmation + Visa + Passport + Small luggage + Funds
Those are all we need! Our visa was ready in less than 3 days! Visa application in Oman is fast and easy! Here is the website for details.
Flying with Qatar Airways, with an awesome promotion fare of about $200. Checking in at 0000 Friday and departure at 0200. Arrival in Muscat at 0400 with one hour advance time difference from Qatar.
Thursday, is the last day of the workweek in the Arab region. Yes, we were at work full day, catch a red-eye flight, and landed Muscat before sunrise with just a few blinks during the two-hour flight.
Immigration check is such a breeze and proceed to collect the lugagge.
Here we are!
The Reunion Starts!
From the airport we took a taxi to Ara’s flat in Ruwi, approximately twenty-five minutes. Catching up and chattering continuously from the airport. It must be around 0630 we reach the flat, some rest and a hearty breakfast.
The first itinerary is Dolphin watching at 0900!
Having a Qatar driver’s license allows me to drive in Oman. So who else is the designated driver? No one else but me! Getting around in Oman, it is advisable to have a car as there isn’t a metro rail and buses may not connect to all your planned destinations. Hence you will spend most of your cash on taxi fares and to mention that destinations are quite at a distance, not economical.
We rented a sedan car, and thankfully with a corporate rate of 11 OMR/ day. As for GPS, I have MAPS.ME app installed on my mobile. Downloaded Oman’s map and it works offline. Easy navigation.
Exchange rates (as of 27 Nov 2020, approx ) 1 OMR = 2.60 USD ; 2.18 EUR
Day 1 – Dolphin Watching and Salsa!
After a brief orientation from the car company representative, off we head to Marina Bander Al Rowdha Boat Club. A picturesque view of Oman’s mountainous landscapes – Al Hajar Mountains, the coastline, and pretty boats lining up. It is just so stunning! And now, I feel a sudden rush of excitement!
What do you expect from Dolphin watching?
Overall it must be a smooth cruise until you find the dolphins, right? Then snap, snap, and click on your cameras!
But it isn’t the case….
In the beginning we all sat at the front, enjoying the view as the boat steered away from the port with a very accomodating boatman. The waters are clean and of emerald green! After a few minutes, we are in the middle of nowhere, I’m wondering which part of the waters are we bordering? Pakistan or Iran? Yay! The waters started to get wavy…and very wavy…. rocking the boat! Oh my! I didn’t expect this! Oh, we didn’t expect this at all! Will there be pirates? Or perhaps Jhonny Depp will come and save us!
The boatman called us to sit at the back but we just held on tight at the railings and didn’t move an inch. Eventually, he said that the back area is less bumpy. Carefully we transferred but I think there isn’t any difference, too much motion and seawater splattered. Finally, we are seeing the dolphins. Oh, there they are! Here and there, we were chasing dolphins!
Snap, click, click, forget it, a blurry tail of the dolphin.
Whew what an adventure!
Snorkeling is up next!
What? Yes, we are heading to a nearby island, dock a few meters away and give us time to swim and snorkel!
Umm neither of us are expert swimmers, but we hang on to our life jackets and try our best to swim. (Trust me, I want to toss away the jacket since I need to double my force). Before heading back to the port, we were chilling at the boat with refreshments.
This the first half of day 1. Sometimes less expectations give you great adventures. Agree?
Girls Night Out
You should never forget to pack your little black dress and stilletos. That’s rule number 1 for your girls trip.
After a battered mid-day excursion, we managed to doze off to lalala land to regain our energy. At night, all three of us dolled up, we headed to Trader’s Vic Muscat. Don’t you love mex food, cocktails, and the salsa rhythms?!
Wherever you are in the world, Trader’s Vic Hotel offers you good food and entertainment. Whilst in Doha, we go for Thursday night dances too.
And to all ladies, isn’t this superb to culminate the night?
What’s in store for tomorrow?
Day 2 – Trek to the Wadis and Night City Drive
Being a traveler, you know that Google is your best friend – where is…what is…places to go… This time, I literally forgot google. The itinerary was sitting on my email for days, I really didn’t bother to check the places. You know, just Carpe Diem!
Driving Away from Muscat
Day 2 is getting up early since we are going for a trek to Wadi Al Shab in the Al Sharqiyah region in Oman. That’s right, away from the city! Now, we are a sporty version of ourselves. Once outside the city, the speed limit is up to120km/hr, and the landscape changes. A bit dry, sandy and deserted places. Oman is such a huge country. You can drive for hours and days!
We first stop at Bimmah Sinkhole, a ninety-minute drive on expressway from Muscat. It is a sinkhole of limestones. In Arabic, it named Hawiyyat Najm which means the deep well of a falling star. As locals believed that this happened due to a falling meteorite.
Our physical exercise starts downward on that staircase. At the bottom is a turquoise water 50 meters by 70 meters wide and 20meters deep. So think twice if you want to take the plunge into the inviting waters. Above is a park, where you can stop and rest with clean toilets.
Mid-September, the temperature is still warm, so without delay, we start our way to the next stop. Expecting it will be just a hike!
Wadi Al Shab
An hour’s drive from Bimmah Sinkhole. In most tours, these two places are combined due to their proximity.
Indeed, this is one of the highlights of our trip. I am awed at how marvelous this gorge is! Similar to the canyons in the United States. One of the popular places to visit in Oman both for locals and tourists. For the nature lovers and adventurers, you can trek, mountain climb, and swim.
The question is… are we prepared for this?
At 12 noon under the scorching heat, we cross a river through a boat to get to the other side. The hike starts and yes, rock climbing. You can fill in the blanks what happened in between. Yet the bonus is finding pools where you can soak in cool waters and refresh. We don’t have any guides or even lifejackets and flippers. All of us being Virgos and planners, what happened to us?
The last frontier of this expedition is towards the cave with the waterfalls where everyone heads to. (Truthfully, we don’t know our route and we are just following the hikers.) A very brave attempt was made but when the water gets deeper we decided to call off and head to a different path. Undeniably a test of endurance for me. And on the last part, we are happy to find kind hikers who rescued us to pull us up from the rocks.
At one time I asked myself, why did I sign up for this? If I’ve known I will surely miss this grand adventure!
Here is an ultimate guide for this trek!
At this point, will you consider having an unforgettable girls’ trip in Oman?
Shati Al Qurum
Back to the city mid-afternoon and recharging from a siesta. At night, we explored the city for a casual dinner at Shati Al Qurum. An upscale neighborhood in Muscat famous for its promenade along the Qurum beach with open cafes and restaurants. It is also known as the diplomatic district.
A mix of locals and foreign residents hang out in this place. Truly I say that the Omanis are very humble and friendly. That night my car didn’t start up because I left the headlights on. A helpful local came to our rescue with jumpstart cables. Shukran!
Day 3 – Free Day Around the City
Thankfully we don’t have scheduled activities, and our getaway is nearing its end. I’m not sure we have energy left for another adventure. Our host is back to work and it’s gonna be me and Kai to explore.
Breafast at Shati Al Qurum
Because we love the vibe of Shati Al Qurum, we came back for breakfast, at an outdoor cafe fronting quorum beach. Several people are strolling along the coastline – alone, with dogs, kids, or couples. Some are enjoying the waters and there are sports activities too.
Just lazy morning, reading, people watching and chilling.
Later that day, we head to the mall and meet Kai’s cousin at City Center Muscat. The mall is not so huge compared to the super malls in UAE or Qatar. I say, it is a considerable size and you can purchase the usual items. We had great lunch at Ruby’s!
Before the day ends, we drove to Mutra Corniche, a three-kilometer promenade, used to be a bustling commercial center during the olden times. Here you can see the port, harbor, the rock formations of the Hajar mountains and the souqs – traditional market.
If you need souvenirs or keepsakes for this trip, you will find them all here.
Feel the vibes of Oman when in Mutra Corniche!
Day 4 – Vinn Going Solo
This is my last day of my visit and I’m alone. Kai flew back to Qatar the night before and my host is on working mode. Then, why not go solo this time? I’m off for a cultural and historical trip.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Visiting mosques requires anyone to be in conservative attire, especially for women. No showing of bare arms, legs, and a hijab is a must (head covering), even if you are not a Muslim.
Everything in this mosque speaks about grandeur – the architecture, landscaping, and the selection of interior designs from chandeliers, carpets, and Islamic panels. Inside, you can feel a sense of tranquility that emanates from within.
After touring, I walked into a room designated for ladies and I was offered tea and some refreshments. The lady asked me how I felt about the mosque and from there we had friendly chat.
Omani French Museum
Honoring the good relations with Oman and France, this museum was established in 1992 located in Bait Faransa Old Muscat. The museum contains galleries and exhibits during the early 1900s colonial life in Muscat.
“Oman granted France official rights to establish trade in Muscat in 1775. The cultural relations of both countries dates back to 400 years. ” Oman-French Relations
A Day Pass At Ritz Carlton
Ritz Carlton is also known as The Al Bustan Palace Hotel is a 5-star luxury hotel, one of the Sultanate’s landmarks. This is my perfect ending to this trip. Relaxing and swimming into the emerald seas of Oman with the Al Hajar Mountains as the backdrop.
A weekday ladies pass for 10 OMR and 25% off for the ala cart menu. I have access to the spa facilities, pool, and the beach.
Oh my I miss Oman!
Such an unforgettable girls trip in Oman!
Reasons why you should visit Oman?
- Oman is safe for women travelers and for solo travelers too.
- Oman is for everyone! (not only for ladies 😉 ) Especially for nature lovers, the country is rich with unspoiled natural wonders. Too many things to do for adventure seekers!
- The land area is so vast, you have Muscat – Salalah – Sohar to name a few. Navigation is easy, with wide roads and ample parking spaces. Enjoy your drives, are you planning for road trips?
- Laidback charm of the city, don’t expect a cosmopolitan vibe.
- Omanis are very friendly and courteous. You can easily ask for help. Learn more about their culture and history.
These are some recommendations that will assist in your planning.
Where to Stay?
- 5 – Star Luxury: Al Bustan Palace – Ritz Carlton; Qantab Area
- 5- Stars: Sheraton Oman; Old part of Ruwi/ JW Muscat- near airport
- 4 – Stars: Crowne Plaza Qurum
- 3 – Stars: Golden Tulip, Ruwi.
Adventure Guide Company
How much budget a traveler needs?
The flight and accommodation costs are two big chunks in budgeting. As for daily expenses – food, transport, and activities, here is an article to guide you on how much you really need – Budget Guide in Oman.
And lastly, I’m sure I have fueled your curiosity about Oman, well find out more here! – Experience Oman website.
Undoubtedly this is one of the best and spontaneous trips I had! A collection of memories with my besties, filled with adventures, surprises, and AHA moments. While writing this, I discovered Oman is truly a gem and yes, I will surely visit again.
Before ending this article, let me introduce you to the ladies mentioned and get to know them more through their social accounts.
- Chez Ara, our host, An expat in Muscat, Oman. Social Media accounts Youtube: Chez Ara ; Twitter: @chezara ; Insta: Chez Ar
- Kai, A crafter and entrepreneur. Social Accounts: FB Crafts: Kai’s Craftroom ; FB Chekai’s Garden and Craft ; Insta: CraftMailsnMore
As always I love to hear your feedback about this article.
Ladies, will you consider Oman for your next adventure?
Or are you adding Oman to your bucket list?
If you’ve been here, please share the highlights of your trip!