A short trip to Oman, Jewel of Arabia (Part 1)


Overlooking the mountains on our hike to Wadi Al Shab

Sultanate of Oman, this is probably a country that was not on my travel list when we were residing in Asia. There are just too many country to visit- from Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand to the many countries in Europe, many of which I have not step a foot. However, now that we are relocated to UAE, Muscat is just 4.5 hours drive away from Dubai and there are just too many pretty scenery not to be missed. 

Muscat is not big, but it is full of heritage, from their old town Muttrah to the modern Royal Opera House, many forts and pretty architecture around their capital. One could drive alongside two huge limestone mountains and still be in their city centre. An hour and a half drive away and you will be embracing scenic beach, great view of the ever famous Hajar Mountain, and their famous valley which is more well known as "wadis. 

Before I share our travel diary, lets look at some of the preparation we did before our trip.

EVISA

First we need to apply for VISA and that can be easily done via their e-visa website. 

https://evisa.rop.gov.om/home

At the website, there will be a few simple questions and after answering, it will show you some of the appropriate type of visa you can apply.

After applying, and making the payment, the visa will be processed and usually should get a response within a couple of hours. There are some additional documents required so our visa got return and we uploaded the required documents and it got approved. 

For GCC residents, we paid OMR$5 per person for the visa. 

CURRENCY

The currency used is Oman Rial. The value is quite big so prices of item on menu, supermarket all seems very small. A mixed grill could cost OMR $4.50 and bread can cost like OMR$0.275.


We exchanged OMR$100 for the trip
Do take note that the petrol station only accept cash, with exception of Omanoil that accepts credit card. So might need to allocate extra cash for petrol. 

p/s: There is once we could not use credit card at Oman Oil so do ask before pumping petrol.

NAVIGATION

Google map doesn't work in Oman, you could search for the location and it will show you the steps required to reach your destination but there will not be interactive directions indicating when you should turn etc. 

Do download the apps WAZE before going to Oman. Waze works but sometimes we find it hard to find certain places that we wanted to go especially some specific restaurant. But generally most places can be found on Waze. 


WEATHER

The best time to visit is October to March when the weather is more cooling as most of the attractions are outdoor. This time round, we visited in June in conjunction with the Eid holiday. We enjoyed it nevertheless but because the weather is really hot, we could not stay outdoor for long so did not manage to hike to Wadi Al Shab. Will definitely need to revisit the place when the weather is better.

CROSSING THE BORDERS

To cross the border, set your GPS to Hatta Border. There are lanes for cars to drive through the custom. To exit UAE , a payment of AED 35.25 per person is required. Once that is done, we pass through security and they will check the car boot etc. 

Exit Fees
Then go straight through a long stretch of road and you will reach Al Wajajah Omani Custom. At Omani custom, proceed to park and then walk to the custom building to get your passport stamp. Go to the counter that states evisa if you have applied for visa online. Do bring your car registration documents as well. After custom has stamp on your passport and checked your car registration details, they will pass you a slip. Drive to the police post, pass them the slip and you are on your way to Oman.

SOME FUN FACTS 

One thing I discovered during my trip is that the shops name are really straightforward. Before visiting, I was searching for must eat places in Oman and what I got is Tea House, Turkish Grill etc. and I was thinking is it easy to find such generic name restaurant on Waze or Google Map. 

And after my trip, I realise that the shops are really named that way. One could tell straightway the nature of the shop...to name a few--> Coffee Shop , Tea House, Book Shop....



OUR ROAD TRIP

OMAN, known as the Jewel of Arabia is indeed a hidden gem. Leaving behind sandy desert and skyscrapers in Dubai, rock mountains, lovely beach and wild camel welcoming us.


And our road trip begins
Leaving Dubai, mountains of Oman welcoming us...
Spotting camels ...
Beautiful beach
We reached Muscat, the capital of Oman at 3pm and were hungry as we did not manage to find food on our way due to the fasting month.

We checked into our hotel and ate instant noodle for late lunch. We went for a swim and then had an authentic Omani food for dinner.

Highly recommended online is Bin Ateeq Restaurant for Omani food. We ordered their speciality Shuwa, marinated meat wrapped with banana leaves/palm leaves and cook in underground sand oven for 24 hours.
Shuwa- marinated lamb cooked underground. Pair with rice.
The rice is nice but the meat is not to our liking. Maybe it is the spices or the fats of the lamb. But at least we gave it a try!

What we prefer is their Omani Mutton Beriyani and Fried Meat.


Dinner at Bin Ateeq is different. Everyone was to have their meal in private room and we opted for traditional room where we sit on the floor. There are also normal rooms with table and chairs. 


A different dining experience. 

Kids were exhausted after a long trip so we went back to rest.

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