One of the oldest trading ports in the world and full of scenic locales, Oman should be on every traveller’s bucket list. And from today, this treasure trove of rich experiences is open to fully vaxxed Indians.
Indians who have taken both doses of a WHO-approved Covid-19 vaccine can now visit the coastal country of Oman without having to quarantine on arrival. The Civil Aviation Authority of Oman had issued a circular that laid out the rules: You’ll be required to show a negative COVID-19 PCR test result with a QR Code that indicates that you have received both the doses of vaccine that is approved in Oman, with the second dose at least 14 days ahead of your arrival in the country. If you travel without the COVID-19 PCR test result, you will be required to take a PCR test upon arrival at the airport, wear an electronic tracking bracelet, and follow all the quarantine rules until you receive your negative report. If you test positive, you will need to undergo 10 days quarantine.
Now that this gem on the south-eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, is accessible to Indians, here is our pick of the best spots (from the many amazing experiences that Oman has to offer) that you can add to your itinerary…
To do: The charming Mutrah Souq in the picturesque Mutrah Corniche is a must-see, being one of the oldest markets in the world thanks to Oman being at the crossroads of the ancient trade routes. Explore the Al Alam Palace in the old Muscat area, the Portuguese Mutrah Fort, the relatively new Royal Opera House, indulge in birdwatching in the Rose Garden, and a dip in the sea at Qurum Beach.
Don’t miss: The majestic Sultan Qaboos Mosque is well known for its mihrabs (niches) in Mughal, Yemeni, Egyptian, Iranian, and traditional Omani styles, the fabulous Persian carpet that blends 20 colours, and its stunning German chandelier, both of which are the second largest in the world, but we especially love the little garden beyond, as it’s a serene place to just ponder life’s big questions.
To do: Visit the Frankincense Museum, see Tagah Castle to get glimpses of the old Omani lifestyle, go to Al Balid to see the archaeological remains of the ancient city, and take a boat ride in the Sea of Oman. Khareef or the monsoon season is the best time to visit as the weather is very pleasant and the Salalah Festival continues until the end of September.
Don’t miss: Just 30 kms from Salalah, Al Mughsail has stretches of beautiful white-sand beaches with natural fountains blowing out from rock crevices, especially the Al Marneef cave and blowholes.
To do: Check out the 400-year-old Nizwa Fort, which is the biggest of Oman’s 500 forts, the many ancient ruins, and the beautiful souk, where you can by everything from saffron to seafood, cheap souvenirs to authentic antiques.
Don’t miss: The four-wheel drive to Jebel Akhdar, at a height of 2,980 metres, which encompasses the Saiq Plateau. Quaint hamlets with terrace farming and underground tunnels connecting homes, high-altitude football pitches, and cardamom coffee.
To do: This ancient shipbuilding port once ruled by the Portuguese has a lot to offer, including forts, a fantastic lighthouse, old dhow yards, and a Maritime Museum.
Don’t miss: The green sea turtles hatching and heading to sea at Ras al Jinz. The best season to see them is between July and September.
Nature knows best
Wadi Bani Khalid: One of the best-known oases in Oman, it stays green and beautiful all through the year.
Musandam: Stunning fjords where you can indulge in a traditional Omani boat ride, and perhaps see the dolphins that live there.
Wahiba Sands: For an exciting desert adventure and perhaps some dune bashing.
Jebel Shams: Get an eagle’s eye view from the tallest mountain in the country.
Wadi Shab: Take a dip in the freshwater pools here or hike for about an hour to a gorgeous waterfall in a cave.
Bimmah Sinkhole: A water-filled depression in the land that is best for picnics and exhilarating swims.
Jebel Bani Jabir: Known as the Majlis Al Jinn (meeting place of spirits), this site consists of three really deep shafts, one of which leads to the second largest underground cave in the world.