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Sultanate of Oman opens doors to Indian tourists

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.
Beautiful design in Muscat's grand mosque. Image: Shutterstock/ngoc tran.
Beautiful design in Muscat’s grand mosque. Image: Shutterstock/ngoc tran.

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.

Aerial view of the Mutrah Corniche. Image: Shutterstock/Jahidul Hassan.
Aerial view of the Mutrah Corniche. Image: Shutterstock/Jahidul Hassan.

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…

Muscat

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.

Colourful shops in Muscat's famous Mutrah Souk. Image: Shutterstock/Jahidul Hassan.
Colourful shops in Muscat’s famous Mutrah Souk. Image: Shutterstock/Jahidul Hassan.

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.

The ornate ceiling and chandelier inside the Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Muscat. Image: Shutterstock/Martchan.
The ornate ceiling and chandelier inside the Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Muscat. Image: Shutterstock/Martchan.

Salalah

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.

Camels in Salalah in the monsoon season. Image: Shutterstock/Gregory Zamell.
Camels in Salalah in the monsoon season. Image: Shutterstock/Gregory Zamell.

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.

Mughsail beach near Salalah. Image: Shutterstock/Przemyslaw Skibinski.
Mughsail beach near Salalah. Image: Shutterstock/Przemyslaw Skibinski.

Nizwa

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.

Main tower and walls of the Nizwa Fort with the Al Qala'a Mosque in the background. Image: Shutterstock/Marisa Martinez Tarran.
Main tower and walls of the Nizwa Fort with the Al Qala’a Mosque in the background. Image: Shutterstock/Marisa Martinez Tarran.

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.

The rugged mountains and terrace farms of Jebel Akhdar. Image: Shutterstock/Caroline Ericson.
The rugged mountains and terrace farms of Jebel Akhdar. Image: Shutterstock/Caroline Ericson.

Sur

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.

The lighthouse and traditional dhows at Sur. Image: Shutterstock/Nicola Messana Photos.
The lighthouse and traditional dhows at Sur. Image: Shutterstock/Nicola Messana Photos.

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.

Freshly hatched baby turtle making its way to the sea at Ras al Jinz. Image: Shutterstock/Jaromir Chalabala.
Freshly hatched baby turtle making its way to the sea at Ras al Jinz. Image: Shutterstock/Jaromir Chalabala.

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.

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