Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oman Cruises

The Sultanate’s ties to the seas go as back as the stories and legends of ancient pirates and sailors. The country was once a great trading port for the ancient world. Hence, it comes as no surprise that even today most avid travelers believe their exploration of the country is not truly complete without a traditional Dhow cruises. These typical Oman cruises can be embarked for a day, just to watch the sun set, or to see the wonderful marine life in the morning from various places including Muscat, Sur and Khasab. In fact the region of Sur is still known for its shipbuilding. While there are no old triangular lateen sails or heavy wooden rudder, the boat building industry survives thanks to the efforts of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of Oman to save the maritime heritage of the country.

Even if you have your heart set on having a ride in every type of Dhow that sails in Oman, it is unlikely that you may achieve this goal. There are in all 12 different types of Dhows made in the Sultanate. Their designs differ in accordance to their purpose. For example, some Dhows are designed for carrying heavy loads and people, and some are fishing boats, while some are used for transportation. Each design is unique, and a local citizen may be able to identify the purpose of the Dhow by merely seeing its design from far. These vessels are made using wood and rope or nails and are known to last for about 60 to a hundred years. Dhow building is a dying art, and while they are being built even today, these vessels may slowly disappear completely in the coming years despite the attempts of the government.

If you are opting for an evening or morning Dhow cruise in Muscat, chances are that you get to sail on a traditional type of Dhow called Al Boum. This type of Dhow was typically used to transport people and heavy goods from one place to another in the olden times. The vessel is made out of Omani wood known as Simr. There is a chance that the size of the boat may vary, but usually it seats about 50 people and weighs close to 46 tonnes. The seating arrangement onboard is traditional, which means there are traditional Omani carpets laid out with majilis seating and cushions for back comfort. The deck is decorated with such seating arrangement and ethnic lanterns.

Such Oman cruises aboard the Dhow take you around the stunning coastline. Some cruises make stops at secluded bays for snorkeling and swimming in the open sea. Taking a dhow ride in Oman can be a unforgettable experience even for the most avid traveler, and should be noted on your to-do-list for your visit.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Trekking in Oman

In the past few decades, Oman has proved its worth as a top destination in the heart of the Middle East. There was a time when the Sultanate was a preferred holiday destination for residents of the surrounding Islamic countries alone, but today this beautiful country welcomes thousands of tourists and business visitors from all around the world throughout the year. Known for its grand tourism infrastructure, Oman is equipped for all kinds of travelers and interest groups with its lavish 5 star hotels amidst scenic locations, luxurious transport facilities, leisure activities, sports activities, museum and cultural marvels, etc. The government of the country is promoting travel and tourism in a big way, and has realized that today’s tourists are not only interested in leisure but also other activities. For instance, there are tourists that are specifically interested in trekking in Oman, or watching marine life.

Nowadays holidays are multi-faceted. Families have a mix of generations that have varied interests. While the wife looks forward to a holiday in Oman to shop for antique goodies, indulge in traditional spa treatments and lounge by the poolside and enjoy the sun, the husband wants to explore mountain trails through trekking or bicycling, watch camel racing, and get the adrenalin pumping through fun water sports. Some young adults come to the Sultanate for adventure holidays that include activities such as water sports, rock climbing, trekking, bicycling, scuba diving, camel racing, horseback riding, dune bashing, desert camping, golfing, hiking, wildlife watching, etc.

These days, trekking is fast- becoming one of the most favourite activities for tourists. And, why not, since Oman is one of the most pretty and scenic countries in the world. With abounding rugged mountain ranges, unspoiled deserts, lovely beaches and endless landscapes, the country lures in trekkers from the world over. If you are considering a trekking holiday in Oman, research the various trekking points along the Al Hajar mountain range. The mountains start from the northern border of the United Arab Emirates and are spread to the central eastern parts of the country. Check out places like Jebel Shams, which are the most celebrated for trekking activities. For example, a narrow trail called ‘the balcony walk’, along the edge of Wadi Nakhr is popular with trekking enthusiasts.

The perfect season for trekking in Oman is from September till about May. The months after May are too hot to be out under direct sunlight during the day. In fact, the most pleasurable months are October to April for such activities. You can get in touch with a good local travel agency in Oman to plan your desired adventure holiday. Reputable travel agencies are experts in designing tailor-made holidays that will make your vacation, one that will be remembered for years to come.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Leisure Travel in Oman

We live in a busy world. Rarely get time to relax. In such a scenario the whole point of going abroad for a vacation is leisure. A drastic change in scenery, people and ecology is just what the doctor ordered, and what place fits the bill to the T other than the Sultanate. Leisure travel to Oman is becoming increasingly popular with avid travelers from the West. Getting here is easy, thanks to multiple flights from almost all major cities of the world, traveling within the country is hassle-free by internal flights or rental cars, accommodation is top class no matter what the destination, the country offers all modern-day amenities and the people are well-known for their rich culture and hospitality.

If leisure is a priority, Oman is the place to be. It offers spectacular landscapes coupled with world-class luxury, in addition to cultural heritage sites, amazing architecture, fun activities for the whole family to partake in, scenic architecture, and much more. The main component of a leisure holiday is luxurious accommodation. Thus, the first step right after your have booked your first class air travel seats should be to consider your 5 star and spa options. Most 5 star hotels in the country have their private spas within the vicinity, but if spa treatments are a must for you to enjoy your holiday experience, check online for hotels that have reputable spas or offer treatments that interest you. Official hotel websites are ideal for this kind of research, as they provide comprehensive details about their in-house spas including treatment menus and charges. If 5 star hotels seem out of your budget, try 4 star resorts or hotels in the city. There are plenty to choose from.

To truly relax in a foreign country, one cannot hope to rely on public transport. Keeping up with bus schedules or waiting around for taxis can be stressful and put a dent in your enjoyment. Hence, it may be advisable to rent a car. You can ask your hotel travel desk or travel agency to make the arrangements for you or simply get in touch with an international car rental company and make the booking. A majority of companies offer chauffeur driven vehicles as well, obviously for an extra charge. But the deal is well worth it. After all, wouldn’t you rather enjoy the scenery than worry about directions, traffic and maps?

Leisure travel in Oman is all about activities and places. A good hotel situated in a scenic location, spa treatments and a luxurious sedan or SUV to take you wherever you wish to go is a major chunk of it, but there is more. No holiday to this country is complete without a trip to the traditional market called Souk and a boat ride aboard a traditional Dhow.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

4 Star Hotels in Oman

The whole idea behind taking off on a vacation is to visit a place that is unlike your resident country. For Westerners this translates into exploring countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Just a flight away from any major city on the globe, Oman is steadily making its mark on the tourism scene of the world. This best kept secret of Arabia was revealed to the world as an excellent travel destination, and has been in the limelight ever since. The country’s government is actively involved in developing the country into a tourism paradise for all to enjoy. Thus, in the last decade or so the Sultanate has seen a significant transformation in tourism sector and related industries such as infrastructure, 5 star and 4 star hotels in Oman, car rentals, etc.

Today the Sultanate of Oman is considered a thriving tourist destination with endless variety of sites and activities on offer. The country is home to a number of World Heritage Sites, ancient forts, palaces, mosques, and fascinating architectural marvels for those interested in history and architecture. It facilitates fun activities like water sports, camel racing, camel back riding, horse riding, horse racing, kite flying, bicycling, rock climbing, trekking, mountain climbing, sailing, dune bashing, sand surfing, boating scuba diving, snorkeling, and many more for adventure and sports enthusiasts. For the nature lovers it has in store treasures such as turtle watching, dolphin watching, whale watching, cave exploring, textured mountains, fresh water springs, bird watching, and wildlife watching. In addition to all this there are many interesting museums, cultural heritage, scenic beaches and shopping options available throughout the country to keep any traveler wanting more.

While airlines such as Oman Air have made traveling to the country by flight a fairly easy affair, you will have to book your accommodation in advance, especially if you plan to travel in winter. Summers in Oman can be quite hot and thus the large inflow of tourists visits in winters. Booking your hotels in advance may guarantee you get the hotel you desire and also find a better deal in terms of rates. There are quite a few choices available. With inflation and disposable income on the lower side, most visitors prefer 4 star hotels accommodation nowadays. Keeping somewhat the same standards as 5 star hotels, these are comparatively cheaper.

Taking into consideration you point of entry, which is most likely Muscat the best 4 star hotels in Oman are the Crowne Plaza Hotel, the Radisson SAS Hotel, the Ramada, and the Hotel Muscat Holiday. If you plan to visit Barkha check out the Al Nahda Resort & Spa, and Al Sawadi Beach Resort. In Nizwa the best option is the Golden Tulip Nizwa Hotel, while Sur has the Sur Plaza Hotel and Sohar has a Crowne Plaza.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oman Cruises – Fun With Nature

Muscat, capital of the Sultanate of Oman is an ancient port city. It is located on one arm of the Arabian Sea, known as the Gulf of Oman. Oman in itself is a unique blend of ancient Arabian Islamic influence and modern civilization.  It is surrounded by mountains on one side and an enormous coastline on the other. The interiors have a dramatic landscape with endless deserts and rolling plains. Besides being an important harbour and the landing point for many Oman cruises, Muscat is also the largest city in the country.

Speaking of cruises, the Dhow Cruise in the Straits of Hormuz in Oman was featured in the ‘Top 10 Sailing Cruises’ in the world list published by National Geographic. This cruise takes a traveller into the Musandam Peninsula at the northernmost edge of Oman where it runs into the Straits of Hormuz that guard the entrance of the Persian Gulf. As one takes a trip across this amazing coast in a traditional narrow wooden boat, called a dhow, they can also enjoy swimming and diving into the waters which are teeming with rich aquatic life. All through the cruise, mountains rise right out of the sea and create inlets for the water. The area is dotted by small secluded villages which are accessible only through boats.

As the image which most people have is that of a desert nation. When they finally visit Oman cruises tend to take them by surprise. In fact the Musandam Peninsula itself is also famous for a very different kind cruise. This cruise is taken through a Kayak or a rowing boat. As one paddles or rows through the Fjord Khor Sham, the natural beauty is almost overwhelming. In fact it happens quite often that travellers express the desire to stay there forever. Two seater kayaks or row boats are perfect for couples who wish to spend a romantic day together, away from the world, in secluded bays and coves of these spectacular Fjords. An amazing aspect of the cruise is the active sea life below, including dolphins and the chirping of beautiful birds above. However it is advised that travellers should have some experience in kayaking or rowing trips, since they are usually not accompanied by any guides. The price for such cruises differs at different times of the year and is high during the Eid, Christmas, New Year and Easter holidays.

While you are in Musandam, it would not be a bad idea to engage yourself in a little sport fishing. Fishing is one of the oldest sports in history and it never goes out of style. Trip coordinators provide the tourists with fishing lines and other necessary equipment and accessories. Once you are ready then comes the most exciting part, travelling to the fishing destination. This is because tourists are taken to the fishing areas in nifty little speed boats. Once there, one can enjoy fishing all day long and then return the same way. Full day fishing trips last around six hours, though you can opt for a shorter trip of four hours.

No list of Oman cruises would be complete without mention of the dhow cruise to Khor Sham. Khor Sham is a majestic fjord surrounded by tall mountains and pristine white sandy beaches. The azure waters take the dhow and passengers to remote locations, the tranquillity of which is matched by only a few other places on earth. What make the cruise truly perfect are the playful dolphins which greet travellers at the entrance to the fjord. During the course of the day, the cruise will halt at specific locations to let the passengers enjoy swimming and snorkelling with the hundreds of varieties of colourful fish.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Exciting Excursions in Oman

Oman is becoming a popular tourist destination. It is not surprising, given the wide range of tourist attractions that the sultanate has to offer. From wadis, deserts, beaches and mountains to forts, castles and souqs make Oman a unique country among its neighbouring nations. As a tourist in Oman you’ll be overwhelmed by the variety of activities you’ll find, like sand skiing in the desert, scuba diving, rock climbing, trekking, surfing and sailing, cave exploration, bird-watching, bull fighting, and camel races.  So in order to get the best out of your trip, without any time or money waste, you should contact a touristic agent to help you choose the best excursions in Oman for your adventure thirst.

If you are looking to get a taste of the rich heritage of Oman, you should take the tour to the Nakhl Oasis and its fort. This tour will take you from the impressive Fort at the Nakhl oasis through the warm springs at Thowarah, lush plantations of palm trees and small mountain villages and finally to the Bilad Sayt village. You will also get to explore Wadi Sahtan, with its famous rock paintings.

A Safari is the perfect expedition for you if you are more of an intrepid traveller. Safaris will take you through untraveled paths through sand dunes and rugged mountain areas. You’ll be meandering through the entrancing Hajar Mountains to the famous water pools in Wadi Abyad. Then you’ll enjoy a thrilling dune drive and be rewarded at the end with a scrumptious barbecue dinner.

If travelling for you is always a learning experience where you experience a place’s history first-hand then the coastal tour to Bibi Myriam is definitely for you. Like most other excursions in Oman, this expedition starts in Muscat before heading to Quriyat with the beautiful beaches that make this coastal town famous. Here you can take pictures at the Sinkhole, which is a part of a mountain that collapsed and is now filled with sea water. Then you’ll get to see the White Beach and the Wadi Shab on your way to the picturesque village of Tiwi. After a delicious picnic lunch, you’ll get to the historical site of Bibi Myriam.

For people who enjoy when visiting other countries, the shopping tour will be a delight with a mixture of old and new Muscat. You’ll find the perfect balance between fully air-conditioned malls, which are brightly lit and clean, and the colourful, busy and traditional markets. This expedition will take you to Oman’s largest indoor market, the famous Al Dhalam Souk, located along the coast at Muttrah corniche.

You will find exquisite silver jewellery, daggers with incredibly intricate hand-work, and other typical handicrafts at this Souk, which is built in a traditional style. You will also visit two shopping centres that house traditional souks. In both places you will find silver jewellery, leather goods, silk rugs, trinkets and Omani silver handicrafts, that make for excellent souvenirs.  Here, trying Omani Halwa, a delicious traditional treat made from dates, rose water and cardamom, is a must. At the Amouage factory, your senses will be teased by the great variety of scents, discovering all the secrets behind the world’s most valuable perfume.

Before booking any of these expeditions in Oman, make sure you know what is included in the price and what is not. Most of them include hotel pick-ups, an experienced English speaking driver and guide and lunch or dinner. Remember that tips and gratuities, personal expenses and souvenirs are rarely included. Ask for optional activity costs. More importantly, regardless of the type of expedition you choose, be prepared to let excursions in Oman surprise you with its natural diversity, cultural richness and historical value.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cycling in Oman

The Sultanate is packed with activities for all who come to visit there can enjoy. These include some water sports, sailing, boating, scuba diving, kite surfing, desert safari, shopping, sightseeing, camel racing, horse racing, architectural excursions, trekking, hiking, rock climbing, mountain climbing, cave exploring, wildlife watching, bird watching, marine life watching, swimming, mountain biking and cycling in Oman. If cycling is an activity you enjoy, you are sure to fall in love with this country. His Excellency Eng. Sultan bin Hamdoon Al Harthi himself has chosen to use this popular activity to be a mode in introducing the riches and culture of Oman to the world. His Tour of Oman reached over 180 countries last year alone, and is being used as a tool to promote the tourism and sports potential of the country.

The country has so much to offer that exploring all of it and truly enjoying the vacation in just one trip is just not possible, unless you are on a month long holiday. If you browse online for images on Oman, you will realize the earlier statement holds true. You will also notice that the pictures show diverse topography. The fact is that the country can be divided into three distinct regions in terms of topography. The first is the rugged mountains and deep fjords which lie in the north of the country. The Sharqiyah (Wahiba) Sands and the two large salt flats in the central region of Oman. And the scenic green hills of the Dhofar region that lie in the south. The winter is fairly cool and pleasant for cycling or mountain biking. The summer months are hot and humid, which make them a no-no for such activities. Many tourists avoid the central regions of Oman during the summers especially from June to August, as being out and about is not enjoyable.

If you want to cycle your way through the trip, it may be a good idea to catch hold of a reputable travel agency to make the relevant accommodation bookings for you. This is imperative to not try and do them yourself, as they know the country and facilities better. Plus, who can be better at guiding you to plan a foolproof fun adventure than a local travel agency. All you need to do is go online and make a quick search for a well-known travel agency operating in the country. It may be wise to select one that has the main office in the city you land in. For example, if you are landing at the Muscat International Airport, choose a company that has an office in Muscat. This way, you can visit the office and get one-to-one detailed last minute information if needed. Once you have found the ideal company for the job, give details of your trip. This should include the dates of travel, the regions or towns you wish to pass or make a stop at, the type of accommodation you want, your budget for the travel, other activities you might be interested in, the type of cycle you will be carrying or need to rent in the country, etc.

If you are keen about cycling in Oman and do not want to use any other mode of transportation for your internal travel around the country, you are roughly going to need about four weeks or a little more just to cover the three regions mentioned earlier. The estimated distance covered by you would be in the range of 1000 kilometers to about 1400 kilometers, depending on the places you choose to visit. For example, a route like Muscat, Sur, Wahiba Sands, Ibra, Nizwa, Jebel Shams, Wadi Bani Awf, Rustaq, Nakhl, Seeb, Muscat, would be 1200 kilometers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Car Hire in Oman

There is something about Oman that fascinates travelers and keeps them coming back for more to this marvelous country. The scenic mountain views, the beautiful rhythmic beaches, the ancient culture, the friendly people, the architecture, the wadis, the caves, the World Heritage Sites, the forts and the shopping at traditional souqs, all make up for a holiday that is a world apart. The infrastructure and other facilities needed by the most avid travelers can be found in plenty all over the country. The public transportation facilities and connectivity from one region to another in this widespread Sultanate is good too. But while most first time visitors are a bit apprehensive about being on their own and prefer using public transport like buses or taxis to get from point A to point B, people who are adventurous and love to travel and explore places on their own opt for car hire in Oman.

There are many advantages in renting a car instead of relying on buses or taxis for your commute. The first reason is that the car is yours for the whole term of your hire. This means you can make your own plans about what you want to do, where you want to go, and how long you want to stay there. As for bus travelers, the planning revolves around bus schedules or whether there are taxis available for a one way journey at the destination. Plus, taxis can be a bit expensive to keep waiting, but car can be rented by the day, week or even month, which can end up saving you quite a bit of money.

We have all been there. Watching our language, talking loudly, making a ruckus or what we say in a cab because the driver might understand or take offense in some way. Well, mind you most of the locals in Oman understand English, so may be some sensitive or personal subjects are best avoided. On the other hand, if you have a rental car at your disposal it provides you with the privacy you need to truly enjoy being yourself and talking about anything in the world with family or friends traveling with you. If you are traveling alone and want someone with you on your long drives, almost all car rental service providers in Oman offer chauffeur driven vehicles for a little extra cost. This works out for travelers that do not enjoy driving in a foreign country or those who want to enjoy their vacation without having to worry about the road, maps and traffic regulations.

There are many car rental companies operating all around the country. These include many international names in addition to the local players, so you can be sure of finding a car rental company that fits your budget and requirements no matter what region you plan to hire the car in. You may be tempted to hire a car from a local company based completely on the price factor, but beware. While this may seem like a good decision at the time, the company may have very poor service or car that are not maintained and could in turn pose a problem later. It may be wise to only consider international companies that you have heard of. This ensures you of two important things. First that the car is well-maintained, and second that the company has years of experience in providing good service to all their customers.

Car hire in Oman is fairly simple. You can either tell your hotel or travel agency to do the needful, or you can visit the car rental company’s official online website and hire directly from the source. You can do this using your credit card post filling up details like name, address, dates of travel, etc.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Excursions in Oman

While there are many of us who leave things to the last minute, a smart traveler always knows his options in advance. If you are looking for interesting excursions in Oman to make your next trip to this wonderful country more fun, read on for some options you may want to consider.

The best way to find out what types of tours are available through reliable travel and tourism companies, you can always browse online before making the required bookings. Another way is to get in touch with a well-known travel agency in Oman. Not only can the local travel agency help you tailor-design your holiday and stay, but also offer a lot more insight than you can gather through online searches. Some of the most reputable travel agencies of the country can plan your holiday to fit your needs to the T. This includes getting you to Oman by the quickest route by air, booking tickets, arranging for a rental car with or without a chauffeur for your convenience, booking tours and excursions that suit your interests and desires, and make sure that your are staying at hotels that fit your budget yet provide all luxuries you require, among others.

Oman has a lot to offer to each and every traveler. Hence, you may want to choose the excursions that include things that you enjoy or want to see. For example, the country offers activities as varied as scuba diving, boating, sailing, rock climbing, trekking, camel riding, horse riding, desert safari, camping, caving, off-road driving, dune bashing, shopping at modern malls as well as traditional Omani souqs, whale watching, turtle watching, dolphin watching, bird watching, kite surfing, etc.

Sightseeing alternatives include a large number of forts, four very renowned World Heritage Sites, beautiful beaches, exotic scenery, magnificent textured mountains, one of their kind caves, palaces, intriguing architectural marvels, ancient villages, plantations, endless deserts, reserves, valleys, Strait of Hormuz, islands, lagoons, canyons, Geosites, water springs, rock parks, etc. In addition to these, depending on the dates of your travel there are many unique and exciting festivals that take place throughout the country at certain times of each year. Some of the best known of these are the Muscat Festival, Salalah Festival, Sinbad Classic, Oman International Rally, Dubai – Muscat Offshore Sailing Race, Cultural Theatre Program organized by the Misnistry of Tourism, Oman Desert Express, Bidiyah Challenge, Tour of Oman, Oman World Fireworks Championship, etc.

A good way is to pick a few activities that interest you, a few sights that you don’t want to miss out on and aim at attending at least one festival or event that can give you a glimpse at into the Omani style and outlook. You can also share the shortlist you have created with your travel agency and see if they can plan the ultimate holiday for you. Another option is to simply go through the array of excursions they offer. Most travel agencies have private or group excursions such as Mystical Muscat showcasing the city and some adjoining sites, Fascinating Forts including a trip to the famous forts at Nizwa, Al Hoota Caves tour, Twilight Dhow Cruise, Amazing Dolphins for dolphin and whale watching, Batinah Bash to see Batinah coast and sites, Majestic Mountains, and many more.

With so many already designed excursions in Oman available for booking, even over the Internet or phone, things like planning your tours has become simple and quick. And in case these choices don’t make you jump for joy, you can have your excursions tailor-made for a few extra bucks. So, what are you waiting for? Book your tours today.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Car Hire in Oman

Oman is fast becoming a favourite destination among globe-trotters. The country is welcoming foreign tourists with open arms and it has made significant changes in infrastructure and the travel and tourism sector to accommodate and please the constant inflow. But, these are not the only people who visit this wonderful land. The country has a thriving economy and business sector that brings in thousands of people here for business related activities as well. Even though the purpose of visit for both these groups of visitors is very different, the one thing most agree on is the mode of transport they prefer for internal travel and commute within the Sultanate. The majority of travelers nowadays are opting for car hire in Oman.

This is the obvious choice for a number of good reasons. First of all, nobody can deny the fact that a rental car provides much greater comfort than any mode of public transport in a foreign country. The hassles of looking at bus schedules and planning your day according to them can be troublesome. If you think taxis may be the way out, in most cases you may be wrong. Finding taxis at odd hours of the day or night can sometimes be quite irritating, not to mention a lot more expensive than a rental vehicle. Another advantage is the choice you have in rental cars. You can hire any snazzy vehicle for a great price. Many visitors select four wheel drives or luxury sedans, which they would never think of buying back home. This adds a special touch and excitement to the holiday or business trip.

The last and main aspect is the pricing. In view of the fact that Oman receives a huge number of tourists annually, the car rental market is rather competitive. This translates into the customer getting great deals and rental prices throughout the year. If you want to book your car in advance, even that can be done. All you need to do is log onto the Internet and look for car rental companies operating in the country. Chances are that you will come across plenty of names. Of course, it is advisable to not waste time on small local companies and find a reliable international name. Many celebrated companies even offer attractive discounts for online bookings.

Since finding a good car hire in Oman is easy and simple through online portals, most visitor are choosing to book their preferred vehicles well in advance. And for those who do not find the time to do so, can simply book one after landing at the Muscat International Airport. There are car rental company kiosks that take your booking and deliver the car at your hotel or place of residence witshin a few hours.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Car Rental in Oman

If you are looking for a good car rental in Oman, you have come to the right place. You are bound to find a large number of car rental companies that provide many services and offer great prices for your traveling needs. Anyone who has ever rented a car in a foreign land knows the importance of dealing with a reliable company. While it may be much better to deal with an international car rental company, or a company that you have dealt with before, this is not always possible. For those of you who have never hired a vehicle, the best option is to do the bookings through your travel agency or hotel of accommodation. These are two set-ups that are most likely to have tie-ups with car rental companies operating in the country.

For those of you who decide to book the rental car services through your travel agency, it may be of great help to know that these major car rental companies provide all types of cars for exciting excursions to all the destinations in the amazing Sultanate, rental cars to visit adjoining areas of the country such as parts of the United Arab Emirates, a complete and wide selection of cars starting from the basic to the luxury segment, which also include some four wheel drive vehicles, chauffeur driven services for the leisure and comfort you deserve, and special limousine services for special occasions, etc. Some reputable car rental companies also offer luxury coaches and mini-buses for small groups. After all, no holiday is fun if the group is separated when traveling around the provinces.

Renting a car for the period of your stay in the country is one of the best options to have a comfortable mode of transportation. A majority of tourists and visitors these days also prefer chauffeur driven cars. Even though the extra charge is levied, it is well worth it. Imagine having to read maps and keeping with the traffic rules and regulations all the time. By hiring a chauffeured car you can just sit back and relax all through the journey. All you have to do is tell the driver where you wish to go. Most car rentals make sure that the chauffeur and customer know at least one common language to make communication effective. Or else, you can self drive. Oman is a must-see for those who love driving. The off-road trails are fun and exciting. So in case you are up for some adventure, go in for a 4WD SUV.

Once you find a good car rental in Oman it may be best to book the car of your preference as soon as possible. Also, if you need a chauffeured car, do let your hotel, travel agency or rental car provider know in advance.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Travel to Oman

If you are planning to travel to Oman in the near future, read on for details and tips to help you enjoy your trip even more. The first thing you will need to do is make a checklist. This should ideally include things like checking your passport for validity and getting a visa to visit Oman if required. For your visit to the Sultanate the passport needs to be valid for at least six months from the date of travel. For many nationals, Oman offers visa on arrival, so it may be wise to ask your travel agency for details or research the matter online. Another thing to remember while visiting a country like Oman is to carry your international driving license. You will be glad to do so, as driving and off-roading is simply a pleasure here.

Your personal checklist should also consist of things such as vaccines, travel insurance and health insurance. The most recommended vaccines for the Middle East are Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, typhoid and tetanus. Next, you should make the required bookings for accommodation, travel, rental car, activities, etc. You can do these through a travel agency or through online portals easily. Of course, it is always better if your have friends and family who have already paid a visit to Oman, to guide you better. Some of the things you will need to know about the country are its language (Arabic), population (2.8 million), the time zone (GMT +4), its currency (Rial Omani – OMR), and the dialing country code (+968).

The best time to plan a vacation to this scenic land is between the months of November and March, when the weather is much cooler. While there are no railways in Oman, public transport is comfortable and efficient. To travel from one part of the country to another, it is best to opt for a rented car for take local flights. Major ports and harbours of the country are Al Wajajah, Matrah, Mina al Fahal, Sohar, Duqm, and Mina Raysut, and a must-see. If you are starting your journey of the mystique land from its Capital city of Muscat, some of places you should visit are the Bandar Khayran Reserve, the Hawiyat Najm Park, Mutrah souq, mutrah cornice, and the old city. You could also book yourself on a Muscat city tour. These are organized by most leading travel agencies of Oman. The tour takes up only about 4 hours and showcases the best this world-class city has to offer.

No travel to Oman is truly complete unless you visit Muscat, so make sure you tell your travel agency to start you off from there. Other places to see in the country include World Heritage Sites, textured mountains, caves, villages, fjords, forts, museums, dessert, etc.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tourism in Oman

There is no doubt about the fact that this ancient Sultanate is amazingly beautiful. Tourism in Oman is picking up pace and world travelers from across the globe are excited about exploring this mystique land in the heart of Arabia. With the country’s government actively promoting its many sight treasures, the place is witnessing a marked boom in this sector. For those of you intrigued by Oman or planning a holiday to this leisure haven, read on for more details.

The country can be located between latitudes 16 and 28 degrees North, and longitudes 52 degrees and 60 degrees East. Being a widespread gravel desert plain with a vast coastline, Oman also encompasses several Wadis, mountain ranges and modern day cities. The main cities that you might want to list down and visit are the Capital city of Muscat, Salalah, Sohar and Sur. Many visitors that plan a short trip to Oman prefer only visiting Muscat, Sur and Sohar, as these regions lie in the north of the country, while Salalah is in the south. Other places worth visiting are Bahla having a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Matrah, Nizwa, Wahiba Sands, and Musandam Peninsula.

Oman has a lot to offer in terms of things to see and do. Some of the attractions not to be missed are Qurum beach in Muscat, Seeb Beach, kite surfing, diving, wildlife watching, trekking, whale watching, desert safari, overnight camping in the desert, dune bashing, caving, shopping at the Souqs, rock climbing, horse and camel racing, visiting forts and the four World Heritage Sites in the Sultanate. These are the Bahla Fort, the ancient settlements and tombs in Bat at Al-Khatm and Al-Ain, the Luban route in Dofar, and the five Falajs. You could even plan your trip in such a way that you can catch one of the many festivals organized in the country such as the Muscat Festival held some time in January or February, or the Salalah Festival held in the months of July and August.

Accommodation and food options can be found in plenty no matter where you plan to go in Oman, but it may be wise to get in touch with a reputable travel agency of the country and figure out the minutiae of your visit. Many tourists these days prefer hiring a chauffeur driven car to enjoy their vacation at their own pace and in comfort. Your travel agency can also help you find a good deal in this regard, in addition to preparing specifically designed itineraries, making hotel bookings, air travel tickets, etc. Tourism in Oman is fast developing, and you can rest assured to find a well-planned holiday that fits your budget as well as your desires for comfort and luxury.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Choose Hotels in Oman

The best way to find hotels in Oman for your vacation is by searching for good options online and telling your travel agency to make the required bookings. The country is fast growing in the tourism sector, and in the last decade or so many new international hotels and resort chains have made their way into major cities. In view of the fact that accommodation is one of the primary factors affecting the fun factor of a vacation, it may be a good idea to take matters in your own hand. Since there are a large number of hotels and resorts in the Sultanate, given below are some of the best hotel and resort properties listed according to their star ratings. You can simply choose from these, depending on your holiday budget and places included in your itinerary.

The Sultanate is well-known for its five star properties that exude elegance while keeping the heritage and Omani feel intact. Some of the most preferred five star properties in Oman are Al Bustan Palace Hotel, Al Husn (Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa), Al Bandar (Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa), Al Waha (Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa), The Muscat Intercontinental Hotel, The Chedi Muscat, and The Grand Hyatt Muscat, all located in Muscat. Others include the Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay in Dibba, and The Hilton Salalah, and The Crowne Plaza Resort in Salalah.

The country has a fine selection of four star hotels and resorts too, designed keeping the visitors’ leisure and requirements in mind. Some of the recommended names for such accommodation needs in Muscat are The Crowne Plaza Hotel, The Radisson Sas Hotel, The Ramada, and Hotel Muscat Holiday. For your Barkha stay you can select from Al Nahda Resort & Spa, or Al Sawadi Beach Resort. The Golden Tulip Nizwa Hotel in Nizwa is also favored by foreigners. Other favourites are The Sur Plaza Hotel in Sur, Crowne Plaza in Sohar, and The Desert Night Resort for holidaying in Sharqiya Sands.

For those of you who are looking for a good three star hotel, some of the favourable options are The Ramee Guestline Hotel, The Golden Tulip Muscat, Al Falaj Hotel, The Falaj Daris Hotel in Nizwa, The Ras Al Hadd Beach Hotel in Ras Al Hadd, Al Sharqiya Sands Hotel in Sharqiya, The 1000 Nights Camp in Sharqiya, and The Jebel Akhdar Hotel in Nizwa.

Some of the mentioned hotels may not have their official websites online. This is the reason, it may be best to ask your travel agency for suggestions. Especially, if you have specific needs like handicapped facilities, spa treatments, swimming pool, pick up and drop facilities, etc. Another advantage of booking your accommodation through a travel agency is that they can book the hotels in Oman that are more convenient in relevance to your itinerary. Plus, a majority of travel agencies have tie-ups with hotels and can provide you with rooms at a better discounted price.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Excursions in Muscat

One of the most vital things to ensure that you have a fabulous holiday in Oman is to find a good local travel agency. There are many in Muscat and you can simply log onto some websites and select one that you think can help you best in making the required bookings and showing you around. If you plan on staying only in the Capital and still not miss out on the treasures this ancient Sultanate has in store, look for various excursions in Muscat available through such travel agencies. You can compare the choices online and make an informed decision and relevant bookings well in advance. Some of the more popular tours arranged by the leading travel agencies of the city are mentioned below.

A favourite is the Muscat city tour that offers a unique opportunity the glory, mystique and modernism of this city. This is a four hour tour that includes visiting the Grand Mosque, Bait Al Zubair Museum, the Al Alam Palace, the 16th century Portuguese forts Mirani and Jalali, the waterfront cornice, the fish market and the colorful Mattrah souq.

One is the Nizwa Forts tour, which aims to introduce visitors to the birthplace of Islam in the Sultanate of Oman. This excursion takes duration of 9 hours and covers sites like the famous Round Tower Fort and its souq, Jabrin castle, and the beautiful village of Birkat Al Mauz located at the foothills of Green Mountain of Jebel Akhdar, where visitors can enjoy a walk through its oasis and dense date plantations.

Another favourite is the Al Hoota Caves tour of 8 hours, as it covers Nizwa’s Round Tower fort and souq, the village of Birkat Al Mauz as well as the Al Hoota Caves, where visitors can see stalactites and stalagmites, and an underground lake.

For visitors that want to enjoy a special evening out, there is the Twilight Dhow Cruise that takes 3 hours. One can view the city’s coast and the change of beautiful earth colours to sparkling city lights as the sun sets, with a brief stop at a natural cove.

For marine-life lovers there is a dolphin and whale watching tour. This is an early morning tour of 3 to 4 hours, and while every trip may not have a sighting, it is a spectacular way to start your day in this country.

Other celebrated excursions in Muscat include the Batinah tour and the majestic mountains tour. Such tours are a great way to select parts of Oman. Many travel agencies even design tailor-made tours or private tours that can take you around in chauffeur driven vehicles. You can choose exactly what you wish to see and how. All you need to do is let your travel agency know of your desires and luxury requirements beforehand.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Oman Muscat Tours

Capturing the essence of a beautiful country like the Sultanate of Oman in just a day is impossible, you need a good 10 to 15 days to see the magic and splendour it has to offer. For the thousands of visitors that come to Muscat for business, this is difficult. At the most they have a couple of days in the country and have meetings lined up every day of the stay. If you find yourself in such a situation and can’t seem to take time out of your busy business schedule but still do not want to miss out on the glimpses of Omani heritage and culture, a good option would be to book yourself one of the famous Oman Muscat tours. These are city tours that last four to six hours and showcase the best that the capital has to offer. You can book such a tour through your hotel or travel agency in a matter of minutes. All you need to do is pick a day and you are all set.

This tour covers most must-see places in and around the main city. A majority of city tours include a pick up and drop to your hotel, so rest assured that you won’t get lost or have to travel unaccompanied. Such tours are ideal for your family members that otherwise have to get bored in the hotel, while you are out on meetings or other business. It is a fun and interesting way to spend half a day driving through the amazingly scenic city of Muscat, visiting some of the main landmarks of the city, strolling along the ancient gullies of traditional markets, experiencing the unusual smells and hospitality of the locals, and learning about the historical and cultural aspects of the country. The guides that conduct these tours are professionals that hold expert knowledge about the city and country, making the tour more enjoyable and informative.

Oman Muscat tours are conducted privately too. If you want a private tour for your family or group, you can contact a reputable travel agency of the city and ask for details. In the common tours travel is conducted through luxury air-conditioned coaches or mini buses, while private tours can be undertaken in cars. All you have to be careful about is the dress code, as many religious places do not permit shorts, skirts, or short sleeves and sleeveless tops. Visitors should be dressed in clothes that cover all body parts including hands, and legs. Women have to cover their heads with a scarf or the like. The city tour usually covers the Grand Mosque, Bait Al Zubair Museum, Fish market, Mattrah Souq, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’s Al Alam Palace, and the 16th century Portuguese forts Mirani and Jalali.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spa Hotels in Oman

Some of the celebrated spa hotels in Oman are located in the capital city of Muscat. Being the commercial capital of the country the city welcomes an inflow of thousands of businessmen each year. The city also happens to be one of the major entry points for most tourists and visitors for the country, as it houses the Muscat International airport. With people from all over the world visiting this city known as Arabia’s Jewel, it comes as no surprise that is has the best of hotels and other modern amenities demanded by today’s avid traveler. The most well-known spa hotels in Muscat are The Chedi Muscat Hotel (The Spa), and the Shangri La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, which is a luxurious three-hotel resort village comprised of Al Husn (The Castle), The Al Bandar (The Town), and the Al Waha (The Oasis).

The Shangri La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa guarantees a holiday full of leisure, adventure, and rejuvenation amidst natural beauty. Their in-house spa named CHI – The Spa is the largest spa of its kind in the Sultanate of Oman. The place offers an enticingly wide array of luxury treatments designed to please and relax. Each treatment is carried out in one of the twelve private spa villas that are specifically designed to enhance the whole experience and allow the indulgence of all your senses in a spacious yet private and beautiful environment. The resort is located merely 15 minutes away from the centre of the city, along the bay of Al Jissah with clear pristine water on one side and a dramatic desert scene of rugged mountains on the other. All the rooms and suites at the resort are designed to reflect the Omani heritage and Arabian spirit, to make your stay all the more enjoyable and special.

The Chedi Muscat Hotel is a 20 minutes drive from the Muscat International Airport. This 5-star beachfront property is spread over twenty one acres and houses one of the best new spas in the country, The Spa. The spa and fitness centre is a state of the art facility that promises an indulgent and tranquil experience by the Gulf shores. The Spa offers personalized and discreet services from the region’s finest wellness professionals in addition to treatments including Balinese therapies, Indian Ayurvedic treatments and massages, indulgent oriental rituals, therapeutic massages, nurturing envelopment rituals, rejuvenating beauty rituals, romantic bathing ceremonies, etc. The treatments are endowed in the thirteen spa suites that are a blend of Omani architecture and Asian interior design.

If you are planning a leisure holiday to this amazing treasure in the Middle East, consider booking your accommodation at one of the above mentioned spa hotels in Oman. Rest assured that you will not be disappointed.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Oman Cruises

With a modern monarchy that welcomes tourists from all over the world, Oman is the place to see. It is a fact that a majority of the tourist inflow the country receives is through its international airports, especially the Muscat International Airport; but these days there is a new breed of explorers that discover the Sultanate’s beauty through its many harbours by embarking on Oman cruises. The country has quite a few luxury cruises and small ship cruises to offer and most halt at Khasab, Muscat and Salalah. There are a few cruises that also cover the whole of Musandam Peninsula, Khor Fakkan and Sur, but these usually small ship cruises. It is advisable to see Fjords of Musandam, Sur and Khor Fakkan aboard a traditional Omani Dhow.

Oman welcomes many international cruise ships to its shores all through the year. These visit the major ports of the Sultanate before carrying on their course. In fact, these days there are a lot of vacationers that book cruises and then additional shore excursions for the many ports, through local travel agencies. These travel agencies make tailor-made packages for big or small groups that disembark the big cruise ships, and show them the best of the city in about a few hours. This becomes a great way to explore the culture and architecture of a foreign land in a day or so, which would otherwise not be possible for an individual traveler. Many travel agencies also offer other services like arrangements for accommodation, day long tours, exclusive private activities, etc.

Most reputable and well-known travel agencies operate through the three major ports of Oman. These are Muscat, Salalah and Khasab. Each port is unique and exclusive in its own way, while also being an integral part of the great country. Muscat is the capital city of Oman and the commercial centre. The city is a unique blend of old and new. It is aesthetically beautiful with much architectural marvels, but also has every modern day amenity in store. There are many things to see in the city including the harbour, the famous Grand Mosque, the Sultan’s Al Alam Palace, the Bait Al Zubair Museum, the fish market, Mattrah Souq and the cornice.

On the other hand, Khasab is a small fishing village. Today the Capital of the Musandam Peninsula is best known across the world for the fjords. Things to do in this part of Oman include seeing the Khasab Fort, the pre-historical rock paintings at Wadi Tawi, see the fjords, and visit Birkhat Khalidiya Park. In Salalah one should not miss shopping for frankincense. So, the next time you are booking any Oman cruises, be sure to get in touch with a good travel agency and book other shore excursions as well.