Five cool things to do in Oman

By Megan Singleton

A view over the thick, curved walls of Oman's impressive Nizwa Fort. Photo / Megan Singleton
A view over the thick, curved walls of Oman's impressive Nizwa Fort. Photo / Megan Singleton

When people ask about the best place I've been, I usually reply Oman. It's a tough question for any traveller because how can you compare apples with oranges, beaches with mountains. But Oman is one of the most photogenic countries I've seen, with thousands of years of history.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

If you've never visited a mosque, this one in Muscat will spoil you for life. A dress code applies: shoulders to ankles covered and a head scarf for women, long pants and sleeves for men. It's made of gleaming white marble, can hold 20,000 worshippers - mainly men. A separate women's prayer area can take 750, and the Persian rug flooring took 600 Iranian women four years to weave. You can read more about my visit here.

Muttrah Souk

This is the oldest and most authentic shopping experience I've ever had. Located on the corniche in the capital, Muscat, you'll find handmade silver jewellery, trinkets and antique swords. There are fabrics and incense (buy the rare Omani frankincense and sandalwood), tea, dates and gifts. It's a warren of stalls and vendors, all trying to sell you something. Try bargaining, but don't expect huge discounts.

Desert Nights Camp

This luxury tent hotel is set between two golden sand dunes. It's about two hours south of Muscat and your tent is huge, with a bedroom, bathroom and your own beanbags for lounging outside at sunset. Meals are served in the restaurant and you can expect to meet Bedouin women doing henna tattoos, go camel riding, 4WD up the dunes or take one of the quad bikes out for a spin in the sand.

Desert Crossing from Muscat to Salalah

If you have a good amount of time - about a week - this is one of the most fascinating experiences you'll have. With our guide, who drove through the endless sea of sand navigating sand dunes that had moved with the wind since his last journey simply by the shadows, we saw wadis and oases, beaches and roaming camels. I even saw a mirage that completely convinced me a river was up ahead.

Nizwa Fort

One of the oldest forts in Oman, built in the mid-seventeenth century, Nizwa has plenty of nooks and crannies for fighters to hide in and defend themselves from marauders. Check out the openings over staircases from which boiling, sticky date oil could be poured. It was built to withstand mortar attack and the thick curved walls and rooftop make for beautiful photos in these more peaceful times.

Further information: See Destination Oman.

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