Even though it’s 2017 and traveling has never been more popular and cheaper than now, there are still a few hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Leaving India, the worst, busiest and dirtiest country I’ve ever been to, it was a massive relief to arrive in this pearl of the Middle East; Oman.
Located in a part of the world mostly known for trouble, war and not a very peaceful place in general, Oman stands out as the straight opposite: extremely peaceful, clean, quite, beautiful and among the friendliest people I have ever witnessed. To be honest, I didn’t have Oman on my radar at all 6 months ago. Then I met an air hostess who said it was really nice. Then I met a girl which parents lives there and she also recommended it. After some research I found it on the “10 countries to visit in 2017” by Lonely Planet. I was convinced and the flight was booked a couple of months ago. But still, since I didn’t do any research what so ever before I arrived here, I didn’t really know what to expect. To be honest – what does average people really know about Oman? Probably not much, like me.
It turned out to be a real jewel offering diverse and beautiful nature, which fits me like a glove. We are talking high mountains (more than 3000 meter above sea level), long empty paradise beaches, sandy serene deserts, beautiful sunsets by the beach and green oasis’s. On this you can add lots of culture and very friendly people. A perfect mix for an arabic adventure! A few examples of the hospitality of the people, besides just being very friendly:
– I was offered ride for free multiple times by the locals.
– I was invited for dinner for free.
– I visited a gym 3 times and even though I insisted on paying, they didn’t let me.
– The last night in the hotel, I got for free.
I know what most of you are thinking: really? Can a Middle Eastern arabic country be this nice?
It’s east to be biased and generalize the countries in this region, but this was really nice. On the other hand you have Jemen close by, where there is still war and extremely difficult to travel to. The same with Saudi Arabia, no war but very difficult to get the VISA.
And yes, it is safe. There is nightlife. Women don’t need to cover up. The locals are religious and islam is of course the religion, but far from radical. It’s actually rated the 4th safest country in the world, so you can go here without worries at all.
If you decide to go, which I hope you do while it’s still somewhat untouched from tourists, there are a few things to keep in mind though. Go between mid October and March, when the temperatures are pleasant but not too warm. Also, a rental car is a must and if possible a 4×4 so you can visit the desert and the mountains areas. I was lucky being able to join another car for the desert, since my small rental was impossible going there with. Last but not least; go soon! A place like this will not be untouched thanks to media and social media. Of course it is hypocratic from me wanting this place to be untouched and then I’m still writing about it – but I always wish the best for countries treating me well and even though Oman is a rich country due to big oil reserves, they still want to increase their tourism. If I can contribute to that, I’m more than happy.
Next up is another arabic country. Probably far from as peaceful, but luckily enough it’s just a quick stop!