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Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Oman.
Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Oman.
Take a staycation where a sense of exclusivity prevails. Perched on a rugged clifftop with expansive views over the Gulf of Oman, the scene is set for a serene staycation. With only in-house guests permitted access, this place oozes a glamorous resort vibe with discrete service and attentive staff. Enjoy access to the private beach and infinity pool at Oman’s only private beach resort. With all guests aged 16 and over, you can rest assured that a sense of calm will ensue.
As a guest at Al Husn, you can enjoy exclusive benefits during your visit that are sure to elevate the staycation experience. From daily afternoon tea on the terrace overlooking the Gulf of Oman to complimentary mini-bar packages inclusive of hops, grape and soft drinks and a fantastic sunset cocktail hour from 6-7pm every evening – get set to indulge.
From the moment you arrive, you’ll be greeted with a warm Omani welcome. This sense of belonging continues throughout your stay with bespoke experiences created by Shangri-La specialists. Embark on an elite excursion by land or sea, and expect personalised in-room amenities. Keeping cool is a breeze with cool boxes packed with cold towels, fresh water and Evian facial cooler sprays provided for all guests, whether relaxing on the private beach or lounging in a poolside cabana.
With a strong focus on eco-responsible sourcing and sustainable dining, feast on locally-sourced ingredients across Al Husn thanks to Shangri-La’s culinary GSR programme, Rooted in Nature. Make a reservation at Sultanah where the interior of this bright and airy dining room reveals a nautical design for a sophisticated dining experience while showcasing expansive views across the shoreline of adjacent sister property Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa.
Shangri-La Al Husn is the place to see and be seen with its exclusive setting providing the perfect opportunity to mingle with the international jet set. Head to the courtyard for sunset cocktails in style – a great opportunity to socialise with like-minded holiday makers in this gorgeous Omani hideaway.
We all want a truly extraordinary holiday, but how often do we actually go on one? In Oman, incredible sights and experiences are an everyday occurrence – from glimpses into ancient worlds to super-modern hotels, via unparalleled natural beauty that’s ripe for your next big adventure. The capital, Muscat, is the beating heart of Oman, where you’ll find ancient forts and castles, sun-drenched shores and a backdrop of dramatic mountains.
Traditional Arabic buildings rub shoulders with contemporary architecture; cutting-edge yachts trace the wild, natural coastline; and lush green mangroves are just a short distance from huge expanses of desert. At its core, Muscat is a bustling Arabic city full of history and intrigue. The Muttrah souq is more than two centuries old and retains its buzzing authenticity, while the stunning Royal Opera House and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque are more modern but no less spectacular.
Travel beyond this glittering city – as any smart visitor to Oman will do – and you’ll find a country where adventure is around every corner. The mountainous landscape of the Sultanate is ripe for exploring on foot, from a stroll along the Muttrah Corniche to a challenging hike through a wadi. These fertile natural valleys are a great place to spot Oman’s wildlife, including deer, the rare Arabian Tahr and wading birds. If you’d rather get about on two wheels than two legs, there’ plenty for cyclists of all standards. For some deeper thrills, why not head underground? Majilis Al Jinn is one of the biggest cave chambers in the world, with a capacity of 4 million cubic metres. If you’re brave enough (and skilled enough), you can base jump in, but most descend by rope.
The Al Hoota cave is no less impressive – just two hours from Muscat, it extends more than 5km underground. Away from dry land, Oman’s seas offer some of the finest diving on earth, with a vast array of features – including cliffs, reefs, wrecks and caves – and an extraordinary diversity of marine life. Above the surface, kitesurfing, sailing, and turtle and dolphin watching are all popular activities. While you could, of course, spend your whole time in Oman on the go, you’ll want to pause occasionally and soak up some of the tranquility and luxury that’s made it so popular with couples, families and honeymooners. World-class spas and an emerging golf culture will appeal to many, too. Whatever you see and do in Oman, expect to be amazed – in a place where you’ll find the extraordinary around every corner.
Many Middle Eastern cities are regarded as mere stepping stones for travellers on their way to the Far East and beyond. Those who do so are missing a trick, as the urban hubs here have many delights of their own. None more so than in Oman, a nation that impressively knits together the modern with time-honoured bedouin values.
Stay for a few days to discover why it’s one of our favourites. Given that our experts have a lot of travel experience between them, making sure they can deliver not only great value for money but also the best on-the-ground trip recommendations, that’s a great tip of the hat to get.
Your first port of call should be its capital, Muscat. A melting pot of cultures thanks to its geographical position along ancient trade routes, it’s a perfect blend of traditional and opulent buildings. The waterfront is its beating heart though: dhow boats line Muttrah’s waterfront and you can mix with locals in its namesake souk and fishing market. Indulgent architecture is also plentiful: gasp at the marble-laden Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and gold-and-blue Al Alam Palace. Muscat’s Royal Opera House is the only one of its kind in Arabia, too.
Beyond the city
But more jewels can be discovered beyond Muscat’s perimeter. For adrenaline-seekers, take on the boulders and trails of Little Snake Canyon two hours’ drive away, which wind up to the cooling pools of Big Snake Gorge (Wadi Bimah), nestled in the Al Hajar Mountains.
To the south, the emerald-green waters of Wadi Bani Khalid makes for a refreshing stop before arriving at Sharqiya (Wahiba) Sands, whose mountains of grains shift colour from pale yellow to rustic red. Camp with Bedouins to see stars and the sun rise above the dunes.
It’d be wrong not to also enjoy the country’s 3,165km of coastline. See dolphins (spinner and long-nosed common) and whales (Bryde’s and humpback) off Muscat’s marina, while the scuba diving is also spectacular: off the capital’s coast lie the Daymaniyat Islands, a haven for coral, moray eels, stingrays and leopard shades. Turtles (hawksbill and loggerhead) regularly flock to the islands to nest, while Ras Al Hadd and Ras Al Jinz, on Oman’s eastern tip, are home to green turtles.
So, next time you’re heading on an Asian adventure, pause for a few days to soak up Oman’s wonders – you’ll find your trip started earlier than you thought.
Many of Oman’s stalwart forts are reminders of the years 1507-1650, when the Portuguese controlled Muscat (a rich and thriving port since the dawn of Islam) and Oman’s 1,000-mile coastline on the cusp of the Arabian Peninsula.
Forts built by the Omani before or after this period (when Omani rule stretched from Zanzibar to Pakistan) are Arabic in design, with a Persian influence. Many served as a combination royal residence and seat of government, sometimes containing a mosque, school, or prison. Oman’s forts are so much a part of its heritage that the image of the fort is seen everywhere, influencing the design of contemporary buildings and even the public telephone booths in Muscat, the sultanate’s capital city.
One need only look up on the way in from the airport to see the twin forts of Jalali and Merani, built by the Portuguese to guard the ancient trade and caravan routes and fend off rival foreign powers who scented profit in the Gulf of Oman. The Portuguese were never able to penetrate the interior, due to the hostility of the Omani as well as the mountain barriers.
While coastal Oman was involved in lucrative sea trade with Zanzibar, India, and China in medieval times, inland Nizwa was the seat of the imams who ruled much of the interior for centuries.
Renowned as a center of learning and famous for its ancient poets (and as the birthplace of Sinbad the Sailor), the city is also blessed with an imposing circular 17th-century fort. A recent restoration of the fort and neighboring historical dwellings has garnered international awards. Nizwa sits on a scenic road from Muscat that skirts two of the country’s major mountain ranges, affording visitors views of some of the most diverse and beautiful countryside in the Gulf nations.
As the center for Oman’s jewelry and crafts industries, Nizwa draws shopping-minded visitors here on whirlwind day trips from Muscat. The curved kanjar daggers are manufactured here – prized symbols of Omani masculinity, they are now worn mainly in ceremonies. The city’s large blue-domed mosque marks the site of a souk whose silver merchants by now are accustomed to today’s souvenir-hunting Westerners.
A more genuine air is found in the tourist-free byways, where the haggling and touting continue with an area reserved just for dates, another only for goats.
Consistently voted one of the best hotels in the Middle East, the Al Bustan Palace is as favored by oil tycoons used to sheiklike pampering as by Western travelers merely hoping for such.
The Sultanate of Oman has a rich heritage of hospitality, and the Middle East-meets-West marriage of Arab romance and snap-to efficiency is seamless in this country only recently opened to outside influence. It is a fascinating harmony not easily achieved in a nation enamored of its ancient traditions as well as its nascent oil-based wealth. Bustan means “garden,” and there are 200 acres of them here – an oasis created by royalty for royalty.
Built in 1985 as the venue for a Gulf summit meeting, Al Bustan was the dream of the nation’s leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The hotel’s natural setting includes a dramatic mountain backdrop and its own cove on the Gulf of Oman. Indoors, the awesome lobby soars with the Islamic lines and graceful opulence of Omani architecture at its most regal. At the very least, stay for high tea. Those with deep pockets should check into the Arabic Suite to experience life as an emir.