While everyone’s been talking about Dubai and the United Arab Emirates for the past few years, other Middle Eastern holiday destinations have been slowly creeping up the agenda. In the coming years, it appears Oman is the next hot, happening destination for travellers in the know.
Muscat is the capital of the country and is packed with things to see and do. For bargain hunters, it’s the perfect place to stock up on home wares, fabrics, clothing and gifts. Tighten up your haggling skills in the bustling souks and you’ll be headed back to the hotel loaded up with bargains.
Be sure to visit the Grand Mosque — a stunning structure that was only built in the late 1990s from soft Indian sandstone and its vast courtyards filled with blinding white marble. This decadent mosque opens its doors to visitors every day apart from Friday and once inside, you can marvel at the eight metre diameter Swarovski crystal chandelier and gaze in awe at the detailed tiles and stained glass windows.
Take a day tour outside of the city to Green Mountain in a Jeep. Your transport will climb close to the summit at 2,980 metres, where you’ll have an awesome vista down into the canyons. You could easily spend a few days here, hiking around the mountain and exploring nearby traditional Omani hill villages. Stay at the boutique Sahab Hotel and you’ll be able to start the day with a swim in the pool, overlooking the mists rising from the lush valleys below.
After exploring the gems of Muscat, you could spend some time at one of Oman’s premier beach resorts. The Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah, for example, is a superb luxury holiday destination in a spectacular setting between the mountains and glittering waters of the Gulf of Oman. Three hotels within one beautiful resort complex, it’s nestled close to the capital of Muscat, between the mountainous interior and stunning Gulf of Oman. The Arabian detailing and relaxed, elegant atmosphere makes this easily one of the country’s best resorts.
Explore Oman’s culture and history further with traditional boat cruises, nature programmes, or sampling delicious local cuisine in the Al Tanoor or Bait Al Bahr restaurants. Get involved in the Sanctuary, Shangri-La’s Care for Nature Project, and help out with the turtle care project or enjoy talks and viewing about these local critters.
From here, you could take a trip to Wahiba Sands, stopping to look around the ancient domed mosque of Jalan Bani Bu Ali or seeing a traditional Bedouin house. Head onwards to Wadi Bani Khalid to explore this most beautiful of Oman’s desert areas and swim in one of the natural pools. Stretch your adventurous spirit by sleeping the night in a luxury desert camp in the middle of nowhere. A holiday in Oman is definitely an adventure.
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