Self-catering in Oman on a budget

How to travel Oman on a budget

Although it is probably best known as a luxury destination, it is definitely possible to travel Oman on a budget. With a combination of camping, self-catering and saving on transportation, the trip won't break the bank. Here's what we spent, and how to keep it cheap.

Here’s what we spent in eight days for two people, approximately:

Car rental, a 4WD for 8 days: 200 OMR (519 USD)
Gasoline: 25 OMR (65 USD)
Accommodation, one night in a hotel and one night in a desert camp: 20 + 45 OMR (169 USD)
Food, including two meals in restaurants: around 40 OMR (104 USD)
Entrance fees: 2 OMR (less than 3 USD)

You can definitely spend a lot less than this, however. Keep reading for some tips!

Our Oman itinerary for nine days

Pitch your tent anywhere

Wild camping is legal in Oman, as long as you’re not on someone’s land or a protected area. The mountains and beaches are pretty much free for all. We stayed one night in a hotel in Muscat, because our flight got in after dark, and one night in an organized desert camp. Six nights were spent camping.

Here’s my guide to some of the best camping spots in the country

camping spot between rocks on jebel shams oman

Eat at local restaurants or cook your own meals

One of the benefits of camping is that you can self-cater to avoid having all your meals in restaurants. We only had a single meal at a restaurant, as well as some drinks and an overpriced breakfast buffet, and cooked the rest ourselves on our camping stove. The selection at the hypermarkets is amazing, and they also have a section with prepared food if you don’t want to cook.

Preparing for a camping trip in Oman: all you need to know

Hitchhiking, public transportation or car rental?

If you have a lot of time on your hands, hitchhiking is going to be your cheapest option. Bear in mind that there is not much traffic on most roads, so the wait can get long. We did see some locals hitchhiking, but no tourists. While there is always some risk involved in hitchhiking, Oman is generally a very safe country.

Public transportation is generally not a very good option. You can take minibuses to go between the larger towns, but most tourist attractions are far from any bus stop.  A combination of public transportation and hitchhiking might work, there are many tourists in big rental cars going from central Nizwa up to Jebel Shams for example.

The 4wd mitsubishi outlander we used for driving in Oman

As you can see above, the car rental is the one thing we spent a lot of money on. If you can’t afford a 4WD, a regular 2WD saloon car is probably half the price. It won’t get you everywhere, but it sure will save you some money. Another option is to rent a 4WD only for a few days and then exchange it for a 2WD when you’re done with the mountains and desert. We used Rentalcars.com to compare prices, and ended up renting from Thrifty at the airport.

Avoid tourist attractions that are overpriced for foreigners

Most of the tourist attractions we went to turned out to be free, like Wadi Bani Khalid for example. The forts we went to had an entrance fee of 0,5 OMR, which is very little. One fort, however, the one in Nizwa, had a special rate for tourists of 5 OMR which is way too much. Go to the really nice fort in Jibrin instead and save those rials.

Jibrin castle supposedly the best fort in Oman

How to travel Oman on a budget
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