Lonely Planet has named Oman as one of the best countries to visit in the world. Read on to find out why
Oman, a small country in the Middle East Asia packs a surprising punch with the diverse variety of terrain on offer for travellers. Apart from the obvious presence of deserts, there are surprisingly lush mountains and serene beaches to enjoy.
Another wonderful news is that, Oman is consistently ranked as one of the world’s safest travel destinations for families, making it an ideal holiday spot, with something on offer for every member of the family. The shopping enthusiast mum can lose herself into the famous Arabian souk’s (open air marketplace), while the history loving dad can appreciate the centuries old forts that still guard the cities to this day, and the kids can have a blast watching the enormous whales and friendly dolphins lapping about in the Arabian Sea.
Here are the top places to visit in Oman this year.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
If you want your kid to become a full time traveller when he grows up, this is the place you have to take him/her in their childhood. The mosque not only brings to life the magical Arabian tales, but also takes your breath away by the sheer presence of the structure.
One step inside the hall and you cannot help but agree that the mosque deserves to be called Grand. The size of the hall is enormous (capacity of 20,000) and houses wonderful, unique objects. One such example is the second largest hand loomed carpet in the world housed here. What makes the carpet extraordinarily unique is not only its tremendous cultural value, but also the fact that it took six hundred women over four years to finish weaving it!
All of that makes the grand mosque one of the top places to visit in Oman.
Royal Opera House
Attention Opera lovers of the world! If you ever find yourself in Oman, you are in for a very nice surprise. Thanks to the music-loving sultan, Oman has its very own world-class royal opera house!
Housed in a stunning building made by the famous architectural firm Carillion Alawi, it is able to strike a fine balance between the centuries old Omani culture and state-of-the-art technology that brings the musical notes of the opera to life. The venue continues to build on its reputation of hosting world class performances and local Arabian productions.
There is nothing in the world that compares to the feeling you get when you stand in front of a fort. Some say it is because there is no better way to learn about old times, and some say it is the sheer size that takes you aback. One thing is for sure, that this feeling is only going to grow stronger the moment you see this nine-hundred-year-old UNESCO world heritage site.
You will run out of time but not on things to do in Nizwa. It offers you the experience of shopping at the oldest Souk in Oman, the challenging and rewarding climb to Jebel Shams – highest peak in Oman and observing the old ways of Omani living as you stroll through the villages of Saiq plateau. It is also the nearest city to the historic Bahla fort.
If there is one thing that you need to know about Wadi Shab, it should be that this place routinely ranks really high in the dream destination list of hiking & diving lovers across the world. It is simply a must-visit place.
One obvious reason is that the word ‘spectacular’ does not do justice to the jaw-dropping beauty of Wadi Shab. You will do a double take as you find the trekking path weaves through waterfalls and turquoise-green water pools in the middle of the desert, with centuries old village ruins also making a guest appearance on the way. The best part is taking a quick dip in the gorgeous pools along the way to remove any little strain of exhaustion you might have got while walking.
Dhofar offers an extremely unique proposition to anyone who visits it – a chance to see a minor miracle in action as you see the desert turn lush green with flowing rivers and waterfalls sprouting out during the monsoon season. This magical transformation of the landscape draws in visitors from all over Oman and the world. Just beyond the horizon lies Saudi Arabia.
Where else will you find a market place where you wander around breathing in the most exquisite perfumes on offer in the Middle East? Browse through the exquisite, hand-crafted silver work here made famous by the master Bedouin craftsmanship. It is safe to say one visit to this exotic souq, and you will realize that your home deserves a piece of art from here.
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