The stunning Sultanate of Oman is one of the Middle East’s best-kept secrets. Epitomised by the legend of Sinbad the Sailor, it is a beautiful country with dramatic mountain scenery, deserts and inviting coastline, where you still see traditional fishing boats sailing out each morning. Unlike many of the other Gulf States, tourism in Oman is still relatively new, and it retains a pleasing authenticity that is hard to find elsewhere. This, combined with the ultimate 5 star hotel resorts and the exceptional Arabic hospitality makes Oman a luxury holiday haven, as yet undiscovered by most.
During your holiday in Oman, you simply must not miss an off road safari across the famous wadis (a wadi is a dry river bed) in a private 4 x 4. Set off early and take a scenic drive through Oman’s dramatic mountain landscape, heading towards the Wadi Bani Khalid, famous for its water springs, underground caves and lush oases of palm trees and flowering shrubs. The drive then continues on to the Wahiba Sands, where adrenalin junkies will enjoy thundering up and down the sand dunes in your desert safari. There is also the chance to visit a local village where the kids can dress up in local traditional costumes and try their hand at camel rides – perfect for family holidays!
Muttrah Souk in Muscat is one of the oldest in Oman, said to date back a couple of hundred years. It’s a huge covered market, characterised by narrow alleys which are perfect for getting lost in. Although the market gets very little natural light, it’s an atmospheric place to hunt out some bargains. Muttrah Souk itself is full of colour and life, with a great range of stalls, from those selling eastern spices to handicrafts exquisitely fashioned from silver, gold and mother of pearl. It’s also the perfect opportunity to chat with local stallholders and to practice your bartering skills!
As well as the opportunity to buy the freshest local produce from street vendors, Oman’s burgeoning restaurant scene brings together a multitude of flavours from the east and orient. From fine dining and international cuisine in the resorts, to traditional Omani restaurants where you sit cross-legged on woven rugs and share platters tasty local dishes – there are many options that will keep even the most demanding foodie satisfied. You absolutely must not leave without trying laban, a salty buttermilk and yoghurt drink infused with fresh cardamom and flavoured with pistachio - it really is delicious.
Oman’s capital, Muscat, is an elegant, well-laid out city with very few tall buildings. It’s mostly constructed in the traditional Arabian style with gorgeous arabesque windows and intricate domed roofs. Holidays in Oman are all about upscale luxury and excellent service, catering to all types of travellers - from intrepid explorers who want to get out and see the country, to those who prefer to relax and be pampered.
Of all the resorts in Oman, the quintessential 5 star holiday property is The Chedi - a stunning resort overlooking the Gulf of Oman with direct access to its own private beach. Called ‘the most relaxing place on earth’ by those in the know, its décor mixes contemporary and traditional designs and it’s got an utterly chic vibe which is perfect for a romantic escape.
The Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort village is another great option if you’re travelling with the family. Three luxury hotels in this resort share their own perfect private beach. With infinity pools, fine dining and contemporary facilities in the traditional style, this place also has a wealth of activities to keep the kids entertained. It’s definitely the place to come if you’re looking for the ultimate family fortnight away.
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