When I decided to visit Oman for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that women who traveled alone occasionally struggle to visit countries in the Middle East, so I assumed it could be a difficult experience.
Fortunately, the opposite was true. I found Oman to be a wonderful country and extremely safe for solo travelers. I did not experience harassment from the locals, I never felt like I was in danger, and I enjoyed the fact that I was one of the few tourists who chose to visit this welcoming country.
Here are my top tips for solo female travelers in Oman:
Oman is an Islamic country, so it will come as no surprise that you expect to cover up while traveling the country.
While Omanis are extremely friendly, kind, and welcoming people, they are also predominantly Muslim, so you need to be careful to hide yourself in order to be respectful. In Oman, you will want to cover your shoulders and knees to a minimum, and if possible, try to cover everything from the neck to the wrists and ankles.
Since Oman is such a hot country, it didn’t drop below 45 degrees Celsius while I was there, you’ll want to pack loose, floating items that are white and made of cotton, to keep you cool. Walking is most likely not something you want to do in the heat, so plan to take taxis around cities to make sure you don’t overheat.
On the beaches, it will be fine to wear a bathing suit in the ocean (rather than a bikini) but wrap a sarong around it when not in the water. If you are staying at one of the resorts that has a private beach, you can wear whatever you want, so don’t hesitate to bring your bikini with you.
Expect to feel alone
It is rare to find tourists in Oman, much less single women, so you will most likely have a hard time making friends while in the country. Hostels do not exist in the country, so if you are traveling on a budget, you will be staying in a budget guesthouse for businessmen, and if you are more of a luxury traveler, you will opt for a resort full of families.
Public transportation is difficult to find and use
Public transportation in Oman is difficult to find, so to minimize the hassle, you’ll want to choose to rent a car or take a taxi.
There are some options for local buses in Muscat, but there are rules for women. You will only be able to sit next to one other woman on the bus. If there are only men on the bus and there is nowhere for you to sit, you are expected to stand next to a seat until a man moves. Yes, that is ridiculous.
To go from city to city, you will have a hard time finding buses, so hiring a driver is a good way to go (ask your hotel for a reliable recommendation), or renting a car is a great idea if you are comfortable driving from overseas. On top of that, the main attractions are not found in the towns and cities of Oman, so you’ll want to hire a driver, take a tour, or drive to any of the beautiful landscapes that you are looking forward to visiting.
It is not incredibly safe to hitchhike as a woman in the country, so unless you are highly experienced and comfortable in vulnerable situations, try to avoid this method of transportation in Oman.
Tours are mainly private
Oman is a wonderful country, and if you don’t have your own means of transportation, you will want to use the tours to visit some of the country’s main attractions, be it camping in the desert, visiting the historic forts, hanging out with giant sea turtles, explore huge canyons or snorkel in the sparkling turquoise waters.
As a solo traveler, I love to go on group tours as it gives me the opportunity to meet other people and at the same time cut down on any potentially awkward moments with just me and a single tour guide.
In Oman, however, it was impossible to find group visits. The only tours I could find were private tours. If you decide to explore the country as a solo traveler, keep in mind that it will most likely be you with the driver for the entire trip. I wasn’t comfortable with this (read more about this below) so decided to explore solo and on foot alone in Muscat.
The main reason I chose to avoid touring Oman was the proliferation of fake reviews on online review sites – I just couldn’t find a tour company with really positive reviews, which stopped me when I signed up for one. .
For example, on TripAdvisor, all tour companies had reviews left by people who had no review history on the site. Anyone can leave a review on TripAdvisor, so if you look at the reviewer’s profile and see that the only review they have left is for this tourism company, the review is likely fake. In Oman, I found that each tour company only had comments from people who had signed up just to review that company, leading me to believe that none of them were genuine.
Where to stay in Muscat as a lonely woman
There is an odd mix of accommodation options in Muscat, so it can be tricky trying to find a place that will suit a single woman, especially if you are a student on a budget. Either you’ll end up in a very expensive five-star resort on the coast, or a very inexpensive guesthouse outside of the central parts of the city.
One of Muscat’s main draws is Muttrah, but I couldn’t find a single budget accommodation option with good reviews for me. Instead, I opted to stay in Ruwi, Muscat’s financial district. It was perfectly located for exploring Muscat’s hot spots, including Muttrah. I can wholeheartedly recommend staying at Ruwi Hotel.
Traveling in Oman as a lonely woman is a bit more complicated than traveling in a western country, but it is also much more rewarding. You will be able to experience a country that hardly sees tourists, meet incredibly friendly locals, and see spectacular scenery. I highly recommend it.