You completed your research and decided to travel to Oman. Your flights are booked and your travel expert is finalizing your trip itinerary. Now that you have a departure date for your visit to Oman, check out our guide to the seasons and weather of Oman, and get ready to pack. Following are some tips to get you started on how to pack with confidence for your trip to Oman.
A STARTER LIST
There are of course several items that you will want to make sure you have with you. Start with this checklist:
1) Passport and travel documents: Make sure that your passport does not expire within six months of your trip to Oman. And it’s never a bad idea to have your itinerary and trip information saved on your mobile phone or printed out and carried with you.
2) Plug adaptor: Oman uses the UK 3-pin electrical sockets (Type G) and outlets are 220–240 volts (compared to 120 volts in America), so pack the necessary plug adaptors for your mobile phone, camera, laptop, or any other electronics you may travel with (note: a drone requires a license in Oman).
3) Money: The quickest way to get cash in Oman is to use your bank card at an ATM. Let your bank know about your travel plans and check their charges for foreign transaction fees. You can also bring U.S. dollars or euros with you to exchange for Omani rials at currency exchange locations throughout the country.
Most popular toiletry items can be found in Oman, in case you forget something or run out, but if you prefer certain brands, it’s a good idea to bring them with you. In addition to the toiletries that are part of your regular routine, consider bringing:
1) Bug repellant: Some products like bug repellant spray can be difficult to find.
2) Sunscreen and aloe vera gel: Oman is a sunny place for much of the year. If you are prone to sunburn, make sure you to add these to your suitcase.
3) Medications: In addition to your regular prescriptions, melatonin or other sleep-aids can help you adjust to a new time zone. Over-the-counter digestion medicine can help if you experience digestion problems while traveling. Ask your doctor what he or she recommends before your trip.
We’ll get to the specifics of clothing for men and women in just a minute. First, we have a list of accessories that you might consider packing.
1) Slip-on shoes: If you enter a mosque or local home, you will remove your shoes at the door. Comfortable walking shoes that easily slip on and off are a good idea in Oman. If adventure travel is part of your visit to Oman, then don’t forget the appropriate footwear.
2) Sun protection: In addition to sunscreen, don’t forget your sunglasses, a hat with a brim, or a light scarf for women. All will help alleviate the desert heat and sun you may experience in parts of Oman.
3) Jacket: A jacket in the desert? Indeed. The desert can be chilly at night. Bring a light jacket if you are visiting northern Oman from October to March, and bring a light waterproof jacket if you are visiting southern Oman, such as Salalah during Khareef (monsoon) season in July and August.
THE DETAILS ON WHAT TO WEAR
Before embarking on your Omani adventure, it’s wise to carefully consider the most appropriate and comfortable attire that respects the country’s conservative heritage. Although there are no set rules for how to dress in Oman, we want you to feel comfortable and confident as you mix with locals and explore new places. Overall, lightweight, loose clothing will be the most comfortable.
The recommendation is to bring basic lightweight long shorts or trousers with shirts that provide adequate protection from the sun. Button-down shirts that are short- or long-sleeved are appropriate. Board shorts are great for swimming.
Pants or knee-length and longer skirts or dresses are appropriate. Shirts can have short-sleeves, but sleeves that cover your elbows show extra attention to culture. Avoid shirts with low-cut necklines and spaghetti straps, and leave shorts, capris, and short skirts at home. It’s a good idea to have a scarf handy in case you would like to visit a local mosque or home. At private hotel beaches and pools, feel free to wear your favorite swimsuit; however, in local areas and beaches you may be more comfortable in shorts and a T-shirt.
Are these hard and fast rules? Absolutely not. However, no one likes realizing they came to the party “underdressed.” We want you to have the best trip of your life and to not have little things like clothing stand in the way.
DON’T FORGET YOUR MANNERS!
What is considered acceptable in one culture can be quite offensive in another, and the navigation of cultural differences can be tricky, especially when you’re not aware of them at the start! Naturally, you want to be respectful and polite while exploring all that Oman has to offer, so read on for some tips and appropriate responses for common interactions in Oman.
At a Meal
Omanis are a gracious and hospitable people. It’s likely that at some point during your visit, you will be offered more food than you can possibly eat. Don’t make yourself uncomfortably full by attempting to eat everything placed in front of you. In Oman it’s considered polite to leave a small portion on your plate at the end of a meal. This communicates to your host that he or she served you a sufficient amount of food.
This simple phrase comes in handy when you are offered a second helping (or third or fourth!) of food to eat. To politely refuse, simply say this phrase, which is the Arabic way to say, “I’m full.” It is also helpful to know that in Oman it’s considered polite to offer something several times, even if the person declines the first time. If you really do not want what is offered, just continue to decline it politely. And be aware that when you offer an Omani something, his or her first response will probably be “no” as well.
When Out and About
If you are approached in a souk (traditional market) by someone looking to sell you an item, it is easy to decline. Simply hold your right hand up in a “stop” motion and say, “la shukran,” meaning “no, thank you.” If they persist with their sales pitch, repeat the phrase and walk away. This is how Omanis refuse services or attempts to sell them things. For more tips on how to master the souk, read our visitor’s guide to souks in Oman. [LINK to the new/revised blog I wrote: A Visitor’s Guide to the Souks of Oman]
Holding the door for others is not as common in Oman as it is in America. Do not be offended if someone lets a door shut in your face. They are not being rude. If a door is held, it is polite to say “shukran” (thank you) as you walk through.
Typically, Omanis do not show strong emotion in public. Loud laughter, yelling, and other outbursts are not considered polite and will likely draw attention and stares. Mimic the local culture by lowering your voice in public settings.
Meeting Local People
Omanis are friendly people, but it is considered most polite to interact primarily with those of your same gender in public. If approaching an Omani family, men speak with the men and women with the women. Typically, men and women will not shake hands, although they may greet each other when being introduced. Women visiting Oman should simply wait to see what an Omani does first. If he offers his hand, it is polite to accept the handshake, but it’s not usually appropriate to initiate it.
Ask permission before taking a picture of an Omani, and especially avoid taking pictures of local women without their consent. This action is considered rude and even threatening in Oman. Omanis love taking pictures of their food and drinks to share on Snapchat and Instagram, so feel free to pull your phone or camera out to photograph the delicious meals you will enjoy here.
Even if you make a mistake and do something typically considered rude in Oman, don’t worry. Omanis understand that you are unfamiliar with their culture, and they will show you grace. Watch how local people interact with others to get your cues for interaction, and ask your guide how to appropriately handle a situation if you get stuck. Most importantly, smile, be teachable, and laugh at your mistakes. Even though the culture will vary from your home, Oman is a warm and welcoming place, so have fun!
You will receive detailed packing information with your trip itinerary from your travel expert, but if these tips sparked any additional questions. Feel free to ask your travel expert!