Renting a car in Oman is the best way to get around this beautiful Arabian nation. Oman boasts countless incredible natural wonders, majestic desertscapes, and fascinating abandoned towns and fortresses.
The only downside to travelling in Oman is that presently, public transport links to and from the notable sites are virtually nonexistent. Tourism infrastructure is not yet very well developed in Oman. Consequently, if you want to explore the country independently then you really need to hire a car.
- 1 Why Rent a Car in Oman?
- 2 Requirements for Renting a Car in Oman
- 3 Road Rules for Driving in Oman
- 4 Driving Your Omani Car Across Borders
- 5 GPS Navigation and Getting Around Oman
- 6 Oman Car Rental Options
- 7 When to Organise Your Omani Rental Car
- 8 Where to Find a Cheap Rental Car in Oman
- 9 Offroading in Oman
- 10 Parking in Oman
- 11 Collecting and Returning Your Oman Car Rental
- 12 Other Quick Pointers to Keep in Mind When Renting a Car in Oman
Why Rent a Car in Oman?
The highlight of travelling in Oman is not the cities and towns, but the nature. Envisage secluded desert wadis with crystal clear water perfect for swimming, and pristine beaches with jagged coastlines that extend as far as the eye can see.
Sure there are the popular natural wonders that you can reach on a tour or a day trip. For instance, Bimmah Sinkhole, Wadi Shab, and Wadi Bani Khaled.
However, it’s not the same as having the total freedom and flexibility of driving around independently. When you rent a car in Oman, you can stop whenever you find a beautiful stretch of beach, or stumble across off-the-beaten-path hiking trails.
The other beauty of Oman is the possibility to free camp anywhere. If you rent an SUV, load it up with food supplies, and buy an inflatable mattress or a sleeping bag, you can opt to camp beneath the stars in the most breathtaking settings. This is a great option to have if you are trying to travel to Oman on a budget.
Oman boasts so much rugged beauty that it’s not uncommon for you to have many incredible camping spots virtually all to yourself. In case you are wondering, Oman is a very safe country. I felt safe travelling alone in Oman even as a solo female traveller.
Requirements for Renting a Car in Oman
You must have an international driving license in order to rent a car in Oman, Furthermore, you will need to present an additional form of identification such as your passport.
The minimum age for renting a car in Oman is 21. However, this varies from one company to another.
Some rental companies set their minimum age as 25. You must have had your license for at least one year before being permitted to drive in Oman.
The maximum age also varies from company to company. However, you can usually assume 70-75 as the cut-off.
Omani car rental companies do not always check that you have an International Driving License. However, should you get stopped by the police and not be able to present your licence, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble, so make sure that you have one!
Road Rules for Driving in Oman
In some ways, driving in Oman is similar to driving in most of Europe. Here, driving is on the right hand side of the road.
Many of the road rules and expectations for driving in Oman are the same as anywhere else. For instance, when renting a car in Oman, you must wear a seatbelt, adhere to speed limits, not driveunder the influence, etc.
That said, the fines and implications of not adhering to the rules are much more strict in Oman. Consequently, you really need to be sure to follow the road rules.
Road conditions in Oman are generally very good. Een in rural areas, you will find clean, modern roads that are well signposted in English as well as Arabic.
Safety Considerations for Renting a Car in Oman
Some basic pointers and considerations to think about when driving in Oman are outlined below. It is worth keeping these things in mind.
- Driving is done on the right and overtaking takes place on the left
- Speed limits are clearly indicated and enforced by radars and cameras
- In Oman, you can be arrested for being aggressive or abusive. Do not argue, shout or gesture with other drivers
- There is zero tolerance for driving while inebriated
- You are legally required to wear a seatbelt
- It is illegal to use your phone while driving
- Beware of stray animals on the road – rogue camels, random goats, etc
- The speed limits are 120km/h on motorways, 90km/h on open roads and between 40km/h and 80km/h in cities/urban places
Driving Your Omani Car Across Borders
Oman shares borders with the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Opting to do a road trip into a neighbouring country may sound appealing.
You should thoroughly read the terms of your rental agreement before doing so. Typically, your rental company will not cover your insurance if you cross borders.
If you want to cross the border from Oman to Dubai or vice versa, some of the larger rental companies allow this. Travelling to Yemen and Saudi Arabia with your Omani rental car is usually prohibited.
Many travellers become quite dependent on using GPS when driving in foreign countries. It’s almost an expectation to have the option of renting one or having one already fitted in the rental car. In Oman,GPS is not really a thing, and some of the maps are not properly updated.
It is advisable to pick up an Omani sim card with a data package so that you can stay connected and make use of the mobile map/tracking apps while you are driving around. You should also consider downloading an offline map like Maps.Me.
Oman Car Rental Options
When renting a car in Oman, you have a few different options available. The best choice for you largely depends on your Oman itinerary and the activities that you plan on doing while in the country.
Some people will tell you that you absolutely must have a 4×4 for travelling here. However, that is simply not the case. If you plan on sticking to the main cities like Muscat, Nizwa, Sur and Salalah, and only visiting a few natural sites along the way, an economy/compact car will be fine.
If you plan on offroading and visiting sites such as Jebel Akhdar, you will need a larger vehicle such as a 4×4. As you can imagine, there can be large cost variances between the different vehicle types.
You can rent an economy style car for $30-$40 a day in Oman. To get around Muscat and visit places like Sur, the Bimmah Sinkhole, the Turtle Reserve, etc, this is okay. Many travellers do opt to be more economical and rent this type of car for their Oman adventures.
The only thing that you have to be mindful of is the fact that you cannot access places like Jebel Shams and Jebel Akhdar without a 4×4. It is both dangerous and police checkpoints also block the way.
To reach these sites you could consider parking your car in nearby Birkat al Mouz. Then, you can either hitchhike or get a cab/private driver specifically just for your day at Jebel Shams/Jebel Akhdar.
Midsize 4 x 4
There is a lot of variance in the prices of mid sized 4×4 rentals in Oman, presumably due to the various engine sizes. Shop around to view the various options offered by different providers. The majority of midsize 4x4s available to rent in Oman are automatic, not manual.
Large 4 x 4
Large 4x4s are obviously the most expensive vehicle type that you can rent in Oman. You can expect to pay upwards of $70 per day if you rent this type of car.
That said, it is well worth it. This is especially the case if there are a few of you and you can split the costs, or if you plan on doing a lot of off-roading and camping.
Toyota Land Cruisers are a common vehicle to rent. However, other large 4×4 models are also available.
When to Organise Your Omani Rental Car
You should try to organise your Oman rental car in advance of your trip. If you wait until you arrive in the country, you will be met with both limited availability and substantially higher prices.
The peak season for travelling in Oman falls between October and March. If you plan on visiting during this period, it is advisable to secure your vehicle a few months in advance.
Where to Find a Cheap Rental Car in Oman
As with renting a car anywhere, it is worth obtaining and comparing a few quotes before choosing a rental company. Use comparison websites to browse various options.
Then, try and book directly with the company so that you can get the best deal. Don’t be afraid to negotiate either.
It is possible to try and secure a better deal than those listed. Hafflinf is practically expected in Oman.
Offroading in Oman
Offroading, if done safely, can be one of the highlights of an Oman adventure. Envisage navigating your 4×4 through the winding passageways of the Hajar Mountains, hugging precipitous canyons, and speeding past beautiful desert wadis.
Some places in Oman require a 4×4 and an element of off-road driving to be reached. This includes Jebel Shams, Jebel Akhdar, and Snake Canyon.
Some of these places have police checkpoints and you will not be permitted to enter without a four-wheel drive. Even if the entrances are not manned by police though, err on the side of caution and safety and get a 4×4.
There are obviously a few other things to consider before offroading. Since the desert heat in Oman can be hot and intense, make sure that you always pack more than enough water and snacks.
If you decide to drive to the Wahiba Sands desert, you may need to deflate your tires. Check the manufacturer’s guide to see what you will need to deflate them to (usually 18 ppi).
Don’t forget to inflate them again once you’re out of the desert. There is a real risk of getting lost while offroading in Wahiba Sands if you are not with a local guide. Be very careful if you are considering venturing into this region alone.
Parking in Oman
Finding places to park in Oman is generally pretty easy. That includes Muscat, Muttrah, and other Omani cities.
Driving in Oman does not mean having to contend with various metered zones like in other countries. The only thing to be mindful of is that it is prohibited to park in public buildings in Oman.
Collecting and Returning Your Oman Car Rental
Arguably the most convenient place to pick up your rental car is at Muscat International Airport when you arrive in Oman. Double-check with your rental company to see if there are any conditions that you need to fulfill when you return the car.
For instance, some companies may request that you return the vehicle it with a full tank of gas, etc. You may wish to read the small print of each rental company’s policy before committing to a specific company.
Other Quick Pointers to Keep in Mind When Renting a Car in Oman
- Ensure that you have the necessary rental insurance coverage, as travel insurance will not cover your vehicle for theft, accidents, etc
- You can request to hire luggage racks, car seats, and other extras from your rental company but be sure to organise this in advance
- There are numerous toll roads in Oman. Ask your rental company for an automatic toll reader and the total amount will be charged automatically to be paid when you return the vehicle
Have any further questions about renting a car in Oman or Oman travel in general? Feel free to reach out to me via email or through the comments below and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.
Safe travels! Melissa xo