- 1 Solo Female Travel in Oman
- 2 My Solo Trip to Oman
- 3 Highlights of Solo Female Travel in Oman
- 4 Solo Female Travel in Oman: Great Destinations to Consider
- 5 Travelling Around Oman Alone
- 6 Travelling Alone in Oman: How to Dress in Oman
- 7 Attitudes to Women in Oman
- 8 Encounters with Omani Men
- 9 Solo Female Travel in Oman: Gender Segregation in Oman
- 10 Solo Female Travel in Oman: Encounters with Omani People
- 11 Solo Female Travel in Oman: Safety and Security in Oman
Solo Female Travel in Oman
If you asked me about wonderful places for solo female travel, you probably wouldn’t expect me to say the Middle East. Generally, I would say that solo Middle East travel is reserved for the more seasoned traveller since the countries here require more patience, assertiveness, and cultural awareness than in other parts of the globe, but Oman is something else entirely. Solo female travel in Oman was one of my very best experiences in travelling alone. That is saying something, considering the fact that I have spent the last eight years travelling solo and have visited almost 50 countries in the process!
Oman is like an Arabian Nights fairy-tale come to life without any of the chaos you may expect in a country in this part of the world. When I’ve walked through souks and market places, nobody hassled or pestered me. Oman is a conservative Muslim country so women travelling here should dress modestly, however before I arrived I still worried because when dressing modestly in places like Jordan and Egypt I attracted lots of stares, unwanted attention, and questions about the whereabouts of my non-existent husband even when covered head to toe in what I believed to be the frumpiest attire known to mankind.
On the contrary, Omanis are used to western expats and business people walking among them and nobody even looked up at me most of the time. Even in the most random villages where I was the only woman among dozens of Arab men, nobody stared or made me feel uncomfortable. Crime in Oman is low and crime against women is incredibly rare.
To my surprise, when I spoke to Omanis about other travellers they have met, they told me that the majority of them have been solo females! So, if you want to travel somewhere culturally rich and a little off the beaten path without compromising your comfort and security then I strongly recommend travelling to Oman.
Related Article: Budget Travel in Oman
My Solo Trip to Oman
I arrived bleary-eyed in the Omani capital of Muscat at 4 o’clock on a Sunday morning. As my cab driver bought me a cup of tea, and we whizzed along dusty roads past magnificent mosques and the illuminated seafront of the Corniche, I knew immediately that mysterious Oman was going to be a place that I would fall in love with.
I spent several days of my Oman itinerary exploring the higgledy-piggledy layout of the Omani capital with Omani locals before travelling onwards to the ancient capital of Nizwa, the beachfront city of Sur, and dozens of ramshackle villages and ruins in between.
I hiked mountains and visited stunning sites of nature alone in Oman, navigating the country mostly solo by 4×4. A woman alone in the great outdoors may ring alarm bells for many but I never felt fearful for my safety in Oman.
Highlights of Solo Female Travel in Oman
- Driving across the country and discovering some of the most beautiful nature in the Middle East – from the Bimmah Sinkhole to the pristine coastlines that extend from Muscat to Sur.
- Exploring abandoned ghost towns and ruins around Muscat and Nizwa.
- Meeting young Omani women through Couchsurfing and gaining a unique perspective as to what life is like for them growing up in a Conservative Muslim Gulf country.
- Watching locals haggle over livestock at the fascinating Nizwa Friday Market.
- Enjoying the incredibly diverse range of foods available in Oman – from Yemeni dishes to Indian food.
Solo Female Travel in Oman:
Great Destinations to Consider
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Throwback: Just your average Friday 🤷🏻♀️ Watching farmers parade their livestock around ready for bidding in a sort of goat catwalk (💁🐐)at the Friday market in Nizwa, Oman. Pretty unique thing to see. Things start really early in Oman so this was the first time in my life I set an alarm for 5am to see goat haggling 🤔. Also, upon hearing my alarm and frantically getting ready, I realised I had actually somehow locked myself in my Airbnb and couldn't find the key to get out. I considered climbing out the window (committed to this goat market after getting up at 5am!) But figured it was risky as I'm outrageously clumsy so I winded up calling my Airbnb host at 6am like "please! Help me!! I'm trapped in the apartment and I need to see the goats!" Safe to say he thought I was absolutely bonkers. Saw them goats though 🐐😏 #itwasntsobaaaaadafterall #aintnobodygoattimetobelockedinside #dadjokes #sorry #goatsofinstagram #waitwhyisthatsuchapopularhashtag #youvegoattobekiddingme #nizwa
A great starting point for solo female travel in Oman is, of course, Muscat, the country’s capital. There are enough cultural and historical sites in Muscat to keep you occupied for a day or two, but the true highlight of travelling in Oman is the incredible nature that the country is packed with. Some of the most notable and inspiring places to visit in Oman are summarised below.
Muscat is Oman’s capital city. Though it is somewhat sprawling and difficult to navigate, plenty of charm is tucked away in its crevices. Wake up early and head to the magnificent Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque before the morning prayers mean no access to tourists. The interiors of the mosque are decorated with incredible hand-loomed rugs and carpets and grand chandeliers and windows. At one point, the Sultan Qaboos Mosque boasted the largest hand-woven carpet and largest chandelier in any mosque, until the minds behind Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque took the measurements and topped the record!
Spend a day in Muttrah, Muscat’s Old City. The Muttrah fish market in the old port is a fascinating place to watch locals haggle with fisherman over the prices of the day’s freshest catches. Window shop at the Muttrah souk, and ascend the steps to the top of Muttrah fortress for incredible panoramas across the port as the sun begins to set.
If there is a place that should not be missed during solo female travel in Oman, Nizwa is it. The city limits of Nizwa are relatively compact, however, it is the smaller towns, villages and historical sites surrounding Nizwa that are a major draw of the area.
If you are driving, Nizwa is a good place to stay for a few days while taking day trips out to different parts of the region. Alternatively, many tour guides can be found locally in Nizwa to help plan excursions.
Spend a day exploring Nizwa proper. Wander around the sprawling complex that is the Nizwa fort and check out the gruesome traps that awaited intruders here centuries ago; including tomb-raider style spike traps and strategic holes where hot date juice was poured down onto people’s heads. The Nizwa souk is a great place to pick up souvenirs and edible treats such as candied dates, nuts and spices, and traditional Omani fragrances. If you are able to stop by on a Friday, you will have a unique experience witnessing the Nizwa Friday livestock market.
Nizwa makes a wonderful base to explore the historical town of Misfat Al Abriyeen, the crumbling eerie ruins of Al Hamra ghost town, and Oman’s most majestic natural attractions such as Jebel Shams and Jebel Akhdar.
The tranquil seaside town of Sur makes a peaceful change of pace from your typical large city. This is a great spot for solo female travel in Oman. Sur may not have any obvious tourist attractions, but it was one of my favourite stops on my Oman itinerary and is a pleasant place to sip Omani tea by the seafront as you look across the ocean. Sur is also a great base for visiting the nearby Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve.
The fictional sailor Sinbad was rumored to be from Sur and as you walk along the corniche today, you can see traditional wooden boats (dhows) still being built.
The drive from Muscat to Sur can be broken up by making stops along the way at the Bimmah Sinkhole, Wadi Shab, Wadi Bani Khalid, and Fins beach.
Travelling Around Oman Alone
I’ll be honest with you and say that when I first started planning my trip to Oman, I had no idea what to expect. I thought that independent travel in Oman was going to be much more difficult than it was, and I thought that I would be “safer” to hire a guide to take me around. Guides in Oman are not cheap due to the lack of demand and low tourism in the country. You can expect quotes of £100-£400 per day for a guide depending on the specific itinerary.
Fortunately, I decided to go with the “let’s wait and see what happens when I get there” approach. I was lucky in that I met locals both by chance and by Couchsurfing who took it upon themselves to show me around and make sure I had the best possible introduction to Oman. I travelled in the off season (July) when there were virtually no other tourists crazy enough to travel to Oman and brave the 47-degree temperatures! If you travel in the peak season (October – March), you are more likely to meet fellow travellers.
Travelling Alone in Oman:
How to Dress in Oman
As a conservative Muslim country, dress in Oman is modest for both males and females. You should ensure that you dress accordingly and respect the local culture so as not to cause offense. Omanis are incredibly kind people, however, if you are dressed like you’re headed to the beach in Ibiza, you may be approached by local people and police and asked to change – much like in Dubai and the UAE.
It is not necessary for women to cover their hair or wear an abaya. Provided your legs and shoulders are covered and your clothes are not too tight then that is fine. I simply wore long floaty Aladdin style trousers and a loose cotton shirt (definitely not the height of Travel Blogger fashion).
Since Muscat is home to a lot of expats, you will often see westerners wearing more casual clothes here, and also in the touristic sites such as Wadi Shab or the Bimmah Sinkhole. I would always recommend that you err on the side of modesty even in such places. One of the reasons for this being, you will draw more attention to yourself.
Attitudes to Women in Oman
In Omani culture, there is no such thing as dating/non-marital relationships and sex outside of marriage is illegal. Most Omani women are married at the age of 22-23 and most men marry by the time they turn 25. As a single western traveller in her late twenties, I am a bit of an oddity when compared to Omani standards. You may assume that I attracted a lot of attention, looks or inquiries as to the whereabouts of my non-existent husband but that wasn’t the case in Oman at all.
I’ve travelled extensively around the Middle East, and while I speak highly of places like Jordan and Egypt, people in those countries were simultaneously baffled by the fact that I wasn’t married. I found Omanis to be more understanding and educated about other cultures. Most of those that I encountered were very respectful and well-travelled and never commented or pried into my personal life.
Some travel sources may suggest that women should wear a fake wedding ring when travelling alone in Oman or the wider Middle East, but I don’t think that is necessary here at all.
Encounters with Omani Men
Oman has a very strict code for behavior and causing offense can land a person in jail. That may sound scary, however, it should be seen in a positive light, because respect towards others is so deeply ingrained within Omani culture. I was never approached by men in Oman, flirted with, or approached in a fashion that made me feel uncomfortable (wholly different to my almost comical encounters with Turkish men!) I genuinely found the Omani men I encountered to be true gentleman.
Solo Female Travel in Oman:
Gender Segregation in Oman
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Scaling the rooftop of Nizwa fort. Where is everyone? 😮 Hiding actually. It was 48 degrees Celsius in Nizwa (118 Fahrenheit). I think that's why I keep opening and closing my mouth at random here – involuntary facial spasms 😂😂 * Honestly, do you know when you're cooking and you open the oven door but you put your face too close and you're like "ahhh!!" – well that's the same feeling I had leaving my apartment and going outside 😅 * On the plus side, travel costs were much cheaper during this oven period 🙏🏻☺ #ovenlife
The people in Oman are not segregated by gender as they are in say, Saudi Arabia, however, gender segregation still exists here and there. As an example, sometimes women are seated in “women and family” sections in restaurants and on public transport, women sit at the front. I didn’t find this unpleasant though, in fact, I found it more respectful towards women. What a welcome change it was to be sitting in a private booth at restaurants in Oman as compared to being gawped at by local males in a lot of other destinations.
Solo Female Travel in Oman:
Encounters with Omani People
Omani people are without a shadow of a doubt among the friendliest I have met in the world. People in Oman were consistently going out of their way to be nice and welcoming to me with no expectation of anything in return. As an example, when I first arrived in Muscat, it was around 3.30am and I took a cab from the airport to my hotel in Mutrah. The cab driver was raving about Omani Karak tea and how I should try it before he abruptly did a U-turn and speeded off towards a tea room. “Here we go again,” I thought to myself expecting the taxi meter to be incredibly expensive, and for the tea room to be his friend’s bazaar where I was expected to buy something. On the contrary, almost sensing my nervousness he promptly switched off the taxi meter and bought me a cup of tea.
In Muscat, Nizwa, and Sur, I met Omani locals via Couchsurfing who took great pleasure in showing myself and other travellers around their country and sharing their food and culture. I am usually quite apprehensive about Couchsurfing and will only meet females, however, in Oman, I met some really kind-hearted and hilarious Omani guys who were very respectful and were one of the main reasons that my trip was the wonderful experience it was.
Solo Female Travel in Oman:
Safety and Security in Oman
I felt very safe during my time in Oman, even though I was often in off-the-beaten-track places and the only tourist around. As with anywhere though, you should always exert basic common sense when travelling alone. Be wary of over-friendly strangers and don’t walk around alone when it starts to get dark.
In conclusion, though Oman does not necessarily seem like a suitable solo female travel destination, it is certainly a place for a rewarding independent travel experience. If you have any questions about exploring Oman (as a woman or in general) then please do not hesitate to reach out to me below.
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