Oman

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Information
Language: Arabic
Capital: Muscat
Population: 2,577,000 (2006 estimate)
Currency: Rial (OMR)
Hitchability: <rating country='om' />
More info: AVP Free Encyclopedia (Russian)
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<map lat='20.7' lng='55.9' zoom='5' view='0' country='Oman'/>


Oman is a country in the Middle East, bordering the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Iran by sea through the ferries in the Persian Gulf.

Hitchhiking in Oman (especially in the more populated north) is quite easy.
- In fact I found it loads more easy in the south. The north and its people feel a bit more european.. Nevertheless north and south it's been the best hitching experience I had anywhere in the world! Some moments a car went by not stopping for me and I was actually stunned that it didn't stop, I had forgotten that some people don't stop for hitchers! ;-)
Locals are curious about people standing in the middle of nowhere and give you a lift because they want to know what you are doing here. Food is sometimes "included". Most of the petrol stations (as well other places; from embassies to reataurants) have free filtered water on an outside wall, which you can use to refill supplies. Hitching in the remote areas of Oman is incredibly easy — as soon as a car comes along. If you have to wait more than a few minutes for a car, then the chances that it will stop are very good. Waiting in a spot and then starting to walk when a car comes helps greatly, the Omani are extraordinarily kind people, and will feel obliged to stop and help you out.

It's also possible to hitch the taxi's that roam the roads. If you do it right, you can get about 20% of your lifts in free taxis. If you are walking besides the road, turning around and thumbing when a car passes, but not thumbing for a taxi, often they stop anyway. They drive up besides you, and ask you where you are going. Tell them "maafi fluce"(I have no money), and tell them that you are walking to your destination. Often they will let you in for a free ride, it happens quiet often if your walking on the side of the road. And don't worry, once your in, they will not then turn around and ask you for money at the end of the ride - Oman's taxi drivers are the nicest I've ever found in the world.

Although english is spoken by virtually everyone and most signs are in both languages, learning how to read and pronounce arab letters can be a good idea. People will open up even more at foreigners showing the smallest effort to learn their language.
Many locals were surprised when they noticed me reading arab letters! Sometimes I found it helpful to know pronunciation of letters when trying to say a city's name, as with english spellings don't tell me the difference between "t" and "T" (and there is one). Arabic Alpha is a free app for iPhone an Android and I found it most helpful of all things I tried.
It's not mine and neither get I paid for saying this. ;-) --Marcel

Muscat

Hitching in and around the area of Muscat is more difficult, making up for the ease of the rest of the country. Too much traffic, too many taxis, and the people see too many tourists. They are curious, but often by the time they decide to make a decision they have been swept away by the rest of the traffic. Using the micro-buses inside the city might be a viable option as they only cost 500 baizas (1.25$). Most of them go to the central terminal in the Ruwi area, which is also the terminal for long-distance buses.

Travelling as a couple or two couples I made a different experience in the capital: Many a times we'd wait less than 5 minutes and someone curious stops and literally turns into a free taxi, abandoning their own business and driving us where we wanted to go (within Muscat, which still can take more than half an hour) out of hospitality and curiousity.

Muscat is a pain to get out of, it is an incredibly long, stretched and highly dense city, as all the people live along the coastal strip. One thing to try is finding a small entrance to the main road, and try waving to cars about to enter the highway, tell them you have no money for a taxi, if they could take you to where they are going. Or tell them that and why you don't spend it on transportation, instead of lying. Omanis speak a decent english. Often times they will take you all the way to where you need to go in the city. As they hardly never see a backpacker, you are more of a novelty than the hordes of retired tourists and ex-pats that crowd the place.

Southern Oman (Dhofar)

The Dhofar region around Salalah in the south is quite hitchable. Many guest workers (mostly Pakistani and Indians) hitchhike to work there so it is nothing unheard of.
Marcel, 2017: I disagree. In 3 weeks and 3000km I haven't seen a single local hitchhiking. Autostop seems to be more known than in Iran, yet also in the south people seemed to wonder how I got to the place where they picked me up.

It is recommended to clarify if your lift can take you into the next town, or drop you at a gas station close to the road. The heat is not as bad as in most other places in the Arabic Peninsula, but bad enough. You will still need good sun protection and water as you will sweat a lot. Inside towns or on gas stations though you can usually cool down as most bars, supermarkets and shops offer air conditioning. Due to a special climate the weather is moderate and extremely humid between June and September. It is said that there is a lot of tourism coming to Dhofar in this time to see (well, or not) the supposedly neverending thick mist covering all Salalah area.

There are free public toilets, sometimes also including showers, on the beaches west of Salalah. As of April 2010 they were reasonably clean. Al Fasayah is the secret spot in this area and for sure without amenities, given it's remoteness. After some 40 or 50km from Salalah towards Yemen there's a sign for Fasayah or Fazajah to the left. From there it's 10km of hiking down to the beach, enjoy! A skilled and adventurous driver could do it with a 2WD but many locals wouldn't even dare in a rented 4x4! Hitch the Salalah-Yemen street in a pickup or jeep and chances are the driver's gonna bring you down to the beach, but be prepared to walk back up on yourself! The mountain panorama is gorgeous and ten times worth it, even if you turn around without going the long way down to the beach.

Musandam

If you find yourself in the incredible region of Musandam, hitching on boats between the coastal villages is possible. You may have to pay a fisherman to get you out of Khasab; ask at the long row of moored boats between the castle and the main road. 10 OMR (25$) is a fair price for a ride to the Telegraph Island area, but you can haggle for less, especially if the fisherman is going out anyway. Then with a little sign language you can hitch a ride for free or cheap between the many villages which are only accessible by boat. There is a large population of Pakistani expats who are truly hospitable.

I didn't hitch on the roads in Musandam but it's probably the same as the mainland, if not easier thanks to the large numbers of Pakistanis and western tourists in 4x4s.

The castle in Khasab gives away free maps of Musandam with decent detail.

Visa info

Oman has a common visa facility with UAE. If you obtained your UAE visa in Dubai airport (probably also when coming by ferry to Dubai, not Sharjah) and it is still valid for at least 3 weeks; then you can get a 3-weeks free visa for Oman. ONLY if you asked for an extra stamp at the airport/ harbor where you enter the emirate of Dubai! I entered UAE by ferry in 2017 and at the Omani border an officer told me free Omani visa gets only who declared upon entering Dubai that he or she wants to go to Oman and got an extra stamp from Dubai's officer.

It's only the countries mentioned on this site that are benefiting from this: [1]. What that website does not mention though, is that this is ONLY possible if you go through the Hatta border (I hitched from Dubai down to Al Ain border, only to get the information that I had to go through Hatta). You still need the exit-stamp from UAE, even though you want the 3-weeks free visa.

The price of the "normal" visa has increased and there are many websites that provide the old (cheaper) price. Check this website for the correct prices: [2]
In 2017 it was 5 Omani Rials (12.5$) for ten days, extendable by ten days in police offices dealing with immigration and visa. 30 day visa costs 20 Rials (50$) and is extendable as well. Extensions are only possible for the same amount of time and same price as original visa and time probably starts counting the day you're extending it. So going to immigration offices two days after you entered Oman is a waste of money.
In Salalah the process took 3 hours including waiting time and one hour spent at a copyshop not far from the immigration office where we needed to get an official letter stating our wanting to get a visa extension. This letter was required by police, along with payment only possible by credit card. (But they quickly found a local who payed with his card and I gave him the cash.)
Find the location of Salalah immigration police at openstreetmaps.org - at least in Muscat the extension can be done as well, not sure about other cities.

User experiences

alex:

  • I found it easy to hitchhike in Oman, however, hitchhiking as such is not known and many people want to drop you of at the bus station or give you money that you can use the bus. When they grasped the idea, some wanted to make an additional way of 300 km just to bring me closer to my destination. Many people also just stopped for me out of curiosity. I had sometimes a hard time to find out where they go to and often ended up to have lift just for a couple of kilometres (being dropped at a bad spot). Further, I never used public transport in the cities as I found it easy to hitchhike there as well. Many people speak English. There are petrol stations along the motorways. No payment was expected for lifts. Great hospitality.

Marcel

I hitched a hundred thousand kilometers on this planet and Oman beats it all. Yes, part of it may be since I like arabian culture, but there's more to it. People, especially in the southern half, are so warm and hospitable, simply want to help where they can and satisfy their genuine curiousity, while actually remaining respectful. In some other places on earth I've met a massive hospitality, that however was bigger than freedom of both host and guest. In Oman I (male...) felt accepted and tolerated and no one seemed to try to force their culture/mind/thought-of-what's-right-and-wrong on me.
The country's safe and clean (even kinda proper and made up here and there), wildcamping wasn't a deal at all. Weather will be very hot in summer, best time temperaturewise is November through February/ March.

Cities

alex hitching in Oman

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