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Sunday, May 04, 2014

Why Oman is a great Honeymoon Destination for Indians?

These days, Indians are traveling far and wide on holidays, but I see a very bland trend wherein Indians prefer the well beaten path for their honeymoon. If the Indian couple is not honeymooning in the mountain or beach resorts of India, they are either honeymooning in Switzerland, Maldives, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bali Singapore or Dubai. While, these destinations are great in their own right, personally, I would prefer something with a bit more zing or what we call ‘X factor’ for my honeymoon. And I am sure that you would agree with me.

Scenic coastal town of Sur in Oman
I recently traveled to Oman on an invite from  Oman Tourism and it was during this trip that I got to experience the rich off beat nature of travel that this middle eastern country has to offer. During this trip I got to experience different facets and places of this beautiful country and believe that it has all the ingredients in the right proportion to make for a perfect honeymoon destination.

Below are my thoughts on why Oman is an ideal off beat honeymoon destination for Indians. These points will even resonate with citizens of other countries.

The lovely landscape of Wahiba Sands, Oman
Close Proximity to India

Muscat, the capital of Oman, is located at about 3 and a half hours of flight time away from most of India’s major cities. This is more or less the same flight duration that it takes to get to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Dubai. Oman Air and other Indian airlines have daily flights from different cities of India.

The insides of a Nizwa Souk Crafts shop
Attractive Flight Prices
A full service airline roughly charges INR 20,000 or below per person for a return trip to Oman. This price goes down to INR 12,000 to 15,000 per person on a low cost airline for the same return trip. Basically, cost of travel is very reasonable.

Spices on sale at Nizwa Souk Spice Market, Oman
Easy Visa Process

Even though there is no visa on arrival for Indians here, Indians can get a visa easily though a local Omani tour operator. I got mine through Tour Oman. Once your flight and hotel bookings are complete, it just takes 2 days for you to get your tourist visa and this visa allows you to holiday in Oman for 30 days.

Omani Gentleman at Jabreen Castle, near Nizwa, Oman
Off Beat! Off Beat! Off Beat!

How many of you have heard of Indians holidaying in Oman? We know Indians go there for employment opportunities, but not on a holiday. This country with its rich culture doesn’t get even a small percentage of the tourists that Dubai gets, but that it because, it wants to promote itself as an off beat destination. You will be one of the few elite tourists to experience this sultanate at your own leisurely pace.

Old Omani Building Entrance inside Matrah Souk, Muscat, Oman
Deserts, Mountains, Beaches

Oman’s landscape is very vibrant and rich. It is blessed with a long coastline that is full of coral reefs and beautiful islands and kissing the coastline are the mighty mountains of Oman. And in line with its Middle Eastern heritage, it is blessed with a large desert with super tall sand dunes. Whether you like mountains or beaches or deserts, Oman has it all. And the best part is that all of these are located close to each other. Today, you might be surfing on the dunes of the Omani desert at Wahiba Sands. Tomorrow, you might be diving in the waters around some of its islands like Damaniyat Islands and the day after you might be enjoying a hot cup of quewah coffee on a mountain top like Jebel Akhdar. You will truly love this vibrancy of landscapes that Oman has to offer.

Mother and son getting reader to snorkel in the waters off Damaniyat Islands, Oman
Luxury Tourist Destination

It is very rare to see a budget hotel or accommodation in Oman. That is because, Oman does not want to become a budget travel destination. Instead, it takes pride in being a luxury tourist destination. There are some really stunning 4 star and 5 star properties located around Oman. And in this list includes the world famous Shangrila and Al Bustan Palace. Even though the country promotes itself as a luxury destination, the prices are not that high. In fact, you can get a room in a good five star hotel for 200 US Dollars or INR 12,000. Oman gives you the option of staying in a palace, a luxury Bedouin camp in the desert, a luxury resort on an island and much more. The luxury aspect of a honeymoon is well taken care of in Oman.

Glass and wooden work inside the female prayer room of Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat
Indulge in some Adventure with your Partner

These days Adventure Honeymoons are quite the norm. Couples have gotten more daring and the urge to indulge in some adventure together is very high. In Oman, you can take part in many such adventures. You can go scuba diving in the coral islands, do some dune bashing and surfing in the deserts of Wahiba Sands, do some trekking and camping in the mountains, do some cycling to remote Bedouin villages and much more.

Beautiful Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman
Indian Food is everywhere!!

Wherever the Indian travels, they prefer their curries and spice. If you are one such Indian, then Oman will appeal to you as the rich expat Indian population has led to a surge in Indian restaurants around the country. Whether you are a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, the restaurants of Oman provide food that caters to all kinds of palates. Thanks to its rich coast line, Oman has access to excellent sea food. And their kebabs are legendary. If you are a meat lover or a sea food lover, then you will definitely like this country. They also have excellent food from other middle eastern countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, etc.

Beautiful Jabreen Castle near Nizwa, Oman
Shopping!!

Irrespective of a honeymoon or a normal holiday, women really like their shopping. If you wish to surprise your wife with an interesting shopping experience, then Oman has a lot of avenues. Jewelry, traditional middle eastern souvenirs, designer dresses, perfumes, bags and much more are on offer here. The Souks of Nizwa and Muscat and the shopping malls of Muscat would be the top places.

The Oasis town of Al Hamra in Oman
Extremely Friendly People and a very Safe Country

In my experience Omanis are a very friendly race. They are very helpful and always invite tourists into their house for a cup of coffee and some dates. There is no racism in this country and the country is safer than most of Western Europe. Thus, the safety aspect while planning a holiday destination is taken care of.

Omani Khanjars on sale at Nizwa Souk, Oman
Less People, Less Clutter, Less Noise
We come from a busy country with high levels of noise, clutter, chaos and pollution. While planning a holiday destination, most of us seek places that are anything but like our country. Oman is a big country with a small population, zero garbage, very low noise levels and absolutely zero pollution.

Dune Surfing is a fun sport
High on Comfort

Oman as a country is high on comfort. Everything is air-conditioned. A high level of cleanliness is the norm. The cars are big and comfortable. Meals are of big portions. On a honeymoon, the couple seeks comfort and Oman offers all of it.

Crafts on display at Nizwa Souk, Nizwa, Oman
Islam Religion is not enforced on Tourists

Unlike other Middle Eastern countries, Oman does not require its tourists to wear head scarves or to be fully clothed. Tourists, especially women are allowed to wear any comfortable clothing. It is only in religious places that both men and women are expected to dress conservatively.

Beautiful Chandelier inside Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque of Muscat, Oman
Alcohol is available in Oman

Even though Oman is a country that follows Islam, it serves alcoholic beverages to its tourists. If you wish to get high on spirits, it is possible in Oman.



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