As gasoline is cheap throughout the region, most of the travel is done by land. Car rentals (with or without a driver) are inexpensive, and travel by taxis and buses are cheap.
Hitchhiking is never completely safe no matter what country you are in, and we do not recommend this practice. Travelers who decide to travel anyway should keep in mind that they are taking risks, albeit small, but potentially severe.
This is particularly the case in the region where the towns are sometimes far from each other, and where you can be abandoned in isolated places (the driver will leave you between two cities to branch off track towards his village), in situations can be fatal (for example, running out of water in the middle of summer).
You will then need to be independent enough to withstand the heat, without having any idea, in some parts of the hinterland, when you can continue the journey or return. Always carry water and avoid hitchhiking outside the road network.
Women traveling alone should not hitchhike.
However, hitchhiking is not illegal, and in some areas, it is common practice for locals. It is, in fact, considered less as an alternative to public transport than as an extension of it.
Warning: a thumbs-up here is a vaguely obscene gesture; instead, extend your right arm, palm down, and wiggle it up and down quite briskly.
While the population considers it reasonable that Asian locals and expatriates hitchhike, they do not expect Westerners to do the same. You run the risk of arousing suspicion among local police officers and disappointment among some residents: in rural areas, in the eyes of the population, tourism is supposed to be a source of income, but hitchhiking travelers do not participate—this economy.
Hitchhiking is not free, and it is customary to offer the driver a fee. The fare is usually equivalent to that of shared buses or taxis, but it can be higher if the driver needs to make a detour to drop you off somewhere. Always negotiate the amount of the fare before getting into the vehicle.
If you are driving, you will often be hailed, but think carefully about what that means before agreeing to hitchhike someone. Female drivers should never accept to hitchhike a man.
On-site, reliable travel agencies can advise you on the most advantageous flights between major cities; it is wiser to use the services of these agencies than to contact the airlines directly. Remember that the rates vary enormously depending on the season and holidays (like Eid).
Apart from Muscat International Airport, the only two other active airports are located at both ends of the country, at Salalah (Dhofar) and Khasab Musandam, and only accommodate domestic flights. It is nevertheless a question that they provide connections to Dubai. Three new airports are
Under construction: at Duqm-Jaaluni, Ras al-Hadd, and Sohar, which will facilitate the opening of the country to visitors.
The national airline, Oman Air (24 531111; www.omanair.com ), operates domestic flights and has dramatically expanded its flights to the Middle East, Europe, India, and Asia. Tickets can be purchased at any travel agency or on the Internet.
At the time of our investigation, Oman Air had a monopoly on domestic flights and only offered the following two routes:
Muscat-Salalah flights (32/64 OMR one-way / return, 1 hour 30 minutes, up to 4 flights/day, variable times)
Flights Muscat-Khasab (one way / round trip, 32/64 OMR, 1 hour 15,
1 flight / day, variable times)
The number of car owners is so high in the region that the need for public buses is almost non-existent. The services available are often intended for the expatriate workforce, which they lead to their place of work. It is not very difficult to get by bus from one major city to another in Oman, but the Emirates offers a little less domestic connections.
Bus connections are generally comfortable, inexpensive, and punctual, roads are right, and air-conditioned buses are the norm. On some routes, passengers may be hampered by the loud sound of music or videos, as well as thick cigarette smoke.
Women accompanied by men can sit wherever they want, but it is usual for women traveling alone to sit in the front seats.
It is always better to reserve your bus seat in advance at bus stations, and this is essential during Muslim weekends (Friday), as well as on public holidays, such as Eid.
In Oman, the ONTC provides daily bus service to/from most major cities for less than OMR 8. The buses are generally comfortable, reliable, and punctual. For long journeys, it is better to book. Tickets can be purchased from the bus driver.
The region offers excellent cycling opportunities, cyclists are welcome (the Tour of Oman, annual race, attracts cyclists from all over the world, including celebrities, such as Bradley Wiggins, winner of the Tour de France in 2012), and the police are helpful and sympathetic to all road users. Repair shops are easy to find, and expatriates are the king of troubleshooting.
In most cities, especially in the Emirates, it is perilous to ride a bike, as car drivers are not used to passing cyclists.
In the region, the majority of bicycles are simple devices: you will only find spare parts for mountain bikes or touring bikes in the big cities.
The heat is a big problem, and cycling is not recommended between June and August, or in the middle of the day the rest of the year.