17 Tips for Renting a Car in Oman

by | May 10, 2019 | Oman

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Oman is home to breathtaking cities, mountains, deserts and coastline and renting a car is one of the best ways to see as much as possible. We highly recommend renting a car in Oman to have the freedom to explore at your own pace and discover everything the country has to offer. We found driving safe and easy and we highly recommend renting a car in Oman. Here are our tips for renting a car in Oman to help you on your journey!

Desert sunsets in Oman

 

Tips for Renting a Car in Oman

Overall, we found driving in Oman easy and convenient.  We encountered great roads, cheap fuel and a high standard of driving. 

Watching the sunset at Yitti Beach outside Muscat

 

Why Rent a Car in Oman?

From historic Muscat to the beauty of Jebel Shams to the natural wonders of the Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve, Wadi Shab and the Bimmah Sinkhole, Oman is breathtaking and there are so many incredible places to explore. Outside of Muscat public transport is limited so most visitors either pick up a rental car and self-drive or use taxis/private drivers to explore the country. Renting a car and self-driving is a cheaper option and we always prefer the flexibility of working to our own schedule.

Oman is by far one of the easiest countries we’ve rented and driven a car in and we highly recommend renting a car if you are comfortable driving. The roads are high-quality, driving standards are generally good and fuel is extremely cheap (compared to the UK and Ireland anyway!). We loved having a rental car to explore. It allowed us to travel at our own pace, visit off the beaten track sights and generally make the most of our time in Oman.

Exploring Oman’s wadis

 

1 Booking your rental car

Renting a car in Oman can be relatively cheap. Make sure to shop around and book your rental car in advance for the best price and to secure availability in peak season. 

We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in over 40 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car. They have the best selection and prices that we’ve found – check prices here!

Renting a car in Santorini tip: The biggest benefit of having a rental car in Oman is that you can visit the off the beaten track sights. It also saves on the cost of airport transfers and opens up lots of accomadation options.

Click here for the best rental car prices

 

 

Our Oman wheels!

 

2 | Do I need a 4x4 in Oman?

Much of Oman is accessible with a regular car and most of the major tourist sites can be reached without a 4x4. However, having a 4x4 allows for a more comfortable journey and it gives more options for exploring. In particular, a 4x4 is recommended to access Wahiba Sands (regular cars can get stuck in the sand) and for the Jebel Akbar and Jebel Shams mountain ranges. A 4x4 is not essential in Salalah but, again, it is nice to have and you can make stops at some awesome sights en route from Muscat.

Renting a car in Oman tip: We always prefer to rent a larger car when there is the prospect of long drives and lots of highways and Oman has both!

Our 4x4 meant we could drive to our camp in the Wahiba Sands desert

 

 

3 | Can I drive a rental from the UAE to Oman?

Some of the major car rental companies are refusing to allow UAE rentals to be driven across the border into Oman. If you wish to drive from the UAE to Oman then Dollar Rent a Car through RentalCars.com is probably the best option. Make sure to double check it is still possible take a rental from the UAE to Oman before you travel. 

Renting a car in Oman tip: we originally planned to drive from Dubai to Oman. As our travel date approached we decided we didn’t want to risk being turned away at the border so we booked flights from Dubai to Muscat instead. 

 

 

4 | Renting Eligibility

Most rental companies require drivers to be at least 25 years of age and to have held a licence for a least one year to rent a car in Oman. Some rental companies will rent to 21 to 24 year olds but there is a significant excess payable in the case of an accident.

Visiting the port city of Sur

 

 

5 | International Driving Licence

We understand that an international driving licence is required for drivers holding licences from countries which use the non-Roman alphabet. Ensure you check the latest rules prior to travel.

Renting a car in Oman tip: While rental companies don’t always check if renters have an international licence, it will likely be an issue if you are stopped by the police. Make sure to check the rules of the rental and if you require an international licence prior to travelling.

 

 

 

6 | Drive on the right-hand side of the road

Driving is on the right-hand side of the road in Oman, similar to most of Europe and the USA,

We were able to visit off the beaten track sights like the UNESCO Al Ayn Beehive Huts

 

 

7 | Standard of roads

Oman roads are in excellent condition and we enjoyed driving through the country. Some roads to note are:

  • a 4x4 is recommended for driving to the desert camps. Most camps offer a pickup service if you prefer not to drive in.
  • the road between Salalah and Muscat is tarred
  • a 4x4 is not necessary for driving up Jabel Shams but it is required for Jabel Akthar

 

If you are planning on visiting a mountain resort a 4x4 might be a requirement

 

 

Rain

Flash flooding is common in Oman so be careful driving during and after heavy rains. There are signs indicating where road crosses a wadi: there are poles to check the water level in the event of heavy rain.

Flash floods are a risk in heavy rain

 

 

Sim card

We recommend purchasing a SIM card with data when you arrive in Oman. We always find having mobile data invaluable and extremely useful for navigating in the rental car. It also meant that we could research places to visit when we were on the road.

Sim cards are available in the arrivals hall in Muscat airport.

 

 

10 Car Parking

There is lots of parking in Oman and it is all free of charge. We struggled to find parking spaces in a few places:

  • It’s often difficult to get parking on the Mutrah Corniche as it’s popular both locals and tourists and the souq is a big draw. It may be easier to take a taxi rather than drive.
  • At Wadi Bani Khalid on the weekends. You might find yourself parking a short distance away and walking to the entrance.

Make sure not park in front of public buildings as this is prohibited in Oman.

Parking is usually not an issue in Oman!

 

 

11 Speed Limits and Cameras

At the time of writing, the speed limits are 120km/h on motorways, 90km/h on open roads and between 40km/h and 80km/h in urban areas. Be careful as there are speed cameras everywhere. We saw a ton of fixed speed cameras on motorways as well as some mobile speed checks. We frequently came across speed bumps on the roads as well.

Renting a car in Oman tip: speeding seemed common on motorways and Oman drivers are very strict about using the outside lane. Move aside immediately after overtaking.

Motorway sights!

 

 

12 | Traffic

Traffic in Muscat can be heavy both at rush hour and around the Mutrah Souk: be aware, Muscat experiences proper rush hour traffic and it takes an age to get anywhere!

Aside from Muscat, we encountered relatively little traffic elsewhere.

Traffic was heavy when we visited the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in the morning rush hour

 

13 Fuel

Fuel is really cheap in Oman and, while credit cards are widely accepted, make sure to bring cash. 

Renting a car in Oman tip: while credit cards are accpeted we came across a few larger stations in Muscat which were cash only so make sure to have some to hand.

 

14 Navigation

Use the Waze app for navigating in Oman. Google Maps did not work for navigation when we visited. 

Our Waze app was invaluable for directions!

 

15 | Tolls

There are toll roads in Oman. Ask the rental company for an automatic toll reader with the rental: we paid all of our tolls automatically and the total amount was charged to our credit card after returning the vehicle.

 

16 | Car Seats for babies and children

We usually travel with our own car seats. It is also possible to reserve these with the car rental company. The rules state:

  • Children under four must travel in a car seat.

We brought our own car seat for J

 

 

17 | Taking a rental car to other countries

It depends on the rental company rules. Some rental companies allow the rental car to be taken to the UAE. Travel to Yemen and Saudi Arabia are typically prohibited.

Having our own car gave us the freedom to make unscheduled stops at places like Bahia Fort

 

 

For more on Oman travel:

Check out our other Oman articles which include:

 

 

 

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