Exploring understated Oman without breaking the bank

The Sultanate has been listed among global holiday destinations that are affordable alternatives to well-established, but pricey, countries in an article featured recently in ‘Traveller’, a popular Australian online travel guide.
Author Kevin Brouillard writes in his piece, titled ‘The world’s most expensive countries and their cheaper alternatives’, that “Oman’s understated capital and extraordinary landscapes can be explored without breaking the bank”.
According to the writer, while many destinations on one’s bucket list are worth their “eye-popping price tags”, but there are plenty of affordable alternatives to these “budget-busting destinations”. He goes on to list some the most expensive countries in the world while offering an alternative where “you can save or stretch your dollars”.
Slow-paced and tranquil Oman, Brouillard points out, stands in stark contrast to the “style and glamour” of the Gulf’s financial and commercial hubs. Muscat, the capital city, in particular, with its “immaculately maintained” streets, forts and mosques are worth exploring, he notes.
“Climb the steps up Mutrah Fort, which is perched on a cliff overlooking the harbor and corniche. The corniche is ideal for walking and people-watching from the outdoor cafes. The adjacent Mutrah Souq adds to the bustle, with hundreds of vendors selling traditional handicrafts, local cuisine, spices, and more. Muscat is the most expensive part of Oman, but midrange hotels can still be found for under $100 per night.”
Oman’s splendour, according to the author, resides in its remote corners, which encompass seemingly endless sand dunes, dramatic coastlines, high mountains, and deep canyons.
“These canyons, known as wadis in Arabic, are the collecting point for Oman’s limited rainfall. Millennia of erosion have created striking rock formations and winding channels in the sandstone. Several of these wadis, such as Wadi Shab and Wadi Bani Khalid, serve as refreshing swimming holes from the intense desert heat. Be sure to go to the end of Wadi Shab, where you’ll swim 40 feet through a narrow gap in the rock face to the reach the waterfall and cavern behind. It’s advisable to rent your own wheels to visit Oman’s interior. The Jebel Sham mountain range, known as the “Grand Canyon of Arabia,” features excellent hiking trails and abandoned stone villages.”
In the southeast of the Sultanate, the soaring sand dunes of the Rimal al Sharqiyah (popularly known as Wahiba Sands) invite discovery, writes Brouillard. “A car will also come in handy for traversing the dunes at Wahiba Sands, which can reach as high as 300 feet. The local tribe operates a handful of camping and glamping-style accommodations.”
Other alternatives featured in Brouillard’s insightful piece include Slovenia (as an alternative to pricey Switzerland), Malaysia (in lieu of Singapore), Taiwan (in place of Japan), and Mauritius (as an alternative to The Maldives). Traveller is published daily online and every Saturday and Sunday in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age.