Dubai: It is peak travel season and airfares to popular destinations are rising. If driving to Oman is out of the picture because you do not have a car or driving licence, how about taking the bus instead?
Transportation companies and travel agencies based in the UAE offer bus tours to Muscat, Musandam and Salalah, and UAE residents get a visa on arrival.
Here are all the details you need to know about.
Oman visa requirements
UAE residents can get visa on arrival for 14 days at the Oman border. However, if you are booking a trip with a tour operator, chances are that the cost of the visa will be included in your package and the company will apply for an e-visa in advance to streamline the border process.
According to travel experts who spoke to Gulf News, here are the documents you must have:
• A valid passport with at least six months validity.
• A valid Emirates ID and UAE residence permit with a minimum validity of three months.
Oman visa cost
• UAE exit fee - Dh35. This fee has to be paid while exiting the UAE border.
• Visa on arrival – 5 OMR (Dh47).
While you are at the UAE and Oman border crossing, you must pay for the exit fee and visa on arrival by credit or debit card.
1. Musandam – approximately five to six hours
Just a few hours away from Dubai is Musandam, known as the ‘Norway of Arabia’ because of its steep fjords or khors. A fjord is a long, deep, narrow body of water that reaches far inland.
Musandam is a governorate in Oman, and Khasab is its capital. One of the most famous attractions there is Khor Sham, which is a 16km long fjord, where you can also go for a full-day dhow cruise.
“The dhow cruise is popular because of the fjord landscape and dolphin watching. The dhow anchors at Telegraph Island and Seebi Island. Visitors can complete the entire trip from Dubai to Musandam within a day and come back in the evening,” Muhammad Salman, reservation manager at Ajman-based Musandam Sea Adventure Travel & Tourism, which also has an office in Oman, said.
What to expect during the bus trip
Salman also broke down the itinerary that you can expect when planning a bus trip to Musandam.
“Passengers are picked up around 6.30am and reach the Al Darah border crossing in Ras Al Khaimah within an hour and complete the border formalities. They should reach the harbour area at Khor Sham in Khasab by 9.30am and the dhow cruise starts after that. It includes a guided tour and in our case, we provide the gear for swimming and snorkelling. The cruise finishes at around 4pm after which we leave for the UAE. The entire trip wraps up by around 7pm, when we drop off the passengers in the UAE,” Salman said.
Depending on which tour company you book the package with, you will have the option to either get picked up from your place of residence, or you may be asked to arrive at a specific meeting point, which is usually near the company’s office.
The overall price of the tour package can vary based on the tour operators you book with, but the cost can range from Dh300 to Dh500 per person. This includes a full guided tour on a dhow, bus pick and drop off, activities and food.
Visitors can complete the entire trip from Dubai to Musandam within a day and come back in the evening.
2. Muscat – approximately seven hours
You can also take a bus to Oman’s capital Muscat. While there aren’t a lot of tour operators that offer packaged bus tours to this location, you can purchase a ticket on a daily coach service, which is operated by transport companies in the UAE.
What to expect during the bus trip
According to tour operators who spoke with Gulf News, the trip usually takes seven hours, but if there is a lot of rush at the border, you may have to factor in a few extra hours, too.
Dh100 for a one-way trip. However, the exact cost may vary depending on the transport company that you book with.
As this is a popular bus trip, experts advised people to book the ticket in advance and arrive at least 30 minutes before departure time, as seating on the bus is based on a first-come, first-served basis.
3. Salalah – up to 18 hours
During the ongoing Khareef season, Salalah is a great, quick getaway as it offers families the chance to see waterfalls, mountains and valleys, and enjoy a dip in temperature. Khareef is regarded as monsoon season and typically lasts from June to September.
Many UAE-based travel companies offer inclusive tour packages to Salalah, and there is usually an uptick in demand during the Khareef season.
“If you are interested in travelling to Salalah by bus, a two-night and three-day trip will cost you around Dh1,000, this is inclusive of a guided tour, hotel reservation, visa application, food and drinks and the bus pick-up and drop-off, ” Bujair Mangalangattu, supervisor at Deira Travel And Tourist Agency, said.
“Although there is visa-on-arrival for UAE residents, some travel companies, apply for an eVisa, to prevent any delays at the Oman border,” Mangalangattu, said.
If you are interested in travelling to Salalah by bus, a two-night and three-day trip will cost you around Dh1,000, this is inclusive of a guided tour, hotel reservation, visa application, food and drinks and the bus pick-up and drop-off.
He advised passengers to travel light if they plan to travel to Salalah by bus, because the permitted luggage weight is 10kg per passenger.