- How to rent a car?
- Is it easy/safe to drive?
- Tips for renting
- Price for a rental car
- Where to rent a car?
How to rent a car in Oman
Oman is a large country with incredible landscapes such as secluded deserts, crystal clear wadis, and jagged coastlines that stretch as far as the eye can see. Public transportation is sparse, and taxiing everywhere is costly, making renting a car a favorable option.
Whether you’re planning on visiting the highlights, discovering off-the-beaten-track locations, or going free camping, exploring Oman by car allows for an incredible adventure and great flexibility and comfort. This guide will cover exactly how to rent a car in Oman and what it’s like to drive there.
What do you need to rent a car in Oman?
When you decide to rent a car in Oman, you’ll need to think of the following documents to bring upon pickup:
- Your driver’s license from your home country
- Your ID (passport)
- Credit Card in your name (debit card doesn’t work)
- Visa for Oman
The legal driving age in Oman is 18 years old. However, to rent a car, most agencies require drivers to be at least 25 years old and to have had their license for at least one year. Some rental agencies in Oman might allow 21 to 24-year-olds to rent a car but charge high costs in case of an accident. The maximum age to rent a car is 70 – 75 years old. All drivers must present a valid driver’s license, an ID as proof of their identity, and a credit card to make the payment.
International Driving Permit
It’s not required by law to have an International Driver’s Permit if you’ve got a driver’s license written in a Roman or Arabic language. If you don’t, then an IDP is recommended. The rental agency might not ask for one, but when stopped by the police, they might request to see it. You can arrange an IDP here, which costs only 15 USD.
Note: If the police stop you on the road, they might require you to provide a current visa for Oman. Always have this, as well as proof of insurance, car documentation, and your passport with you in the car when driving.
Rental car insurance in Oman
When renting a car in Oman, standard insurance (Collision Damage Waiver) is typically already included in the total price. This covers you for any damages implicated by a third party. Depending on your itinerary and plans, you can discuss with the rental agency what other add-ons might be convenient for you to purchase. For example, if you plan to go off-roading, consider getting extra insurance for the vehicle in case of any damage. Additional insurance or full coverage is not mandatory but recommended to avoid issues and hefty fees. As always, don’t forget to read the small print of your rental contract before you commit to any agreement.
Is it easy to drive in Oman?
Oman generally has great roads throughout the country, which makes driving easy and convenient. But before you rent a car in Oman, it’s good to get familiar with the traffic rules and customs.
Roads & Speed limits
The quality of the roads in Oman is excellent, with most roads being asphalt-covered, even in remote areas. Driving standards are great, and fuel is considerably more affordable than in Europe(link). Most of your driving will happen on highways with a speed limit of 120 km/h. On open roads in the country, you can drive up to 90 km/h. In urban areas, the speed limit is between 40 – 80 km/h depending on the size of the settlement. There are often speed bumps and cameras to ensure drivers stick to the speed limit. Always try to keep an eye out for the traffic signs, which have both Arabic and Roman numbers and letters. That means there’s no need to worry about brushing up on your Arabic for your road trip through Oman!
Tip: Routes can be very long and straight in Oman, especially on the highways. It’s easy to become tired, so make sure to stop frequently to rest and stretch and bring enough water and food for your journey.
Traffic in Oman
Since the country is so vast, you’ll likely only find traffic in the cities. In Muscat, traffic is heavy at rush hour and around the Mutrah Souk. Try to avoid these times and areas as it can take a long time to get anywhere. If you do end up in heavy traffic in Oman, stay calm and don’t run any red lights as this is heavily punishable (1300 USD!).
Tip: Driving after dark? Try to be extra alert. Many roads don’t have any street lighting, and animals are known to wander around during these hours.
If you’re traveling during the monsoon season, which runs from June to early September, there’s a chance of heavy rains. Flash flooding is frequent in Oman, so be careful when driving during or after rainfall. There are signs next to the road indicating a flood area, with one sign at the start and one at the end. You’ll find these more on lower routes and long flat landscapes.
Note: In case of an accident, drivers should call 9999, which is the local police phone and emergency number. If you’re involved in a minor accident, you don’t have to call but will have to follow the procedures set out on the ROP website. Check with your rental company in Oman if there’s a Minor Road Traffic Accident form in your car, which you’ll need if this situation occurs.
Is it safe to drive in Oman?
Driving in Oman is safe and easy. In general, Oman is quite a safe country with low crime rates, especially involving foreigners. Overall, the roads are in good condition, there are great driving standards, and there’s generally no traffic.
Note: There are strict driving rules concerning alcohol use in Oman, with a zero-tolerance policy in case of intoxicated drivers. It is also illegal to use a mobile phone while driving.
Do I need a 4×4 vehicle in Oman?
Much of Oman is accessible with a regular car, and you can reach the most popular tourist sites without needing a 4×4 vehicle. However, driving a 4×4 does allow for more comfort and gives you more options to explore. Countless natural wonders, magical deserts, and fascinating abandoned towns lie in the more rugged territory. Especially if you’re planning on driving in sandy areas like the Wahiba Sands or through the mountain ranges, a four-wheel drive is needed.
To drive in the Wahiba Sands desert, you may need to slightly deflate your tires to get across the sandy landscape (don’t forget to inflate them again once you’re out of the desert). It is highly recommended to arrange a local guide to explore this area of Oman, as there is a risk of getting lost. Know that to get to the desert camps; most camps also offer a pickup service!
Off-roading can be a highlight of driving in Oman, navigating your way through the winding roads in the mountains and next to beautiful canyons. These places will always have police checkpoints and only permit entry if you’re driving a 4×4
Tip: When you plan on off-roading, always travel in convoy. Bring enough water and a mobile phone, and leave a copy of your travel plans with friends or family. Furthermore, check with the rental agency if you’re insured.
Top tips for renting a car in Oman
1. Inspect your vehicle and contract upon pickup.
Upon pickup, inspect your rental car thoroughly before starting on your journey. Do a walk around and try to log any existing damages on a video. To guarantee that you don’t get charged for any of these when returning your rental car, you must have some ‘proof’. Make sure to point them out to the rental agency as well. Do the same with the inside of the car, check whether you’ve got a full tank of gas, and you’re ready to go!
Tip: Always read the fine print of your rental contract. For example, Oman car rental companies often specify a kilometer limit per day that you’re allowed to drive.
2. Don’t worry about parking.
Parking in Oman is pretty easy, as there’s a lot of space, and it’s typically free of charge. In Muscat, however, they’ve recently implemented some paid-parking zones indicated by a sign at the entrance. At some sites outside the larger urban areas, such as Wadi Shab, you might have to park a bit further away and walk or take a taxi to get to the site.
Note: Parking in front of public buildings in Oman is prohibited.
3. Getting gas is efficient.
Driving on the roads in Oman can take a long time, requiring you to fill up your gas tank on the way. Fuel is very affordable and subsidized in Oman, meaning it doesn’t differ across the three gas station chains in the country. One liter of gas costs about 0.239 OMR / 0.62 USD (2,35 USD per gallon), and you’ll likely need gasoline, as diesel cars are less common. Note that the color of the nozzle differs across gas stations.
You won’t have to get gas yourself when you enter a gas station. Instead, an attendant will be there to do the fuelling for you. All you need to do is let him know which fuel you need and how much, and then pay him on the spot with cash. Despite credit cards being widely accepted in Oman, it’s best to bring cash to the gas station.
Not sure which type of fuel your car needs? Check this with your rental company in Oman when picking up the car. Otherwise, there’ll sometimes be a sticker in the car indicating what fuel it needs. The car key, dashboard, or fuel door is where you can usually find this.
Tip: Use a SIM card and the Waze App or Google offline maps for navigating in Oman. This way, you’ll always be able to spot a gas station on your route, too!
4. Wild camping is allowed.
Camping is allowed in Oman, meaning you can sleep under the stars, on the sandflats, in the desert, or between mountains. Whether a tent or your rental car, you can choose wherever you want to sleep. If the forecast is calling for rain, stay away from the wadis and lower-leveled landscapes to avoid potential flooding.
How much does a car rental in Oman cost?
Renting a car in Oman can be relatively cheap by international standards, with an average of 30 – 40 USD a day for an economy car. If you’re planning on offroading and wild camping, you’ll need to get a four-wheel drive vehicle. A 4×4 is a bit more expensive and can cost you up to 70 USD a day, but it’s well worth it, especially if you’re able to split the costs.
One-way rentals are more expensive than dropping the rental car off where you picked it up. Despite the potential flexibility of dropping your car off in another location, planning your itinerary for Oman in a loop has benefits. This way, you’ll be able to see much more of the country and save on extra costs, specifically due to the affordable fuel in Oman.
Note: If you want to travel across the borders from Oman into the neighboring countries, check with your rental agency beforehand if you can do this. Traveling to Yemen or Saudi Arabia is typically prohibited, but crossing into the UAE or Dubai can be arranged with some rental companies.
Where do I rent a car in Oman?
You will need a car to discover remarkable mosques, beautiful hiking paths, or a starry night in the desert at your own pace. Muscat International Airport is the best place to pick up a rental car in Oman.
Whether you book the rental car online or in the office, do your research to see which company has the best rates. You can use a comparison site or an online agency to find the best deal. The peak season in Oman falls between October and March, and booking your car well in advance is worth it to secure availability.