With very few options for public transport outside of Muscat, renting a car in Oman should be high up on your budget list. While you can get by with renting a sedan in Oman, hiring a 4×4 could end up saving you some money if you make plans to camp a few nights. In this post I help you weigh your options for renting a car in Oman.
Firstly, we need to talk about what you will gain from renting a car in Oman, in case you are on the fence: Independence. Yes, it is great to hire a guide to handle all the driving as well as answering all the questions you have about the local culture and sights. But the down side is being locked into a set timetable that most likely is too packed to actually enjoy Oman.
Oman is a big country and large amounts of time will be spent transiting from sight to sight. Having the freedom to pop over to a random village, stop to photograph a roadside mosque, or veer off-road to a spied beach for a swim is quite nice; and part of why Oman is so attractive.
|One great thing about Oman is the tolerance to park your vehicle however or wherever you would like. Click here for my Oman Parking Guide.|
While sedans are available for rent, and could take you to many of the sights you want to see; choosing a 4×4, or even better the venerable Toyota Land Cruiser, opens the door wide open to any place in Oman. Places hike the Hajar Mountians require a 4×4 for safe travel, but it doesn’t have to be a gigantic Land Cruiser.
Available in the rental market are small SUVs like the Nissan Xterra and Toyota Fortuner, alongside the workhorse big brothers, Toyota Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol. Notice anything about the list? It’s Japanese all the way, and for good reason. The land of the rising sun makes solid 4x4s with proper 4WD systems that work well on the graded tracks and beyond.
It is important to rent a proper 4×4 because Oman is still a developing nation of four million people, and still developing its road network. It’s difficult to understand that 45 years ago there wasn’t more than a few kilometers of paved road. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that many places are still only accessible by proper four wheel drive vehicles, albeit via a graded track. This just adds to the rustic charm that is Oman.
If you are interested in visiting Jebal Shams, Jebal Akhdar, Wahiba, Empty Quarter, Al Hajar Mountains crossings, and any of the desert camps; you are going to need a proper four wheel drive vehicle.
The best thing about Oman is you can literally camp almost anywhere, and I have. But I never thought about how possible it would be for a tourist to camp in Oman with a rented 4×4 until I met a French couple one day at the beehive tombs near Bat.
I was really happy to see the independent tourists and we got to chatting a bit. Since it was near sunset I was surprised to actually see the couple because there are no accommodations for about 100km, meaning they would have had to be doing some night driving. So I asked them, “where are you staying?” They replied, “in the car.”
These guys had a rented Nissan Pathfinder, so they picked up some cheap foam mattresses and blankets from the Carrefour to lay down in the back compartment with the rear seat folded down. Voilà! Instant camper for two!
So, now this couple was able to see the magical sunset at the Bat tombs with the golden light hitting Jebal Mistal. Something not many tourist get see because usually they have already been shuttled back at their hotels to get ready for dinner. Independent travel is truly the only way to do it.
There are a number of different options for you to choose from based on your budget and needs. All the major rental companies are represented by local franchisees, and offer many options.
In the table below you can see the different advertised prices according to category: Compact Car (ex. Toyota Yaris), Midsize 4×4 (ex. Toyota Prado, Nissan Xterra), Large 4×4 (ex. Toyora Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol).
While I do not recommend hiring a compact car, I do include it in the table for comparison purposes. And I suppose one of you might decide off-road adventure isn’t your cup of tea.
The midsize 4x4s have a wide range in price which I find strange for some reason. The range in prices is probably due to the range in engine sizes, as there are four and six cylinder options with some companies and not others. Mostly you will be finding a Nissan Xterra the best value, but the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (a smaller Land Cruiser) will have a better ride on the rough stuff, larger fuel tank, and a bit more luggage space. Manual transmissions are hard to find or not available at all.
Large 4x4s demand a large price, but definitely well worth it, especially if you are traveling with a group of four off-road. The Toyota Land Cruiser is the dominate vehicle, but some companies offer Nissan Patrols or Mitsubishi Pajeros. Large 4x4s can be in huge demand between October and March, so “be sure to book a few weeks in advance,” says my mate at the Budget counter.
Some of the tour companies will hire Land Cruisers from the rental companies (or are affiliate companies already) and have the need for special features like a roof rack. Also, the oil industry has a need to hire Land Cruisers with special safety modifications like a rollover bar (PDO Spec). What this means for you is, it’s possible to hire a vehicle with unique features that meet your special needs or driving habits. You just have to ask the desk, or call ahead.
Do you prefer to drive a manual transmission? Do you like a diesel engine? Want to try and get a roof rack? The Large 4×4 category can have you covered with a little luck and a small amount of leg-work.
Finally, there are some great deals available like Europe Car’s unlimited mileage along with an available manual transmission Toyota Land Cruiser for 36 OMR/Day. Sign up for that one!
Tips for Renting a Car in Oman
- Book in advance during the high season.
- Book directly with the company via phone.
- Negotiate! (while researching every agent offered something lower than what is listed)
What do you prefer, a manual transmission or automatic? Leave me a comment below:
Options For Renting a Car in Oman
|Company||Local #||Compact Car|
(Day / Week)
(Day / Week)
(Day / Week)
|Al Maha||+968 24603359||contact||contact||contact||contact|
|Arabia Cars||+968 98082787||15 / 84||40 / 250||55 / 355||200|
|Avis||+968 24510342||21 / 137||54 / 350||65 / 423||200|
|Budget||+968 24510815||15 / 91||45 / 301||55 / 350||200|
|Europe Car||+968 24121165||18 / 93||43 / 229||61 / 322||unlimited*|
|Hertz||+968 24625200||15 / 90||36 / 216||48 / 280||200|
|Nomadic||+968 99336273||15 / 91||40 / 259||46 / 308||200|
|Sixt||+968 24510224||11 / 75||33 / 210||60 / 325||200|
|Thrifty||+968 91710241||15 / 80||40 / 213||55 / 286||200|
|Value Plus||+968 24510292||10 / 60||30 / 180||N/A||200|
D’s Notes For Renting a Car in Oman
|Al Maha||Local Company w/o airport desk|
|Arabia Cars||MT Toyota Land Cruiser available for 55 OMR/Day|
|Avis||MT Toyota Land Cruiser available for 55 OMR/Day|
|Budget||MT Toyota Land Cruiser available|
|Europe Car||*Website says mileage is unlimited?!, and a MT Toyota Land Cruiser is available for 36 OMR/Day|
|Hertz||Diesel Toyota Land Cruiser available for 60 OMR/Day|
|Nomadic||Local Company w/o airport desk|
|Sixt||No Toyotas, Xterra for 33 OMR/day and MT Patrol available for 50 OMR/Day|
|Value Plus||Great Prices|