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Asia > Middle East > Oman > Northern Oman > Musandam Peninsula > Khasab

Khasab

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Harbour front mosque

Khasab (Arabic: خصب‎) is a city in the northwest Omani exclave of Musandam and home to about 18,000 inhabitants. It is the state capital of the Musandam peninsula on the coast of the Hormuz Strait between Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Understand[edit]

Khasab was isolated from the rest of the region for a long time. In the 16th century Portuguese troops conquered the peninsula and established colonial structures. After Oman regained control, Khasab was controlled tightly due to its strategic position. The construction of the new road from the United Arab Emirates was itself started by the city to develop its infrastructure and encourage more tourism and investment. It is most popular to spend a weekend off from Dubai or to visit on your way to Muscat, taking the twice a day ferry-boat along the deserted and arid rocky coast of Musandam.

The city is the starting point to explore the little-known Musandam Peninsula and its special and unique traditions and culture. Travellers can enjoy great sights in and around the city that can be seen in two or three days cruising the region.

Khasab is best visited in the winter, as it is one of the hottest places in Oman, with summer temperatures regularly climbing over 45°C. The world's highest minimum temperature (41.2°C, since broken) was recorded on the airport in 2011, and in 2017 the highest nighttime low temperature recorded (44.2 °C) was recorded.

Get in[edit]

Khasab is not easy to access, although you have a few options of transportation including daily morning flights from Muscat, a weekly ferry from Muscat or semi-weekly ferry from Dibba, or driving from the UAE through the Al Darah border post.

By plane[edit]

By ferry[edit]

  • 2 National Ferry Company (Muscat Ferry Boat), NFC Passenger Boarding Office Khasab (near Khasab Fort), +968 2673 1802, e-mail: . There is ferry service to/from Muscat (5 hrs) and Dibba (2½ hrs). From Muscat, the ferry departs every Thursday at noon, and returns every Saturday at 11:30. From Dibba, ferries depart on Sundays and Thursdays (departure 13:00), and return to Dibba on Tuesdays (departure 10:00) and Thursdays (departure 12:30). All ferries have free Wi-Fi, with lunch, snacks and beverages included in the ticket price. You should get your ferry ticket in advance to ensure your place on the boat. Muscat one way: RO 45/23 (business/tourist class); Muscat return: RO 85/44 (business/tourist class); Dibba one way: RO 10 (business class), RO 6 (tourist class).

By road[edit]

View along the Khasab Coastal Road

You can easily drive from Dubai or any of the other emirates by heading north on the E11 motorway towards Ras al Khaimah, and then on to the 1 Al Darah border post border, after which the road becomes the very scenic 02, or the 'Khasab Coastal Road'. The road is in very good condition on the Omani side and the UAE RAK part is currently being upgraded.

If driving a hired car, be sure to inquire whether the company permits their cars to be driven into Oman, and if so which specific border crossings may be used, as not all crossings may be permitted. You should let the rental agency know at least a day beforehand, so that they can prepare the necessary documentation for the border officials. If you are driving your own car and do not have coverage for Oman, you can usually purchase third-party liability insurance on the Omani side of the border. This situation may change with little notice.

For the very adventurous, it is possible to take a taxi from Ras al Khaimah to the Al Darah border, but there are no taxis on the Omani side. Many trucks pass through this border daily, however, so you can ask an Omani police officer to get you a ride in one of these trucks and then hitchhike all the way to Khasab.

Get around[edit]

Dhow cruise in Khor Ash Sham

There are no taxis in Khasab; however most hotels offer free minivan transportation within the city. To go further afield, you'll have to have your own car, or hire one. Additionally a number of travel agencies in Khasab offer organized minivan city tours, for half- or full-day visits.

During the cooler months, it's possible to explore the city by foot, and to hike around nearby villages and the mountains. If by chance you live in the UAE and are visiting Khasab with your own car, you can bring along your bicycle. Dress conservatively if entering Bedouin or remote fishing villages.

Rental cars[edit]

See[edit]

Central courtyard of Khasab Castle with traditional fishing boats on display
Khasab Center Mosque by night
  • 1 Khasab Castle (In front of the sea facing Port Authority). The Portuguese constructed this fortress in the beginning of the 17th century and occupied it until their withdrawal from the region. This castle, which housed the Wali and his family in recent centuries and once held prisoners, has been restored and transformed into a regional museum. In the courtyard of the castle are boats and houses representative of the unique heritage of Musandam. RO .5.
  • 2 Al Khmazera Castle (Alkmazrh Fort / Khmazera Castle). Sa-W 08:00-14:00. This fort is inside the city and it seems to belong to a specific tribe among the local people. The fort is taken care by the tribe's youngsters, who are proud of their ancestral possession.
  • 3 Khasab Dhow Port. Just facing the Khasab Port Authority for the ferry to Muscat, the traditional port for dhow boats is a place where you can appreciate and enjoy typical boats from this region. You can easily find boats to take you on a sea cruise.
  • Iranian smugglers. Khasab is known for its Iranian smugglers. From here daily hundreds of small jet boats cross the Hormuz strait heading to the southern Iranian cities of Bandar Abbas and Qeshm Island, carrying such diverse items as televisions, cigarettes, and goats in an effort to avoid Iranian import duties. Khasab is a free trade port, so the Omani authorities accept this practice, provided the activities only take place during daylight hours.
  • 4 Khasab palm groves (Old city). Hidden inside Khasab old city, you can visit and explore the beautiful palm groves. These oases are great and supply local people with some dates.
  • 5 Khasab Center Mosque (Sultan Qaboos Mosque). The central mosque in the south of the city is an important landmark. It has a capacity of 1900 worshippers and is named after the current sultan, just like many other large mosques in Oman.

Do[edit]

Telegraph Island seen from a Dhow
  • Dhow Cruises. Dhows depart from Khasab twice a day for excursions to Telegraph Island. Currently quite a few agencies take care of this. Prices per trip start at RO 15 if going with other people, and RO 30 if you go alone.
  • City walk by night. As the temperature is far more pleasant during the evening, you can walk around the city center along the avenue and center mosque. Also, there are a couple of gardens that are open by night, where you can see families playing with their children.
  • Mountain Safari. Trips to Jebal Harim (2087 m above sea level) with 4WD vehicles are a good opportunity to see the inner area. On these trips organized by most agencies in Khasab, you can see the beautiful rocky desert mountains of Musandam. However, at the mountain top is a military radar station, so going to the top requires permission and most tours therefore stop at 1600 m above sea level near the barracks of the military station.
  • Snorkeling. All of the Musandam coast has amazing waters to dive. Near Khasab there are a few diving points and zones where you can see and swim among fishes.
  • Dolphin cruises. If you take one of those dhow boat excursions into Musandam beautiful coast, you'll be able to see dolphins just 10 minutes away from Khasab port.
  • 1 Bassa Beach (Bossa Beach). A pleasant beach popular with locals, with picnic and toilet facilities. Free.

Buy[edit]

Central Souk area of Khasab

There are quite a few options of different supermarkets full with normal groceries, bottled water etc. LuLu Market is by far the biggest and offers the biggest variety, but small supermarkets have local products and niche products.

  • 2 Local Handicraft Shop, Khasab Castle (inside Khasab Castle). Many local Musandam handicraft and Omani souvenirs are for sale in the shop inside Khasab Castle. Very friendly staff.
  • 3 Old Souq (north of the Persian Gulf Roundabout). The old souq is a good place to pick up hand-crafted walking sticks, the more elaborate of which are decorated with silver.
  • Dates. At the tiny Sikkit market in centre town you can buy fresh dates.

Eat[edit]

Date plantation

Most supermarkets have freezers with several types of ice cream, which is very welcome in the extreme heat.

Unsurprisingly the local cuisine is based primarily on grilled meats and seafood, with some Persian influences. Although most hotels have their own onsite restaurants, it is worth seeking out the handful of local establishments listed below.

  • 1 Amjad Restaurant (near the harbour), +968 26 830124. Daily 10AM-11PM. Specializes in grilled seafood.
  • Musandam Restaurant, +968 2673 0569. 08:00-23:00. Local meat and fish dishes in this restaurant located in center city. Expect to pay from RO 1-2 depending on what you eat. Some vegetarian/vegan options.
  • 4 Wadi Qada Restaurant, Khasab Coastal Rd (near the harbour), +968 26 730399. Daily 11AM-midnight. A popular Persian restaurant which also serves some vegetarian and vegan options.

Drink[edit]

  • Fruit milk shakes. Some restaurants can prepare you fruit milk shakes. These are made with real fruit and often mixed with ice cream and full pieces of fresh fruit. RO 1-2 depending your choice.
  • Black tea. All the local restaurants serve black tea. This is the traditional tea from the region. Usually nowadays, it is Lipton Black Tea.
  • Alcohol. Khasab allows alcohol in restaurants/bars with a licence. These places are limited (e.g. Atana Hotel), and as the alcohol is imported, rather expensive (e.g. beer RO 3-4).

Sleep[edit]

Bossa beach

Khasab has six hotels and limited capacities for travellers, and during the weekend hotels are usually sold out.

Bassa Beach (Bossa Beach), which is very popular with families, is an option for a single night of camping. The beach has only a toilet and no other facilities. It's directly on the road between Atana Khasab Hotel and Khasab and is very lively during the weekend. Non-UAE/Omani travellers should expect to be seen as a tourist attraction with unwanted attention from kids or youths from the area.

Budget[edit]

  • 1 Esra Hotel Apartments (S of city centre), +968 26 730464, fax: +968 26 730 364. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. In essence two apartment buildings for up to 30 people in ca. 16 rooms. Rooms are non-smoking with kitchenettes and free Wi-Fi. There is an onsite coffee shop. RO 25+.
  • 2 Lake Hotel, Khasab Coastal Road, +968 26 731664. Check-in: noon-8PM, check-out: noon-1PM. Very basic accommodation, cash only. Free Wi-Fi. Doubles RO 27+.
  • 3 Khasab Hotel, Khasab Main Road, +968 26 730267, +968 26 730271, fax: +968 26 730989, e-mail: . Check-in: 2PM-midnight, check-out: noon. Double, triple, deluxe and family rooms. Swimming pool and restaurant. Free internet access and airport pick-up. Doubles RO 28+ including breakfast, more expensive on weekends and during high season.

Mid-range[edit]

Atana Khasab
  • 5 Atana Khasab (formerly known as the Golden Tulip Hotel) (38km from Al Darah border, 5 km from Khasab airport and the city center), +968 26 730777, e-mail: . Check-in: 2PM-6PM, check-out: noon. Sea view rooms, swimming and children pool plus play area, gym, WiFi. Licensed with an onsite restaurant. Offers free shuttle service between the hotel and anywhere in Khasab – they will also pick you up if you call. This is the default hotel for package tourists and larger groups, and generally is completely booked at the weekend. Doubles RO 51+ including breakfast, more expensive on weekends and during high season.

Splurge[edit]

  • 6 Atana Musandam Resort (just N of Lulu Hypermarket and Khasab Castle), +968 26 730888, e-mail: . Check-in: 2PM-midnight, check-out: noon. Khasab's newest hotel has 110 rooms, each with private balcony or terrace. Other facilities include nonsmoking rooms, an onsite licensed restaurant, fitness and dive centre, pool, and free Wi-Fi. Doubles RO 103+ including breakfast, more expensive on weekends and during high season.

Cope[edit]

  • ATMs (Khasab city centre has a growing number of bank branches due to trading activities). 24/7. Near the New Souk roundabout in the direction of the main square several banks operate an ATM including HSBC, Oman National Bank, and Muscat Bank for international debit and credit cards.
  • Money Exchange. from 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM. You can exchange money in the city centre banks during weekdays and also on the Western Union office during weekends.

Go next[edit]

Twice weekly ferry-boat from Khasab to Muscat. Minivan service to the border with United Arab Emirates from where you can call a taxi to pick you up and take you to Ras al Khaimah.

  • Flying to Muscat, Khasab Airport. Flights from Khasab to Muscat go daily for a 45 min flight. You have to buy the tickets at least the day before you fly. RO 25 one way.


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