How To Get From Dubai To Oman’s Famous Northern Fjords In Musandam

I’d like to preface this post by saying that this will only be useful if you don’t have your own car.

Being under 21, I simply can’t rent a car unless I go to an extremely sketchy agent, which I’d rather avoid. 😉 However, I won’t let this stop me from exploring some of the world’s most incredible scenery, be that in Iceland or in Oman. On my visit to the Middle East a few months ago, I was faced with the problem of getting from Musandam down to Dubai, though my suggestion below works both ways.

The breathtaking views of Musandam, Oman.

There is one daily flight with Oman Air from Muscat to Khasab Airport in northern Oman. The prices are very reasonable (almost always 29 OMR one-way) and it’s a quick, hassle free journey. Getting there from Dubai, on the other hand, is surprisingly difficult. There is no public transport running between the cities and it seems like most people opt to drive their own vehicle. Even after browsing TripAdvisor I had no sense of the best way to get between the two places without a car.

Some people suggested I take a taxi to the Oman-UAE border, cross it by myself and try to get a taxi on the other side. Others reported this would be impossible since no taxis wait at the border. Other alternatives included taking a taxi the whole way, which would have cost an insane 120 OMR (~$300) according to our hotel.

Perhaps I should have just taken a camel to save money?

I took the situation into my own hands and had a detailed look at the map between Khasab and Dubai, where multiple cities stood out as possible destinations for a taxi ride into the UAE. The closest major city to the border was Ras al-Khaimah, an 80-minute drive from Khasab. I called around to all the local tour agencies since regular taxis were virtually nonexistent in the area. The lowest offer I got to the border was 24 OMR ($60), while 40 OMR ($100) was the lowest we could get to Ras al-Khaimah. Given the potential difficulty of finding a taxi at the border, and better value of doing all the way to Ras al-Khaimah, I decided to go with the latter. From there, I found a bus that took us directly to the Dubai city center for only 25 AED (~$6.50).

The ride was quite good and took approximately 75 minutes to the border. A 20-minute wait and another 40 minutes of driving later, we arrived at the bus station (around 2:15pm).

Almost all cars in Musandam are 4WDs.

Sadly I just missed the bus, which leaves on the hour during most of the day. The tickets are cash-only and bought onboard, so I had to cross a busy highway to withdraw AED from the ATM. There are a few restaurants surrounding the bus terminal, so after withdrawing money I popped in for a $1 falafel sandwich.

From there, I got on the bus, which was full to the brim with mostly Indians and Pakistanis. The 80-minute journey down to Dubai wasn’t especially comfortable, but I arrived safely at Dubai Metro Union Station around 4:20pm.

Inside the bus from Ras al-Khaimah to Dubai.

Bottom Line

For most people, driving to/from Khasab makes the most sense. It’s fastest, cheapest and most comfortable. However, if you’re young, don’t drive or traveling alone, taking a taxi half-way and continuing on public transport is probably the best option. I saved almost $200 by switching to the bus as opposed to taking the Omani taxi all the way to Dubai, and it was a relatively pain-free experience. I hope this helps some young travelers who are interested in exploring “The Real Middle East.”

Have you been to Musandam in Oman? How did you get there if not by rental/private car? 

Comments

  1. Musandam was the highlight of my Dubai trip 2 years ago! A bus picked me up directly from my hotel (JW Marriott), grabbed about 8 other passengers throughout Dubai, and then drove us straight to the boat in Khasab.

    Unless I’m missing something, that was a way better dea than your taxi? Also, I found that very little English was spoken in Ras al-Khaimah, so not the best place in my opinion to “hope” you find a taxi if you don’t speak Arabic.

  2. Alternatively: 6,000 Etihad Guest miles and about 200 Dirhams for Oman Air KHS-MCT-DXB. EY Guest redemption rates on Oman Air are pretty good for Intra-GCC flights. But on the other hand: The drive from Khasab to Ras al Khaimah is quite scenic.

  3. Thanks. I like Lucky’s reports, but this is a nice bit of diversity compared to AF/EK/LH first nonstop. Your reviews of budget carriers, especially the premium economy products, is also appreciated.

  4. @Ricky nice that the hotel arranged that! For taxis in RAK, I’d recommend calling up the tour agencies and Musandam and have them arrange a pickup for you.

  5. @CG Hmm that’s a good suggestion, though I guess it limits which time of day you can make the trip. Still a nice redemption option!

  6. Daniel,

    A nice report.

    But a question/critique – why the arching and straining to identify your youth, which I have detected in other posts. I am 47, and there is no way that I would rent a car from Hertz in a far away land. Perhaps I am far more risk averse than you, but, seriously, would you incur the risks, including the hassles associated with an accident, associated with driving in the developing world, even if someone would rent to you?

    I write from a poor to middling Air BnB in a remote area of Scandinavia and truly appreciate that your posts fill a void in OMAAT. But your followers will get your situation even if you make oblique references to your age in merely 15% of your posts.

    Cheers,

    jfhscott

  7. I think it’s fair that Daniel mentions age in this post. It’s because of his age he couldn’t drive, ergo….

  8. Always check to see whether written “by Lucky.” Not written by Lucky? Waste of time.

  9. We took a cruise a few months ago that started in Dubai and went to Khasab then Muscat. These cruises are always cheap I guess due to lack of demand or logistics. Anyways, we loved the dhow trip we did in Khasab, saw a lot of marine life and were very satisfied with the cost and experience. If you’re going to spend $4-500 anyways might as well make a week out of it!

  10. Thanks for covering the route. I did the same route 2 months on road by a private car, hoping to capture the beauty of Musandam on print. I wasn’t allowed to take in my camera equipment especially my long lens. Stopped by Oman customs, clearly I was struggling to explain to the officer my intentions as I didn’t speak Arabic. There was another officer who spoke English, but kept apologizing as he had to follow instructions from his senior who wouldn’t budge.
    I was surprised by this rare experience.

  11. Recommend posting a map when talking about geographical locations, boundaries that not everyone may be familiar with

  12. You can get a taxi in RAK by calling for one. Toll free 24/7 number is 8001700 and the operators all speak English (as do all the drivers).

  13. @travelmate That’s absolute nonsense – I’m sure there are plenty of people who, like me, enjoy others’ posts. I enjoy Tiffany’s in particular, Daniel’s ones, the ones by those traveling with their family … It seems hard for some readers to understand that people don’t always share the same tastes as others.

  14. You’re a waste of time with those comments travelmate.

    Great article Daniel. Keep them coming

  15. @jfhscott

    I’m with you. The only place outside of the US where I’ll rent a car and drive is South Africa, and that’s because I lived/worked there and know where I’m going and the regional rules of etiquette.

    Otherwise, no way. While I like to think of myself as a “good” driver, I’m simply too afraid of the damage I could cause to people as well as my pocketbook…

  16. 2015 we had the same experience as @Ricky. Researched a local tour company. Hotel pick-up in a 15-passenger-ish sprinter type van. Had to enter the customs building at the Oman border for 20 min~ and then continued on to the marina in Khasab.

  17. The title of the post confused me. Is it from Musandam to Dubai? or Dubai to Musandam?

    Anyhow, the best option exploring Musandam are the tour operators, you hop on and bus and you will be on your way. If you are on a budget, a little research will get you the best price, there are several operators that offer as low as 150DHS ($40ish).

  18. @TravelinWilly

    I travel to South Africa every year for three months. I lived in the UAE for 11 years and in Singapore for 2. I have driven 50,000 km in Europe in 10 countries and across North America 10 times.

    For me South Africa is the most dangerous place to drive. It is worse than Malaysia, Italy and Singapore. The drivers are either driving the latest Mercedes or Audi at twice the speed limit or a junker at half the speed limit . You never know what you will meet at any corner. I have narrowly managed to negotiate around a clown who, at 120 km/hr, blew a tire that had a huge tread separation visible to the naked eye. His junker disintegrated around us as we swerved to miss bits and parts. He and his family survived without injury to the amazement of everyone.

    Later we were rear-ended by a Mercedes at a stop sign.

    But driving the Musandam and in the UAE was a piece of cake in comparison.

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