Having lived in Oman for 5 years and knowing the country well, I can say that the answer is simply YES. While the country boasts some of the region’s (if not the world’s) most luxurious hotels, it is possible to visit Oman on a budget. It has many cheap/mid-range hotels, and a national pastime of such is camping (albeit mostly not in Western-style tents). In fact, in Oman, you’re allowed to pitch your tent up wherever you like, as long as it’s not private property! And, if you don’t stay at one of the country’s top resorts, and eat local, you’re bound to have a more authentic experience.
BUT if you want to do Oman on the cheap, make sure you have got a driving license, or you’re going with someone who does. Public transport is virtually non-existent, and hitch hiking isn’t really a done thing (though it would be safe to try). Hiring a driver for the day is simply expensive. To keep costs down, book a rental car well in advance to ensure good rates. And don’t worry about fuel prices – if you’re coming from Europe than it’s going to be much cheaper than home.
If you’re into camping, then Oman is surely for you. It’s easy to find spots up in the stunning Hajar mountains, where you’ll get gorgeous views of the sunset/rise and where the weather is cooler than in Muscat. Camping in the desert is also a treat! But be sure to take a guide if you’re going far off the beaten track. You can also find secluded beaches to pitch your tent. Most supermarkets will sell coal, fuel and firelighters, so it’ll be easy to start a fire. In fact, when you approach an area of natural beauty such as the Hajar mountains, you’ll probably see a few shops dedicated to camping equipment on the roadside.
Local restaurants can get you fed a hearty meal for less than 2 Omani Rials (≈£4) – keeping food expenses low as long as you don’t eat at restaurants designed for wealthy foreigners. Oh, and the food is often fantastic. Traditional Omani restaurants can, perhaps surprisingly, be a little hard to find, as most locals will make their own local food at home. A personal favourite of mine, however, are the country’s many Yemeni restaurants, which offers similar cuisine, traditional serving arrangements, and are cheap.
Dhofar province in the country’s south is less visited by westerners than the north, despite it being home to a plethora of unique sights. It is also arguably cheaper to visit. The Khareef season (rainy season) hits the south from July to September, transforming the landscape into one of rivers and greenery.
Omani people are some of the most hospitable in the world, and if you lose your way, or any other issue occurs, then they are often more than willing to help. Come visit this fantastic country while tourism is still in its fairly early stages, and don’t believe those telling you it’ll break the bank!