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Muscat

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*''' Holidays in Oman with Arabesque''', [http://www.Arabesque.Travel] specializes in tailor made holidays and tours in Oman.
 
*''' Holidays in Oman with Arabesque''', [http://www.Arabesque.Travel] specializes in tailor made holidays and tours in Oman.
  
*''' Net Tours Oman''',  [http://www.nettoursdubai.com/oman.htm] is a specialised tour operator in Muscat as well approved by the Oman Ministry of Tourism, offering facinating tailor-made/package tours for individuals/groups with Omani hospitality.
+
*''' Maalem Majan Tours''',  [http://www.majantours.com] is a specialised tour operator in Muscat as well approved by the Oman Ministry of Tourism, offering facinating tailor-made/package tours for individuals/groups with Omani hospitality.
  
 
*''' Muscat Holidays''', [http://www.Muscat.Travel] specializes in holidays and tours in Muscat, the capital of Oman  
 
*''' Muscat Holidays''', [http://www.Muscat.Travel] specializes in holidays and tours in Muscat, the capital of Oman  

Revision as of 17:39, 8 April 2008

Al Jalali Fort, Muscat

Muscat is the capital of Oman and the country's largest city.

Understand

The city referred to as "Muscat" is in fact three smaller towns which have grown together over time. They are:

  • Muscat - often referred to as the "walled city", Muscat proper is the site of the royal palaces.
  • Matrah (Matruh) - originally a fishing village, and home to the maze-like Matrah Souq.
  • Ruwi - generally considered the commercial and diplomatic centre of the city.

This tripartite division will sometimes cause the visitor an inconvenience, as distances between sites (and accommodation) can be very long and involve trips on the ring road.

As an alternative to the main CBD area that is considered as these three areas there is plently of places to go and things to see along the main highway that heads North East out of these areas. This main road, The Sultan Qaboos Highway, goes past many areas on it's way out to the Airport and further still to Seeb, Sohar and eventually the northern most tip of Oman.

Heading along this road you pass the districts of Qurum, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Al Khuwair, Bausher, Al-Hail and Seeb. Each one has a range of sights to see and places to stay.

There is also a very long beach road from Qurum to Seeb, some 50km. Situated along this are some of the large international hotel chains but more importantly you discover the true beauty of the Oman coast-line. Km's of beaches, fisherman with drag nets and open space to walk for hours.

Get in

By Air

Oman and Gulf air have daily flights from Chennai and Bahrain, while Emirates connects Muscat with Dubai.

International airlines also fly to Muscat International Airport - it is the ONLY airport despite being called Muscat it is some 40km out of the CBD, but still on the main route. BA, Swiss Air, KLM, Lufthansa, Royal Jordanian, and Emirates all fly frequent schedules from across the world. The number of airlines flying to Muscat increases each year, although the Omani sale of their part of Gulf Air has meant a temporary decrease in passengers to Muscat Intl. Airport.

Domestically, Oman Air also flies from Salalah to Muscat at least twice weekly.

By Bus

There are daily bus services from Dubai and several Oman cities to Muscat, operated by the Oman National Transport Company. Also you can have Private luxuary coaches from the parking next to DNATA/CARAVAN-PONDAROSA Restaurant

By Car

You can reach Muscat by road from Dubai. The journey takes about 4 to 5h by crossing the border in Hatta.

Get around

By Taxi

Maxi taxis (vans, known throughout the expat community as baisa busses) ply the highway from Seeb to the corniche area. The charge is 100 baisa from corniche area to the church round about and another 100 baisa from the church round about to Wadi Adai.

On arrival at the airport, situated approximately 40km from the main Muscat CBD, you can get a baisa bus down the main highway in either direction.

The (mostly orange and white) taxis are a bit pricier, and they hang around the hotels where they get juicy fares from unwary travellers. They will charge 8 Rials for an airport trip if you don't haggle, but you should be able to barter for 5 Rials. They always say they will give you "good price" but its best to figure out what you want to spend then agree before you get in.

The Maxi Taxis ply the main routes through town, and they go where they want so you might have to find one going your direction, once you are on one, they will make sure you get there. THe place to wait for them is on the on-ramps of most of the main highway junctions, you'll usually see a few people waiting around for one. A journey within the Muscat area should not cost more than 300 Baisa each, but if you look like an experienced traveller and hand them 200 baisa then you can usually get away with that.

By Car

There are many rent-a-car services available in the city. An international driving license is required for renting out a car. Most of the Car Rentals have offices at the airport arrivals terminal.

  • Al Maskry Rent-a-Car,[1]
  • Avis,[2]
  • Budget,
  • 'National
  • Europcar
  • Hertz
  • Sixt
  • Thrifty

Tours

  • Holidays in Oman with Arabesque, [3] specializes in tailor made holidays and tours in Oman.
  • Maalem Majan Tours, [4] is a specialised tour operator in Muscat as well approved by the Oman Ministry of Tourism, offering facinating tailor-made/package tours for individuals/groups with Omani hospitality.
  • Muscat Holidays, [5] specializes in holidays and tours in Muscat, the capital of Oman
  • Oman Holidays, [6] is a specialised tour operator in Muscat approved by the Oman Ministry of Tourism. The company, whose management have over a decade’s experience of tourism in Oman, specialize in interpretive guided cultural tours throughout Muscat.

See

  • Al Jalali Fort and Al Mirani fort They are located in Qasr Al Alam Street. The forts were built in the rocky mountains, in 1580, during the Portugese occupation as prisons and have now been converted into museums.
  • Corniche Area The recently renovated corniche area is a popular place for a walk and also for its many not-so-expensive eating places.
  • Grand Mosque This is the third largest mosque in the world and mostly the entire complex is open to non-Muslim visitors. Ladies are however advised to keep their heads covered while visiting the mosque. Must sees in the mosque include the Swarovski crystal chandelier, the largest hand made persian carpet in the world and the marble panelling.
  • Mutrah Souk The maze-like souq (or marketplace) is often described as the best in the Gulf region which also includes a fish markets. The souq has several shops for jewellery, traditional Omani handicrafts and Omani food at reasonable prices. Several shops also accept credit cards.
  • Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace This is the office of Sultan Qaboos, ruler of Oman. This beautiful palace stands on the head of a natural deep water harbour and is guarded on either side by the twin forts of Mirani and Jelali. Visitors are not allowed to visit the palace, but they are allowed to take photographs at the entrance of the palace.
  • Bait az-Zubair Museum The museum itself features displays on Omani social history, while tours are frequently run of the neighbouring reconstructed townhouse
  • Muscat also has a large number of small and large parks, the largest being the Qurum National Park or rose gardens which include a large manmade waterfall, a lake and an amusement park which is a must to visit during the Muscat festival. Other popular parks include:
  • Riyam park - also with rides and an Arabian watch tower. Visited in The Amazing Race 9
  • Naseem gardens - which houses a Japanese garden and
  • Kalbuh park.
  • A number of factories are open for visitors such as the Omani halwah factory and the Amouage perfume factory. Amouage perfume is the most valuable perfume in the world.

Museums

  • Bait Al Zubair
  • Bait Muzna Gallery
  • Children's Museum, Shatti al qurum
  • Marine Science & Fisheries Centre, between the Al Bustan Palace Hotel and the Capital Yacht Club.
  • National Museum, near Abdulridha Mosque-Ruwi.
  • Natural History Museum, in the Minstry of National Heritage and Culture. Al Khuwair
  • Omani French Museum, Near muscat police stn, Located at old Muscat in Bait Fransa.
  • Omani Museum, Medinat Al Alam (Information City) near Ministry of Information.
  • The Sultan's Armed Forces Museum, Bait al falaj.

Do

  • Walk down the water front in the Corniche area for some cool sea breeze and treat yourself to some sandwiches and Halib (Tea with Milk) / Sulaimani (Black Tea) at one of the wayside restaurants. The tea cost about 50 baisa.
  • From the water front enter the Mutrah Souk and bargain for some arab headgear (costs 1 rial), garments, nuts and spices, incense, earthen ware etc.
  • Before getting back to your hotel have dinner at one of the wayside restaurants on the waterfront.
  • Night Safari
  • Scuba Diving

Visit the Oman Dive Centre at Bandar Jissah.

  • Rock Climbing
  • Trekking
  • Camel Racing
  • Turtle Watching
  • Dolphin Watching
  • Horseback Riding

Learn

Work

Buy

  • Muscat City Centre, Seeb, [7]. Currently the biggest mall containing a lot of shops, including a large Carrefour[8].
  • Godiva Chocolates, Sabco Centre, Ruwi, Tel - 562367.
  • Lulu Hypermarket, Darsait, Bausher and Seeb tel - 7711449.
  • Markaz al Bahja, Seeb
  • Safeer Hyper Market, Athaiba (Azaiba), Tel - 502461.
  • Select, All Shell Petrol Bunks.
  • Sultan Centre, , Tel - 567666.

The Al Fair chain of supermarkets sells just about everything you want (including lots of English products for a fraction of the price you can get at home) Many of them are on the Main Sultan Quaboos highway making them an easy place to spot.(CP)

Eat

Food is cheap in Muscat and for about a Rial you'll get a meal for two persons.

Budget

  • Al-exandria, Fanja House, Near Sabco Centre, Ruwi, Tel - 561611
The best Rotis (Indian Bread). Try the chicken Jalfrezi and Paneer aloo (potato)
  • Automatic, (Cuisine - Lebanese)
Try the Hummus (Chickpea paste), Fatoosh (Salad), Mutabel (Egg Plant paste), Falafel and mint tea. Even the waiters are not sure why the restaurant is named automatic.
  • Al-Haikal, Near Bus Stand, Ruwi (Cuisine - Pakistani)
  • Al-Hanan, Ruwi (Cuisine - Indian)
  • Al-Shaheen, Honda Road, Ruwi (Cuisine - Pakistani)
  • Anand Bhavan, Off Ruwi High Street, Ruwi (Cuisine - Indian)
  • Bella-Pais, MAM roundabout, just off the Nizwa turn off (Cuisine - Greek + Other)
  • Gujrat Bhojan Shala, Ruwi High Street, Ruwi (Cuisine - Indian)
  • Oman Express, Tel - 7731329
Delivers Lunch - 18 rials for a month including Fridays or 15.6 Rials excluding Fridays
  • Subway, City Centre, Seeb, Tel - 542225
  • Many restaurants targeting Indian guest workers in Al Khuwayr; also, Ofair and Ibn Ateeq Omani restaurants

Mid-range

  • Haffa House Hotel, Ruwi
  • Chedi Hotel pizza restaurant offers less expensive food than the other Chedi outlets, with the same understated chic ambience

Splurge

  • Costa Coffee, Oasis by the Sea, Tel - (Cuisine - Coffee)
  • Chedi Hotel, On the coast road (Cuisine - 4 open kitchens from across the world)
  • Mumtaj Mahal, (Cuisine - Indian)
  • Passage to India, PO Box 385, Jibroo, Wadi Adai, Hatat House Compound, Tel - 568480 (Cuisine - Indian)
  • Starbucks Coffee, Jawharat Al-Shati Plaza, Tel - 601406 (Cuisine - Coffee)
  • Samarkhand, Oasis by the Sea, (Cuisine - Indian Peshwari)

Drink

Budget Every road, street corner or little collection houses, huts or businesses has a 'Coffee-Shop' Basic but worth a go.

Mid-range

Splurge There is a Starbucks loc on the beach road that goes between the Crown Plaza Hotel and the Intercontinental Hotel. It is so close that if you cross the road, you are on the beach. The larger drinks are about RO 2-2.2, but the view through the glass wall of the waves coming into the beach is excellent. While there, you should visit my friend Ervina Anggen. She is quite nice and fun to be around.

Sleep

Budget

  • Golden Oasis Hotel, [9]in the center of Muscat and close to the main commercial area. A popular choice for tourists.

Mid-range

  • Haffa House Hotel
  • The Crown Plaza [10]- located in Qurum with a grand view north up the beach towards the Intercontinental.

Splurge

Muscat offers a considerable range of luxury hotels, among them are:

  • Grand Hyatt.

An opulent building built in what is almost a parody of Arabian palace styles.

  • The Chedi Muscat. [11]Five star luxury with traditional Omani architecture.
  • Al-Bustan Palace Hotel. [12]Built originally to house a regional conference, the hotel is famous for its brunches
  • Shangri-La Hotel, [13]. Part of the international luxury chain.

Contact

Global calling card 'Global One' does not work in Muscat. Though the global one website lists the rates for calls from Oman there are no numbers listed along side. The nearest 'Global One' help line is located in Dubai.

Pre-paid telephone cards called Jibreen Cards are available at most stores. It's available in denominations of 5 Rials and 1.5 Rials. A 5 Rial card gets you 11 minutes of talk time.

The Hayak card is the pre-paid card for cellular phones.

Stay Healthy

It is advisable to drink bottled water while in Muscat. Tanuf, Arwa, Salsabeel, and Aquafina are the most recognisable brands of mineral water and is available in most convenience shops. "Masafi" and "Darbat" are also brands at reasonable rates - RO 1 for 12*1.5 lts. Tap water is okay for brushing your teeth and boiling pasta, but stick to the bottled water for your daily intake.

Cope

ATM's

ATM's are very common now, especially in the Embassy district and near most shopping malls, larger hotels, petrol stations, and supermarkets. Also, every little neighborhood has a several bank branches.

Bank Muscat is by far the largest bank in Oman and one of the largest in Gulf. It has over 230 ATMs all around Muscat.

Car Rentals

The cheapest car hire is about 11 OMR (14 GBP) for a day which will get you an economy car with manual transmission and sometimes no A/C. To get yourself properly equipped, you should hire a 4WD which will be around 30 OMR (38 GBP). Make sure that you will get a proper induction on driving in Oman.

All the major car rental companies are represented at the airport and throughout Muscat Capital Area (Avis, Budget, EuropCar, National and Thrifty). Like in most GCC countries, it will help to shop around to get the best deal.

Cargo shipping

Contact Meridian Shipping Co LLC at 24792237, 24700612, 24700672 (mobile 99229507) for containerised shipping services to and from Oman.

Gyms

There are some very good gymnasiums in the 4 to 5 star hotels and some privately run gyms in other places like Millennium Gym, Horizon Gym etc. You may pay money for that extra with the number of days you stay in Muscat.

Hospitals

  • Muscat Private Hospital, Ghubrah
  • Al Nahda Hospital, Ghubrah
  • Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Al Hamriya
  • Al Shatti Hospital, Shatti al Qurum
  • Atlas Star Medical Center, Bausher
  • Al Amal Medical Center- Al Wadi Al Kabir, Al-Khuwair
  • Royal Hospital

Laundry

If you are in a 4 star hotel, they will charge a lot for laundry. If you take a short walk to any of the numerous Indian run laundry stores, your money will go a lot farther. Keep in mind that if you drop off your clothes on a Monday, they typically won't be ready until Wednesday.

Tailors

There are numerous Indian run tailors. You may pay RO 5 to have 2 Italian suits tailored for sleeve length, pants length, and waist. There is a Raymond store in Ruwi that will make custom suits in the RO 50-60 range. In fact they have excellent fabrics from pure wool to wool blended with exotic fibers like Cashmere, Mohair or Angora and linen. Even Super 230s crafted out of 11.8 micron wool are found there. Ask them for their catalogue - you will find the latest Italian designs and styles in there and a really good suit can be really light on the pocket.

Money Changers

Oman-UAE Exchange Centres- LuLu Hyperarkets, Ghala and Ruwi Global Money Exchange - Ruwi travelex - Seeb International Airport Purshottam Kanji - Ruwi

Newspapers

  • Times of Oman
  • Khaleej Times
  • Oman Daily Observer
  • Oman Tribune
  • The Week
  • H!
  • Oman Today - a small glossy magazine with tips on tourism, local trips and eating-out. It is published monthly.

A number of many Indian and Gulf newspapers are also available.

Pharmacies

Numerous pharmacies found in every neighbourhood. Limited stock, but professional pharmacists willing to give advice and help with any minor ailing.

Post & Telegraphs

Shoe Repair

Get Out




This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!