Quickation: Muscat, Oman

Monday, September 11, 2017

So my trip to Dubai, albeit tricky, originated in Muscat, Oman.

On the return, I had a full day to spend sightseeing around Oman's capital city before heading back to Doha.

During my research of Muscat, I was hard pressed to find a tour guide that would accommodate a solo traveler. Oman is a popular destination for people in the Middle Eastern region but they're not a tourist destination for those outside of the area. I won't call it gouging, but the few tour guides that are available aren't going out of their way to take less than 4 people sightseeing. Ouch. There is a HoHo bus, but it cost $80pp, it only runs every 2 hours and the last bus is at 6pm. No bueno.

Much of the really cool stuff I found during my research happened outside of Muscat, and with limited time I didn't delve any further.

I had given up on the possibility of seeing Muscat until I contacted my Airbnb hosts, just to ask if they knew of anyone that'd be willing to take a solo gal around for a few hours. Score!

My hosts were kind enough to take me to Muscat's main sites before heading off to their jobs, peak hospitality! I knew about their stunning mosque, but I didn't know I'd be able to see a few other gems as well. If you only have a day to spare, you can surprisingly cover a lot of ground in Muscat.

I visited:

The fortified Old Muscat area
The Old Palace grounds of Sultan Qaboos
Almouj Marina "the wave"
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Marina Bandar viewpoint
There is a souk in the center of town, but I didn't desire shopping

On the old palace grounds
One of my favorite travel pics now :)

Sultan Qaboos Mosque

Sultan Qaboos Mosque

Old Muscat
I didn't notice any skyscrapers anywhere

Old palace grounds

Did not get to visit this museum! Next time!
I would LOVE to know more about the necessity of all those forts!

Muscat architecture

Nice viewpoint

The only negative is that they charge a tourist visa fee of 20 Omani riyal for U.S. citizens. If you don't know about the Omani riyal, prepare to get your feelings hurt unless you come from say Kuwait, the only other place on the planet whose currency is stronger. The fee was the equivalent of $60 and while it doesn't seem like much, it's a lot for just a day of travel. The visa is also only good for one single entry within 30 days, so you'll want to make the most of it during your time there.

There are several Airbnb options around the city and that is definitely the way to go for lodging. Oman is very expensive, even the budget hotels were priced high. There is no shortage of luxury if that's your thing and within your price range, though. A popular area for expats and tourists is the Marina area. There, you will find waterfront properties and luxury boats!

The measure of your wealth in Oman isn't your car, it's the size of your BOAT!

Almouj Marina
(the area is technically private)
You can rent a boat and go snorkeling or sightseeing

My Airbnb was near an array of dining options, mostly East African. I've had Kenyan food before, but never any Tanzanian food; there were two Tanzanian restaurants in walking distance of my lodging. Both Coconut House and Tanzania Restaurant come highly recommended. Muscat also has a small food truck park that sets up shop near the main marina in the evening. Food is one of the things that isn't expensive in Muscat.

Have a look at the inOman website for dining options.

Taxis are king in Muscat and they will run you king prices. Again, I had awesome Airbnb hosts so that wasn't a charge that I had to incur. There is a city bus or two, but again, they don't run often and service stops early.

Muscat is beautiful but is known as the laid back city in the gulf; it's also a dry country, so no alcohol in most places. Don't come here for turn up or action. Come for the unique landscape, water sports and hiking opportunities.

Surprisingly stunning public beach.
Probably gets crowded in "high season" (winter)

Muscat is very mountainous, hence their slightly cooler temps compared to other parts of the gulf.

Muscat was once heavily fortified.
You'll see several forts around the city.

Forts and prayer
Hiking is a popular sport here, too.

The makeshift corniche boardwalk where locals hangout when the sun goes down.
And another fort in the distance.

Luckily Oman isn't far and with better preparation I will look forward to exploring more of the country namely Nizwa, Wabi Shab and the gorgeous Salala coast.

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