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Muscat is the capital of Oman and the country's largest city.
The climate is tropical, with very hot and generally humid weather year-round.
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.
You do not need to purchase an Omani visa if you are entering the country directly from Doha or Dubai. If you're entering by air in Muscat, skip the Travelex queue where visas are normally purchased, and go directly to passport control. Once there, explain that you've come directly from Dubai/Doha.
Oman National Transport Company runs busses to Muscat from Dubai (duration of journey: 6 hrs) and Abu Dhabi (via Buraimi). al-Khanjry Transport runs a bus from al-Rigga in Dubai to Muscat, leaving every day at 7:00am and 3:00pm. Within Oman there are daily busses to Muscat from Buraimi (via Sohar), Nizwa (2hrs 20min), Salalah (13 hrs, reservation required), Sanaw and Sur (4hrs 15 min).
You can reach Muscat by road from the United Arab Emirates. The journey takes about 5h by crossing the border in Hatta/Al Ain.
You can drive from Al Ghaydah in Yemen. The journey is about 6 hours via the border crossing at Sarfeit to Salalah and then another 10 to Muscat.
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.
What to see in Muscat
Al Jalali Fort and Al Mirani fort They are located in Qasr Al Alam Street. The forts were built as prisons in the rocky mountains in 1580 during the Portugese occupation, and have now been converted into museums. Update as of August 2012, the forts are now closed to the public. However, outside photography is allowed.
Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace Guarded by the twin forts of Jalali and Mirani, this is the office of Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of Oman. This beautiful palace stands on the head of a natural deep water harbour. Visitors are not allowed to visit the palace, but they are allowed to take photographs at the entrance of the palace.
Corniche Area The recently renovated Corniche area is a popular place for a walk and also for its many eating places. Climb to the base of Mutrah Fort (at the east end of the Corniche walk) for a spectacular view of the city.
Sultan Qaboos 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 expected to keep their heads, ankles and wrists covered while visiting the mosque. Must sees in the mosque include the Swarovski crystal chandelier, the second largest hand made persian carpet in the world and the marble panelling.
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
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.
Nakhal Fort. This splendid fort is about 40 minutes drive east of the city, located at the base of the Jebel Akhdar section of the Hajar Mountains.
Wadi Shab. This is perhaps the most spectacular of all the easily accessible wadis in Oman. It is located about 100 km southeast of Muscat, accessed from the main coastal road to Sur at the village of Tiwi. The pools here are a vivid Emerald Green colour, and the caves and sheer sides of the wadi really dramatic.
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.
What to do in Muscat
Walk down the waterfront in the Corniche area to catch a cool sea breeze, and treat yourself to some sandwiches and Halib (tea with milk) or Sulaimani (black tea) at one of the wayside restaurants. A cup of tea costs about 1 rial.
From the waterfront enter the Mutrah Souk and bargain for Arab hand-embroidered mussar (shawls intended to be worn as turbans, which cost 10 rials and above), garments, nuts, spices, incense, earthen ware, etc.
Before getting back to your hotel have dinner at one of the wayside restaurants on the waterfront.
Scuba Diving. Visit the Oman Dive Centre at Bandar Jissah.
What to buy
Mutrah Souk The maze-like souq (marketplace), which also includes a fish market, is often described as the best in the Gulf region. The souq has several shops for jewellery, traditional Omani handicrafts and Omani food at reasonable prices. It is also a great place to find fun gifts to bring home. Several shops accept credit cards.
Oman Avenues Mall.Oman Avenues Mall is a division of renowned LuLu Group International. Oman Avenues Mall offers an all-in-one shopping, dining, kid zones and entertainment experience to locals and international tourists.
Oman-UAE Exchange Centres- LuLu Hypermarkets, Ghala and Ruwi Global Money Exchange - Ruwi travelex - Seeb International Airport Purshottam Kanji - Ruwi Mustafa Sultan Exchange - Many outlets throughout Oman
It is advisable to drink bottled water while in Muscat. Oman Oasis, 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. Tap water is generally not safe so use bottled water.