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“Oman is better than I thought it would be”
Review of Muscat Governorate

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Level 6 Contributor
156 reviews
88 helpful votes
“Oman is better than I thought it would be”
Reviewed 9 June 2010

I stayed in my folk's villa in downtown Muscat, not 10 minutes from the airport. I learned first and foremost how friendly muslims can be. I was a bit nervous at first as my only exposure to muslims was the radicals seen in the news. But, in my entire two weeks there, I had nothing but pleasant experiences.

My experiences:

I got to spend part of my time on the Gulf of Oman where the water is beautiful and the beach was soft without a lot of folks (as I'd expect in January).

I went to three different forts: Nizwa, Nakhl, and Rustaq. Nizwa was by far the most "tourist friendly" with informative signs throughout. The rest were lacking in history and visual aids.

The Mutra Souk was an awesome experience. One of the oldest malls in the world. The corridors were tight and one could easily get lost due to being like a labrinth. I bought all my souveniers for me and family here.

We also went into the rugged mountains nearby where only 4WD were allowed and visited ruins that were built into the mountainside. Eerie that my camera battery died just as I attempted to enterd the ruins.

A must in Muscat is the Grand Mosque. The interior is breathtaking with massive chandeliers and a hand woven rug as big as a football field.

If you stay in Oman, you must try the variety of cuisine available. My favorite was turkish restaurants with burrito-like "shawermas".

Oman is certainly a Western-friendly country as all signs are in dual Arabic/English. Many people speak at least a broken form of English. The only language barrier problems I had were the visits to camel farms.

Overall it was nearly two weeks of fun and adventure!

13 Thank tomhogfan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
38 helpful votes
“My trip to Oman.”
Reviewed 14 May 2010


Before I tell you guys about this trip to the Sultanate of Oman, I would like to start with some general references on this country, which is located in southwestern Asia, in the Arabian Peninsula; it is noteworthy that the country is relatively small with no more than 2.5 million people, with a big extension of a highlights the deserts of sand and gravel, like a series of mountain ranges, which give that majestic view of contrast in the landscape.
This country is not in every tourists name maybe because it is still in development and has little tourism. That tourism is a medium-high purchasing power, there are not many offers for travelers with few resources, making it difficult to find the famous backpacker tourism is seen in Europe, but still it is a good pick.

My journey began with a 3-day trip to Oman leaving around 10:20 am local time from Abu Dhabi, it is worth mentioning that I made this journey with my husband taking the E22 drive towards Abu Dhabi airport and then follow the respective directions marked on the GPS of the car.

Very important to mention that the first thing is to make sure of course for the conditions of the car and the insurance cover in case of accident while crossing across the border, and if not, there are several agencies that sell auto insurance by crossing the border which are open 24 hours for passengers who need it, which sell policies that protect them in case of an accident in Omani territory.
Other important tips are to have a 4x4 car in case you decide to venture further into the desert, and of course carry a good supply of water in case something goes wrong, as temperatures can be very high, especially in case you stranded in the middle of the desert where needless to say but, will not be easy to find water, also if you don’t have a car there is a bus service also available from Abu Dhabi or either from Dubai that goes all the way to Muscat, the capital, or you could also rent a car.

About two hours after leaving Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, we find the first port and just remember that will be better to use the Ro which is the currency of legal tender, which is the Omani Rial, which can be purchased in any money exchange, to use those for now on.
The route that was taken from Abu Dhabi is the same road that goes from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain that is the last town belonging to the Emirates which is before crossing the border if you take the E22 road.

The exit visa from the UAE, is obtained at the first stop on the border with an exit stamp in the passport of the country, this border stop is in the midst of vast mountains that surround it and from there it goes through no less than one kilometer before reaching the next step for entry into Omani territory, here in this new checkpoint you would obtained the entry to Oman. (Note that the passport must be at least 6 months valid).
Now the adventure begins on a journey on a road in excellent condition, a route by which you can see Rocky Mountains with very little vegetation, in which the only animals that can be seen is what is known in Colombia as "goats”, after crossing the mountains are desert areas in which I was able to see a large number of camels walking in groups on the lonely desert.
Around 2:15 across town of Sohar, is worth mentioning that for those who are unaccustomed to the ways both in UAE and in Oman, the roundabouts, which are abbreviated in English R / O or roundabout are part of the landscape in UAE Arab and Oman, and some of them are worth seeing for its beauty which the great majority are well maintained with fountains, flowers or monuments typical of the region and serve as a basis for reference when you want to give an address because the address system that exists in Europe or America of streets and numbers do not exist on this side of the world, which can be frustrating when you want to go to a site without an exact address, so roundabouts are key when asking for directions.

Time of arrival to Muscat (capital of the Sultanate of Oman). It is 3:50 in the afternoon here I'm surprised of its beauty; it is like the town was born in the middle of the mountain, and then on the side there is these clear ocean kissing the feet of the city. Just Gorgeous!
The architecture of the city less ostentatious than in United Arab cities where skyscrapers are many here is composed of not very tall buildings and houses that have colors that blend with the environment like a chameleon adapts the color of his skin these houses blend with the desert and the colors of the mountain; cream, white, yellow and browns are the colors are that adorn the facade of their homes.

The weather this time of year is pretty hot, when it rises above 40 degrees Celsius, but with very low humidity which makes it more enjoyable.
Now was the time to check-in at the hotel, Unfortunately we decided not to book a hotel in advance because the idea was to look at them first and then decide without being drawn into photos you see in magazines, but OMG on arrival we found that the hotels we had in mind as first choice were busy, so we finish staying in a hotel that was relatively far from the sites we wanted to be.
Upon arrival at the hotel Muttrah which is about 10 minutes drive from Muttrah Corniche, the site that I originally wanted to get, the hotel staff was friendly enough, there we sat in a room on the second floor (Note that the hotel had no pool, and rooms are a bit old but clean and comfortable), we head out from some dinner. where we had the opportunity to eat lamb which is the most common meat to eat in Oman and the Emirates, to the point that when entering a supermarket in the meat stands, lamb is the option to be displayed in all display cases exported from India, Pakistan, New Zealand and all kinds of place which exports lamb.
Returning to the dinner our main course was Kebobs that is a dish that consists of a leading rice flavored with cloves, pepper, saffron, and nutmeg and mix with the meat going to choose that can be chicken or lamb and is topped almonds, and onions, definitely something to be tested if you want to try everything that is different to what is the food of the West, and if not, you can also ask for some international cuisine such as pasta or sea food dishes.
We also had the opportunity to test the Raita that is a dish that is widely used in the Pakistan and Indian food.
The dish consists of a base which is a yogurt, which is flavored with coriander, cumin, mint, and cayenne pepper to name a few ingredients and to which other ingredients are added in this case was cucumber, tomato and onion, which gives a special flavor, and of course should be mentioned that never miss the water at the table, the pan-Arab (The Pita) and the hummus.
Definitely a different dinner for my husband and me as it is not a dish we are used to as westerners.

A weekend night in Muscat sounds interesting so we went to a nightclub in which he presented a show that night in an Arab dancer, for which we were ready, unfortunately when entering the place which was full there was not one woman in the facility. Except for the waitresses whom were women, which unfortunately decided not to stay in place. (So we missed the show).

The next day breakfast was a little closer to what Westerners are used to a buffet with fruit, coffee, juice, and eggs, different kinds of bread, sausages and cereals, among others, and not to miss that
Camel's milk is delicious! And contrary to what many think, personally I would say it tastes very similar to the taste of the milk of cows, and count with a great nutritional value. (Definitely worth taking if you have the opportunity). After our breakfast our first site visited was the area of Qurn, which is in a residential area in Muscat. Specifically, the Qurn Shopping Complex, not that we had something in mind to buy. But in there is the store that I wanted to visit,… yes is there where they sell perfume Amouage.
Which honestly had not heard much until I looked online about information on Oman, and places to visit in his capital. Here in this store they sell one of the most expensive perfumes in the world with such prices over $ 1,000 dollar for a perfume. Although they also carry another perfumes a little more modest, if not with the amount to purchase these one, but not for nothing is called the perfume to give to a Kings, since king, queens and presidents are the biggest buyers, but for our budget it was a little expensive for my pocket, and wasn’t my birthday neither I still had the opportunity to apply it. I won’t lose this opportunity since not every day I have the opportunity to place on my body a fragrance of this price. As for the smell if you guys are wondering I could say that is a strong perfume which contains over 120 ingredients between chemicals and natural ingredients, really smell different to my taste since I like sweet perfumes, but definitely something that anyone who have the opportunity to visit Muscat must see and of course try and in the best case buy one if possible. (Thought since this wasn’t my case).

Our next place to visit was the Ruwi, which is in another part of the city, these one is a commercial area where the clock tower is, and is also the house for the Little India, and the bus station leading to different parts of the country and were also you could get the bus to go to emirates. In there we went to eat at an Indian restaurant called "Khana Khazana", in which taste the delights of Indian food, in this restaurant I keep the picture I took from my husband when he sat outside the restaurant in a replica of an elephant.
Shopping in Muscat I would say is almost the same like in the UAE, and almost same prices, unlike the currency used is the Omani Rial, but you should keep in mind the hours, since stores closed its doors from 1:30 to 4:30, so most people go shopping in the morning or at night. Then when deciding to return to the hotel was impossible to take a taxi, waited for more than 10 or 15 minutes in which many of the taxis went busy, and many of them even with passengers on it even stopped to ask where we were going, because in Muscat is very common to take a taxi in company with other passengers, or to see women driving taxis, which is not visible in the UAE. After so a long wait for a taxi, one come relatively full stop and we decided to address as we are running out of options and the heat was extreme in the streets, entering the car I realized that in the back was a woman wearing her traveling with her baby in arms and in the front with the driver were some children, who then found out that they were the family of the driver, as in Oman is very common that some taxi drivers take to work their families.

After a rest at the hotel, I decided to get a henna tattoo, yes what a best way to take something from here with me than a tattoo, So I had two of them; one are some flowers and the other with the names of my husband and I written in Arabic, surrounded with some small hearts and flowers, what a souvenir I got for myself from my trip to Oman! Since tattoos in the Middle East are very popular in Arab women and Hindus and last about two weeks, so I could afford to wear them since is only for a few days, then about 6:30 pm with head out to the Muttrah corniche to have a small walk and a dinner, a little late because if you arrive early there are boats that do tours of the bay which is renewed by what it's worth is worth taking a ride in it from end to end and appreciate all sides of the bay which is seen in the sea a giant rock at sunset takes on a golden hue, and you would also see large ships and some Arab boats wood and which are triangular sail fish, as in northern corniche is the fish market is well worth a visit. In the ships arrive early in the morning with all seafood. Also on hand is still strong Muttrah built during the Portuguese occupation of Muscat, and then is this huge incense burner on top of a mountain and in the bottom the Al-Ryan Park all on the ocean front.

Upon arrival that evening at the Muttrah corniche, after some photos outside we visit the souk, a place which sells gold, and has around a maze full of small covered streets in a place where there are all kinds of antiques, fabrics and souvenirs, a site that has immense colored lamps and walls very elaborate and well worth a visit.
For dinner, the truth did not have many sites only a few small restaurants with chairs in the street overlooking the sea, and after touring the corniche we decided to go to a Lebanese restaurant called "VIP Lounge", which is on the second floor of the souk, with a beautiful view of the boardwalk, there we enjoy some excellent Lebanese food, with a large dish containing chicken and lamb roasted, some Arabic bread (Pita), hummus ,and three additional dishes ; a fresh salad and the other two one called falafel which is prepared with chickpeas, garlic, cumin and other ingredients, which look like donuts to me and the next dish is called babganoush which is made with eggplant and passion fruit as the main ingredients. .This place is highly recommended great food and good service.

Now all I could say is that I hope the following serve as a guide for the future if someone wants to know or visit Muscat, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman, and had the opportunity to do it by car as we did, I'm sure you would have a great time since is a very pretty place with many nice people.


13 Thank patricali
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 4 Contributor
22 reviews
10 helpful votes
“Modern City with traditional moorings”
Reviewed 27 April 2010

You are in for a shock when you land in Muscat if you had any expectations that its proximity to Dubai would make it any similar.

The first thing you take in while you get outside is the horizontal landscape. It is advised that you take a car on rent if you possess an internationally valid driving license as the pulic transportation in Muscat is almost non-existent.

The main attraction of Muscat is the Muttrah Corniche where you can shop for cultural artefacts and souveniors. Then there is the Qantab beach and the Qurm beach. Qurm beach is mostly seen dotted with people having a barbeque while Qantab is known for the water sports. And if you are into adventure sports then you can head straight to Bousher Sands for some Quad biking,

Muscat has hotels offering a wide variety of stay options. There are options starting at OR 20(approx 40$) per day for the budget traveller to 5 star hotels like the Grand Hyatt charging from OR 100 (200$).

1 Thank robinhood7in
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bacchus Marsh, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
187 reviews
201 helpful votes
“The Wow Factor”
Reviewed 23 March 2010

What an amazing experience!
Sometimes you read up on where you are proposing to travel to, are given tips from friends who have been there. In my case, Oman was one of the many places on my 'travel list' .

The Wow Factor is the only expression I have that covers this incredible diverse country. From the spectacular scenery, the myriad amazing sights which can be visited to the incredible hospitality and respect I was given traveling on my own as a single female. I have to say, it is still unusual to travel as a lone female in the Arab world and can be a little daunting.'

Travelling around to the various areas is not easy due to the distances, so you do need to have a guide & vehicle. My guide was fantastic and the tour I booked great.

Oman is not cheap, but well worth a visit if you like to travel off the normal tourist route and experience something different.

3 Thank Ann P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bengaluru, India
Level 4 Contributor
21 reviews
14 helpful votes
“Muscat is a beautiful country”
Reviewed 6 May 2009

The country is very beautiful and the landscape is very different. Its worth a look.
Remeber one thing in Muscat things look expensive but if a person bargains say from 30% of the quoted price you can get it very cheap.
Taxi's will drop you in a 7-10 km radious generally in under 1 RO.
The departmental stores are very good as they stock a lot of vegetarian food and one gets all the things which you generally get in india.
Oman Airways is a general airlines and nothing compares to Emirates.
People are very conservative and laid back. No work happens between 1 and 4 in the afternoon.
Avoid moving out alone in the night.

10 Thank Nikhil T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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