Getting Around –
Arriving and Leaving Oman
Oman’s National airline is not as bad as you might think. Its clean, efficient and much cheaper than its European & GCC counterparts. It doesn’t operate in many countries so check with your local travel agent. If Oman Air doesn’t fly from your country, consider flights with Emirates Airlines, Gulf Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines, fly dubai and Etihad, These are all GCC run air lines and while they may involve stopovers somewhere in the region, they offer lower rates to Muscat than most European airlines. Oman has several airports, but the two largest are Muscat International Airport and Salalah International Airport. Both are a little outside their cities, so expect to pay a bit extra to reach your hotel.
By Car –
Unless you are in the UAE, Yemen or Saudi Arabia, you’re best travelling to Muscat by Plane. Getting paperworks done across several GCC countries could drive you mad and frankly it isn’t worth the headache. If you happen to be a resident of either the UAE or Saudi Arabia, reaching muscat is fairly straight forward Both countries have large highways leading straight to Oman’s borders so you’re unlikely to get lost.Before you head off, check if your insurance is also covered in Oman, otherwise you may not be allowed into the Sultanate or asked to pay heavy insurance charges at a few insurance post’s located near the border plus the hassles of driving to n fro.
Visa Requirements –
Reflecting the efforts to promote and encourage tourism, citizens from most GCC, EU and US countries can obtain a two-week visa on arrival at Muscat International Airport or at the border. There are new visa requirements for GCC residents who hold what the Omani government categorises as second tier professions, so its best to check before travelling. Its worth keeping in mind that queues for visas at the airports can take quite a while.
Places of Interest –
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Located at Al Sultan Qaboos Street, Al khuwair. Tours are on Sat – Wed 8 am to 11 am Children under 10 are not permitted. Similar to other GCC states, Oman has a fascination for breaking world records. It has the worlds 2nd largest carpet ( the 1st being at Abu Dhabi) it can accomodate 20,000 worshipers in its compound. It is one of the few mosques which is open to Non Muslims, its interior decorated with white and grey marble panelling, and the dome comprises stained glass triangles. Remember to wear appropriate clothing ( no shorts for men, while women should be well covered, including a head scarf)
Jebel Akhdar –
Towards Nizwa, Jebel Akhdar, or the green Mountain in english is 2800 m above sea level and a precarious 4×4 trip will get you there. After a stunning riverbed drive through villages and farms, you’ll proceed to the top of the green mountain peak, from where you can take in breathtaking views.
Ras Al Jinz –
Home to one of the world’s largest natural nesting sites for the green turtle. Every year, around 30,000 of these weathered old creatures emerge from the sea to lay their eggs, especially during the breeding season (Jun-Sep) when between 50-100 turtles crawl onto the sand each night to dig their nests. The Ministry of Environment has declared a 120 sq km portion of the land and 45 kms of coastline a protected reserve, forbidding camping and even walking here. but tourists can visit the Ras Al Jinz Scientific & Research Centre joining a tour to observe the turtles in the morning or at night. You can even stay in the eco-style hotel.
10 cool things for kids to do
1) Become a sailor – Oman Sail offers great sailing programmes, tailored to teach children how to set sail whilst educating them on Oman’s great marine heritage. These Sessions also teach leadership skills and more in a fun environment on the water. ( Oman Sail, Ruwi – http://www.omansail.com)
2) Play like an arsenal footballer – Arsenal Soccer Schools is offering a series of engineered professional packages to develop youngsters into better football players. Young footie enthusiasts in Muscat can now learn to kick the ball like a true Arsenal player, and stand a chance of becoming the next big thing. ( Muscat Club, Wadi Kabir – 00968 84483344)
3) Get Adventurous – The new adventure zone at Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah resort & Spa is the first entertainment zone of its kind in Muscat. Designed for children aged from four – 17, it promises a fun, action packed day for all. Firefighters can perfect the art of sliding down a fireman’s pole, or the more daring can brave the 6.5 metre Demon drop slide. Other fun features include the Tumble Tower and Swing Over net. Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah ( 00986-24776666 Open daily 10 am to 10 pm)
4) Have fun at the fair – Marah Land, which literally translates to City of joy, is Muscat’s oldest amusement park. it has a large boating lake that is surrounded by 30 different rides, including a big wheel and a roller coaster amongst others. Go-karts are also on offer, with games such as pin the donkey, located in a complex, it also features food courts and restaurants. Qurum National Park ( 00968-24562215)
5) Play paintball without paint or pain – Muscat Paintball has revolutionised the game of paintball by offering a no paint, no pain experience. New laser tag guns are equipped with an electronic device that is programmed to give a reading of shot count, game scenario and more. Players still have the excitement of regular paintball without the war wounds. Shatti Al Qurum ( 00968- 24697768)
6) Discover science – Children of all ages can enjoy scientific experiment through hands on experience at the children’s museum. It contains many innovative ideas to explore science and fill their inquisitive minds. The museum also recently opened a new computer workshop for its visitors to discover technology in an interactive way. Qurum National park ( 00986 24605368)
7) See the Stars – Astronomers of all ages can gaze up at the twinkly dome of the PDO Planetarium and see the Milky Way along with planets and stars. Seven different shows are on offer, three of which have been locally produced. Oil & Gas Exhibition centre ( 00968-24675542)
8) Go Bowling – Bowling at the Al Masa Bowling Alley is great fun for the whole family. The bowling alley has been entertaining children and their parents for years. Al Massa Mall – Shatti Al Qurum – 00968-24562215
9) Hit the ice rink – Beat the heat and head to the Al Khuwair ice skating rink for some cool indoor fun. It’s the one occasion to dress up as snug as a bug in your winter woolies as the temperatures soar outside. Ice rink times vary. – Near Zuwawi Mosque, Al Khuwair – 00968-24489492
10) Feel fishy feet – Dr. Fish spa therapy in Bareeq Al Shatti Complex is not only frequented by the older crowds, for a manicure on the run, but the younger generation as well. Young ones can sit back and enjoy the ticklish sensation of water fish nibbling their feet and hands as they remove dead skin. Bareeq Al Shatti complex – 00968 – 97617116