Follow the sign to the Visa-couter just behind the entrance of the arrival hall, and get your visa on arrival. Make sure to be one of the first because it will be a queue here.... The visa fee is changed from 6 rials to 20 Rials since I was there. You can also change money here. Then go to the immigration, show your passport and the visa-receipt. The immigration officer may ask you how long you will stay and the name of the hotel. So have your hotel ready - or just say a hotel name. Stamp your passport.
http://www.omanairports.com/seeb_airportguide.asp (new info)
www.omanaccess.com/explore_oman/visa1.asp (old info)
Some say that official thermometers are fixed and will never show more than 49°C. The reason is that workers are not allowed to work when it's 50°C.
Fondest memory: The gulf countries are warm places, with the city of Muscat as the warmest place I have experienced. It was like a sauna stove, but May is not the warmest month here. Wait until the middle of June, the locals said. The location between the mountains and the sea makes it so hot. The thermometer at the street in front of Mutrah Souq showed at the most 48°C in the daytime and 40°C at the night.
Fondest memory: I must admit I had some predetermine thoughts about arab men and family issues. I thought the women did all the child rearing. They are responsible and take care of their children and family. I saw several men play with their children in the streets, walk with the baby carriage and so on.
The roads in the areas near the coast of Muscat goes through the rugged terrain of Western Al Hajar Mountains. However the roads towards the airport is flat like a pancake.
See GPS coordinates below the pictures...
It's easy to change money in Oman. With few exception you can change your money at any exchange offices with almost the same rate. But smaller offices is gives normally a better rate than large exchange offices in the tourist areas.
Before the immigration office at the airport there is a counter where you have to pay for the visa. You can also change your money here. The rate was 1 rial for 2,7 USD. The best rate I got was at a small exchange office 20 metres to the left of the Naseem Hotel in Mutrah (1 rial for 2,5 USD). The worst rate was at Mustafa Sultan Exchange close to Mutrah Souq (1 rial for 2,9 USD). They didn't want to give me a receipt eighter. Don't change your money at this place (see picture 1).
One Rial is divided into 1000 baisa.
Dhow boats are traditional arabic sailing vessel with one or more lateen sails. It was used to carry cargo along the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan, India and East Africa. Mutrah harbour houses many of them.
23° 37' 15.7500" N 58° 33' 58.1400" E
Fondest memory: The Omanians loves their cars. Big, fast and gasolin consuming cars with aircondition. You need a car to get around in Muscat. The streets are wide and highlighted in the landscape, with almost no sidewalks.
Port Sultan Qaboos on the left side of the Mutrah harbour is the main maritime gateway in Oman. It is a trafficated port with many container trucks. The road from the fish souq area and Hotel Al Fanar towards Port Sultan Qaboos is lacking sidewalks, and is dangerous to walk. It is nothing to do here.
23° 37' 35.3200" N 58° 33' 39.9900" E
The Omanians loves their cars. The roads are highlighted in the landscape with wide streets and big roundabouts. Where are the crosswalks? Al Mina Roundabout and As Samakah Roundabout in Matrah are examples of this. Also the the big Al Wazarat Roaundabout in Al Qurm.
See pictures for GPS coordinates.
Muscat is just a name for official capital of Oman, but the "real" Muscat is only a small part of the city. In fact there is no true city, but rather a grouping of cities and towns along the coast of the Gulf of Oman which make up the "Muscat Municipality." The municipality is sandwiched between sea and mountains, and to drive from one part of it to another is very scenically dramatic. Old Muscat, except for its forts, is not very important (at least locally); Muttrah and Ruwi - being the municipality's commercial area, are of much larger relevance.
Fondest memory: Despite what i wrote above my fondest memory is the older part of Muscat.. why? because it looks like a place beyond time... there's no evident shops, hotels, restaurants, bars... it looks very much untouched, unspoiled... very much laid back and nearlr forgotten. A place where time stands still.
The area called Ruwi is all about business and making money. There's not much to see there, except maybe a souk which we couldn't find, and a fort that can't be visited - Ruwi for us is the place where we went to eat one of the most memorable meals we've ever had.
Fondest memory: Ruwi proved to be a nice place for an evening post-dinner stroll - we found a lively square in the centre, with a clock tower all lit up. The clock tower, we later discovered, is a city's landmark. All around it, on the pavement, a "homely" scene: kids trying hard to hurt themselves while practicing skateboard figures...
Muttrah is one of the quarters that make up the city of Muscat. It's the place where Oman's ancient trading port used to be. Today in Muttrah there's a lively fish market and Muscat's best known souq.
On one of the surrounding mountains and hills you can see Muttrah Fort - one of the 13 forts scattered about the area. It was built by the Portuguese when they occupied Oman and was also the seat of government under the rule of Sultan Said bin Sultan al Busaidi.
Fondest memory: of course it was Eid when we went to Muttrah, so lots of places where closed. And yet, we liked it... we like the little harbour with the boats, the peacefulness of the area, and the amazing sea promenade past the centre of town.
Shatti al qurm is the embassy area of Muscat... it's a posh and beautiful area by the sea... not very lively, I have to admit - but the beach is superb. I enjoyed some very relaxing long walks there, and some tremendous sunsets. Many of the city's hotels are to be found in this area, as well.
Fondest memory: my fondest memory is a white building that haunted me since the first moment we came to town. it's where the taxi driver wanted to drop us, and it's also where we found someone who could give the taxi driver clear directions about how to find our hotel. the same building looked amazing seen from the beach - and I wondered for a long time what it would be... a museum? a hotel? a government building? nope.. it was a simple office building. Lucky the people who work there.
Favorite thing: When walking along the wonderful waterfront of the Mutrah Cornicle overlooking the Muscat harbour, you will discover it is lined with many interesting statues which are very colourful. One example is the statue of the bird shown in this photograph.
Favorite thing: Although situated in the Middle East, the climate in Oman is suitable for growing some nice plants with colourful flowers. Because of the good water distribution, you can see lots of greenery and some man made lakes in Muscat, especially in the parks.