Muscat

Old Dec 24th 2011, 1:42 pm
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Default Muscat

I'm soon going to be spending a couple of days in Muscat. Any tips for restaurants and things to do during the day (Family Millhouse inc. Mini are going)

I'm staying at the Crown Plaza and don't plan to sit by the pool. We have the car so can travel around a bit.
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Old Dec 24th 2011, 7:50 pm
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Default Re: Muscat

How much driving do you want to do? Are you into museums? Would you be interested in visiting the Grand Mosque or Muttrah Souk?

We've visited the Armed Forces Museum in Beit al Falaj a couple of times now and thoroughly enjoyed it. Just depends how much you're into history, Islamic history and, in particular, the history of Oman.

Nizwa is interesting but it's around a 3 hour round trip which could be a bit much for Mini after the drive to MCT.

If you like Indian food there's a great restaurant (licenced) in CBD called Woodlands. Decor a bit iffy but great food - the usual northern stuff but loads of southern Indian meals which we'd never heard of before. Talk to the staff - they've always guided us well. And, by the way, portions are large - well to our mind anyway. Another good Indian restaurant is Mumtaz Mahal which is much closer (you can see it from the CP) but it's much more expensive and we'd always rather get a taxi to Woodlands and back.

You could also try Khargeen (not licenced) in MSQ - serves a bit of everything. Sandwiches, pizza but the best is the Lebanese style bbq. Part cooked and comes to the table on a portable bbq so you can finish cooking the meat to your preference.

Be aware, though, that taxis are difficult to find. If you take a taxi from the CP get the driver's number and, before he drops you off, arrange for him to pick you up. The CP has a group of taxi drivers based there. Check with the concierge what the right price should be as taxis aren't metered. Fare from the CP to Woodlands should be around OR3.

There's a really good Omani concierge - very tall and somewhat African looking. Think he's called Majid - he's really helpful.

If you do find that you've spent enough time in a car during the day and want to eat outside of CP you can walk down the hill to Japengo (again unlicenced) where there's something to suit most people.

There's also the Children's Museum in Shatti al Qurum which can also be seen from the Hotel. We've not been - don't have kids but here's a link which may be helpful:

http://andyinoman.com/2010/03/06/the...-for-20-years/

Hope this helps.
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Old Dec 25th 2011, 3:20 am
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Default Re: Muscat

Originally Posted by Millhouse View Post
I'm soon going to be spending a couple of days in Muscat. Any tips for restaurants and things to do during the day (Family Millhouse inc. Mini are going)

I'm staying at the Crown Plaza and don't plan to sit by the pool. We have the car so can travel around a bit.
I was there a few weeks ago for 5 days with the missus , we stayed in The Chedi which was pretty nice , great hotel and a cracking restaurant in there with a lovely bar and beachside view , Gulf prices though but you can't escape that most of the time.

I hired a car and drove into town , went to the Grand Mosque and the Souk and then over to the old Portuguese Fort on the other side of town. You could drive round to The Shangri La and go for Lunch , the Grand Hyatt has a bit going on as well.

All in all Oman is a cracking place , there's not a great deal to do but it's just got a very very nice vibe about the place. Ive been quite a bit over the years and i would take a job there tomorrow to be honest.

Enjoy !

Buy a mini explorer map at the airport , it's piss easy to get round
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Old Dec 25th 2011, 3:54 am
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Default Re: Muscat

Thanks everyone - this is really great.

HND - as it happens, we are also staying in the Hoota Hotel at Nizwa so we can go to the caves etc.

We are doing about 2-4 hours a day driving with multiple stops, (route is Khassab-Fujeriah-Muscat(2 days)-Nizwa-Al Ain-Dubai) and we're more than happy to tour around each place a bit. I have things sorted for most places except Muscat so this is all great. Thank you.

The millhouse family roadtrip starts at 6am tomorrow!

Cheers! and Merry Christmas

Last edited by Millhouse; Dec 25th 2011 at 4:07 am.
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Old Dec 25th 2011, 2:32 pm
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Default Re: Muscat

Originally Posted by Millhouse View Post
Thanks everyone - this is really great.

HND - as it happens, we are also staying in the Hoota Hotel at Nizwa so we can go to the caves etc.

We are doing about 2-4 hours a day driving with multiple stops, (route is Khassab-Fujeriah-Muscat(2 days)-Nizwa-Al Ain-Dubai) and we're more than happy to tour around each place a bit. I have things sorted for most places except Muscat so this is all great. Thank you.

The millhouse family roadtrip starts at 6am tomorrow!

Cheers! and Merry Christmas
Good luck on the journey. Please note that most of the big hotels (and major restuarants) will have the restaurants booked out by non-residents at this time of year, so if you are very certain you want to eat at place X on day Y, you'd better try and book it once you get there.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 3:05 pm
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Default Re: Muscat

Muscat is a great place. Will go back there for sure.

The driving trip was great too - actual trip was Dubai-Khasab-Dibba-Fujeriah--Khor Somthing - Muscat-Nizwa-Al Ain-Dubai. UAE-OMAN borders are a bit hit and miss though especially if you hit them at a busy time.

Camping in Khasab was great. Saw loads of great Forts that mini liked - although I must confess that it comes a time when you have seen them all.

Nizwa caves were a little bit of a let down - all felt very man made and sterile. Although green mountain was great. 8oC at lunchtime at the top and bloody chilly at night!

Sadly mini shit himself in the car halfway through the road trip which made spending 3+ hours a day in the car somewhat unpleasant!

All in a great experience and one that we will be repeating.

Last edited by Millhouse; Jan 3rd 2012 at 3:08 pm.
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Old Jan 3rd 2012, 3:27 pm
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Default Re: Muscat

Originally Posted by Millhouse View Post
Muscat is a great place. Will go back there for sure.

The driving trip was great too - actual trip was Dubai-Khasab-Dibba-Fujeriah--Khor Somthing - Muscat-Nizwa-Al Ain-Dubai. UAE-OMAN borders are a bit hit and miss though especially if you hit them at a busy time.

Camping in Khasab was great. Saw loads of great Forts that mini liked - although I must confess that it comes a time when you have seen them all.

Nizwa caves were a little bit of a let down - all felt very man made and sterile. Although green mountain was great. 8oC at lunchtime at the top and bloody chilly at night!

Sadly mini shit himself in the car halfway through the road trip which made spending 3+ hours a day in the car somewhat unpleasant!

All in a great experience and one that we will be repeating.
Lived here 30+ years and only managed to get to Oman (Muscat & Nizwa) 3 or 4 times but loved it each time - zillion times more friendly than UAE.

So sorry about 'mini s... himself etc' woooweeee musta ponged out the car, such a shame for the rest of your journey. Agree with you though, would return to Oman again and again.
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Old Jan 4th 2012, 11:46 am
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Default Re: Muscat

Oman is a bottomless treasure trove - so many amazing places in the mountains and by the sea.

My favourite is the Saiq (Seeq) plateau on Jebel Akhdar. Is that where you went? Amazing little villages hanging off the edge of the 2000m plateau tumbling down onto terraces where they grow pomegranates and roses. Like Lord of the Rings scenery.. I discovered another gem near Muscat last week: Bandar Al Khayran - a beautiful fjord/lagoon with mangroves and pink sandstone rock formations reached after a stunning 30 minute drive through the mountains (follow directions for Jebel Sifawy) or better yet by boat I would imagine.

And while I agree the forts do start to look the same, you should have seen a few impressive exceptions. Nizwa fort in the midle of the souq, massive Bahla fort with what remains of the attached 17km of city walls, and Jibreen castle, worth a detour for its trick staircases, intricate original 17th century painted ceilings, interior falaj and grimy dungeons. Though maybe you were excrementally distracted by then....

I do agree that Hoota cave is a big meh. Where is the Hoota hotel and how was it btw?
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Old Jan 4th 2012, 1:34 pm
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Default Re: Muscat

Originally Posted by Miss Anne Thrope View Post
Oman is a bottomless treasure trove - so many amazing places in the mountains and by the sea.

My favourite is the Saiq (Seeq) plateau on Jebel Akhdar. Is that where you went? Amazing little villages hanging off the edge of the 2000m plateau tumbling down onto terraces where they grow pomegranates and roses. Like Lord of the Rings scenery.. I discovered another gem near Muscat last week: Bandar Al Khayran - a beautiful fjord/lagoon with mangroves and pink sandstone rock formations reached after a stunning 30 minute drive through the mountains (follow directions for Jebel Sifawy) or better yet by boat I would imagine.

And while I agree the forts do start to look the same, you should have seen a few impressive exceptions. Nizwa fort in the midle of the souq, massive Bahla fort with what remains of the attached 17km of city walls, and Jibreen castle, worth a detour for its trick staircases, intricate original 17th century painted ceilings, interior falaj and grimy dungeons. Though maybe you were excrementally distracted by then....

I do agree that Hoota cave is a big meh. Where is the Hoota hotel and how was it btw?
Yes we went to Jebel Akhdar. Didn't make it to the forts you mention though it must be said although maybe next time.

Hoota Hotel is near the top of Jabal Shams - GPS said it was 1980m up. Hotel is actually set of very basic concrete chalets - really set up for hikers etc and reminded me of the sort of basic accommodation you get on a school ski-trip. It was nice enough but the chalets were unheated (it was 5oC at night) and there was no kettle - dinner (and hot drinks) finished at 7.30pm.

Thankfully we had sleeping bags and a gas stove in the car from camping so we were pretty much sorted - but it was still a bit chilly!

The staff running the place were spot on though. We got there late, the credit card machine was broken and we only had enough cash for 2/3s of the room rate. They could have sent us back down the mountain to the ATM (50km away) but instead they accepted what money we had and kept the restaurant open for us and my poo covered kid.
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Old Jan 5th 2012, 4:40 am
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Default Re: Muscat

We were very impressed by Jibreen Fort when we saw it over Eid. And the 4x4 drive from Nizwa to Rustaq via Snake Canyon is nothing short of mindblowing.
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Old Jan 5th 2012, 8:13 am
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Originally Posted by csdf View Post
We were very impressed by Jibreen Fort when we saw it over Eid. And the 4x4 drive from Nizwa to Rustaq via Snake Canyon is nothing short of mindblowing.
Can you please, please describe briefly the route i.e. how to find and follow it. There is now a fully sealed road through the wadis to Rustaq from near Ibri - nice but not the spectacular over-mountain route which I've wanting to do for ages.
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Old Jan 5th 2012, 11:17 am
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Default Re: Muscat

Originally Posted by Miss Anne Thrope View Post
Can you please, please describe briefly the route i.e. how to find and follow it. There is now a fully sealed road through the wadis to Rustaq from near Ibri - nice but not the spectacular over-mountain route which I've wanting to do for ages.
I can do better than that: here it is on a map, assuming you start at the top and work down (scary enough as it was - I think doing it uphill would require balls of steel)

1) You start by driving up to the viewpoint, taking a photo or two of the ridiculously breathtaking scenery, then leaving the tarmac road onto the track heading East here:
http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=23...;mlon=57.41717

2) Optional diversion to Bilad Sayt ("prettiest village in Oman" is a bit of an exaggeration, but definitely worth seeing)
http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=23...;mlon=57.39150

By this point, unless you are a seasoned 4x4 driver, your nerves will be shot to pieces.

3) Good camping spot and entrance to top of Snake Canyon
http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=23...;mlon=57.38186
If you're in a group and it's not going to rain, you can drive to the end of the canyon, leave a car, then drive back to the start and scramble down the canyon back to the car. Requires relatively good canyoning skills in certain points.

4) Carry on past Zammah and stay in the wadi bed (a much easier track) past Tikhah, Al Wasit, Far and eventually back on to the main route 13 to Rustaq


In case I wasn't clear, this is a serious bit of off-roading: don't attempt unless you can change a tyre, are prepared to drive down very poorly-maintained tracks with a 500 ft drop just inches off the wheel, and can drive over wadis and very rough terrain.

Last edited by csdf; Jan 5th 2012 at 11:21 am.
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Old Jan 5th 2012, 1:28 pm
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Originally Posted by csdf View Post
I can do better than that: here it is on a map,
Thanks very much for that - very useful guidance..
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Old Jan 5th 2012, 7:33 pm
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Default Re: Muscat

Originally Posted by Miss Anne Thrope View Post
Thanks very much for that - very useful guidance..
Like the name. Moliere springs to mind.
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