It was my first time to visit Oman even if it’s easy to travel there from Doha. My friend, April, has been based in London for almost a month, and she had a layover in Muscat. Of course, here I came crashing her hotel room again. 🙂
With just a few hours left before my flight back to Qatar, I had to choose the places on top of my list. I didn’t have enough time to go to the museums (my favorite thing to do, if you’ve read my other posts), but was able to visit the Al Alam Palace and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to go inside. It is not an official royal residence anymore, but it’s halls are still used for special state events. The palace is surrounded by forts built by the Portuguese.
Next is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Tourists can go inside any day of the week except on Fridays. A strict dress code has to be followed wherein shoulders and legs have to be covered. For women, a long-sleeved top and hair cover are musts. I did not plan on going to the mosque so I didn’t pack the appropriate outfit. Luckily, I was able to rent an abaya at the mosque entrance (same place where you can get the audio guide) for 2.50 Omani Rials. That’s around 6 USD, but since there’s no entrance fee, and I really wanted to go because it’s my first time, it was already a good deal.
The place is almost empty, with just a few groups walking here and there. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s 8:30 in the morning, or because it’s 40 degrees Celsius that day. 😀 I read this article while walking around (I Google instead of renting audio guides), and it said that this mosque had world records for the largest carpet and chandelier… until Qataris and Emiratis sized it up and made bigger ones. Amusing. :))
Look at me in an abaya! 🙂 I think I’ll start a game called “Guess where I put my camera?” or “Guess who took my photo?”. Hahah! It’s been an ongoing struggle since I am usually alone when I go out. By the way the answers are: 1. On the cement steps (above), and 2. A janitor whom I disturbed in the middle of his work (below). Sorry. 😦 By the way, the use of cellphones and cameras are not allowed in the prayer halls, so always remember to be respectful. There are also signs before you enter, to remind those of us who automatically Instagram everything.
Taxis in Muscat DO NOT HAVE METERS. Yes, and they are official taxis. Also, Uber doesn’t work in Oman, so you sort of don’t have any other choice besides hotel cars and the bus. Make sure to ask the driver first before getting in and agree on an amount before you get a shock and start cursing. :)) Asking your hotel’s concierge for standard taxi rates is also a good idea.