“Take every chance you get in life, because some things only happen once.” ~ Karen Gibbs.
Ever wondered what the secret is to having the most enjoyable trip possible? Welcome to my “Be Invisible” series – your ultimate guide for how to avoid looking like a tourist on your next adventure and guaranteed to boost your entire travel experience.
Bursting with helpful tips and tricks, I’ve asked locals from particular cities around the world to share their insider knowledge on the best ways travellers can become “invisible” when visiting their city and enjoy it like a local. If you’re ready to challenge travel stereotypes, overcome language barriers and embrace what I like to call invisible tourism, you’ve come to the right place!
|This Muscat travel tips and guide was written by Rahma from The Sane Adventurer. The best way to see Muscat is by being an invisible tourist, so I’m very excited to share her 10 interesting tips for how to best blend in amongst Muscateers and provide insight into life in Oman.
If you’re planning a DIY Muscat city tour, these tips from a local’s perspective will help you have a more enjoyable experience and know what to expect before you go. Read on for more!
What to do in Muscat to experience the city like a local
The capital city of Oman is one of the most naturally and culturally diverse capitals in the entire Middle East region. With the city eventually making a spot on the world tourism map, tourists have now started to be seen on the streets.
As the city bears a huge population of expatriates turned locals, it is relatively easy to merge in the crowd and not look like a tourist anymore. I too am expat born, have grown up, and now continue to make a living in this city so I consider myself a local of Muscat who knows the city very well from inside and out!
After living in Muscat for all of my life, here are the 10 things you should definitely know about before visiting this small city across the Arabian Sea.
Drive like the locals
Not many people know that Muscat has some of the best roads in the whole world! The best way to get around Muscat is to definitely get a rental car and drive along the roads of Muscat.
However, be warned: The local people do not like slow and bad drivers. The driving speed limit on the main Sultan Qaboos Rd of Muscat is 100 to 120km/h. If you are planning to drive at speed lesser than that, brace yourself to get light flashes and stares from the drivers behind you.
Nonetheless, the driving experience in Muscat will undoubtedly be one of your best drives ever!
Reconsider using public transport
Unlike its more happening and popular neighbour Dubai, Muscat is still almost in the Stone Age when it comes to public transport. Thanks to a new semi-private transport company Mwasalat, recently an extensive bus route plan has been implemented around the city.
However, it still only connects the major spots in Muscat and you will be on the mercy of the shared Orange Cabs in the city to reach your final destination. The Orange Cabs are non-metered taxis, looking out for tourists to charge them at a higher price even for a small trip.
Feel free to negotiate and finalise an agreed amount before getting in the cab. The last alternative is the Mwasalat metered cabs, which are way too expensive to afford even for a luxury traveler. Avoid it wherever possible.
Enjoy the Turkish delicacies in Muscat
Turkish food is one of the favourite cuisines of locals in Muscat. So much so that there is a dedicated Turkish Food area in the Al-Khuwair area.
You will find four Turkish restaurants all named the same, ‘Istanboly’, with a Shawarma grilling right outside the restaurant with servers from all four restaurants competing with each other to get a customer. The area is buzzing till late hours of the night, which makes it an ideal spot for cracking that midnight snack.
Take a stroll on The Lovers Road
The ‘Lovers Road’ in the Qurm Al Shatti area of Muscat is a beachfront street with urban cafes and restaurants. No one knows the exact reason for the street name, however it is one of the favourite spots of Muscateers to have a late night stroll after dinner. It’s one of the nicest things to do in Muscat.
The street is mostly jam-packed during the early evening hours. If you’re crazy about cars, then make sure to visit the Lovers Road especially on weekend evenings when local Omani guys flaunt their massive gorgeous and expensive vehicles!
Also, dining at any beachfront restaurant with the view of the Arabian Sea is a whole different experience altogether.
Smoke a Sheesha
If there is one way to indulge in the locals while in Muscat, it is definitely to smoke a sheesha! ‘Sheesha’ or ‘Hookah’ in some places is a single- or multi-stemmed instrument for vapourising and smoking flavoured tobacco.
Omani men and women both love to smoke sheesha and it is one of those things directly related to the Arab culture and tradition. However, smoke to an extent which you can endure as first-time smokers can feel dizzy after smoking a sheesha (it is not intoxicating).
Sip on a Karak Chai when you’re tired
‘Karak Chai’ or ‘Shai Karak’ is a strong and sweet milk tea, which happens to be the favourite drink of Muscateers. Available literally every place where you will see a ‘Coffee Shop’ sign, the Karak chai is a refreshing small cup of tea, which is served and drank at all times of the day.
Muscateers also call the Karak Chai as their local alcohol, so do not shy away from getting high on tea when in Muscat.
Be sure to dress modestly
This is one of the most important factors, which many tourists tend to overlook. Considering Oman is a Muslim county, as a sign of respect towards the locals every responsible tourist should dress modestly.
The definition of ‘modesty’ in Oman is that the women should be wearing a dress covering from shoulder to knees while men cannot be shirtless and roam in boxers in public. Though the dressing rules in Muscat are not that strict but it is always nice to respect the cultural norms while travelling.
Say no to PDA
With reference to the dressing clause, public display of affection is a big no-no in Muscat. You can be still pardoned for not wearing modest clothes however the penalties for PDA are rather very strict.
You will find signs restricting PDA at almost all the public places and at the entrances of malls and parks.
Seek permission before taking a picture
The locals of Muscat are known for being the kindest and the most hospitable people in the Arabian region. They will help and assist anyone in need of help even when not approached for assistance.
However, Muscateers are offended if being clicked without their permission. Therefore, never ever photograph a person without their asking for their willingness. Moreover,
TIP: Totally avoid photographing a local lady as they find it very offensive to be photographed by strangers, even if it is a woman taking their picture.
Have a unique dining experience in a park
One of the most favourite activities of local families in Muscat is to dine at a park. Even though the weather of Muscat is not pleasant to stay outdoors for most of the time during the year, still locals like to dine out in the open air.
Grab a beach mat and carry some home cooked food to the park and enjoy a dinner there. The parks are filled to their capacity during the winters in Muscat with local families dining all around.
|For more tips and advice about travelling and life in Muscat, head to Rahma’s blog The Sane Adventurer or follow her adventures on Instagram and Facebook!|
Ready to be invisible in Muscat?
Now you’ve discovered the best secrets for how to act like a local in Muscat, perhaps you’re ready to make the trip! Why not compare hotels in Muscat? If you’d like some more ideas, here’s all my articles about Africa & Middle East to get you started.
Do you have any extra tips to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this instalment of my Be Invisible series! If you found this helpful, please share it or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram for more!
Until next time,
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