It was a sudden trip, so I did not prepare any itineraries neither to do some research about the place. I just booked a hotel and fueled up my car and voila! It is always that the Eid holiday is announced just days before it, so it a’int easy to prepare a holiday trip because you’ll never know when would be the exact date it’ll fall. And this year, our office was generous enough to give us three days of holidays! Happy days!
We left Abu Dhabi at exactly 7AM for Muscat – a drive of approximately 490 kms which took us 6 hours on the road and about 40 mins on the border to get your passport stamp. The journey was really smooth and had no traffic, opposite of my expectation that the roads will be busy and packed by tourists but it wasn’t. This trip was my first long drive in the mid-east so I enjoyed it, with the views of sand dunes, rocky mountains and palm trees on the side, I must say it was worth it. Oman welcomed us with 47°C outside.
What to do in Muscat for 3 days?
1. Nakhal Fort – a protective measure in an oasis built centuries ago and about 50 mins drive (80 kilometers) from Muscat. It is also known as Husn Al Heem and is located at old village of Nakhl. It is being surrounded by rocky mountains and orchards of palm trees. The place is a museum of historic guns, artifacts and Arabic traditional furniture. There are some areas allotted where guests can sit and have an Arabic feel inside the fortress. This place reminded me so much of Aladdin. Entrance fee is 1/2 rial.
2. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque – it is the main mosque of Sultanate of Oman and is located at the heart of Muscat. It was unfortunate that we’re not able to go inside the mosque due to celebration of Eid Al Fitr as only Muslims were allowed to enter the mosque. So we only had a glimpse of the contemporary Islamic exterior style of the mosque. What made it different from the other mosques that I’ve seen is that its dome was illuminated from the light coming from inside the mosque at night.
3. Royal Opera House Muscat – about 5-10 min drive from Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It is the country’s venue for music and arts – it also reflects the contemporary Omani architecture. We were not able to enter the place too as it was closed the time we went there. So better to check the timings before you visit the place.
Other places in Oman:
There are plenty of places to visit in Oman, but we intended to stay at the hotel to relax ourselves and enjoy the hotel facilities. You may also want to visit other cities such as Nizwa – one of the oldest cities in Oman and about 3 hour drive from Muscat, from there you can go to Jabel Shams (Oman’s Grand Canyon). We wanted to go there but was quite uncertain with the travel distance and it may require a 4X4 vehicle. Also, you can try to arrange a flight going to Salalah – greenery and beautiful beaches in Oman. I’ll make sure to visit those places the next time I visit Oman!
Where to stay:
We stayed 2 nights at the Hormuz Grand Hotel in Muscat, just 1.5 kilometer away from Muscat International Airport. I’d say the location is meant for those who wanted to stay nearby the airport. The view outside was not that appealing – road constructions and the mountains fronting the hotel. But the hotel rooms and facilities were really beautiful. The hotel has just opened last year, the hotelier told me. The deep-blue tiled pool will invite you for a dive. The hotel offers some services such as spa and gym, though I find it a bit pricey. One thing I didn’t like about the hotel was that the internet has a charge of OMR8 per day. Boo.
Where to shop:
Malls in Oman are not huge as what UAE has of course. So don’t expect lavish malls around Muscat. You may visit The Avenue Mall and just behind it is the Muscat Grand Mall. Before reaching the city, you will also pass by a City Centre Muscat.
Where to eat:
1. Shang Thai (restaurant) – Found this asian gem inside the Muscat Grand Mall where I had the best Nasi Goreng and Pad Thai I’ve tasted so far! Nasi Goreng or Indonesian Fried Rice, is one of my favourite asian food. I read before that the history of this is typically the same as the other asian fried-rice which is to avoid wasting rice, so mainly Nasi Goreng is made up of leftovers! I have tried it in different places and this one stood out. Also, their Pad Thai is exceptional! A must try when you visit Muscat.
2. Fauchon Le Cafe – located inside the Opera Galleria just next to Royal Opera House Muscat. It’s a french cafe which offers Parisian brasseries. They offer simple yet insanely delicious drinks and cuisine adding an elegant and contemporary set up.