Information & Facts
Despite being on the coast, the weather in Muscat can be
unbearably hot. The best time to visit is between December and
March, when the more temperate winter season provides humane
temperatures. February is the coolest month. The rest of the year
temperatures can be well over 100°F (38°C). Sudden rain can cause
flash floods, although precipitation is unusual.
Buses are the best and cheapest way to get around in Muscat.
Modern buses travel major roads with specific bus stops. For more
out of the way destinations, Baiza buses are common and zigzag
through the back roads effectively, although the buses themselves
are sometimes a bit dilapidated. Taxies are widely available and an
easy way to get to and from the airport. Insist that the driver
uses their meter unless there isn't one, in which case agree on a
price before getting into the car. Taxis are expensive but
convenient when you can't find a bus or don't want to wait in the
sun. There is no subway or railway in Muscat and some travellers
decide to rent a car and drive themselves around.
The official language of Oman is Arabic, but English is
widely spoken. Hotel staff often also speak German and
The currency of Oman is the Omani Rial (OMR) divided into 1,000
baisa. Notes come in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 rials,
and 500, 250, 200 and 100 baiza. Foreign currency and travellers
cheques can be exchanged at banks, exchange bureaux, hotels and at
the airport. Outside banking hours, moneychangers operate between
4pm and 7pm in the evenings and at weekends. US Dollars are
recommended. American Express, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are
readily accepted in large shops and hotels and by an increasing
number of traders in the souq. Most banks in cities and towns have
Shopping in Muscat is a rewarding experience for travellers,
with a range of goods available from local
souqs(markets) and shopping centres. It is
acceptable to ask for a discounts or a 'last price' from
independent outlets, while supermarkets and shopping centres or
malls display fixed prices. Most shops are open from 9am to 1pm and
from 4pm to 9pm, Saturday through Thursday; the Sultan Centre is
open 24 hours a day. The Muscat city centre is the primary shopping
hub, and nearby Muttrah is also quite popular. Best buys include
folk art and craft such as
kelims(carpets), wall hangings and pottery, while
frankincense and myrrh are also very sought after Omani souvenirs.
Silver and gold jewellery and accessories (priced by weight) are
also a good buy. Muscat shopping centres include the Muscat City
Centre mall, the Sultan Centre and the Al-Zakher Centre, hosting
big-name brands such as Zara and Gap, as well as computer shops,
book stores and furniture shops. The best
souqto visit is the one in Muttrah, where
bargaining is expected.
Local time is GMT +4.