Muscat International Airport Checklist
Budget Options for flying around the Middle East are limited, especially if you’re going to places that are not well on the tourist track. The flight from Amman (Jordan) to Muscat via Bahrain on Gulf Air cost £130 ($210) which is one of the most expensive (£ per minutes in the air) flight we took in a while.
While starting our descent into Muscat (aka Saeeb) International Airport, I noticed that we were flying below the peaks of Al Hajar Mountains. The weather was clear and it was daylight which would reduce any chance of visual errors in the cock pit. The airport itself is not large or luxurious. The plane stops nears the gates and you either take the bus or walk to the the gates.
Visa on Arrival is not free, and there is no ATM to withdraw Omani Rial (RO) from. So you’re stuck with paying Travelex Money Exchange to convert the currency and issue the visa. Luckily we had planned to stay for a week which cost 5 RO /person rather than the steep 20 RO for those staying longer.
Before heading over to the car rental counter, I bought the SIM for 5 RO and added another 5 RO credit. Withdrew cash from a local bank’s ATM, entered the coordinates to the hotel into the smartphone GPS, and headed over to the car rental counter.
Car rental in Oman is essential unless you’re staying in Muscat and commuting to another city. However, you’ll miss out on some of the most beautiful sites (see the next few blog posts) around the country. We managed to get a deal for 14 RO per day, and with petrol being almost free, it definitely was worth it.
As our hotel was in West Muscat, we had to cross a few congestion points which took an hour. This happened a few times in the following days when we had to go about. Budget hotels in Oman are plentiful, but cost around £50 a night on average. The rooms are spacious, cleanliness standard is good and nothing something the wife will decline to stay in.
Once we checked in, the next aim was to get to a close-by food place to grab quick dinner before crashing into bed so ended up at a South Indian restaurant. Unfortunately the chicken panini the wifey ordered had a stick of chicken patty on one side and the rest filled with mayonnaise. The customer service wasn’t great either as we were left alone in a room with no one to check in, the guy only came to take order and deliver food.
Along the way an old South Asian approached us saying that he has a heart condition due to which he has to leave the country, but needed money for an operation. I’ve had gazillions of people approached in many trips from Brussels to Bangkok with similar stories. It’s impossible to tell if they’re lying, but as a general rules, I don’t hand money out to unknown people on sob stories.