Since we are actually now in Muscat I thought I should write about the place and not myself for once. I have two boys, 4 and 13. Not only have we arrived at the hottest time of the year, we have arrived during the Summer holidays. The children have no friends and we don’t know the city. Not only is it challenging to entertain them both to the same degree of satisfaction because of the age gap, doing so in a two bedroom apartment to stay cool is nay on impossible. Challenge accepted she says.
1. Children’s Public Library
Ok, I know this may sound lame, but seriously my children love it. We have been spending a couple of hours here every other day. The building is brand new, air-conditioned and the ladies that work here are amazing. They have been teaching my youngest Arabic words and have gone out of their way to be helpful. There are colouring in stations, computers and books in both English and Arabic. My eldest vanishes into a soft squishy couch with a Novel and I read really weird books to my cryptid obsessed 4yr old. What’s not to love? There is also a little toy store next to the library on the ground floor. They have lots of craft style toys for younger children. The Library opens from Sunday – Thursday 10am – 3pm. Be prepared to take your shoes off before you go into the library so bring socks if you don’t like being bare foot.
2. Mutrah Souq
The Mutrah Souq is located in the old part of Muscat and is a maze of hidden treasure. What kid doesn’t love rummaging through old coins, rocks, jewels and finding praying mantis in amber? If I’m honest it was just as much fun for me. Although its not air-conditioned it is set within a concrete building and is quite cool inside. You can find old antique doors, Silks, Cashmere, Omani Silver and other beautiful items.
3. The National Museum
Located in the old part of Muscat the National Museum is full of interesting pieces about Omani History and Culture. My 4yr old didn’t enjoy this trip much. There was too much reading involved and his attention span just isn’t there yet. He was into the guns, swords and ships which had some interactive touch screens but other than that he just wanted to run around and listen to his voice echo. The Museum is open all week 10am – 5pm. Friday’s it is open from 2pm – 6pm.
4. Qurum Natural Park
Qurum Natural Park is a green oasis set amongst the hot, dusty city of Muscat. There are two sets of playing equipment. One for the younger children and one for the older ones. There are plenty of trees providing shade and the gardens are beautifully kept. You can bring a picnic along with you or there are little stores selling drinks and food. I would recommend doing this in the early morning or late afternoon. If you go in the afternoon I would strongly suggest taking mosquito spray with you! The park opens at 9am and closes at 11pm on weekdays and opens at 8am and closes at midnight on the weekends.
Funtazmo is in the Oman Avenue’s Mall on the top level. If my 4yr old didn’t get to go in here he was going to explode. The noises, flashing lights and colours are bait to lure in small children and dent their parent’s wallets. It is one of those game arcade style places where you load up your game card, swipe and race cars/motorbikes, play air hockey and throw away money trying to pick up that damn stuffed toy on the claw machine. There is also a roller-coaster and other theme park style rides. Costs vary depending on how much you put on the card. Because I took two children I loaded ours with OMR 10. This lasted maybe 30mins but thankfully it satiated the small one for awhile. Funtazmo is open every day of the week from 10am – 11pm.
6. Sultan Grand Qaboos Mosque
Some may say that this is no place for children. I disagree. The architecture is amazing and there are guides inside who will answer any questions that the children have. The Mosque is so big and there are so many different artistic details for children to explore. Children need to be quiet inside the Mosque but this wasn’t a problem for my 4yr old. The grandeur of the place seemed to zip the lips. There is an Islamic Education Centre that the children can explore as well. It’s important to remember that women need to be fully covered including their heads so take a scarf with you. Boys and men need to wear long pants.
7. Oman Sail
Oman Sail is the perfect place for water sports. I was lucky enough to find a holiday program for my 13yr old. From 9am – 11am he was in the care of the Oman Sail instructors where they taught him how to Kayak and Kite Surf. For a bit of fun he even got to go for spin on one of those inflatable bananas and donuts. The best thing was he got to interact with kids who were around the same age as him. To find more information on what Oman Sail has on visit them at https://www.omansail.com/about-programmes/#
8. Trampo Extreme
Trampo extreme is my personal favourite. The facility is immaculate and brand new. You can do a number of activities from rock climbing, trampolining and obstacle courses to scooting and skateboarding. It was great for both kids (and adults) and the hour of jumping is exhausting, but so much fun. We have visited a couple of times now and it doesn’t get old. Visit their site for opening times and prices https://trampo-oman.com/
9. Funtazmo – Indoor Play Centre at Avenues Mall
After I looked at this I realised it was also called Funtazmo. This part is on the 1st level of the Oman Avenue’s Mall. This is a great area with lots of climbing equipment, ball pits, play equipment and even some Lego stations. An hour or so here will tire the kids well and truly out. It is clean, well looked after and is in great condition. It’s OMR 3 per child, BIA 0.5 for the ID band and OMR 1 for a guardian to remain inside with the child. A requirement for younger children. There is an age restriction of 12yrs old but doesn’t seem to be strictly enforced. The ladies kindly let my 13yr old in with his 4yr old brother.
How can you go wrong with the cinemas. Take a sweater with you. By the end of the movie I was frozen.
TIP: If you’re holidaying, make sure you have a great pool in your hotel. We visited the pool at the Grand Hyatt to mix it up a little even though we have a pool in our compound. Get out early and do things in the morning, its much cooler. Have some lunch, a bit of rest and then head back out in the afternoon.