BIG BUS TOURS Muscat: Stops 1-5 (Part 1 of 2)

big bus tours in muttrah  Big Bus Tours Muscat, with its colorful double-decker buses around town, is the latest tourism development to hit Muscat, Oman.  Ever the tourist at heart, I decided to check it out for myself last Thursday.all aboard  All aboard!  I drove down to Muttrah Souk at 9am as that is when and where I was told it would start. (You can get your ticket onboard, as I did, or you can order them from your hotel or from their website.)map front  With your ticket, you get complimentary headphones and a map.  I LOVE the foldout map/pamphlet that came with the tour. (Illustrated beautifully by Russ North)info on big bus tourslower deck seat  The seats in the lower deck were empty as you can see simply because the weather in Oman is perfect to be outside at this time of year!on top of the world  There were about a dozen of on the bus in total when we left Stop #1: MUTTRAH SOUK (Traditional souk, shopping, souvenirs, restaurants, cafes)the beauty of muttrah  Make sure to spend some time in beautiful Muttrah before hopping on the bus! Muttrah is one of my favorite spots in Oman and I can’t see myself ever getting tired of going there.shuttle bus to Grand Mosque  Muttrah Souk is also the place to catch Big Bus Tours free shuttle bus to the Grand Mosque (only if you bought a ticket of course! 😉 ).  The shuttle leaves at 8am, 9am and 10am each morning as the Mosque visiting hours are only from 8:30-11am, everyday except Friday.  Some tourists were confused – please note that the bus itself doesn’t go there.  You have to take one of the smaller shuttle buses (like a minibus).riyam roundabout  After leaving the Souk, the bus drove along the Muttrah Corniche before turning around at Riyam R/A and heading past the Fish Market and Bait al Baranda Museum.  From the very beginning, I was really impressed with the high views offered from the top of the “big bus” and (as corny as this sounds) the air blowing through my hair.  🙂  This ride was such a refreshing way to see a city I have come to love in a different manner altogether.  It was exciting and a whole lot of fun.6 languages available  One of my favorite features of the tour was hearing so many interesting facts about Muscat and Oman and many sites of interest along the bus-route.  For example, between stops 1 and 2, I finally learned the identify of this building which I must have driven by hundreds of times and never knew-the Muscat Municipality HQ Building:muscat municipaltiy buildingcommentary and headphones  Some quick examples of the informative and historical commentary provided on this tour:

  • Islam, which means “submission”, is the 2nd larget religion in the world after Christianity.
  • The 2010 Omani census determined the population of Oman to be around 2.7 million.
  • The origin of the country’s name “Oman” is said to come from the original tribe of Uman in Yemen.
  • Oman is the oldest independent state in Arabia.
  • There is a housing policy that buildings in Oman should not be higher than 8 stories and must be of 2 colors: cream or white.

(If you want to learn more, you’ll have to take the tour! 🙂 )

I’m glad that the tolerance of the Sultanate was highlighted on this tour by the clear distinction of Stop #2: CHURCHES & TEMPLES ((Public Bus Stop) Protestant & Catholic Church, Krishna Temple).  As the different worship areas were introduced in the commentary with mention of other faiths, it was refreshing to hear this sentence: “Worshippers are most welcome”. That’s the Oman I love!childrens museum  The bus journeyed through the areas of Darsyt, Bayt al Falaj, Hillat as Sadd and Wutayyah and past the Childrens Museum you see pictured here on the way to Stop #3: SHATTI ((Car Park)- outside Costa Coffee-Beach, shopping, restaurants, cafes, Royal Opera House)costa coffee at shatti  I’m surprised that more tourists didn’t get off at this gorgeous spot as you always know there is another bus coming (each 30 minutes). Once again, I was impressed with the enlightening commentary letting folks know that this spot, Qurum al Shatti comes from “Qurum” meaning “Mangroves” and “Shatti” meaning “Beach”, translating this spot as “Mangrove Beach”.looking towards beachjawharat a shati malllast look at mall  Tourists get a chance to see The Royal Opera House Muscat from all kinds of angles as the bus drives around Shati.opera housefront of opera house  Stop #4: QURUM BEACH (outside Japengo – open beach, promenade, mangroves, cafes)shati qurum beachqurum mangrove areaqurum beachbeautiful qurum beachlove streetcrowne plaza from bus  Onto to Stop #5: Qurum National Park (Public Bus Stop – outside main entrance. Park. Amusement Park). No pics taken at that stop.  This stop had the only piece of information that I took issue with in the commentary and that was the comment while passing Qurum Natural Park that : “this is the main venue of the Muscat Festival each year“. Because the main venue is not there this year and is now in Amerat Park, I thought that this could be potentially confusing to a small number of tourists wanting to experience Muscat Festival. (a minor point)

That’s half the tour.  Click here to continue to post #2 which looks at stops 6-10.  Be sure to check out their website at www.bigbustours.com  Email: infomuscat@bigbustours.com.  Telephone: (968) 2476-0864

Here’s a short video of combined clips from stops 1-5 on the tour:

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11 responses to “BIG BUS TOURS Muscat: Stops 1-5 (Part 1 of 2)

  1. so… you bought your ticket….? 😉

  2. Thanks for this Andy. I have seen these buses and wondered if they were worth a try. Now I know and will be taking a tour!

  3. Is it just me, or is 20 RO a bit steep? I would have thought something closer to 10 RO to be a reasonable price, no?

    • J.,
      Have you ever taken a taxi around Muscat? Just getting a taxi from spot to spot on this route would no doubt cost you 20 rials. At least with the prices they catch white guys! Throw in a free shuttle bus to the Grand Mosque and a 60-minute tour of old Muscat, informative comments translated into 6 languages and a gorgeous map thrown in for good measure…I’d say 20 rials aint a bad deal!

  4. J – similar prices for similar tours in Europe are around the $50 mark, so no its a fair price I think, but the tour is not very long at all, and thats where I think the value is lost, I was invited by BBT to go on their trip on the same day as Andy, which is what prompted my comment above, but I declined to go on it because I’d already had feedback from people that the trip was not really “value for money”. The real target audience here are visitors to the city, and for them, perhaps on a cruise ship, I think it’s a pretty good trip – quick and easy and shows “the sights” in the city. It’s a shame it doesn’t go out to a mall or two as well.

    • Sythe,
      What’s the point of having of having a blog if you rely on feedback from others? 😉 The point of them offering a complimentary ticket (like many other free offers you receive…) is for others to try it out for themselves and provide honest reviews. I do agree that the people who would really love this deal the most are new visitors to the city. The bus does stop at the small mall of Jawharat Al Shatti and it’s within walking distance of Bareeq al Shatti Mall. I think that’s more than enough for mall options.

  5. This was the worst tour I’ve ever been on. Muscat should not offer a Bigbus-Tour because there is simply nothing to see that you couldn’t do in a sipmle taxi ride for 6$. You spend most of the time time stuck in traffic, looking at highway bridgets and beeing annoyed by PR-audio comments that you can get better off Wikipedia for free. Furthermore there is no clear time table for only three buses, which makes the hop-on option obsolete. Save you’re 50$ for something worthwhile!

    • B.,
      If that’s “the worst tour you’ve ever been on”, I’m guessing you haven’t been on many at all. The fact that you think the tour would only be a $6 ride makes me question whether you did the tour at all. $6?! That’s like 3 OR! You honestly expect me to believe that you can drive around Muscat for almost 2 hours for 3 rials?! Good luck with that! BTW, if you are “annoyed” by the comments, might I suggest simply removing the earphones. Problem solved! 😉 Why do you need a “clear time table” when there is a bus coming every 20 minutes as they clearly advertize?

  6. Pingback: BIG BUS TOURS Muscat: Stops 6-10 (Part 2 of 2) | Andy in Oman

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