Getting around Muscat: Everything you need to know about taxis, public transport and renting a car

Your guide to the best ways to get around the Sultanate’s capital

Getting around Muscat: Everything you need to know about taxis, public transport and renting a car

If you’ve just moved to Muscat, or if you’re here on holiday, you may be wondering which is the best method to get around.

Taxis can be pricey, particularly because many are unmetered, and you may prefer to use the bus network to save yourself some rials.

However, if you’re planning on taking day trips it’s best to rent a car so you have complete control over when you leave and the route you take.

And if you’re planning on staying a while, you might even prefer to buy a car for travelling around the city.

Luckily for you, we’ve prepared a quick guide to all the different methods.

Taxis
It’s relatively easy to find a taxi in Muscat, which are painted orange and white, but most are not metered. You will need to negotiate a price before setting off or you will find yourself with a hefty bill at the end, and even then you may find yourself paying more than you might if you were Omani.

Uber and Careem are not available in Muscat, but you can download a number of apps which are similar. Mwasalat, which is government owned, is metered and works in a similar way. You’ll be connected with a driver and given an estimated arrival time, you can pay by cash or card and you’ll get a digital receipt at the end. OTaxi is also popular in Muscat, but you cannot use this at the airport, malls or major hotels as these areas are restricted to Mwasalat taxis only.

Buses
Muscat has a fairly extensive bus network which connects the major bus stations, the airport, and all the main tourist attractions. You pay for the distance travelled, with one zone costing 200 baisa, two zones priced at 300 baisa and three zones setting you back 500 baisa, and you will pay the driver once you get on. The routes from the airport can cost a little more at OMR1, depending on where you’re going.

There are also buses travelling between the major cities in Oman. For example, you can get from Muscat to Salalah for OMR7.5 one way, or OMR12 for a return trip. There is also a bus that runs from Muscat to Dubai in the UAE for OMR5.5 one way, or OMR9 for a return trip.

Mwasalat runs the bus network and you can find full details on bus routes and prices on mwasalat.om.

Driving
If you’re moving over to Oman from a western country, you may be shocked by the erratic driving you will see on the road here. You drive on the right and the usual laws apply – you must wear a seatbelt, even if you’re a passenger, and you can’t use a mobile phone while driving. When driving through residential areas, the speed limit is 40 kph, rising to 90 kph on rural roads and 120 kph on highways. Petrol prices range between 211 and 240 per litre (a bargain 48p or 62 cents).

Many drivers find Google Maps to be inaccurate in Muscat, and you may wish to download Waze instead for navigating the city and local area.

Hiring a car
If you want to hire a car, there are plenty of firms operating in Muscat, including global companies such as Sixt, Hertz, Europcar and Thrifty. The minimum age for renting a car is 21, but many firms will not lease their cars to drivers under 25, and if they do, there will be a big excess if you get into an accident. You will need to bring along your valid driving licence or an international driver’s licence.

If you want to travel to the UAE, you will need to check with your rental car provider first as some only allow travel within Oman.

Buying a car
There are plenty of new and second-hand car retailers across Muscat, so you’ll have no difficulty in buying yourself a motor. However, you will need to be a resident of Oman and have a valid Omani driving licence before you can buy a car, and you can only have three vehicles registered under your name. If buying second-hand, you must make sure to transfer the car into your name with the Royal Oman Police.

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