Children are most welcome everywhere and the local people will be more than happy to interact with them. There are playgrounds in most of the places we visited and where there are none, there are enough stones or sand to play with. We found Oman to be a very suitable country for travelling with kids, car driving was not a problem and the distances are not too big. The flight from Europe was not too long also and there is only 2 hours time difference. In 2 weeks you can see a lot, without making the trip too tiring for the little ones. I would avoid going there in the high summer, because of the extremely high temperatures, but the rest of the year should not be a problem. I must say we did not meet any family travelling around, only quite a few expact families with small children living in Muscat.
We were there end of March, beginning of April and there were a few really hot days in Muscat. Once you move into the mountain regions the climate will get better and you will definitely need a sweater and socks in the evenings. We planned our activities early in the morning and used the hottest hours of the day for driving to our next destination or a picnic in a park, swimming or relaxing in the shades. Always carry a bottle of water, a hat and sunscreen for your kids (well and for you probably also).
In general, food was very tasty but we did have some problems finding snacks for the way. Milk and yogurts are usually available in bakeries – watch out for the bread varieties, as there are many sweet versions. In LuLu supermarkets in Muscat and Nizwa you can get pretty much everything, glass food for babies and diapers included. The best thing is to stock up with those in Muscat at the beginning of your trip – if you have a car it´s easy to just have it in the trunk. You can get some fruits on the way, search for local markets. But there will not be many stands just by the street, we had to search for them usually. Indian food is often available, but in Muscat and other bigger towns so is western food. We saw quite a lot of fast food little cafes, where you could get burgers and fries, other than that you can always get some rice, fish or meat. We are lucky because Lu really isn´t picky about food.
We never had to pay extra for Lu, but he also always slept in our bed. In most cases, there was anyway no space for an extra baby bed. Most of the hotels had breakfasts included, we never paid extra for the third breakfast also. The rooms were always nice and clean, sometimes also with a mini bar and a room service (even in very small private hotels). The two hours time difference made no big changes into our daily routine. There were no mosquito in the night, we only used the AC in Muscat.
INTERACTING WITH LOCALS
Be prepared that local people want to talk to you and touch your child and/or take many photos of him– it´s perfectly normal for them, so don´t worry. In restaurants, it often happened that the waiters “kidnapped” Lu for a while and showed him around the kitchen while we were finishing our meals – they just loved playing with kids. We often got free food just because we were travelling with a child, an extra French fries portion at lunch or free banana and a yogurt for the way at breakfast was nothing unusual. Also in the bakeries, bread was often for free 😉 Everybody will be glad to help if you are in trouble or just talk to you in a park or at a market. We had a wonderful experience also because of the people, they made our trip even more special and memorable.
The distances are really not that big – unless you are heading all the way down to the south of the country (if you want to include the south into your plan, you would probably need a month time). Sometimes the roads are very curvy so if your kids get carsick that can be a problem and sometimes it´s also a bit bumpy because of gravel roads. Take a cotton diaper with you, you can hang it over the window to prevent the hot sun shining through the window.
CAR SEATS & STROLLERS
We had our stroller with us, which was in some places more useful than the others. In Muscat we used it very often, because the walkways were quite okay and Lu was still sleeping for about 45 minutes in the afternoon. On the beach or in a wadi of course the stroller is useless. Luckily ours can be folded easily and has straps to carry it on the back – which we also did a few times on the beach. Visiting forts and castles with a stroller is also impossible, we always just left ours at the entrance. Considering the fact we had a rented car and could leave it in the trunk anytime we felt we won´t need it, we don´t regret taking it with us.
Car seats are a different story. We did not bring ours with because we did not want to check it in between the other baggage as we thought it might get damaged. We booked the car through a well known company, already weeks before we visited Oman and we did make a cross at the additional extras, that we want to also rent an infant child seat. As we came to the airport we went and checked with our rental company – guess what, they did not have what we asked for. Luckily, we took the car only a few days later, because we did not need it for the first days in Muscat. In the meantime they got a very small seat, from another car rental office and it was waiting for us when we came. We did see a few seats being sold in the LuLu Hypermarket in Muscat.
MUSCAT WITH KIDS
We were surprised over and over again in Oman, with the number of playgrounds, parks and activities for children. In Muscat we spend a lovely afternoon in Qurum Park – had a small picnic on the grass and enjoyed the slightly cooler climate under the big trees. Running around and playing hide and seek barefoot, we were the only tourists over there, which made us to a little attraction on its own ;).
In the evenings the beach is the place to be. There are some restaurants to be found at the beach, so after dinner take a stroll down the beach pr observe local kids play football.
NIZWA & AL HAJAR MOUNTAINS
We were amazed to see so many playgrounds! It´s usually all plastic which gets very hot under the sun, but still. Even on the rim of the canyon, we found a huge empty playground, there were just a few goats eating grass. For those a bit older, exploring all the forts, castles and museums will be interesting. Besides, there are so many stones to play with, the kids cannot get really bored.
If your kids are older it might be interesting for them to spend the night in the desert – you can also explore the dunes on the back of a camel. We did not sleep in the desert as Lu with his 17 months at the time, was surely not so interested in all of that. We did spend a few hours in the red desert sand and seemed to be enough for him.
Wadis are beautiful green valleys which are filled with refreshing waters after the rainy season rains – when you visit them without kids, you can also go trekking up the wadi, but with little ones they are also fun – you can take a swim, or walk through small villages along the way.
The beaches are literally empty. There will not be many people going for a swim or so. In Muscat we saw some families having a picnic on the beach and the kids would go swimming (but that was on a Sunday). You can have the beaches around Sur, Ras al Hadd and Ras Al Jinz all to yourself. The sea was a bit rough for the very small kids, but they can enjoy the waves in the shallow water, collect shells or observe the crabs, digging out sand. Its like a huge sandbox! There is one thing though – no shade! Go there early in the morning or use your car´s shade to hide from the sun (if you have a 4WD you can easily drive it on the beach).
Oman with kids yes or no? We say, definitely yes! It´s like an adventure, but a very safe one, just perfect for little travellers 😉