Muttrah Souq, Muscat
Muttrah is the old trading heart of Muscat and is one of the largest ports in the region. In addition to a pretty Corniche, the main tourist draw is Muttrah Souq, offering plenty of opportunities for shoppers. Bartering is part of the fun, although you're unlikely to get a huge discount. We have found that scarves cost around 2 OMR (when advertised at 5) but the discount was offered immediately. Otherwise, if you're buying in bulk you may get 20% off, but not much more.
The souq is unassuming from the outside, but once you enter, you leave the bright sun behind and enter a dark world that excites your senses - frankincense scents the air, the beautiful stained glass ceiling of many colours and the frequent offering of "try this perfume" "try this scarf" makes the market oh so memorable.
Once you leave the main thoroughfare, the vocal selling of products becomes a distant hum and you are able to browse the market in peace. Muttrah Souq is the perfect place to pick up gifts or mementos - we recommend incense (choose sandalwood, rose or frankincense) or perfumes (available to try from the large bottles and decanted into smaller bottles - we like Black Oud). This is also a good place to pick up scarves with a huge variety of colours.
A number of shops offer antiques (some more genuine than others) and Omani silver is also a big draw. For local shoppers, traditional clothing and spices are available, as well as the more mundane household goods. A few food stalls are inside the market on the outer edges and tourist cafes are available outside.
We would recommend spending a couple of hours meandering around the souq - part of the fun is getting lost! If it isn't too hot, a stroll along the Corniche is very pleasant, to the giant incense burner offering great views. From a more practical side, there are many money exchangers within the souq and a taxi rank is outside (offering cheaper rates than direct from the hotel). Although touristy, Muttrah Souq is an unmissable highlight of Muscat.