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Muscat, Oman in 25 hours -- what can we do?

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My little family (two adults and a 6 year old) is flying from London to Zanzibar in October. Our flight has a 25 hour layover in Oman.

1) Reading online it looks like we need a transit visa to leave the airport and explore. We will be back at the airport within 24 hours, so can we go with the free 24 hour visa, even though we will be in the country for 25, or should we pay for the 72 hour visa? Obviously, that's not a make it or break it expense, but every little helps!

2) Given our time/family constraints, what can we do? We looked at tours to the Wahiba sands and the sites say they can last up to 9 hours. That sounds great but may be pushing it for us, after an overnight flight from London. But, then again, when will we back in Oman?!?

The hotels in Muscat look amazing, but we are on our way to stay at an AMAZING villa in Zanzibar so aren't too fussed to spend much time at a fancy hotel by the pool. A tour of Muscat looks interesting but we will be touring Stone Town a couple of days after and there is only so much walking through a city, looking at architecture, museums, and markets that my son can handle!

Any other Omani advice or tips would be greatly appreciated!

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