I love Morocco for being some of the most unusual, modern yet authentic countries in the world. I’m highly fond of moroccan culture, the language, the cuisine and the Islamic art and religion. I’ve been to Morocco several times and that brought me to the decision to finally put some of my travel tips and advice on paper for y’all.
Universal advice: try to make friends in Morocco before you get there.
This is more important as it looks, I know but if you really want to get to know the best side of Morocco, you just cannot miss out on meeting locals and taking part in family occasions, especially family meals. Morocco is world-famous for its cuisine, but if it’s not made at home, it seriously has only half of its real potential. Moroccan people are great and friendly, both men and women. So get online and look for some friendship forums where you can get to make friends. As an extra, there is no greater way to visit a country then the reason of visiting a local friend (or more J).
- Don’t travel alone
Morocco is a modern country but it is still a predominantly Arabic and Muslim country where women simply should not be alone. Travel with a friend at least because you alone would be way too vulnerable and ultimately you would end up being left on the goodwill of a friendly stranger who will rather sooner than later will befriend you and if it’s not a good man, then you may end up with pretty bad memories of the country. This is not supposed to be a threatening article. But after all Morocco is part of the Middle East and caucasian women walking alone ( and they are younger than 60 ) mean an open invitation ( and a potential visa) for lots of local men.
- If you are girls travelling
Make sure you always stick together and do not let any locals try to divide or distance you or you may end up in serious trouble. And AGAIN befriend a local well before travelling, so that you know if he is a con man or not. Morocco as a Muslim country is a men’s world.
- Dress modestly
Ok, so we are not talking about a VERY Muslim country over here. Morocco is a country where solid European styles are well-worn by the local women too, but initially we would not advise you to wear the following while out on the street:
- Short shorts
- Anything sleeveless, unless you have a big scarf to cover your shoulders with
- Bathing suit
- Any stretchy clothes
- Any shirts or T-shirts with big decolleté
You ought to respect the local culture or you may find yourself in unpleasant situations.
For everyone in general:
- Respect Ramadan
I would advise you to fully avoid travelling to Morocco during the time of the Ramadan. That’s a holy period when Muslims ( the great majority of people) have their 40 day long fasting, which is only broken late in the evening hours. This means most of the shops, restaurants and food selling places are in fact closed during the day. This is a holy period for the locals, when people like to spend time alone, praying in mosques or spend time with their family members. Respect this period and travel before or after it.
- Wanna have a bargain?
Fortunately or unfortunately haggling is going out of trend in Morocco, especially for tourists. It is hard to haggle and even if you do is most probably wasting your more treasured time to get a tiny bargain. Instead try to get familiar with the general prices and make sure you look for a good money exchange too.
- Know your wealth
The local money is the Moroccan Dirham and it’s exchanged generally 1-10 to USD: this means 10 USD is roughly around 100 Dirhams. You can get to buy several stuff out of that money, if you know where to look for them. Get familiar with the prices ask the people working at the reception of your hotel so that you won’t get scammed to pay high prices, being a tourist.
Your local friend can help you tons as the cheapest shops are always those where you, as a foreigner would generally not go. If you look for a super or hypermarket Morocco has two big chains, one being the French Carrefour and the very similar Moroccan Marjane. You can get all sorts of things in these similarly to a Tesco or a Walmart but take great care: the prices are often not that cheap as they may seem. Look for sales and bargains in these places tho.
- Always have the address where you are staying written down and with you
- Moroccan cabs are not like European / American cabs
You may have gotten used to exclusivity when travelling with a cab almost anywhere in the world but in Morocco, cabs function a bit like taxis. Generally using big old Mercedes cars, which can even house up to 6 people at times, these cabs will go a long way to get you to your destination but in return they cost only a few coins. Make sure the driver fully understands the address or place where you want to go AND this method is not suggested for females, especially those travelling alone.
- Beware of scams
Moroccans are normally nice and kind people but they are also often very poor people and due to the overall lack of normal working possibility, some of them try with the good old scams and who are better to scam then the tourists? So anyone who is too nice and wants to really -really help you do more often than not have something more on their mind: money or money AND sex ( see above when I m talking about females travelling alone) Anyone who offers to be your personal tour guide will charge you a lot of money too. This also goes for lots of people offering extra services such as couches or even goods. That’s also why is important to befriend a good-hearted local in advance. If they see you are with a local, they will leave you alone.
If you want to learn more about scams read this well written article on them: http://journeywonders.com/morocco-travel-scams/
- Don’t sit in Cafés where you only see men sitting
These are unwritten rules but there are café ( in fact most ) strictly for men and there are cafés where families with kids are welcomed. If you choose to sit in a café where only men sit, if you are a woman alone or a woman travelling with other women, they may take you for being a prostitute.
- Don’t miss out on Hamams but make sure you use the right segment of it
Hamams are getting absolute trendy all over the world these past years, however traditional hamams are simple places with lots of scrubs, hot water and very humid air. Take care of your belongings. Prepare to be stared at. IF you have a Moroccan friend, rather come with the members of the family ( male or female depending on your sex) Hamams have separate entrances for men and for women and kids. Make sure you use the right one.
- Don’t try to sneak peek or enter in Mosques
It is a generally accepted rule, that unless it is written out that a mosque has guided tours for tourists ( which they generally don’t unless we talk about BIG mosques) it is considered very rude to peak in a mosque, especially if there is a female companion with you. Avoid mosques and only take photos from the outside ( unless you are a Muslim of course, but that would bring us away from our initial topic)
- Be careful with taking photos
Some Muslims still reject the idea of photo and take it as a „ Haram” = a BIG NO in Muslim religion. Therefore especially when it comes to taking picture of people ( men or women ) dressed in traditional Muslim dresses, either take a hidden pic or ask them. The latter may have the consequence of you giving out some baksheesh ( literally money but also meant as tip or begging money )
PS: I’m preparing to make a separate piece on travel and visas that’s why these are not included in this post.
Hope you enjoyed this post, should you have any remarks, questions or additions to my post please feel free to let me know.