Morocco, the colorful country that many have fell in love with at first sight. Some have even dreamt of it even before stepping foot on it, myself included. There’s something about the country that draws visitors. But before you visit, you must know that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Below are 15 tips to follow before visiting Morocco. This way you won’t be too surprised when you get there.
1. You might get overcharged
This tip is a tricky one since you never know who’s trying to overcharge. It’s always best to ask around a couple of times and average prices out. It becomes even trickier when you’re in a rush and you have to trust your taxi driver. Always do your research for price estimates on distances. Another good idea is to ask your hotel or riad staff.
2. Beware of pickpocketing
It doesn’t happen often but sometimes someone may bump into you intentionally and try to get something from your pocket or bag. It almost happened to me with a group of boys but luckily my bag was very deep and close to me.
3. Be mindful of the water
During the two times and throughout the six cities I visited, I never followed this tip. Fortunately, I never became sick. However, I do know someone who visited the desert, drank the local water and became very sick. Everyone is different so it’s always best to stay on the safe side; drink bottled water.
4. Ask questions and get direct answers
This tip is crucial in Morocco. You want to ask questions and get direct answers. Do I have to pay to take your picture? How much will this ride be? How much time will we have to sightsee? The reason for this tip is that some people are not honest and feel they can do what they wish if you’re not vigilant. It’s best to ask the taxi driver how much the ride will be before stepping inside than to be surprised at the end.
Also, if you’re doing an excursion, get all of the details beforehand. When I visited Chefchaouen with a driver, he didn’t give me a specific timeframe as to when I should get back to the car. Even when we asked multiple times, he insisted to come back whenever we wanted. Much to our surprise, he was upset when we came back four hours later. There was a couple who didn’t even get to sightsee because they were scared the driver might leave them if they went back too late. So they decided to stay around the perimeter. It became worse when we arrived in Tetouan; the driver had a bad attitude and didn’t allow us to sightsee for a long time.
5. Ask before taking a picture
This tip deserves an explanation all it’s own because many think that pictures are free. Expect to pay a fee to take a picture of that snake charmer or the person who is throwing the monkey at you. If you don’t ask them first and take the picture, they will come up to you and charge you what they want.
Now, you can take pictures that aren’t tourist areas and you might get away with it. Or you may be told to go away and stop taking pictures.
6. Never accept free items
There are vendors that will offer you things for free. They will tell you it’s free so you can accept it. Then they will charge you or make you feel bad when by saying they don’t have money to eat. If you decide to give them something, they may even complain it’s not enough. It’s best to just avoid any free gifts. Instead just say la, shukran.
Practically nothing is free when in Morocco. So if someone is offering you a free tour, it may not be so free. There are people who are honest but to give a tour and their time is just too good to be true. Take it with a grain of salt.
7. Dress modestly
Morocco has become very globalized so it’s not rare to see women in jeans. Also, there are a lot of tourists so not everyone covers up. However, still be mindful of what you’re wearing. For example, if you’re going to wear a dress without stockings or leggings, make sure it’s long enough to not expose too much skin. In Marrakech, I had wore a dress that was a little above my knees without stockings and I received uncomfortable attention from men and women alike. I quickly bought leggings to cover up. Besides, it was getting a bit chill too.
8. Carry cash on hand
I never relied on a credit card while I was in Morocco. I still carried one that I knew I could use in case of an emergency but I relied on cash. Depending on where you want to go, you may not even be able to use a credit card. The souks only accept cash with the exception of certain businesses that accept credit card. And taxis accept cash only as well. So yeah, stash that credit card somewhere cause you may not use it at all.
9. Coins are your best friend
Don’t give big bills when you don’t have to. If you do, you may risk getting charged more or not getting your exact change back. This hasn’t happened to me but there are people who will tell you they don’t have change to give you and keep the whole bill. This creates an awkward situation. So, let’s use those coins eh?
Out of generosity and politeness, it’s always great to tip. Tip the taxi driver one or two dirhams and say shukran (thank you) at the end. Tip the waiter. You may even have to tip the person outside of a public bathroom. Sometimes the person will be in charge of the toilet paper and you may need to pay him to get toilet paper. If you forget to tip, they might just remind you.
11. Carry sanitary wipes
The last tip brings us to this one. Always carry sanitary wipes or tissue with you. A lot of the bathrooms don’t offer toilet tissue. As stated in the last point, you may get charged for the toilet tissue. Or you may encounter a turkish toilet where you are expected to wash yourself with a bucket instead of toilet tissue.
12. Mosques are off limits…
…to those who aren’t Muslim. It’s a bummer since mosques are very beautiful, especially in Morocco, but sometimes the most beautiful things are the ones worth protecting the most. One mosque that is open to the public is Hassan II mosque in Casablanca.
13. Don’t forget your outlet converters
Don’t think you’re going to see the same outlets as in the United States. Morocco typically have the same outlets as in Europe. So make sure to get those converters.
This should be the number one tip for Morocco travel just because you have to haggle in a lot of places you go. Okay, maybe not in restaurants or a McDonalds. But mostly in the souk and with taxi drivers. There may be other places that I haven’t encountered so just be ready.
15. Speak the language
What I love the most about Morocco is its history and languages. Moroccans speak Arabic, Berber, English, Spanish, and French. The Arabic isn’t the same as Arabic in other countries. It’s a dialect called Darija or otherwise known as Moroccan Arabic. It’s supposedly the hardest dialect in the Arabic language to learn. But Darija and other Arabic dialects still share many phrases. Below are some you may already know.
Salaam Alaikum: peace be upon you (Hello)
Shukran: thank you
La bas: How are you?