What do you need to know before booking your trip to Morocco? In this article, I am sharing with you the most essential things that you better know about before you go that would make your trip better and easier.
Before you continue reading, though, I want to make a quick note:
Generally, Morocco is an amazing place to travel to, as well as there are many good Moroccans that I hope you’ll have the luck to come across. I keep wonderful memories of my 3-week trip to Morocco. Even though there are many scams that you might happen to be a victim of if you don’t know what to expect, Morocco is still absolutely worth the visit. In the end, all of those things are what makes the country so unique and so intriguing.
P.S. If you’re planning to visit Morocco’s neighbor, here’s what you need to know before visiting Algeria.
So, let’s get back to my best Morocco travel tips for first-time visitors:
Nationals of 70 countries can enter Morocco visa-free for up to 90 days. That includes all English-speaking countries (excluding South Africa), all EU citizens, and other countries. Make sure to check if your country of residence is on the list of these 70 countries before booking your trip to Morocco. Also, make sure that your passport is valid for 6 months after the intended date of departure.
Is Morocco safe?
In general, Morocco is a safe place to travel to. Its crime rates are relatively low, but it is advised to remain vigilant at all times. You should also keep your valuables in a safe place and not carry them around with you. Pickpocketing is very common.
And no matter if you’re a man or woman, you better avoid walking alone at night.
Is Morocco safe for solo female travelers?
Traveling to Morocco as a solo female traveler is challenging and I wouldn’t advise every woman to go for it. I’m not trying to say that Morocco is dangerous, but it’s not the easiest destination for women to travel by themselves. If you feel uncomfortable being catcalled and stared at, if you find it difficult saying no to people, then Morocco is perhaps not the right destination for you to try and explore on your own.
I have spent 11 days traveling around Morocco by myself of which I even went hiking in the Atlas Mountains alone. There hasn’t been a moment where I was feeling unsafe, or worried.
Some people just act nice and friendly
This is one of the most common scams that you will face in Morocco. People will act nice and friendly, they will help you, or guide you, whatever and in the end, they’ll ask you for money, or take you to their shop where you’re going to end up buying a carpet.
These are the 3 most common scenarios:
The nice guy – He will approach you with a smile, he will act like the nicest and friendliest guy on Earth until you get into his trap. Then, after you agreed to guide you to your hostel, or to just help you to find the way, he will start asking you for money. If not he will take you to a place where ”his people” are waiting for you, so they can show you what are they selling such as crafts, carpets, leather products, that you will find yourself feeling obligated to buy. But you’re NOT.
The henna woman – Same as the nice guy, she will approach you and she’ll sound like the nicest woman you’ve spoken with that day until she grabs your hand. Don’t let her do so! Without asking you either you want it, or not, she will start making you a henna tattoo and then after she finally finishes and let go of your hand she’ll ask for her money. What??!?!
The photographer – Snakes, monkeys, or whatever it is. This guy will approach you and offer you to take a photo of you and his monkey, for example. You need to know, though, that this is not for free, after he takes the shot, you’ll be charged, although that hasn’t been mentioned to you in the first place.
Talking from experience – During the time I spend in Morocco, almost everyone that I met was scammed somehow. One guy ended up with a carpet and unfortunately, I’m not joking.
A friend of mine ended up buying nuts for 200 MAD, which is almost 20 euros. And that’s just because the man gave us a few nuts to try and he felt that he needs to buy from him – I couldn’t believe that he actually bought them.
I was caught by a henna woman on my first day in Marrakech. That was thanks to my friend with the nuts who was trying to make a joke that didn’t work out. Anyway, she grabbed my hand and although I’ve tried very hard I couldn’t escape from her until she finished. Of course, right after she let my hand, she asked for money. I was not going to give her anything as I told her I didn’t ask for it. She started cursing me and then my friend gave her some coins so she can go away. He shouldn’t have.
What do you need to know before booking your trip to Morocco is that you need to dress appropriately – especially if you’re a solo female traveler that doesn’t want to attract any unwanted attention.
Morocco is a Muslim country and women there rarely show any skin other than their faces, hands, and feet. And although guys can dress however they like and tourists can wear whatever they want, it’s better for the tourist women to dress more conservatively.
You should always cover at least your shoulders, chest, and knees. That shows respect for their religion and traditions.
During the time I spent in Morocco, I saw many western girls and women that were feeling comfortable walking in shorts or short skirts. I know that it’s very hot but I find it a bit disrespectful, to be honest.
Especially, if you’re a solo female traveler stay smart and modest. You will get enough unwanted attention anyway, so don’t attract even more of it.
Tip: Always wear a scarf in your bag!
If you’re a woman, you’ll be catcall
If you’re a woman planning a visit to Morocco, one of the primary things that you should know in advance is that you’ll be catcall. Don’t get offended and don’t really pay a lot of attention to it. Just walk with your head up high, with your confidence, and wear your sunglasses. Don’t allow yourself to look vulnerable or unsure.
I was constantly hearing phrases behind my back such as ”nice ass”, or ”nice legs”. I even got a marriage proposal from a random guy on the street and another guy wanted to buy me. I’m not kidding.
Fake entrance fees
Medinas are free for everyone, period. If anyone tries to tell you the opposite and tries to charge you just go away from them. The same applies to the tanneries in Fes.
Never pay the price they ask you for, always bargain
Not to pay the price they ask you for is also one of my best Morocco travel tips for first-time visitors.
You might find it surprising at first, then you’ll get used to it – there are no price tags on almost anything. Basically, you will need to ask how much does it cost something all the time. Sometimes they even act like they didn’t hear you. Anyway, almost everyone will try to rip you off just because you’re a tourist. Don’t let them do so! When they tell you their price, you go ahead and tell them yours, always haggle. In the end, you shouldn’t pay more than what you’re willing to.
Talking from experience – I didn’t pay for anything as much as they wanted me to not even once. I’ve always had a price in my mind that I was willing to pay and never paid even a dirham more than that.
Even if they don’t agree about the price at first, after you walk away, they will chase you so that they can sell you that thing at the price you want to.
Taxis – Always make sure that you know how much it will cost you to get from point A to point B. Taxi drivers in Morocco were always trying to charge me double the price. Luckily, I always knew how much it should cost me the ride in advance, so I didn’t let them do so.
You need to bring toilet paper with you everywhere, all the time
Bringing toilet paper with you is an important Morocco travel tip for two reasons. First, you might not always find a toilet, and second because even if you do the chances are that the toilet won’t be equipped with toilet paper.
You should also know that often the toilets in Morocco are squat ones. Some of them even have a small fee.
Except for toilet paper, I would also recommend having with you wet wipes or hand sanitizer. The fountains in the bathrooms are not always working.
Avoid making eye contact
This is one of the best tips that I can give to anyone who is traveling to Morocco. The best way to avoid eye contact with people is to wear sunglasses.
Why avoiding eye contact? To reduce the possibility of being considered as the next victim.
When making eye contact, people, in general, will suppose that you’re interested in them, what they do, or what they have to offer. In a blink of an eye, you can end up with a snake around your neck.
Does it work? I believe so, yes. Avoiding any eye contact worked very well for me in Morocco.
Don’t trust the online schedules of the buses
In Morocco, there are three main ways to get around the country – by bus, by train, and by a grand taxi.
There are two main bus companies, CTM and Supratours, that tourists are using. Both of them have websites and online schedules. Don’t trust them, please.
Here’s what happened to me: I decided to travel from Marrakech to Fes by bus. I’ve checked online for the schedules of both companies to decide which bus will be the most convenient for me. I chose one and went to get a ticket for it. Luckily, I decided to get my ticket in advance because it turned out that this bus does not exist. If I had gone there on the day, I would have been fucked.
You should also know that the bus and train stations are usually away from the center of the city. In most cases, you will need to get a taxi to get to your hotel/hostel.
You might get bitten by bed bugs, or other insects even if you’re staying in a nicer place
True story, I’m sorry, but actually, there is nothing that you can do about it.
This doesn’t mean that this will definitely happen to you, of course. Anyway, you should have it in mind, lots of people are being bitten by something in Morocco, including me.
This is important to know before visiting Morocco so you can prepare for it – I mean, getting an anti-insect spray or something.
Talking from experience – One morning, while I was still with my friends, we all woke up bitten. To be honest, I don’t know if that were bed bugs, or what was it, or if it was from the place that we were currently staying at. We were the only people at this place that were bitten, so that might not be the case. Actually, we read somewhere that it might take a few days for the bites to come up.
Tip – If you do get bitten, you can use mint to ease the scratching. Just rub the bites with a fresh mint and you will feel relief right away.
You can’t take more than 1000 MAD in and out of the country
The Moroccan currency is hard to find. I did find one place in Sofia where I could exchange as much as I am allowed to get in the country. Not to worry, you can exchange your money at any major Moroccan airport.
If not, in the big cities, you can exchange your money almost everywhere. Some places even accept euros – accommodations, tours, etc.
Moroccans speak many languages
It’s always useful to learn a couple of words and phrases in the local language. However, in Morocco, you shouldn’t worry about any language barrier. Many Moroccans speak not just one or two, but three or sometimes even more languages.
Morocco has two official languages – Moroccan Arabic (Darija) and Berber.
French is used as a second language and it’s widely spoken. Nowadays, many Moroccans speak English as well. Spanish is also very common, especially in the northern parts of the country and among the Berbers.
It’s easy and cheap to find a local SIM Card and stay connected
The internet connection in Morocco is shitty. The Wi-Fi’s are weak and in some places, you can’t even connect.
For me, it’s very important to stay connected and to be able to use the Internet (I know, I know, but I have to work.. ).
Even though the Moroccan mobile operators are not the best, the connection that they provide is fairly good. If you’re planning to travel in the country for 3 weeks like me, or even more, I would highly recommend getting a local SIM card.
I bought my Maroc Telecom SIM Card from the street in Marrakech for only 100 Dh (less than 10 euro). That gave me enough mobile data for my entire stay in the country. I even used my phone as a router to connect my laptop to it more than once. I don’t remember how much MB exactly I’ve had but even if you run out of them, you can easily recharge.
You CAN find alcohol
Morocco is a Muslim country and alcohol is not that easy to find. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, though. You can absolutely find alcohol everywhere in Morocco.
Some Moroccans really don’t drink any alcohol at all but especially the young generation drinks and loves to have fun.
Usually, alcohol is being sold in hotel bars and nightclubs. In these places, you should expect to pay a lot for a drink.
In big cities like Marrakech, Fes, and Essaouira, you can find alcohol in big supermarket chains like Carrefour. There, they have any kind of alcohol and it’s a lot cheaper than in the bars and clubs. In all those places, you can also find ”black markets” where they sell alcohol. You should just ask for it.
Another traveler and I found one bar in Marrakech where we’ve had whiskey. On the next day, we went to Carrefour and bought a bottle of wine that we drank at one of the parks in Marrakech. Something so ordinary and normal that you cannot usually see in Morocco.
Everything is far away
Another very important thing to know before visiting Morocco is that everything is far away. Having this in mind, you should plan your time wisely.
I spent 3 weeks in Morocco and I don’t think that this time is enough. There are still places that I want to see, that I didn’t have the chance to visit. An example of a place like this is Dakhla. Dakhla is a city on the Atlantic coast in Western Sahara. When I found out that it takes more than 16 hours to get there from Marrakech, I quickly realized that it will be impossible to make it.
The desert? The trip that goes to Merzouga takes two days to get to the desert. You’re making lots of stops on the way and visit lots of other places so it’s fine. On the last day, though, when you’re going back to Marrakech, the ride takes more than 9 hours.
Getting from Marrakech to Fes or vice versa takes 8 hours.
Some vaccines like Typhoid and Hepatitis A are recommended but it’s not mandatory to get any to be able to enter the country. Vaccinations are a personal choice.
The official Moroccan currency is Dirham.
Although there are many tourist traps, Morocco can still be very budget-friendly if you be careful about how you spend your money. My biggest expense was the desert trip and I’ve spent not more than 400 euros on this 3 week trip (excluding flights).
If you’re planning to use an ATM, you should call your bank before your trip as your transaction might be declined otherwise. There is also a transaction fee that depends on your bank, but you can also check this in advance to be prepared.
I’ve had all my money in cash = 1 000 Dirhams. The rest of my cash was in euros so I could easily exchange it.
Power in Morocco
In Morocco, the power sockets are of type C and E. The standard voltage is 220V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. If you’re a European citizen, they are the same and you don’t need a power converter. If you’ll be traveling to Morocco from somewhere else, you will most likely need one.
Water in Morocco
In Morocco is recommended to drink only bottled water.
Different local people were telling me that it’s only fine to drink tap water in Marrakech, others we saying that it’s fine to drink tap water only in Chefchaouen. Anyway, you better stick to the bottled water just to be safe.
Usually, I’m a person who drinks only tap water and I’ve tried it in Marrakech, Fes, and Chefchaouen and I think that it was fine. But it really depends on your body and how does it usually handles new foods for example. Do you usually drink tap water back home?
Travel insurance is highly recommended for any trip no matter the destination. You never know what might happen and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You can get a quote and book yours for Morocco using the widget below.
So, those were my best Morocco travel tips for first-time visitors. Hopefully, this post, which is btw more than 3 000 words long (Thank you for reading!) will help you to prepare better for your trip and will save you some unnecessary headaches.
Thanks again for reading,
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