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/ / / / The 20 Best Travel Tips for Morocco

The 20 Best Travel Tips for Morocco

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Morocco is an amazing place to visit and I found it to be very different overall from other countries I have been to before. This article includes a list of helpful travel tips for Morocco so you’re prepared when you go.

Morocco is a fairly-heavily touristed country now so the locals are used to seeing people from all over the world. Traveling in a Muslim country, even one as progressive as Morocco is a little different than traveling in other parts of the world. I have to say I found it absolutely fascinating and really appreciate the dedication of people for Islam. To a westerner, there seems to be a lot of rules to live by, and praying five times a day is a commitment.

Having said that, I felt completely comfortable there and even found I had a tough time adjusting back to my life in the States. That is a sign for me that the trip is really staying with me.

Royal Palace, Fes

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20 Travel Tips for Morocco

Following, are some travel tips for Morocco based on what I learned when I went there that I hope you find helpful for your visit.

Don’t Drink the Water

We were told the water is actually a good quality in Morocco, however, because we were only staying a limited time, it was advisable to not drink. This is because our bodies wouldn’t have time to adjust to the water as it in different places have different microbes and things like that. These are typically not harmful, but it does take your body a period of adjustment. As part of this, you shouldn’t eat any fruit or vegetable not peeled or cooked.

This is not only one of the travel tips for Morocco, but also a good travel tip in many other countries of the world, including Colombia.

Remember the Decimal

The conversion for the Moroccan Dirhams is around 10:1 with the United States Dollar and the Euro, so it’s really an easy conversion to do in your head. Unless you misplace the decimal, and buy a trinket for $10 USD that you thought you spent $1 USD for. Oh, yes.

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Dress Reasonably

Though I had read that people, and especially women, should dress modestly (i.e. no tank tops and short shorts), we were told that women can wear whatever they want. Since most mosques do not allow non-believers, you generally won’t have an issue with needing to cover shoulders and knees. However, if you don’t want attention, it’s a good idea to still be careful with how you dress. Most of the local women do dress modestly so you will stand out even more if you wear a tank top, and will likely get attention for it. It’s your call.

Have Cash on Hand

Morocco is a heavily cash-based society. So, you can whip out your credit card hopefully, but more often than not, you’ll go digging back in your wallet for cash. ATMs are prevalent so getting cash is not an issue. And usually going to a bank or ATM provides the best exchange fee. Another option is taking currency from your local country and going to a Cambio to change it to local currency. However, you usually don’t get the best rate for convenience.

Ask Permission to Take Pictures

I’ll admit I’m terrible about this. I just walk around snapping pictures and don’t think about it. But truthfully, it’s rude. If you want to take a picture of a shop in a medina, ask. If you want to take a picture of a person, ask. Give them the opportunity to say no. When you’re in the markets in Marrakech or other cities, they are used to people taking pictures. But, it’s still polite to ask.

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Fes Medina

Be Prepared to Pay for Pictures

When you are in the markets and squares and see someone dressed interestingly, like the Water Men in Casablanca or Marrakech, or you see a snake charmer, snap a photo and you will be charged for it. They are working and will expect payment for the privilege. It generally will cost 10 DH though if you look like you could have some money, they may try for 30 DH or higher. You can negotiate down from there. It’s polite to ask upfront, come to an agreement and make a payment, though, before you take the picture. This is one of the practical travel tips for Morocco. And, if you’re like me and randomly snap pictures, be prepared with some coins.

Negotiate the Cost of Taxis Up Front

The custom in Morocco is to negotiate the cost of a taxi ride upfront and to pay before you get in. Many of the taxi drivers don’t run their meters. If you don’t do this, be prepared to pay a much larger fee and since the ride has ended, you really have no bargaining power. As is generally the case in Morocco, everything is negotiable and this includes taxi rides. Bargain away to see what fare you can get, though it is a good idea to ask your hotel in advance so you have a reasonable perspective.

Try the Dates

Oh, the Medjool dates and their sticky sweetness. They are truly heavenly. If someone in a souk offers you one to sample, try it. If someone selling them on the side of the road offers you one, try it. You’re not obligated to purchase and they are huge and heavenly.

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Dates, dates, and more dates

Tipping

Tipping is at your discretion. Typically, locals will only tip a few dirhams at a restaurant and they will not tip a taxi. Foreigners tend to tip more highly, and if you choose to, 10% is good at restaurants. Check your bill though, as sometimes a tip is added.

Try a Moroccan Hammam

I had read a few blog posts which were, frankly, a little bit alarming about hammams so I wasn’t sure about trying one. I ended up deciding to and I’m glad I did. A hammam is an amazing ritual bath, similar to a Roman or Turkish bath. They can be a little uncomfortable if you are not comfortable with nudity and they sure do take the job of scrubbing seriously. But you will leave feeling cleansed, relaxed, and smooth as a baby’s butt all over.

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Eat Fruit

Morocco has the most decadent and heavenly Medjool dates. Not only are the dates amazing, but so are the oranges and pomegranates. They are crazy good and worth eating as much as you can. And both are peeled so you can eat as many as you want without concerns about.. repercussions.

Meet a Local

Take the time to get to know the locals, whether it be your guides or others. Many people are genuinely interested in meeting you, and they are very proud of Morocco. And with good reason—Morocco is an incredibly progressive country in many ways. They have invested heavily in alternate energy sources to fossil fuels. And they have a bit of a “live and let live” attitude. Though most are Muslim, they believe that whether you go to heaven is between you and Allah (God). It is not for them to judge. This was Ouidad, our guide in Marrakech. She was amazing and I really enjoyed her and all of the guides we met.

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Ouidad and me in Marrakech

Be Prepared to Negotiate

Don’t accept the first price offered in the medina but be prepared to negotiate. We were told by locals to start at 30% of the initial offer and work up to a point that you and the shopkeeper feel comfortable with. Continue negotiating until you feel comfortable with a price or if you don’t, be prepared to walk away. Sometimes the shopkeepers will come back to try to continue bargaining and other times they will allow you to walk away.

Don’t Ask for a Price Unless You’re Interested in Buying

If you ask for a price, you are opening a negotiation, you are not just asking for a price. Also, be careful about how much attention you pay to an item as you very well may start the bargaining process that way as well.

Learn the Magic Words

Arabic is very different from the European languages many people know. Just like when you travel to any country, though, it’s a great idea to learn at least a few words to be polite. There are two that I recommend you learn in Morocco. The first is shukran, which means thank you. The second is salam aleikim, or salam, which literally translates as “peace be with you” but is used in greeting to say hello. You will notice that the greeting is often returned in reverse, “aleikim salam.”

Be Patient During Certain Times of the Day

Morocco is a Muslim country. One of the tenants of Islam is the call to worship five times a day. When that happens, the faithful will literally lay a blanket down on the ground and pray. We found this a couple of times, once when we were buying tickets at a museum and the other time at our hotel. We had just come back to the hotel and wanted our room key and the attendant was nowhere to be found. Then we heard him, tucked in the corner of the hotel in his prayers. We respectfully backed away and waited until he was done. You usually won’t wait very long.

Don’t Visit Only Marrakech

Marrakech is one of the most popular cities to visit in the country and with good reason! There is a lot to do there, it is very picturesque, and it is one of the best known. But there are a lot of amazing cities and areas in Morocco worthy of your time. Consider going to a few different places, and be sure to go to the Sahara desert. It will be a highlight of your trip.

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Consider Sugar-Free Mint Tea

The mint tea is quite sweet. Incredibly sweet. Rot your teeth in your head as you are enjoying a cup sweet. If you like that kind of tea, kind of like the tea you can find in the southern United States, then no worries, you’ll be thrilled with Moroccan tea. But if you like tea with a touch of sugar, as for it on the side.

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Sweet tea in a Berber home

Don’t Expect Casablanca to Be Like the Movie

I’m sorry to dispell the myth, but Casablanca was not filmed in Casablanca. In fact, it wasn’t filmed in Morocco at all! Casablanca is a relatively modern city and it’s nice but it certainly doesn’t have the air of romance like the movie. Sadly. Romance or not, there are a lot of fun things to do in Casablanca.

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Show Respect

Somewhere around 90% of Morocco practices Islam, so it would not be a good idea to disrespect it. It’s acceptable to ask questions but be sure to not offend. And respect the local customs as you would anywhere. Most mosques do not allow non-believers to enter. So, unless you see there is a tour (like at Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca), don’t try to enter.

And it should go without saying as well that you should respect the King Mohammad VI. You will see pictures of him everywhere around the country and in general, the people love him. Those who don’t won’t talk about it as it is an imprisonable offense to talk badly about the king. I don’t know what a Moroccan prison is like but I’d recommend you not find out.

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I hope these travel tips for Morocco are helpful and I’d love to add more! If you have any suggestions please do add a comment or send me a message. Thank you!

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