Morocco has become more and more popular among travelers. It’s a beautiful country but there are some things you should be aware of before traveling to Morocco. Below we have gathered 12 things you should know before traveling to beautiful Morocco.
Most travelers from around the world can visit Morocco without applying for a visa if the visit is only up to 90 days. But even if you do not need a visa for your trip to Morocco there are still some requirements you need to fulfill. These requirements are as follows:
- Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the time of your arrival to Morocco.
- You must present an onward or returning ticket
- You have to present that you have the means to support your expenditure on the trip. (We had printed our bank statements just to be sure)
If you want to stay more than 90 days in Morocco you can apply for an extension at the local police station. This has to happen within 15 days of your arrival.
When you arrive at the airport you must fill out a piece of paper with different information. This is the address of the place you are staying doing your visit among other things. Therefore, it is a good idea to have your booking information close by when you arrive in Morocco. When you have fulfilled the paper you bring it, as well as your passport and boarding pass to the passport control. So remember to hold on to your boarding pass.
Lastly, you must get your passport stamped at the airport. If it is not stamped you may have some difficulties leaving the country.
The currency in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham. The Dirham is a closed currency, which means that you can only buy the currency when you have arrived in Morocco. Fortunately, it is very easy to change either US Dollars or Euro to the Moroccan Dirham once you have arrived. One of the easiest ways to exchange your money is to do so at the airport. If you find your way to the check-in area you will find both ATMs and exchange offices.
Another thing to be aware of with the Moroccan Dirham is the ATMs and the amount of money you are allowed to draw. Legislation in Morocco states that you are only allowed to withdraw 2000 Dirham at a time and a maximum of 6000 Dirham a day. This means that you can withdraw 2000 Dirham three times a day. But you have to be aware that it is not always cheap to withdraw money from ATMs. If you are unlucky, like us, there will be some type of fee every time. One of the best ways to avoid this is to draw up a budget for your trip. That way you can bring along the exact amount of money for your trip in US Dollars or Euro and exchange these for Moroccan Dirham when you arrive in Morocco.
#3 Don’t drink tap water
This one is quite obvious but also very important. You should not drink tap water in Morocco. You might get sick as there are different bacteria in the water than you are used to. So drink bottled water to be safe.
#4 Respect the culture
Morocco has become a bigger and bigger destination for tourists. But do not let influencers in bathing suits fool you. Morocco is a conservative country and it is there very important that you respect the locals’ culture and their religion. This means that you have to dress modestly as a sign of respect. To do so you must keep your shoulders and knees covered. You are not required to wear headscarves but it can be a good way of avoiding unwanted attention from locals.
#5 Learn to haggle
When traveling around Morocco you cannot miss some of the markets, also known as souks. These are incredible and a perfect place to try and haggle you to a good price. Because the prices in the souks can be very high, but they are rarely what you end up paying. You have to haggle – that is just the way in the souks.
And if the seller won’t go any further towards your set price you have to walk away. It can be quite difficult if you just fell in love with a carpet, shoes, or anything else. But the sellers tend to call you back and accept your offer. So it will often pay off to haggle in the Moroccan souks.
#6 Learn a few local words
Morocco is a melting pot of different languages. The official language is Arabic, but a major part of the population speaks French. If you are traveling the north you will possibly meet locals who speak Spanish, whereas the indigenous population speaks Berber. Because of the huge amount of tourists, a lot of the population also speaks English.
As with so many other destinations around the world, it is always helpful to know a few words and sentences in the local language. We found that French was the most common of the languages in Morocco. Therefore, we have made a list of some of the most used words from our trip to Morocco.
|Hello sir / ma’am (madam)||Bonjour Madame / Monsieur|
|Good evening sir / ma’am (madam)||Bonsoir Monsieur / Madame|
|Please||S’il vous plaît|
|Do you speak English?||Parlez-vous anglais?|
|I do not speak french||Je ne parle pas francais|
|The directions for…?||La direction pour…?|
Tipping is very normal in Morocco. So when traveling you should be ready to tip at restaurants, drivers, hotel porters, and so on. Therefore, it is always a good idea to keep cash on you. The rule of thumb is to tip around 5 to 10 percent extra on the bill. And remember that some restaurants have done the mental arithmetic for you and the tip is therefore already part of the bill.
#8 Taxi drivers can be difficult to negotiate prices with
To say that the taxi drivers in Morocco are difficult to negotiate prices with is very polite. Unfortunately, most of them are frauds. This means that the prices for a drive are often much too high than normal. Especially in the airport, the prices are crazy. A fair price from the airport to the city of Marrakech should be around 80 Dirham but often the taxi drivers won’t go lower than 350 Dirham. If you are lucky you might be able to haggle the price down.
We found that the easiest way to avoid the high prices of taxis in Morocco is to arrange for an airport transfer with your accommodation. As well as walking around the cities when possible. The sidewalks are big and you shouldn’t be afraid to walk from place to place during the day. It is both cheap and a good way to see more of the cities.
#9 Strangers offering directions is a no-go
When you are wandering around the streets of Morocco you tend to be a bit lost. We would always recommend, especially in the Medina of Marrakech, that you try to walk around without a map. But walking around looking lost may create some unwanted attention.
If you meet some locals trying to give you directions you should politely say “no, thank you” and walk away. Because you cannot count on these people to show you the right way.
There are friendly people in Morocco – we experienced that. But those giving out directions telling you that the road is closed or pointing towards Jemaa el-Fnaa even though the signs say another way is not trustworthy. If you follow the directions, you often end up at the locals’ family business or in another uncomfortable situation where the locals aggressively insist on payment for your “guided” tour.
So if you get lost, especially in the Medina, it is better to ask the police for help or use Maps.me.
#10 Don’t go out alone at night
When it gets dark at night in Morocco it may not be as safe to wander around the streets as in other countries. Especially in the Medina of Marrakech. Therefore, it is always a good idea to walk together with someone – and it is most often an advantage if one of the two is a male.
But if you are traveling alone or in the need to walk around the street after nightfall you can always ask at your accommodation what they are thinking. They probably know the nightlife a lot better.
#11 Be prepared for what you will see at Jemaa el-Fnaa
When traveling Morocco, Jemaa el-Fna in Marrakech is for many people a place you must visit. It is a huge tourist attraction and it is probably true that you shouldn’t miss this place on your trip. But bear in mind that this place is not a sight for sore eyes.
Snack tamer, henna tattooist, and wild animals – Jemaa el-Fna has it all. But some of the animals’ conditions are terrible and they are taken advantage of in the cruelest way. So you have to be prepared for this sight as you may walk away from the square with a heavy heart.
That said the Jemaa el-Fnaa is more than just animal cruelty. From almost every building you find colorful carpets, Moroccan food, as well as different types of shops and stalls.
#12 Watch out for pocket thieves
They say that some parts of Morocco are teemed with pocket thieves – especially in Marrakech. Luckily for us, we didn’t have any encounters with these thieves. But to be honest there were a few men who seemed a bit sketchy because they were trying to sell (what seemed to be) their own expensive phones and fancy watches to tourists.
Even though you may feel safe when traveling to Morocco it is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings. Keep your bag closed and close to your body. Another tip that we have found very helpful is always to only bring the most necessary personal belongings. And if you want it is also possible to make use of a small padlock for your back. That way it is not possible for pocket thieves to get to your things inside the bag.
With a bit of caution and common sense, you shouldn’t feel scared to wander the streets of Morocco.