Things to know before you go to Morocco

Things to know before you go to Morocco

Morocco is mind-blowing, intense, frustrating, exhausting, difficult to digest, and one of the most fascinating destinations in the world! When you lean in it will reward you a thousand times over! 

Nothing can prepare you for the attack on all senses, but you can make your stay much more pleasant in this incredible country by learning a few things before you arrive there. Here is everything you need to know to make the most of your trip. 

Visas

Whether or not you need a visa for Morocco depends on your nationality. Citizens of several countries are exempt from Morocco visa requirements. This includes the EU, US, Japan, Australia, … But they need a passport, which must be valid for another six months. You can check the visa requirements here

Get Travel Insurance 

You really shouldn’t travel anywhere without travel insurance and Morocco is no exception. If you get ill or injured, any medical treatment you require will be covered by your insurance and will be reimbursed. Some insurance policies will also cover you for theft, lost luggage, cancellations, and anything else that can go wrong during your trip. This will give you peace of mind knowing that no matter what happens you will be taken care of. 

Language 

Morocco’s two official languages are Arabic and Amazigh (Berber) but French is also a widely spoken language. Speaking French can open doors for you in terms of haggling, and asking for directions. 

Most people who work in the tourism industry speak some English and you can get by with English at most restaurants, hotels, and tourist activities. 

Money

The Moroccan currency is called the “dirham”. Notes come in 10dh, 20dh, 50dh ,100 dh, and 200dh, and coins in 10c, 20c, 50c, 1dh, 5dh, and 10dh. You can easily exchange money on arrival, and exchange bureaus and ATMs are widely available in larger towns and cities. 

Don’t expect credit cards to work in many places. Most places, including restaurants, take only cash, so make sure to have cash at all times. Also, even if the shop has a sign on their door stating they accept credit cards, don’t count on it. Many times the connection is bad, so their card machines won’t work. 

Ask permission before taking pictures of people 

No matter where you are in the world, it’s best to ask permission before taking someone’s picture. Many people are fine with it, but others aren’t. Some may ask for money. Don’t take pictures of military government buildings. Drones are not allowed in Morocco without special permission. 

Get a SIM Card 

Buy a local SIM card. This way you can look things up, make hotel reservations, use maps, and stay in touch with family and friends. Buy it in an official mobile shop if not you will pay a lot more than the official price.

Dress Conservatively

Although the temperature may be warm in Morocco, walking around in a mini skirt or a low-cut top is not acceptable. It is a conservative destination and you will draw a lot of unwanted attention to yourself when you dress in a revealing way. Also, if you are visiting a religious site, it is disrespectful to dress in this way.  

Learn how to haggle 

Haggling is a natural part of shopping in Morocco, but it will feel a little bit strange and intimidating at first if you are from a culture where haggling is not the norm. The important thing to remember is that it is not a battle, it is a friendly negotiation. The vendor will probably quote a price that is quite high and he is expecting you to give a lower counter-offer. Then, you can go back and forth and reach a price that works for both of you. The price is always negotiable and if you don’t haggle, you will end up paying over the odds for nearly everything you purchase. Plus, word will quickly spread to all of the vendors that you are an easy target and everyone will try to charge you more. 

Non-Muslims can’t enter Mosques 

While many mosques around the world open their doors to non-Muslims, foreigners will find that in Morocco most are off-limits. You will be able to peek into Morocco’s many beautiful mosques through the open door from the outside. Some Muslims find it disrespectful to photograph the exterior of Mosques. Don’t be surprised if someone tells you to stop taking pictures. 

Scams 

There are a few types of scams that shop up again and again, so if you can be aware of them you will be much less likely to be fooled by them. For example; Unofficial tour guides are everywhere in Morocco. They could be in a restaurant, waiting around the corner in the souk, or approaching you on the street. These guys are just after your money. 

Friday is holy 

In Islam, Friday is a holy day. It can be that shops, bars, museums, and attractions open later than on other days. Always check beforehand. 

Morocco is safe 

Despite the constant lies and scamming, I never felt in any danger. Morocco truly is a great and unique place to visit that is a fairly safe destination. They have one of the lowest crime rates in the world. That doesn’t mean that nothing can happen. Travelers should always be aware! Don’t walk alone in alleys at night, keep an eye on your backpack and belongings. Common sense is your friend here! 

Morocco is huge 

Morocco is a huge country and the distances between the popular tourist cities can take a long time. For example; it can take up to 8 to 9 hours to get from Marrakech to Chefchaouen. 

The best way to travel around Morocco is by bus or by train. I recommend to plan as much as you can beforehand. 

You will get lost 

Getting lost is part of the joy of exploring Morocco with its unmarked roads, the maze of souq alleys, and areas without cell phone reception. Relax but be aware of your surroundings and ask for help if you need it. 

Cats are everywhere 

If you are a cat lover, you may be excited to hear that stray cats are everywhere in Morocco. But be aware that these cats could have rabies. A scratch or a bite could infect you! 

A British traveler died after getting a cat bite in Morocco. 

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