There are a few things you should know before you go to Morocco, whether you’re there to explore the sounds, sights, and scents of the medina, shop for handcrafted artisan goods in the souk, or contemplate the cosmos while sleeping under the stars in the Sahara Desert. Here are some recommendations for enjoying your stay in this lovely nation.
Please dress in clothes that are not revealing or provocative.
While Moroccan law does not impose restrictions on what individuals can or cannot wear, it is nevertheless important to dress modestly while traveling throughout the country. On the other hand, you don’t have to don a local djellaba or scarf. If you wish to wear a kaftan or tunic, feel free (as long as you’re sensitive to the culture).It is acceptable to wear a bikini on the beach at the seaside towns, however don’t walk about town in your swimsuit. Keep an eye on what you’re wearing and bring lightweight items that go below your knees and cover your chest and shoulders to be considerate of local cultural norms.
Morocco is More than Marrakesh, Chefchaouen, and the Sahara Desert
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, Morocco is the place for you. Beyond the well-known tourist destinations of Marrakesh, Chefchaouen, and the Sahara Desert, there’s so much more to explore. Start your trip in Essaouira – it’s a calm beach town with a welcoming vibe. From there, it’s easy to venture south to see the famed Ait Ben Haddou or north to Rabat, the capital city. Either way, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable journey.
Understand the Nuances of Commerce
The medinas of Morocco are spellbinding. To watch people go through the souk picking up fresh produce, spices, and nuts to prepare a meal for their family that night is fascinating. Herbalist stores sell dried roses for tea, black olive oil soap to cleanse the skin, henna for hair color, sandalwood perfume blocks, and argan oil for the silkiest hair. You must have a basic grasp of how business operates in Moroccan souks before going inside a store or engaging with a merchant.There are many ways to save money while having a good time in Marrakech. One of the best is simply to eat lunch at one of the street vendors selling delicious food for very cheap prices (such as a chicken kebab). Street merchants abound in Marrakech, as it’s an important part of life there. However, before you begin bargaining, there are some things you should know. The asking price is usually at least three times higher than the value of the product. Offer 30% and be prepared to pay at least 50%. If you touch an item, the shop owner will pursue you down the street demanding that you buy it. Do not state that you’ll return later to purchase something unless you mean it. The souk may be crowded, but when you walk past later and don’t stop in their store to make a purchase, they will remember you.
Berber Whiskey Isn’t Booze
It’s common for shopkeepers to ask you to sit down and speak with them for a while. Don’t pass up the opportunity to talk with a local — they’re looking to make a sale. If you plan on purchasing anything, it’s polite to inquire about city life. You’ll eventually be given a tiny portion of brown liquid in what appears to be a shot glass when you ask what the drink is comprised of. The shopkeeper will undoubtedly give you an amused grin and remark, “It’s Berber whiskey, sister!” when you inquire about the mix ingredients.
Don’t be concerned, there’s no alcohol in Berber whiskey. What fresh, mint tea lacks in alcohol it makes up for in sugar. Instead of alcoholic beverages, Berber whiskey is sipped all day long. It would be rude to refuse this hospitality, especially in a family home or business, and it is an opportunity to share Berber whiskey with locals that is not to be missed.
Not All Hammams Are the Same
Although it can be nice to have a private hammam at a riad with an attendant, for a more authentic experience, go to the local hammam instead. These public bathhouses are hundreds of years old, and part of weekly- sometimes even daily- tradition for most Moroccans as they help purify the body. At the local hammam, you’ll usually pay around 10 USD for an attendant who will scrub your skin raw with olive oil black soap and a sponge glove in a steaming room full of other people.The hammam, like other Moroccan customs, has ancient roots and a rich history. It’s an unusual experience as a woman because you’re allowed to enter the intimate lives of Moroccan mother, daughter, and wife. Everyone is mostly naked, giggling, singing, and scrubbing each other raw in this bawdy film that follows the sexual awakening of three young Amazigh women. Some people claim that Moroccan girls use the hammam as a hunting ground for potential spouses for their boys.
Traveling with young children can be difficult, as they’re not always able to help out.
The historic district can be disorienting for newcomers, what with the intricate street design and lack of signage. Even if you have a map in hand, you’re still an easy mark for locals looking to take advantage. Children will playfully tell visitors that they’re going the wrong way or offer to show them around in exchange for some money. The kiddos will remind you of how lost you were before they saved you! If you don’t give them the coins, they’ll chase around the medina until you pay up. It’s better to sternly tell them thatyou aren’t lost, even if want to be found, and that’ll find your own way. If stop into a riad where the receptionists can help guide in right direction.
It is never acceptable to take photographs of military personnel.
It’s frowned upon to take pictures of the military or police. This is vital to remember when crossing borders if you’re coming across the Strait of Gibraltar on a ferry and doing the border crossing in a vehicle. If you’re seen taking a picture from within a bus or car, it’s likely that the vehicle will be stopped, the officer will enter the bus, confiscate your camera or phone, delete the photo, and give you a stern scolding.
Be on the lookout for traffic scams.
One more road law that many intrepid travelers wish they had known before driving a rental car in Morocco is that the cops will pull you over for no reason and issue you with a ticket for any reason, even if you are not guilty of breaking the law. Refuse to pay the fine unless they give you a paper receipt; otherwise, you’ll just be giving them money rather than actually paying a traffic violation fine.
Transportation in Morocco is Affordable and Safe
Getting around Morocco using public transportation is quite simple, comfortable, and inexpensive. The bus and train networks are well-linked to most of the country’s popular destinations, with departures available all day. Try to go during the morning so that you can see your destination in the light.With Morocco’s countless winding and confusing streets, it may be difficult to find your chosen accommodation. To ensure an easier time, buy a SIM card so you can use Google Maps or directly call your accomodation for help with directions.