Helpful Information for Travelling in Morocco
When going to Morocco there are a few formalities to follow. Be sure to read our list of essentials before getting yourself into a fix.
Things to Expect
Though you might feel as though you are inundated with offers and deals in many Moroccan souks, it would be wisest if you avoid rude or aggressive behavior. If you are genuinely not interested in making any purchases at the time, a friendly decline and your body language will likely tell them this. In general, never keep silent if you are offered something. Silence is considered to be rude and can be offensive. Rather talk your way out of the situation.
You will often find yourself confronted by numerous Tour Guides in the bigger cities. Some of these are official and can really enhance your trip. Many more, however, are unofficial. You need to be cautious. If you do not have an official guide and you would like someone to show you around, try to determine if the person is genuinely interested in showing you around. Some guides prey on tourists and take you into unsavory areas or pester you into hotels or cafés that are not appealing. Always avoid people offering to take you to a hotel or restaurant. They usually have a deal with the people at these establishments which results in you being charged more. Also, avoid offers for a ‘tour of the town’ – especially if you do not know where they intend to take you. In general, it is best to affirm that this is your second visit and to give the feel that you know what you are doing. If you get this right, most bargain hunters will decline and leave you alone. Never allow a guide to bully you into using his services and if you are interested, you could suggest sharing a cup of tea to get to know them better before hiring them. If you decide to go ahead, you should get an idea of what rate you will pay and what your guide is planning to show you before you actually hire him.
Also beware of conmen. These individuals take advantage of unwitting tourists by conning them into giving them money or by taking them into a shop where they drive a sale down your throat. Their stories can be anything from ‘please translate this letter for me’ to ‘I need money to help get a passport/help a sick relative’. Some even act as though you are racially prejudiced to act on your conscience. Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to these scams. If a guide ‘just wants to take you to his uncles for tea’, decline politely. Or if someone wishes you to ‘take a parcel to a relative in your country’ you will likely be unwittingly smuggling drugs.
Often you might encounter begging children. Their demands can get quite overwhelming and you can even feel as though you are being harassed. Always try not to give them anything, as this only encourages them. Instead keep your sense of humor, smile, laugh and find a way to brush them off.
Always watch for pickpockets in market areas as these are rife in certain parts of the country. Rather leave you money in a safe place when going out and take only what you need with you. Also mugging, although rare, is not unheard of. Do not go to areas that you are unsure of.
British passport holders do not need any visas to get into Morocco. Your stay as a visitor is restricted to 3 months, but may be extended at a Moroccan police station. The Currency of Morocco is the dirham (dh). It is divided into 100 centimes (c). Centimes exchange hands at market places more often than dirhams. This money is available in 10c, 20c, 50c, 1dh, 5dh, 10dh (all coins) and 10dh, 20dh, 50dh, 100dh and 200dh (all notes).
VERY IMPORTANT: DRESS
Though Moroccans are advancing fast, they are still for the most part a very traditional nation. This is clearly reflected in their dress. As tourists, it would be wisest to pay attention to your own dress as what you wear could offend locals or lead to harassment. Legs and shoulders are considered to be ‘private body parts’ in most parts of morocco and men and woman should do their utmost to keep these areas covered. Woman are generally covered from wrist to ankle and men are covered elbow to below the knee. This sort of covering will be accepted in most areas of Morocco and woman not covered sufficiently will often get harassed.
It may be that some women in the cities will tend towards more modernized dress and don short-sleeved tops with knee lengths skirts, but it is not suggested that you follow this trend since these woman often get unwanted attention. Both sexes should stay away from vests, ordinary T-shirts (worn as underwear in Morocco) and shorts. They should also avoid tight clothing.
If a man does approach you and gets too friendly, it is suggested that you keep conversation polite but very formal. Stay confident and never tolerate bad and rude behavior. If you feel that the man has crossed the line, you should make a scene and shout “shooma!” (shame on you!). Usually, other people will then come to your aid and the situation will not go any further. It is also wise to avoid smoking in public.