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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

All You Need to Know Before Visiting Morocco

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Morocco is likely one of the most magical, but difficult locations I’ve ever visited. It’s a tough and tumble nation that needs to be accepted by itself phrases. In the event you don’t perceive its tradition, you received’t be capable to take pleasure in it. Visiting Morocco may be each wonderful and chaotic, which is why I imagine it’s necessary to get as a lot data as you possibly can earlier than you journey there.

Visiting Morocco

Situated in North Africa, on the crossroads of three worlds – Mediterranean, Arab and African – Morocco is a rustic of nice range. Right here you’ll discover the attractive coastlines, steep mountains, inexperienced valleys, and sweeping deserts. You’ll additionally discover historic cities, outdated Medinas, spectacular Kasbahs, in addition to European-inspired cites with fashionable structure. The nation’s tradition is a mix of Arab, Berber, European and African influences.

inside the Marrakech airport
Marrakech Airport

Visiting Morocco will undoubtedly broaden your horizon and enrich your journey expertise, however it’s going to even be difficult. You’ll get involved with a society and an atmosphere which can be very unfamiliar to you, so that you’ll typically must step outdoors of your consolation zone.

Important Issues to Know Earlier than Visiting Morocco

In the event you plan to journey to Morocco you most likely have a whole lot of questions, so I’ll attempt to deal with as many as I can on this publish. I can even attempt to dispel any fears and issues you might need, and as a substitute provide you with some ideas and insights into this tradition that can assist you higher perceive this complicated nation. I hope that after studying this information you’ll be capable to journey with a lighter coronary heart and have an excellent expertise in Morocco.

1. Is Morocco Protected to Go to?

The primary query most vacationers ask themselves earlier than contemplating a visit to Morocco is whether or not the nation is secure. Though previously few years there have been some terrorist assaults on the southern border, Morocco is a secure nation for probably the most half. The crime charge is comparatively low and violent crimes towards vacationers should not a typical difficulty.

That being stated, it’s suggested to remain vigilant always. Maintain your valuables in a secure place and watch out for scams and petty crime, that are quite common right here.  

One necessary factor to remember is that Morocco is a Muslim nation which follows Islamic legal guidelines. You need to be sure that your conduct received’t offend the locals and attempt to be respectful to their customs and tradition.

2. When Ought to You Go to Morocco

The Finest time to go to Morocco is throughout the cooler months of the yr: September by way of November and March by way of Could.

Throughout the summer time months temperatures may be very oppressive, starting from 40 to 55ºC (104 to 130ºF), apart from the coastal areas the place they’re normally round 25-28ºC (77 to 82ºF).

Throughout the winter months, the climate is usually poor and snow could make many mountain roads impassable for driving.

3. The best way to Get Round when Visiting Morocco

Earlier than our journey to Morocco, we did a whole lot of analysis relating to one of the simplest ways to go to the nation. There are a number of methods to get round in Morocco: utilizing public transportation, renting a automobile and self driving, or hiring a automobile with a personal driver.

transportation when visiting Morocco
Transportation in Morocco

Public Transportation

Getting round in Morocco on public transport is usually straightforward. There are many buses, collective taxis and trains that hyperlink the principle cities within the north with the coast and Marrakesh. However though the protection could also be good, you’ll have to have some “Moroccan time” at hand, as service disruptions and delays happen fairly often.

Trains are an excellent possibility in case you are touring between the foremost cities, however buses are a less expensive and extra complete various if you happen to plan to go to smaller cities.

There are additionally Grand taxis that cowl longer routes between cities, however they don’t depart till they’re full. Grand taxis are shared cabs that carry as much as six passengers — two within the entrance beside the driving force and 4 within the again. The Grand taxis don’t have any meters, so you need to negotiate the fee per particular person earlier than you head out.

Automobile Rental

Renting a automobile additionally has its personal challenges. Highway situations and visitors accidents are a major hazard in Morocco. The mountain roads by way of the Rif and Atlas mountains are steep, slim, and harmful. Additionally, road lighting is minimal after darkish and folks or animals can all of a sudden seem in the course of the highway.

Parking is an issue as effectively. And never solely in huge cities, but additionally in smaller cities the place the historic facilities are car-free. Along with these points, you want to pay attention to the truth that English isn’t largely spoken in Morocco. That makes asking for course or attempting to learn the indicators –which in lots of locations are solely in Arabic– actually troublesome. In our expertise, Google Maps isn’t completely dependable in Morocco.

Hiring a Automobile with a Personal Driver

After months and months of analysis, we determined that the most secure and most handy strategy to journey by way of Morocco is to rent a automobile with a driver. Though it’s going to actually be cheaper to make use of public transportation or lease a automobile, hiring a personal driver doesn’t value as a lot as you would possibly suppose. To not point out the truth that it offers you a greater expertise and prevent a whole lot of trouble.

standing next to our driver  when visiting Morocco
Our driver in Morocco

After visiting Morocco for 2 weeks, I’m nonetheless satisfied that hiring a driver and journey guides in each huge metropolis was the perfect determination we made. Even my husband who doesn’t concern the challenges of driving everywhere in the world (together with the steep, slim roads of Sicily), agrees that having a personal driver is THE strategy to journey in Morocco.

There are fairly a couple of corporations who supply these providers, however figuring out which one to decide on could also be difficult. All the time learn the corporate’s evaluations earlier than deciding. We labored with Morocco Rent Automobile and have been greater than happy with them. They’ve English fluent drivers, very aggressive costs and nice service.

Our driver did so extra for us than simply take us from level A to B. He additionally took us to many attention-grabbing locations that we didn’t find out about, gave us sensible data, helped us with our baggage and handled us like his family.

4. Is There a Gown Code in Morocco?

Regardless of being a Muslim nation, Morocco is extra liberal than different Muslim states. Most Moroccan girls don’t put on a veil –though they could effectively put on a scarf. In huge cities girls are extra emancipated, so you may even see younger ladies carrying short-sleeved tops and knee-length skirts.

Moroccan women wearing headscarfs
Moroccan girls chatting

The overall rule is to decorate conservatively. For Muslims meaning overlaying your legs and shoulders in case you are a lady and carrying lengthy pants in case you are a person. Vacationer girls should not anticipated to cowl their head, however they need to costume decently when visiting Morocco. Meaning not carrying above the knee skirts and shorts, see-through clothes, or low cleavage tops in case you are a lady.

How to dress when visiting Morocco
The best way to costume when visiting Morocco

If you’re a person, you need to put on lengthy pants and a shirt. Nonetheless, when it’s scorching outdoors you may even see many vacationers carrying shorts and sleeveless shirts, like within the U.S. That’s significantly frequent in Marrakesh, which is a extra liberal metropolis, however not in smaller cities or in different elements of the nation. However if you wish to keep away from undesirable consideration –particularly as a lady– you need to attempt to conform to the native norms.

5. Tipping is Anticipated in Morocco

Beginning with lavatory attendants and persevering with with drivers, waiters, tour guides, and riad workers, anticipate to tip virtually in every single place in Morocco and for nearly any “service.” A child allows you to pet his pet? Tip! A store proprietor exhibits you ways the Argan oil is extracted? Tip! The tour information on the museum? Tip! Lavatory attendant? Undoubtedly tip! The golden rule is to all the time carry small change with you, otherwise you’ll must face some awkward conditions.

Moroccan currency
Moroccan foreign money

Salaries are low in Morocco and though tipping must be non-compulsory and based mostly on expertise, it’s just about anticipated in every single place. This will not come as a shock in case you are coming from America, the place ‘tipping jars’ are virtually in every single place. However if you happen to don’t come from a tipping tradition, it’s going to annoy you.

6. Scams and Hassling Are an Concern

Scams, hassling and petty crime are a giant drawback when visiting Morocco. Particularly if you happen to journey alone. Fortunately, more often than not we have been both with a tour information or with our driver. However after we have been by ourselves we have been a certain goal. “Are you misplaced? The place do you need to go? To your lodge? I’ll take you. No cash. Don’t fear!” And if you happen to settle for, you received’t be capable to get them off your again till you pay them what they ask.

In the event you look disoriented, one man will level you within the mistaken course and if you find yourself fully misplaced, one other one will come to the “rescue” you and supply “take you to the place it is advisable to go.”

Merely wandering by way of the souks would trigger the close by distributors to leap on us and comply with us round, inviting us to their shops. We have been attempting to show them down politely, however a few of them simply couldn’t get “no” for a solution. We might really feel the stares on each flip we took and that made us really feel very uneasy.

It’s a recreation of cat and mouse that wears you out very quick. Wandering round by ourselves within the medinas was so traumatic, that we needed to give it up after some time. That doesn’t imply that everybody is out to get you, however having to remain consistently on guard form of ruins the expertise.

7. Taking Pictures Is Very Troublesome

Regardless of being a pleasant and welcoming folks, Moroccans don’t such as you to take their image. Truly, let me rephrase that: Moroccans don’t such as you taking any photos in any respect! Interval. Whether or not you’re pointing your digital camera to a stall, an animal, or a constructing they oppose it simply as vehemently: “No picture! No picture!”

Some them will conform to have their image taken –after all, tipping is implied– however many simply don’t need vacationers taking photos of something. I used to be attempting to {photograph} a chunk of furnishings in a museum when one of many guards began yelling from throughout the corridor: “No pictures right here! No pictures!”

shoemaker asleep in his store
Shoemaker asleep in his retailer

You could argue that this angle has quite a bit do with their notion of privateness, however I imagine it’s greater than that. Moroccans see cash making alternatives in virtually something, so that they attempt to reap the benefits of each scenario. You could not suppose it’s too huge of a deal to tip a couple of Dirhams right here and there, however when you find yourself paying 3-5 Dirhams (30-50 cents) each time you are taking an image, you get fed up after some time.

Taking pictures with the Water Sellers in Morocco
Taking photos with the Water Sellers in Morocco

Having to seek out methods and reinvent your self each time you need to take an image may be very annoying. Particularly when contemplating that Morocco depends so closely on tourism and desires to be promoted as a fascinating vacation spot!

As a journey photographer, a visit through which I can’t seize the native coloration, the lives of the folks and their customs is a wasted journey. Fortunately, in most locations we visited we have been accompanied by a journey information and that made issues somewhat simpler. Not that we didn’t must pay in lots of locations, however at the very least not each time the locals demanded.

8. Drones Are Unlawful

Whereas we’re on the subject of pictures you need to know that drones are unlawful in Morocco. There are indicators in every single place within the airport stating that you just can not convey drone into the nation. Your baggage will go by way of a scanner on the airport, so don’t even attempt. They could tremendous you, confiscate your drone, and even put you in jail!

image of a drone, which is illegal in Morocco
Drones are unlawful in Morocco

We tried to acquire an UAV allow to make use of the drone as Media professionals, however discovered that even when we’ve got a allow the authorities could confiscate our drone. So overlook about taking aerial pictures in Morocco!

9. Do you have to Keep in Riads or Lodges when Visiting Morocco?

You’ll encounter an excessive amount of new experiences when visiting Morocco: customs, meals, tradition, and even lodging will likely be completely different from what you realize. One factor you’ll must determine when planning your journey is whether or not to remain in riads or lodges. There’s a important distinction between the 2, though there are many similarities relating to facilities and services.

Moroccan riad patio
Riad patio

What’s a Riad?

Riads are mainly the Moroccan model of a guesthouse centered round an open-air courtyard that incorporates a fountain. Traditionally, riads are mansions that have been as soon as occupied by rich households. At present, many of those riads have been transformed and transformed into luxurious lodging.

Moroccan riad terrace
Riad Terrace

Riads have all of the facilities of a contemporary lodge, however they keep the everyday ambiance of a Moroccan home. These stunning buildings typically include some extraordinary examples of Moorish structure and Moroccan craftsmanship.

Riad room
Riad room

Usually, riads have fewer rooms than lodges and are positioned inside the Medina partitions, in slim alleys. Meaning they’re proper the place the motion is and thus nearer to the points of interest. However that additionally means they’re tougher to entry, for the reason that medinas are car-free zones. Additionally, strolling by way of these slim, winding alleys after darkish could also be somewhat scary.

Narrow alley leading to a riad
Slender alley resulting in a riad

Lodges, however, are extra accessible as a result of they’re usually positioned outdoors the outdated city. Additionally they have extra room choices and are sometimes held to worldwide requirements. So if you happen to don’t really feel very adventurous and like utmost accessibility and large rooms, you need to go to a lodge. However if you wish to immerse your self completely into the Moroccan tradition and life-style, you need to keep in a riad.

In the end, your alternative will likely be decided by what’s extra necessary for you when touring: consistency and ease, or cultural expertise.

10. Non-Muslims Can’t Enter in Mosques in Morocco

One of many huge disappointments for non-Muslims when visiting Morocco isn’t having the ability to enter into the mosques. There are a lot of excellent mosques in Morocco, however sadly solely those that go in there to wish can entry them. The one exception is Hassan II Mosque, in Casablanca, which may be visited by non-Muslims on guided excursions, however solely at particular instances.

Hassan II Mosque 1 of 1
Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

As for the remainder of them, you’ll must be content material with an occasional glimpse by way of open doorways, or simply strolling across the courtyard.

11. Buying and Haggling in Morocco

When visiting Morocco you’ll be amazed on the extensive assortment of handicrafts obtainable within the market. However purchasing within the souks isn’t going to be your shopping center expertise. If you wish to purchase one thing right here, you’ll must be ready to discount.

Image depicting the souks in Marrakesh
Buying in Morocco

The Western world (apart from perhaps southern Spain and Italy) doesn’t have a lot of a bargaining tradition, however in Morocco bartering is an outdated custom. You must bear in mind that retailers inflate the costs many fold so as to depart room for haggling. 

Sadly, for many westerners having to barter a value may be very traumatic. The method is similar to that of shopping for a automobile or a home right here, within the States. There are a couple of frequent sense guidelines that apply:

1. Know the market worth of the objects.
2. Don’t present enthusiasm for the merchandise you need.
3. Resolve how a lot you need to pay for it and watch for a suggestion.
4. If the service provider doesn’t settle for your counter-offer, wait for one more supply or stroll away.

Except you agree on the worth, you don’t have to purchase something. But when the service provider accepts your supply, then you could have an obligation to purchase. If you’re not planning to purchase something, don’t interact in a dialog with the service provider.

They may pay you numerous compliments and will even give you a few of their well-known mint tea to lure you into their store. In the event you settle for, they may imagine you want to purchase and it is going to be very onerous to again out. Attempt to keep away from the chat with a well mannered “no, thanks.” By no means underestimate the service provider: they’re smarter and suppose sooner than you relating to negotiating a value.

Morocco is usually a cash-based society, so you need to all the time anticipate to pay in money. The nation’s foreign money is the Dirham, however euros and US {dollars} are accepted as effectively in most locations.

12. Alcohol is Not Straightforward to Discover in Morocco

Being a Muslim nation, it’s harder to seek out alcohol in Morocco than it’s for example in Europe, or in different elements of the world. Whereas you should purchase alcohol in bigger supermarkets and a few bars, consuming doesn’t have an excellent picture in Morocco and most locals see alcohol as a Western drug. Even so, in line with a current research, Moroccans are consuming extra now than they did some years in the past.

As a normal rule, consuming alcohol in public is towards the legislation and it might get you into hassle with the police. Due to this fact, it’s a good suggestion to be discrete while you drink and keep away from strolling round if you happen to had an excessive amount of alcohol.

13. Marijuana and Cannabis

Rising, promoting, buying or utilizing medicine is prohibited within the Kingdom of Morocco. However however regardless of this truth, the nation is the world’s greatest hashish exporter. Many of the crops develop across the Rif Mountains, below the complicit watch of the native police, who turns a blind eye to it.

a man smoking weed
Smoking weed

Because of this, it’s commonplace to see folks smoking cannabis in pipes in every single place. As a vacationer, chances are you’ll be requested quite a lot of if you happen to’d prefer to buy some cannabis. Smoking kif (marijuana) or cannabis is commonplace in Morocco. Males normally roll it up in a joint combined with tobacco. However shopping for it has its dangers, as typically police informers act as sellers, so chances are you’ll get in hassle.

Issues You Shouldn’t Do When Visiting Morocco

There are some things that you need to undoubtedly keep away from when visiting Morocco.

Discuss concerning the King, faith, or politics. It is suggested to keep away from these 3 subjects in your conversations with locals or different vacationers in Morocco.

Public shows of affection. Very apparent gestures of affection are thought-about offensive in Morocco, so you need to keep away from kissing in public or different shows of affection whereas there.

Wander by way of again alleys. There’s a maze of slim lanes and winding alleys in each outdated city in Morocco. They could be charming at first sight, however they’re additionally harmful. Venturing too deep into this maze could make you a simple sufferer for con artists and robbers. Keep in locations the place you possibly can see different vacationers

Narrow alley in Fez, Morocco
Slender alley in Fez

Really feel compelled to purchase. In the event you plan to rent a tour information to point out you round while you journey in Morocco, you’ll typically be dragged into outlets below the pretext of exhibiting you unusually stunning crafts, or to look at a sure manufacturing course of.

Moroccan women 1 of 1

The information will reassure you that he introduced you there “simply to see, to not purchase.” However actually, they may get a fee if you happen to purchase something. Though it’s straightforward to see by way of this trick, chances are you’ll really feel pressured to purchase at the very least one thing to please the information or the shop proprietor, however you shouldn’t.

A Ultimate Phrase

Morocco is stuffed with welcoming, beneficiant and hospitable individuals who will likely be glad to share their historic websites, vibrant souks, and scrumptious delicacies with you. Due to this fact, one of many greatest errors you may make is keep away from visiting this nation for concern you will not be secure or welcome there. In the event you journey with an open thoughts and a prepared coronary heart, you’ll have an exquisite time in Morocco. I promise you!

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Visiting Morocco travel guide

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