So, you have questions about Morocco? Maybe questions you haven’t even thought of? That’s not too surprising! Morocco is a country that is considered exotic to many of us from Europe and abroad. Rather than stressing out and trying to find bits and pieces of random information online, we thought we’d make it easy for you! Here is everything you wanted to know about Morocco, but were afraid to ask…or didn’t even think to ask!
First, DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT. Copies of passports, driver’s licenses, identification cards, etc. will not work. Only your original, valid Passport will grant you access to the shores of Morocco. If you bring something else, you’ll have to watch us embark on our Moroccan Adventure without you.
Keep it simple. Do you really want to carry around anything more than a carry-on sized bag? Our top recommendation is a travellers backpack. You know, those big ones with all the fancy straps? This was everything is on your back, your hands are free and you aren’t limited by those little wheels that can’t handle Morocco’s sandy, rocky, uneven streets! Just please, not massive luggage bags!
Girls: There are no laws to how women must dress, but experience has taught us that conservative wardrobe is best. You’ll see many tourists wearing whatever they want, but keeping yourself mostly covered helps avoid unwanted attention. Usually, a t-shirt with long pants can suffice. Also, it really helps to have a scarf handy, in case you need it to enter a mosque or religious building.
Currency and cost
Local currency in cash is the preferred payment for many smaller markets and street vendors that we visit. Since Euros are widely accepted, there’s so no need to rush to an exchange place. When you pay with Euros, you get the change in Dirham, the local currency! The exchange rate is about 1 Euro to 10 Dirhams, so it’s easy to make sure you get the correct change back in Dirhams! Good news! With all the tours and a good amount of meals included in our trip cost, about a 30€ a day budget will get you through the trip very comfortably.
Learn to haggle
Don’t be shy; haggling is a part of the culture. If you’re willing to spend the time, you can get items to at least 25% off the starting price when you’re in the markets and medinas! Plus, you’ll be hella proud of yourself for making a deal! We get the chance to visit specialized shops (scarf shops, traditional pharmacies, carpet, leather, etc). These are good chances to see the real stuff! Just remember, you don’t have to feel compelled to buy and if you do find that item that you want to bring back with you, get to haggling!
Pro tip: walk out if you can’t get the price you want. They may call you back in to settle a price that makes you happy!
Be wary of Fake-Local-Guides outside of the ones provided by us
We work in a professional capacity to contract certified, local guides. This means our guides are registered and trained professionals to take us through the winding streets of the cities.If you decide to go out during your free time, try to stay away from strangers offering tours or directions. If you go with one of them, you may end up completely lost and pressed to spend money and tip them. This is the same with asking for directions. A lot of them will offer to walk you to where you’re going, but then ask for a tip. So, please be mindful of where you’re going while on your own.
Careful which water you use
To stay on the safe side, drink bottled water and even use it to brush your teeth. Also, be careful to avoid using any ice when you’re out. The Grayl water bottle is really useful when you’re in Morocco, if you don’t want to buy a ton of bottled water. It purifies the water in the water bottle! If you don’t mind constantly buying bottled water, use that option as well.
Pack some immodium (lol, we’re serious)
I don’t care how strong you think your stomach is, it is still a good idea to pack some Immodium just in case. This is from first-hand experience. The most popular Spanish brand is called Fortasec, and you can also ask for a generic brand at your local pharmacy.
Food allergies, Celiacs, Lactose Intolerants, Vegetarians and Vegans.
No matter what special food needs you might have, we’ve never had any issues finding alternatives. The downside? You might need to remind your Citylife guide, so they can make sure the local restaurant manager has understood your dietary needs.
Watch your pockets
Every major city has pickpockets, and going to Morocco is no different. Moroccans are friendly and honest, but always be careful in crowded places (like the markets we visit). Recently, there have been isolated cases of people walking by themselves, using their latest smart phones, just to have them taken from their hands by someone driving by on a moped.
Which languages do they speak?
Both Arabic (Moroccan Arabic) and French are official all over the country. Spanish and English are also quite commonly spoken, especially in big cities. If you aren’t especially shy, you shouldn’t have any trouble communicating 🙂
We encourage you to learn the following in Arabic:
– Salam Aleikum (salaam a eleikum): May the peace be with you. To answer – Aleikum Salam.
– Choukran (shokran): Thank You
– La Choukran (la shokran): No Thank You. (Especially useful when you have a bunch of street vendors hassling you to buy something)
– Balak: Watch Out . Something you’ll most likely hear this in the medinas or souks (outdoor markets). It will be said by locals coming by with a mule, motorcycle, or cart and is a warning to move to the side or get run over (literally, brakes are non-existent in Donkeys full of cargo).
Alcohol and Parties?
Most Moroccans are Muslims, yes, but they still have all these. Alcohol is served in certain Hotels and clubs. Alcohol is expensive (due to special taxation). Prostitutes frequent clubs, so be careful with those types of decisions. Still have the will to party? Don’t worry. We will have plenty of chances as we will put together night plans almost every night in the safety of our own accommodation 😉
Hashish, what’s that?
An extract of the cannabis plant, or hashish, is quite commonly offered in the streets. It is illegal and you can get into a lot of trouble if caught carrying or smoking it. Our advice: don’t take any risk- it isn’t worth it.
Ask before taking photos (You may have to pay)
When you’re walking through the markets, be careful about taking photos of people and shops. Unless you are purchasing something, they may get angry with you and even demand money for the photos. When we took photos of the snake charmers, we paid 20 DH. Some may even hassle you for more, so it’s good to first establish a price before taking a photo.
Toilet Paper and Wipes
You will want to bring your own. Most bathrooms aren’t equipped with toilet paper, and in the off chance it’s available, there will be an attendant that will make you pay to use the paper. Additionally, you’ll want to pack some hand sanitizer, as soap isn’t common in public restrooms either.
Remember! On our African Adventure we sleep in the desert one night, so wipes are handy since we do not have access to showers. Don’t be that person that smells worse than the camels.
Souvenirs to bring home
– Fragrances and oils (Argan/Moroccan)
– Spices (Saffron)
– Scarves and other fabrics
Regarding souvenir shopping, we’ll be going through many different markets, souks, shops… just keep in mind that Chaouen, the blue city, and it has a bit of everything! So, there’s no need in buying too much too early, then having to carry it around the whole trip!
It’s a cat lover’s heaven… and hell
There are homeless cats everywhere in Morocco. They are cute and make us smile every time we see them. It seems that the people of Morocco take care of them in their own way. We saw them feeding the kittens scraps of food in the markets. If you’re highly allergic to cats, it isn’t much of a heaven for you. Don’t forget to pick up some allergy medicine before the trip (ask for “pastillas de alergía and explain what you’re allergic to)!
Morocco is a country filled with beautiful places, and we hope our hints and tips have inspired you to see them all! If you’d like to visit Morocco, pack your bags and think about joining us on one of our fully planned adventures! From the its gorgeous cities its amazing natural wonders and its delicious food, we love Morocco and we want you to as well! So, Discover Morocco with Citylife Madrid this year and experience and adventure of a lifetime! Also feel free to check here to search for cheap flights, hotels and rental car deals and start exploring on your own or with your friends!
Jorge & Bibi