Morocco, generally, is safe to visit, but you may have heard some negative reports about small incidents of crimes like swindling, touting, harassment, and pickpocketing, which can be annoying. How can you ensure that your trip remains enjoyable and you stay away from such dangers and tourist traps?
Keep reading to find the information you need.
- Don't Trust Faux Tourist Guides (Unofficial Guides)
In Morocco, all guides need to have a license, which they can get by passing some official exams. However, there are always faux guides who haunt tourist sites in every city, and who zealously approach tourists and try to get some "business" done.
Following are some of the scams they run:
Claim they are local citizens or students and give you information about the local history and tourist sites. Later, they will charge you a high service fee.
Take you to free sites but charge you an entrance fee.
Lie that some of the sites are closed and only they can take you inside. Or take you to what they claim are "better sites", and then charge you a high service fee.
Bring you to their home or the house of their relatives for tea, and then persuade or even force you to buy over-priced rags or other handicrafts.
Say "NO" firmly, but with a smile. Do not ask them any unnecessary questions, and do not let them lead you. If they do not stop, clearly let them know that you will call the police.
If you decide to travel with a tourist guide, plan the tour before your trip begins, and draw up a detailed list of cities and sites to visit, what activities to take on, and the costs involved.
If you sign up for a "one-day tour", visiting tourist shopping sites is unavoidable. If your guide brings you to one of these shopping sites, insist that the guide continue the trip instead of stopping; or else, the unscrupulous guide may disappear for 30 minutes to an hour, wasting your time.
- Be Careful of Enthusiastic Locals
Most Moroccans welcome tourists, and if you chat with them amicably, they will reciprocate. However, if you find a local person who is over-enthusiastic, especially at important tourist sites, be careful, as they may try to extract money from you.
Check out below how they operate:
Proactively take you to good locations to take pictures, or voluntarily help you find interesting sites or hotels, and then ask you for tips.
Offer to exchange currency for you, but return counterfeit money to you, instead.
Accompany you saying that they would like to practice speaking English, and then take you to tourist shops with over-priced goods (their commission included) after you treat them as a friend.
Offer small gifts but ask you to pay for them after you accept them.
If you decide to get a henna tattoo, without clearly confirming the design and the price, they may draw an extra henna design and charge exorbitantly.
Put a snake on your shoulders and persuade you to take photos with it, and then charge you a fee for the photograph.
Plan your trip in advance and gather all the information you need before you travel. Alternatively, you can book an official guide. This would empower you to say "NO" firmly with a smile to the unnecessary assistance.
If you need to ask directions to a place, it is best to approach the owners of local shops or restaurants, as they have businesses of their own and don't need to make money through defrauding.
Don't underestimate seniors, women, and children, as they too can be a part of the fraud.
If you have to ask for their help, about 2–5 Moroccan dirhams is enough of a tip for information about a destination. So make sure you keep a small amount of cash handy.
- Prevent Harassment and Unwanted Attention
Morocco is a conservative Muslim country, with certain rules about what to wear for both men and women. Shorts and sleeveless or skimpy clothes may invite intrusive stares and harassment.
Tips for averting uncomfortable situations
Ensure your legs, shoulders, and arms are covered (especially for women).
Preferably, at least one male member should be part of the group.
If possible, don't walk outside alone especially after sunset, or in back alleys where there are not many tourists.
- Unwritten Rules for Taking Photos
The general rule is that photography of police stations, military installations, or sensitive areas is not allowed. However, in Morocco, it's better to be aware of the hidden rules given below to avoid paying extra unnecessarily, and more importantly, to avoid ruining your cheerful mood.
Don't photograph any person without permission. Some locals may get angry and some may even charge for this, especially in the markets (souks).
Sometimes, you may need to climb up a building to get a better picture. Negotiate in advance with the owner of the house or shop and fix the price if they require a commission.
Some mosques are open to tourists, but it's a best practice to ask if photography is permitted before taking pictures.
Don't photograph policemen or women with covered faces to avoid trouble.
Carry a small amount of cash, as you may need it sometimes.
- Don't Attract Thieves
Theft is not a problem in Morocco, but in bigger cities, it sometimes happens.
Dress simply and avoid jewelry. Generally, jewelry, especially eye-catching pieces, should be avoided, as it draws attention.
Keep your valuables, especially your passport and cash, in your inner pocket, or where you can keep a constant watch on it. Or you can keep them in the safe at your hotel. Some hotels have safes in the rooms or at the reception desk. Or you can even leave it locked in your suitcase, with your room locked.
Be vigilant, particularly at night, in the medinas of Marrakesh, Casablanca, and Tangier, which have a bad reputation for petty theft, or sometimes even serious stabbing incidents. Stay focused on your belongings, as a thief may clean out your pockets when you are distracted.
- Don't Let Your Guard Down Around Drugs
Chefchaouen is a hot spot for marijuana, and you may find that some locals smoke kif (marijuana) themselves. However, buying, selling, or smoking kif or hashish is illegal in Morocco.
You may encounter people, especially in Chefchaouen, who may offer to sell you kif. Be firm and refuse politely.
If you are hell-bent on trying some, be sure not to do it in public and be extremely careful about whom you buy it from, which can actually be very difficult for a tourist. If you are caught, a fine or a prison sentence are both possible.
- Taxi Drivers Can Be Unreasonable
The taxi drivers in Morocco are not reliable all the time.
They may drop you in the middle of the journey and ask you to change to another vehicle that will take you to your destination, as they have some sort of a partnership.
They will charge you extremely high prices for whatever excuse.
Confirm the destination and cost before you jump into a taxi.
Wear dark sunglasses to avoid eye contact in case you lose your cool while haggling.
Carry a small amount of cash (local currency) in case the driver has no cash for change. You can exchange money at the airport and ask them to give you some small currencies.
Is There an Easier Way?
Morocco is a wonderful place to travel, and the above-mentioned points may not normally affect your good memories of the place, as most people in Morocco are nice and friendly.
However, if you do not want to spend extra energy being alert all the time, feel free to contact us. Global Highlights offers private tours with private guides and drivers who will serve only you and ensure your comfort. In addition to customizing your trip for you, they will also keep you safe from frauds, traps, and messes.
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- Unique experiences tailored to your interests: Enjoy a premium trip that goes beyond the typical tourist attractions.
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- Experienced and knowledgeable guides: Your guides will be local and love to work for travelers' smiles.