Things to Know About Morocco :
Things to Know About Morocco
– More and more people are visiting Morocco every year. It’s a beautiful country, and as photographers and videographers, we had a field day.
On the flip side, there were also downsides of visiting especially as a woman. If you plan on going, we put together a few pointers to help you set realistic expectations and prepare for your trip.
Most important Things to Know About Morocco
1 . DRESS APPROPRIATELY
Overall, guys can dress however they like, but women need to dress more conservatively. Although you see many tourists wearing whatever they want, we chose to cover up as much as possible to avoid unwanted attention.
Even if you’re traveling with a group of guys, you may still get harassed. Some of the girls in our group got groped on multiple occasions even though we were paired off with a male buddy.
It was mostly really old men, and it happened more often in crowded places. When visiting mosques, you need to cover down to your wrists and ankles.
For the ladies out there, keep a shawl/scarf handy (this one is reversible and great for traveling light)
More established shops will take credit cards, but most smaller markets, street vendors, and cabs will not. Be ready with the local currency.
The Moroccan Dirham (DEE-Rahm) goes for roughly 9.6 Dirhams (DH) per 1 USD or 10 per 1 euro. We thought things would be cheaper in Morocco, but because of how touristy the country has become, the prices were comparable to Europe.
Our guide recommended each person exchange 100 euros per day.
- ATMs CAN BE HIT OR MISS
Exchange enough money when you get your chance. Ask the front desk at your hotel; they may have money to exchange.
The ATM quickly ran out when our entire group was trying to exchange money. Who knew ATMs can run out of money!
A few people from our group thought the ATM was giving an error and tried multiple times, but the ATM didn’t dispense any while still charging it from the bank for every attempt.
Also, traveler’s checks are pretty much useless in Morocco. It’s hard to find a place to cash them.
Moroccan cab drivers rarely “have changed” when you need it. To avoid overpaying, keep your coins.
Most of our cab rides within the city cost roughly 30 Dirhams. The dilemma with keeping change though is that you will not be able to exchange it back when leaving the country.
You want to keep correct change while you’re in the country, but you also want to spend it all before leaving.
4. TIPPING :
In the Moroccan culture, people are tipping each other wherever they are, it is a kind of respect for their service. Kindly, you better have some local small changes ( 5 Dh ).
Most Moroccans tend to switch between languages in almost every sentence( Berber – Arab – French and Spanish ) reflecting the culture shock that is very known in Morocco.
Within the Moroccan Languages, the Arab and Berber are the two official spoken languages.
French is considered the second language that is spoken in the administration. Most people spoke French and it is because of the France colonization (1912- 1956 ). However, the French colonization took place widely in the mid of Morocco and the Southern part of Morocco.
Spanish is one of the famous and important languages in Morocco too and this dates back to Spanish colonization in the north of Morocco on 1 April 1958.
- There are also three main dialects spoken by the country’s Berber majority: Tashelhit, Tamazight, and Tarifit.
6. WHAT LANGUAGE DO THEY SPEAK?
Moroccans speak a mixture of Arabic, Berber, English, and French. You’ll be fine with English in most of the larger cities, but you’ll probably need a translator in the rural parts of the country.
Here are a few basic Arabic words that came in handy:
- Hello(Peace Be With You): Salam Alikome (salaam a eleikum)
- Thank You:Choukran (shokran)
- No Thank You: La Choukran (la shokran). This one is useful when you have a bunch of street vendors hassling you to buy something.
- Watch Out: Although you won’t use this yourself, you’ll most likely hear this in the medinas or souks (outdoor markets). Locals will say Balak if coming by with a mule, motorcycle, or cart to warn you to either get the side or get run over.
7. STAY AWAY FROM STRANGERS OFFERING FREE TOURS OR DIRECTIONS
Even if you don’t hire a local guide, you might find other locals offering you tours while you’re walking around the markets and medinas.
If you go with one of them you may end up completely lost and pressed to spend money. Most of the time they will ask for a tip afterward too.
This is the same as asking for directions. A lot of them will offer to walk you to where you’re going but then ask for a tip. If you’re so inclined, always keep the money to pay them off, plan ahead and ask your hotel, or pull up some maps when you have WIFI.
8. FRIDAYS ARE HOLY DAYS AND PREPARE FOR HOLIDAYS
Keep in mind that it is a Muslim country, so pay attention to their holidays otherwise you might be there when everything is closed.
Also, most shops and attractions will close on Friday since it’s their holy day.
A friend of mine went during Ramadan and told me it was very difficult to eat meals. We happened to arrive in Morocco on Eid al-Adha, where they were slaughtering and sacrificing animals on the street.
All shops we saw closed that day and most shops were closed the following day.
Plus it was a bloody mess, most of which we avoided. Below you can see what is usually a crowded marketplace is deserted.
9. CAREFUL WHAT WATER YOU USE
To stay on the safe side, drink bottled water, and even use it to brush your teeth. Also, avoid using any ice when you’re out.
If you don’t mind constantly buying bottled water, That will be much better.
10. WATCH YOUR POCKETS
Most Moroccans are friendly and honest, but you should always be careful with pickpockets in any major city, especially in crowded places like the markets.
12. VISITING MOSQUES
If you’re hoping to see a Mosque while visiting Morocco, you might be out of luck unless you’re Muslim. Most mosques are off-limits to non-Muslims, with the exception of the massive Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. They are still beautiful to take photos from outside though!
If you’re looking for beautiful architecture, Bahia Palace is open to visitors.\
When you’re walking through the markets, be careful when taking photos of people and shops. Unless you are purchasing something, they may get angry at 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 again, it’s good to first establish a price before taking a photo.
Fez is known for leather and carpets, while Marrakech is known for fragrances, oils, and spices (like saffron). If you’re buying saffron, make sure you’re buying the real thing. Many places sell artificial saffron for dirt cheap or mix the real with the fake stuff.
You can ask them to do a demonstration of water. If it colors the water yellow, it’s real, if it turns reddish, it’s the dye coming out from the artificial saffron.
You can also smell the difference (should smell more herbal), or ask for a couple of strands to put in your mouth and spit it onto a tissue to see what color it produces.