High 5 Issues to Know for a Profitable Journey to Morocco


I not too long ago ​took​​ ​an unforgettable 15-day journey to Morocco with my partner and 4 of our closest mates. Our itinerary included Casablanca, Marrakech, Erg Chigaga, Taroudant, and Essaouira. The surroundings was mind-blowing and the cities vibrant, however my spotlight was how pleasant and welcoming the locals had been, all over the place we went.  

We did plenty of analysis earlier than deciding on an itinerary and reserving our journey. On this put up, I’ll share what I discovered earlier than and through my journey, and hopefully encourage you to decide on Morocco as your subsequent large journey vacation spot.  


One of many appeals of visiting Morocco is to expertise the riads. Riads, Arabic for ‘gardens’, are conventional Moroccan properties with an indoor backyard or courtyard. These little city oases are normally positioned inside the historic components of the cities and are insulated with partitions to protect them from the warmth and the noisy streets. In Marrakech, we stayed at Riad Botanica, and it was​​​​ one of many highlights of our journey. The workers had been extraordinarily pleasant and took excellent care of us. That is​​​​ among the finest inns I’ve ever stayed at!  


Main cities are linked by dependable, high-speed trains, with easy web sites to purchase tickets on-line. We took a practice from Casablanca to Marrakech. Our seats had been cozy, and the workers had been pleasant. I like to recommend taking the practice over driving when attainable, because it’s much less time-consuming.  

For locations not linked by practice, we employed two drivers. The benefit of driving is you see a lot extra and may cease in random locations you wouldn’t be capable to go to in any other case, getting a greater sense of what the much less populated areas seem like. On the draw back, we spent a few of our days principally inside vehicles (the estimated time supplied by Google Maps and the tour corporations had been all the time off by an hour or two). It may also be uncomfortable for these of us who’re vulnerable to automobile illness as some roads are windy. So, be sure you pack some Gravol ginger with you. The locals shared a pure treatment with us: cumin infusions do wonders for movement illness and abdomen points.  

To get round Marrakech and Casablanca, we relied on taxis. Though we weren’t initially conscious, most cabs in Morocco both don’t have or use metres. Due to this, it’s necessary to make sure you and the motive force agree on a value earlier than beginning your experience. In case you’re undecided what’s affordable, both look it up on-line or ask your resort or riad proprietor firstly of the day. Additionally take into account that taxis are costlier at night time, so that you received’t pay the identical fare to go to the identical vacation spot.  

Planning a desert tour 

Essentially the most memorable a part of our journey was our two-night keep within the Erg Chigaga dunes within the Sahara Desert. Loads much less common than the Agafay desert, which is positioned solely 30 kilometres exterior of Marrakech, Erg Chigaga is much less accessible and requires an 8-hour drive from Marrakech. The drive was lengthy however scenic as we handed via the Atlas and anti-Atlas Mountains, visiting native argan oil producers and carpet makers, and stopping in attention-grabbing​     ​ cities we had by no means heard of. 

Erg Chigaga, or as our drivers referred to as it “the actual Sahara Desert”, is a feast for the eyes. We stayed in luxurious tents nestled between sand dunes and loved a once-in-a-lifetime expertise. The sand is skinny and smooth – it’s mentioned to remedy foot issues – and all we may see within the horizon had been sand dunes. We even noticed wild camels strolling and feeding off bushes. We met a household of Tuareg individuals, a nomadic Berber ethnic group travelling throughout the Sahara. They provided us mint tea and sand-baked bread. It was notably attention-grabbing for me as my great-grandfather was Tuareg. We sat on the sand at night time and admired the unobstructed night time sky – I counted 11 capturing stars in a single night time!  

In case you’re planning a visit to the Sahara Desert, make sure you rent vehicles from a trusted tour firm with enough autos for off-road driving, and that they’ll present all meals and acceptable water provides for the complete length of your tour. Unsure, ask the tour firm what will probably be supplied and skim the evaluations rigorously. We additionally packed chips and pop for the drive.  

The meals is wholesome 

The meals was wholesome all over the place we went in Morocco. Tagines are a staple of Moroccan delicacies and are served in most eating places. They include a stew ready with spiced meat and greens, cooked slowly in an earthenware dish. This cooking course of is more healthy because it depends on steaming as a substitute of frying the meals with oil. There are numerous tagine recipes, every household having their very own, and they are often vegetarian.  

Being a pescatarian myself, I by no means had points discovering scrumptious choices suited to my weight-reduction plan whereas consuming out.  

Discover the markets 

There are souqs (markets) in each Moroccan metropolis, the place you may strive all kinds of scrumptious meals. A number of the stands are spectacular for his or her vibrant shows. Chances are you’ll be overwhelmed at first and go into sensory overload being surrounded by so many choices. I strongly suggest hiring a trusted native information to discover the markets for the primary time. We did this in Jemaa el-Fna in Marrakech and launched into a 20-delicacy tasting journey! We had been proven the place locals store, and we tried new delicacies we had by no means heard of earlier than.  

Contemporary fruits 

Fruits are probably the most widespread gadgets bought within the markets. I like to recommend performing some analysis to familiarize your self with the native fruits earlier than venturing out. From freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, to juicy figs and dragon fruits, or dried citruses, to call just a few, the markets are a paradise for fruit lovers.  

I used to be notably focused on tasting as many sorts of dates as attainable – about 45 varieties are grown within the nation – so I discovered about them earlier than my journey. This manner, I knew what to search for whereas wandering the markets and had a extra knowledgeable and enjoyable buying expertise. The Medjool date was by far my favorite. It’s recognized for its wonderful high quality as it’s bigger and sweeter than different varieties. 

Preserved lemons are one other delicacy to strive in case you’re up for it. They’re ready by slicing the lemons and overlaying them in salt earlier than sealing them in a jar for months, typically years. The lemon will develop and launch juice with time. The longer you retain it within the jar, the stronger the flavour.  


One other native dish to strive is ​​a​​​mlou​. This unfold made from almonds, honey and argan oil is scrumptious. It was typically served to us for breakfast, and we couldn’t cease consuming it. You could find it in small shops and supermarkets. A small jar makes the proper present for family and friends.  


Talking of argan oil, that is one product you’ll discover all over the place in Morocco. Argan is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the native argan tree. Throughout our highway journey, we typically noticed them by the facet of the highway. We additionally witnessed wild goats absolutely perched on them. Our driver informed us that they’re drawn to the candy odor of the argan. It’s utilized in cosmetics, for its pores and skin and hair advantages, in addition to in meals merchandise. There are shops specializing in argan, promoting all kinds of derived merchandise. We introduced plenty of argan cleaning soap again with us as their compact dimension made sensible presents.  

Don’t drink the water 

Morocco’s faucet water isn’t advisable to drink for foreigners. To keep away from frequent visits to the shops and having to hold heavy water bottles, to not point out the plastic waste, we bought Larq bottles earlier than our journey. These single-use water purifying bottles come in several sizes and are simple to make use of. They filter contaminants from the water making it protected to drink.  

In some smaller cities, public washrooms may ration the water. We had been provided a scoop or two of water to clean our palms with out cleaning soap. So, in case you enterprise into extra distant areas, I like to recommend carrying hand sanitizer or a small cleaning soap bar with you. You may additionally be required to depart a small tip for the washroom keepers, so keep in mind to all the time have a little bit of change in your pockets.  

You may additionally wish to contemplate getting a Yellow Fever vaccine. Whereas not a requirement for entry, it’s really useful by the Canadian authorities.  

Benefit from the rooftops  

Marrakech is particularly common for its rooftop patios, however you’ll discover many in most cities, so be sure you make the most of them and luxuriate in at the very least one meal with a view. In case you time it nicely, you’ll see a gorgeous show of orange and pink created by the reflection of the sundown on the colorful partitions, or an incredible view of the water in case you’re by the coast.  


You’ll be anticipated to pay with money in most markets. The Moroccan dirham is a closed foreign money, which means you may’t carry it in or overseas. Be sure to don’t carry it with you at customs or you can find yourself being questioned by the authorities. I exchanged a considerable amount of money on the airport upon arrival, then went to the ATM after I later ran out. I normally keep away from shopping for foreign money from an airport sales space, however I used to be pleasantly shocked by the aggressive fee provided on the airport.  

Moroccan individuals converse many languages  

The Moroccan inhabitants is polyglot. The 2 official languages are Darija (Moroccan Arabic) and Moroccan Berber. Due to colonialism – France colonized Morocco from 1912 to 1956 – many individuals nonetheless converse French, particularly the older technology​s​. It’s additionally estimated that greater than 10% of the inhabitants speaks Spanish, particularly within the northern areas resulting from their proximity to Spain. Lastly, with the tourism trade persistently rising, increasingly persons are talking English. Talking English and French fluently, it was simple to work together with the locals and discount with the market distributors, however I additionally discovered the fundamentals of the native language (whats up, thanks, and so on.) as an indication of respect.  

The artwork of negotiating

Bargaining is an artwork in Morocco, or as one native described it to us, it’s “a dance between the customer and the vendor.” Whereas much less widespread in Canada, this can be a obligatory ability to accumulate for a profitable buying expertise within the markets. We hardly ever noticed value tags, so we needed to ask the store house owners. That is the place the negotiating begins. Just a few suggestions I discovered:  

  • The primary supply isn’t the ultimate value, so all the time attempt to carry it down. The distributors offers you a better one anticipating you to barter.  
  • Play it cool! Certainly, in case you appear too keen to purchase an merchandise, it’s much less probably the seller will budge on the value.  
  • Don’t hand over; it would take some persistence to carry the value down.  
  • Know when to stroll away if the negotiation goes nowhere. It’d encourage the service provider to name you again and begin compromising.  
  • All the time specify the foreign money (US greenback, Canadian greenback, Euro, Dirham, and so on.). With vacationers coming from throughout, retailers typically negotiate within the purchaser’s foreign money earlier than changing it.  

Whereas bargaining may make you are feeling uncomfortable, the locals informed us that store house owners can have extra respect for you as a purchaser in case you discount.   

LGBTQ+ Legal guidelines 

Our group included 4 LGBTQ+ individuals and one lady, so we did intensive analysis on native legal guidelines and security measures. Morocco’s penal code criminalizes “lewd or unnatural acts with a person of the identical intercourse” and it may be punished with a jail sentence of as much as three years and a fantastic of 1,200 dirham ($400 CAD). Our analysis revealed that vacationers had been very hardly ever focused by these legal guidelines. Public show​s​ of affection are additionally strongly discouraged, and that goes for anybody. We used widespread sense and by no means mentioned our relationship statuses with our guides or the locals. We by no means had any points, however ​it​ is a tragic reminder of the battle LGBTQ+ locals endure every day. 

We had been cautious and emailed our lodging and tour corporations to ask them in the event that they had been LGBTQ+ pleasant earlier than reserving something. The bulk welcomed us​​​​, except one tour firm who didn’t reply to our inquiry, so we knew to not guide with them.  

Girls Security  

The one lady in our group felt fantastic within the cities however did get referred to as out just a few occasions within the smaller cities. Being a person, I didn’t expertise it myself so I’m not the most effective particular person to provide recommendation on this regard. So, in case you’re a lady travelling alone, I like to recommend studying from the expertise​s​ of feminine travellers in Morocco earlier than travelling to sure areas.  

Terrorism Issues 

We by no means felt unsafe throughout our journey​​​​. The truth is, the final terrorist assault concentrating on vacationers (when this put up is being printed) was in 2018. Terrorist assaults are extra frequent in lots of European international locations. In line with the International Terrorism Index, Morocco has a extra beneficial rating than most western international locations, together with Canada! Merely ​s​tay up​ ​to this point with the newest journey advisories from the Canadian authorities and keep away from sure areas.  

Frequent scams 

Upon arrival, our riad house owners warned us about widespread scams concentrating on vacationers. Some individuals will strategy you to supply a service and go it as an act of kindness then cost you for it later. Examples embody providing to take pictures of you and your group (typically with them) and providing instructions​​​​. We got here throughout it just a few occasions, however they had been by no means aggressive, solely barely insistent. One of the best factor to do on this state of affairs is to suppose earlier than you settle for something from a stranger and decline politely. ​I​f they insist, ignore them they usually’ll lose curiosity. We had been additionally informed by the locals that one of the simplest ways to do away with them is to shout “Police!” We by no means felt unsafe, so we by no means went to that excessive. 

Different security suggestions for any vacation spot  

I normally observe the next guidelines irrespective of the place I journey: 

  • Don’t go to ATMs at night time and solely withdraw from one positioned inside a good financial institution, throughout enterprise hours to allow them to instantly retrieve your card if it will get caught. 
  • Use money over bank cards for smaller purchases in markets or smaller shops.  
  • All the time put your pockets in a closed pocket.  
  • Solely carry sufficient money with you for the day; depart your passport and different valuables in your resort room protected.  
  • Analysis which neighbourhoods/areas are unsafe to go to earlier than heading out for the day.  

It’s all the time a good suggestion to familiarize your self with native customs earlier than a visit to make sure you don’t offend the locals. That is what I discovered each earlier than and through my journey. 

‘God, king and nation’ 

These three pillars of Moroccan society ought to by no means be disrespected. A superb rule of thumb is to keep away from discussing these subjects throughout your keep, whether or not amongst yourselves or with the locals. You can offend individuals in the event that they hear you make informal remarks or make your information uncomfortable in case you ask them what they consider the king, for instance.  

Ask permission to take pictures 

By no means take a photograph of somebody with out asking permission first. I used to be aware of this whereas photographing the streets and monuments. Having a crowd within the background is ok however keep away from taking pictures of particular individuals or their retailers with out guaranteeing they’re comfy with it first. I personally consider this rule ought to be noticed extra broadly.   

Additionally, by no means {photograph} army installations or service individuals.  

Take your footwear off inside 

I’m a giant believer of this rule, typically having to inform my company to take their footwear off at dwelling once they don’t do it robotically. In lots of components of the world​,​ corresponding to Morocco, it’s impolite and unsanitary to depart your footwear on at dwelling. Whereas this rule won’t prolong to large resort chains, it would probably be noticed in riads. The identical goes in case you’re invited to somebody’s dwelling.  

Mint tea  

Mint tea is rooted within the native tradition and is consumed every day. It’s even thought-about impolite to refuse it in case your host gives it. It’s typically served earlier than and after a meal because it helps with digestion. I indulged at first however then put a cease to it within the evenings because the inexperienced tea that’s combined with the mint leaves stored me up at night time.  

Consuming alcohol 

Alcohol is forbidden by Islamic regulation, nevertheless it’s broadly obtainable for vacationers. You should purchase it in licensed liquor shops and, whereas not all eateries will serve it, a good variety of eating places have it on the menu. Understand that consuming alcohol exterior of a licensed institution is prohibited and could also be punished by detention or different penalties.


Hammams are conventional Moroccan spas the place you get washed, scrubbed, and wiped with a towel in a steamed room. Within the extra conventional ones, the steam rooms are shared by all prospects – however not between women and men. The one which we went to was hooked up to a much bigger spa the place we had a non-public steam room to ourselves (since we had been vacationers, women and men may keep in the identical room) and there was an indoor and an outside swimming pool. I extremely suggest you expertise this important a part of Moroccan tradition throughout your keep.  

Wild cats  

Wild cats are widespread sights in Morocco, particularly in city areas. The locals handle them, and in return the cats handle mice and rats. It’s an incredible unstated settlement. Most of them look well-fed and clear, however as tempting because it is perhaps to pet them, they continue to be wild animals and will probably carry ailments like rabies. I had to withstand the urge to pet them many occasions, particularly once they got here near me, however I typically shared my meals with them. The city of Essaouira particularly was full of them.   

Visiting a mosque 

The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is likely one of the few mosques that enable non-Muslim guests. Situated on a seawall alongside the Atlantic Ocean, it was accomplished in 1993 and may welcome as much as 105,000 worshipers. You might want to purchase a ticket for a guided tour throughout visiting hours and respect the gown code and photograph​-​taking tips. Whereas I didn’t go inside, I loved it from the surface. The view of this majestic monument accomplished by the crushing ocean waves makes for spectacular surroundings. If Casablanca isn’t in your itinerary, I strongly suggest making a detour solely to get pleasure from this sight.   

I hope you’re now impressed to discover lovely Morocco. The locals had been extraordinarily welcoming to us, and we had a improbable time! 

Protected travels,


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