Morocco is uncharted territory for many, and some get anxious thinking about traveling there…we were there. Going into this trip, we wanted to hear from as many people that have visited; things to know, how to best prepare, and pack. This was our first time traveling to Morocco and the second time in Africa.
We have curated a list of things to know before traveling there. All the things we learned, but most importantly the things we wish we would have known before going…always learning. I hope this helps you, encourages you to travel there, or gives you the peace of mind you needed to go.
This App can be beneficial for those that do not carry a messaging plan, better yet, this app is used by everyone in Morocco. Be safe, download this app and create a profile. A great way of communicating.
Around Marrakech, there is plenty of things to do and see, some require a car. There are your typical cab drivers everywhere, but I don’t recommend using them. Wherever you want to go in a car I highly encourage you to use a transfer company, we used below, solely to avoid the bartering system.
We took a few yellow cabs, our first one we paid $50 US for a 30-minute drive. More than any US cab drive would make. Long story short, the man wouldn’t leave until we gave him that much. You can get yourself into sticky situations and using these transportation/tour services will allow you to avoid this.
The best way to travel around Marrakech and Morocco, in general, is to have cash. How do you get cash and what is the best way to do it? The local ATM’s are the best way to go. There are some ATMs at the local Banks outside of Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square.
Pro-tip in any foreign country, the ATM fee will always be cheaper if you use a bank’s ATM, and not a privately owned one.
OUR RESOURCES (Tour Companies) FOR YOU
I created a list of the biggest takeaways when booking with a company when visiting this beautiful country. These companies and connections we made while there allow you to book a few days out or even day of. highly suggest contacting them before you go.
These services help with a better understanding of how much things cost, offering fair and competitive pricing
- Give you a feeling of security and a sense of direction
- Essentially your very own interpreter
- One of the biggest reasons we like to recommend tour companies and local “Destination Management Companies” if the value and knowledge they give you regarding their country and the surroundings around you. The best takeaway.
- Get a local experience. Travel around with someone that is from the country, speaks the language and practices the destination’s customs.
Below I will have the companies and friends we used while in Morocco. These companies are not only transportation companies, but can also offer you private guided tours. Simply ask for their availability.
- Addi with Day Tours Morrocco = you can also find the reviews that were given by all his clients here.
Addi is an incredible guide. He arranged to pick us up at the airport, built out our itinerary for the Sahara Desert tour, scheduled a private guide for Marrakech and took care of our transportation. Addi is not only a genuine, personable guy (who speaks great English), but he truly cares about your experience. Addi runs a local Destination Management Company, that lives and breathes Morocco. There is no better way to travel to this country.
*If he is booked out for your travel dates, he will connect you with friends and other tour owners*
Said arranged our transportation from our Riad in Marrakech to Scarebeo Camp (45 minutes). Flat rate, the nicest car we rode in, and the driver was friendly and spoke great English.
The reason we stress using these companies is that a typical “Yellow Cab” will barter until they get the price they want. Said speaks fluent English and offers a LUXURY transportation service.
THINGS YOU MUST DO IN MARRAKECH
1. Get lost in the ‘Souks’ (Market)
An incredible experience. The smells, the noises, the chaos, all of it is something you will vividly remember. I implore you to soak this in as best you can. In the midst of bartering, vendors encouraging you to visit their store, there is so much beauty in the veins of Marrakech.
2. Enjoy a Pot of Moroccan Mint Tea at a Rooftop Cafe
The best tea I have ever had. Enough said.
3. Wear Appropriate Clothing
Girls, cover yourselves. It’s a simple matter of respect for their culture and religion. You can wear whatever you want while in the hotel, but while out exploring, wear a long dress, skirt or trousers. A must bring is a scarf, a good accessory to cover the shoulders and chest. There is nothing to stress over here, but to draw less attention to yourself, blend it.
From experience, you stand out like a sore thumb, rightfully so, but there are ways to tone down the highlight if you catch my drift.
4. Buy An Authentic Rug…
Woolen, silk and palm trees fiber. Moroccans use everything to make and embroider the colorful carpets/rugs. We bought an authentic Berber rug for our kitchen for $220 and don’t regret a thing! The majority of rugs you’ll find in shops are made by one of the forty-five distinct Moroccan Berber tribes in the country. Each one has a unique style and handmade on a loom that can take anywhere from 10 days to 6 months to make depending on size and complexity.
Hardest part…where to buy them? From multiple sources and personal experience, we bought our rug from the incredible Vintage Moroccan Carpets. You will get true prices and have an authentic professional experience.
THINGS TO AVOID IN MARRAKECH
1. Avoid unsolicited tours by unofficial guides or ventures into people’s shops.
In the busy main streets of the medina (old city), you will get bombarded with the aggressive sales tactics of would-be guides and craft-sellers. These unofficial guides can be very persuasive and persistent, so be aware. Usually, an unofficial guide will approach you in an amicable manner by asking questions about you and your trip. If you continue to engage with unofficial guides, they will often try to direct you away from where you’re headed or get you lost (can be done easily). Simply ignore these locals.
2. Don’t drink the tap water
Bottled water is available everywhere.
3. Respect the culture
By this, I don’t mean you cannot be yourself, just simply respect it. Few things to note. As a religious country, you have to be mindful of what you are wearing. Women, more importantly, covering the arms and shoulders, everything from the knees up.
4. Random cabs
I don’t recommend this. I suggest going through a reliable and trustworthy transportation company and arranging private rides (resources above). As I’ve mentioned, everything revolves around a barter system. They will heckle you and always price gauge. While I don’t want to generalize, I am only recommending this based on personal experiences.
This post is not meant to scare anyone, rather inform you. These are our personal takeaways and things we learned after spending a week in Morocco. The people are friendly, the culture is incredible and I hope you get the chance to go, drink it all in and see the beauty of this part of the world.