Morocco and security is a sensitive subject, some say there is nothing to worry about, others would not travel here again. The truth is that travellers who are reckless and careless can easily become the target of scams.
Tip: Read our Morocco roadtrip itinerary here.
Morocco safety: 18 things you should know
Driving is choatic in cities and theft is also rampant here. Although it is not very likely that someone will physically harm you, it is important to remember that this does happen. There are certain rules that a person travelling to Morocco must follow. Let’s take a look at how to travel safely in Morocco.
1) Plastic, no plastic, drink bottled water at all costs
Maybe you’re the kind of traveller who carries your own bottle and refills it with tap water. But leave it at home for the trip to Morocco.Even locals don’t drink tap waterhere and it’s not recommended to brush your teeth with it.
2) If you don’t ask for advice, don’t listen to it
Especially in Marrakech and the big cities, you can easily be targeted by groups of scammers. Locals will tell you that the roads/streets are closed and impassable, offer you help and chase you to places you definitely don’t want to go.
Never tell them where you’re going. Don’t ever go to them or go to them. Pretend you know where you are going and don’t use a paper map. If you don’t ask for advice, it’s no good listening to it. Conversely, if you need advice, ask in a shop or restaurant, Moroccans are generally nice people and happy to help.
3) Don’t go to the Medina at night
The medina, or old part of the cities, is dangerous in Fes and Marrakech. I have heard many stories from Czechs and Slovaks who have been robbed in Medina, some allegedly by groups with knives. Therefore, do not walk in the Medina at night.
4) Don’t walk alone at night
Even if you are in a safe part of Morocco, don’t go alone at night. Tourists here are targeted by scammers and thieves. Always move in groups.
5) Women should never walk alone
Unveiled women and Europeans attract a lot of attention in Morocco. Many Moroccan women even voluntarily cover themselves because they feel freer. Why?
It’s called “male gaze”, I would translate it as male gazing. Luke would say that they just stare at you like a piece of meat. Women are often sexually harassed in Morocco, and although various associations and politicians are trying to change this, it is slow.
6) Eat where the locals eat
If you see restaurants full of tourists, go away. Eat where you see the locals. We followed this rule, which we had read on English discussions, and we always had a great meal at a good price. We broke it once at the falls and regretted it. The food was not only overpriced but also almost inedible.
7) Proceedings in Morocco
Although we have driven in both Uganda and Thailand, the traffic in Marrakech was a pain. You need to be alert at all times, it’s best to either avoid driving in Marrakech altogether or to take it at the end. Someone is always yelling at you, “wanting to give you advice” and drag you somewhere, and no mobile navigation works properly here.
Whenever you stop somewhere, a Moroccan comes up to you and asks for money. We’ve read that he doesn’t always have the right to collect money. Often they will just try it on you and you will pay.Park where youare advised by your accommodation or in marked car parks.
8) Never leave anything in the car
Even in a secure parking lot, it’s not a good idea to leave valuables in your car. On an unguarded one, you’re just asking to be robbed. It’s best to leave your belongings locked in your suitcase at the hotel or carry them with you.
9) When it pays not to speak French
In Moroccoyou can speak more French than English. It worked out well for us, though, because we both know only very rough rudiments of French and refuse to communicate in it.
In Morocco, there are police officers on the roads every 50-100 km. In five days on the road we were stopped about 20 times, and I’m not exaggerating. You don’t have to worry, as long as you don’t break the rules, they just tell you to keep going.
But we broke them once, there was a badly visible line on the road that looked like a dashed line. Turns out she just looked like one. And so we overtook the car and the police probably saw us through binoculars (we can’t explain it any other way).
But the policemen didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak French. They tried to explain to us for five minutes what we had done (which we understood but did not) and wanted to fine us 40 euros (400 dirhams). After a while they gave up and let us go.
10) Careful with the backpack, prefer a kidney
Right after arriving in Marrakech, we noticed that nobody carries a backpack in the centre, although they sell them everywhere. We soon found out why.
After five minutes of marching, someone tried to open Lukas’ backpack. Luckily we use a lock on the backpack and don’t carry anything in the front pocket. I have a buckle backpack that’s hard to get into.
Use a moneybelt or kidney for valuables .
11) Dyed minerals and fake fossils
Morocco is a hugedeposit of minerals and fossils, even dinosaur teeth are said to be found here, but when you see the glittering minerals playing in all colours, don’t be fooled. In fact, the only minerals to be found here are mostly plain grey minerals, which the locals often dye with very cheap paints. Some travelers claim that the paints are so cheap that they start to melt when you spit on them. So we didn’t try it, but we didn’t buy any minerals either.
Marketers often want to turn you
Another common scam is fake fossils. They say an expert can tell at a glance, but we laymen don’t stand a chance. But if the price is said to start at 20-40 euros (200-400 dirhams), it is already clear that it is fake.
Local market vendors reportedly compete with each other to see who can sell worthless fakes to tourists for more. If you want to bring something, reach for spices, tea or a plate. And don’t forget to bargain.
12) Poor quality liquid gold
Argan oil is another item the Moroccans will be happy to hook you on. You can tell good quality argan oil by its clarity and slightly yellowish colour. It should have a light nutty scent and the price for 100 ml should be somewhere around 200 dirhams.
13) Don’t fall for “enticements”
Often you may be invited to the shop for tea. This is to create a psychological sense of reciprocity, so that you are more likely to buy something. Also beware of the request to “read the view from your niece”, which is written in English/French.
14) Don’t buy a sim card on the street
Simcards are free in Morocco. You just have to buy credit for those. But many scammers get free sims from companies and then try to sell them to tourists for money. Porder your sim card directly at the airport, 5 GB of internet costs EUR 5. In Morocco, they can’t stretch you in any way because of the strict telecommunications laws.
15) Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself
Morocco is a Muslim country and they are happy for tourists, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t respect their culture at least a little. Some things that are quite normal for us can be completely shocking and offensive to the locals!
It’s different in every place in Morocco (even in towns just a few dozen kilometres apart, it’s completely different!) but in general, it should women should not expose their knees, shoulders or arms at any cost. You won’t see shorts on Moroccans either, and it’s much better to wear loose, light trousers and long-sleeved shirts.
16) Always use your right hand
Whether you eat or hand the merchant money, use your right hand. For Muslims, the left hand is unclean, so if you pay with the left, you will often see the merchant get puzzled or even angry.
17) Do not hold hands, grope or kiss
In Morocco, love is not expressed in public. It’s completely taboo for them and it offends them. But you can see the men holding hands. These are not homosexuals (homosexuality is a crime in Morocco), but deep friends. Therefore, you may find that a man will take your hand when he goes to show you the room!
18) How not to get ripped off when shopping at markets
Bargaining is an art and Moroccans love it. Therefore, you can always knock 30-50% off the first price the market gives you. If you like something in a shop, don’t let it show, ask the price of other things first, then ask casually for the thing you like. If you show too much interest, it’s a foregone conclusion that you’ll get ripped off. 🙂
Morocco is a beautiful country that is definitely worth exploring. But always remember that although Morocco is considered one of the safest countries in Africa, it is not a European country.
Tips and tricks for travelling
What to pack
Take a look at our travel packing guide to help you prepare. Choose the right travel backpack, check out the travel gadgets and don’t forget anything important at home.
Where to get tickets
We commonly use a grader RentalCars.com to help us choose a car provider.
Reservation of accommodation
Don’t forget about insurance
Travel insurance is an absolute must. For shorter journeys, choose AXA ( 50% discount ) and for longer journeys the British insurer True Traveller . Take a look at comparison of all insurance companies and choose the one that suits you best.