Marrakech Morocco: How To Deal is my guide of how to keep it safe and avoid being ripped of while in Morocco. It focuses on Marrakech but much of what I tell you about can be applied to all of Morrocco. Enjoy and feel free to ask any questions.
TRUST NO ONE
The first thing to remember is that as a tourist in Morocco everyone will want a piece of you, or rather, your money. People will try to fool you and rip you off. Don’t trust anyone. This may sound harsh but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
AVOIDING GETTING ROBBED
Be careful if you’re out after dark. Avoid places empty of people at all costs since that’s a perfect place for people to rob you. Even during daytime, avoid the shady looking alleys empty of people. And always keep your money somewhere where pickpockets can’t easily reach them. I kept mine in a little fabric bag for sunglasses which I held in my hand at all times. I don’t think people even realized I was keeping money in that little bag or even noticed it since I kept it in a closed fist.
Watch out for guides that aren’t official. If you want a guide try getting one through your hotel or travel agency. Don’t trust the people on the street offering to guide you. First of all they may lead you somewhere not so crowded to more easily rob you. Or they’ll lead you to their friends stores and get a provision on everything you’ll buy there.
AIRPORT LUGGAGE CARRIERS
Watch out for people at the airport offering to carry your luggage. They’re not doing that to be nice. After they’ve carried your luggage, even if no longer than twenty meters, they’ll want a big sum of money for the trouble. We’re talking sums like 100 diram per bag here. Not worth it.
If you’re young people will try to sell you drugs, all the time. Common sense should apply here but I’ll tell you this anyway. If you really feel the need to do drugs at least be smart enough not to buy some shit a guy on the street sells you in Morocco. At least not if you’re not so keen about going to Moroccan prison. The dealer may in fact work with the secret police and you’ll be arrested after your purchase. Buying drugs in Morocco simply isn’t worth the risk.
If you’re taking a cab make sure the taxameter is on. If it’s not the driver will try to charge you a lot more than the drive is really worth. If he don’t want to turn the taxamter on, get out of the car and find another taxi.
SURVIVING THE TRAFFIC
The traffic in Morocco is extremely stressful and dangerous. People ignore traffic rules, there are barely any traffic lights and the streets are full of not only only cars but also a lot of mopeds. If you need to cross the street often you’ll have to run in between the cars because barely anyone will stop to let you cross. My best tip is to cross the big streets in a group. Wait until a group of Moroccans are crossing and follow them.
DEALING WITH PUSHY SALESMEN
In the squares and souks everybody will shout at you, trying to get your attention. Some will even follow you or try to grab you. Just ignore the people you’re not interested in talking with. If you think that’s rude consider the fact that they only want your attention to make money off of you, which in my opinion is ruder. The salesmen will try to get your attention by saying “looking only” but of course they think that if you stay and look they can convince you to buy something. If you don’t want to look, just ignore them, or tell them “no thanks” and continue walking. They don’t expect everyone to stop anyway. It’s great to wear sunglasses since then you can avoid eye contact. Expect salesmen to come rushing if you look at something for more than five seconds. If you’re just walking through somewhere look straight ahead and you’ll be slightly less bothered. If someone comes up to you and want to ask you where you’re from or something similar know that most don’t do that just to be nice but because they’re trying to establish a connection to you to be able to make money off of you somehow. Some may be genuinely curious but be careful. If you stop and talk to someone don’t feel that you have to follow them to a store, restaurant or whatever they want to show you just because you’ve spent a few minutes talking to them. If you’re not interested decline. After all it was them who were nice to you only to make money off of you.
If you find something you like remember that the first prize always is more than the item is really worth. Generally 30% of the first prize is reasonable. Don’t be ashamed to offer them a really low prize. They’ll act offended and try to tell you what you want to buy is indeed worth the prize they’re offering you because it’s such a quality product. Don’t let them fool you, stick to your prize. If they don’t accept it, walk away, nine times out of ten they’ll come running after you and will tell you that you can get the product for the prize you offered. If they don’t come running after you, no worries, there’s always other salesmen selling the same things and one of them will accept the prize you’re willing to pay.
Don’t photograph the snake charmers, their whole business is based on people paying for photographing them. So unless you want to give them money, stay away from them. Also watch out for the people with the monkeys. They’ll try to put their monkey on your shoulder to have you pay for a photo of you with the monkey. Ignore them or they’ll come running after you. Many tourists ride the horse drawn carriages but I’d advice you to avoid that since at least most of the horses we saw looked like they were in a very poor condition. Do you really want to support animal cruelty?