Bargaining in Moroccan souks
Bargaining is a way of life in Morocco, and Moroccans engage enthusiastically in this centuries-old practice. You will not be respected by locals unless you can bargain! Apart from staples such as water and bread, prices for services and products are almost always negotiable. Keep the bargaining open and friendly, and you could end up with a great deal!
Clothing – what’s appropriate in Morocco
You will see locals dressed in both traditional Moroccan outfits as well as typical Western wear, though shorts are generally reserved for young Moroccan men. Both men and women wear djellabas, a hooded ankle-length outer robe with long sleeves, as well as jabadors, long tunics which are typically embroidered. In warmer weather, men may also choose to wear a dra’iya, a lightweight long robe, typically worn over pants or shorts. Traditional leather slippers are also common footwear for both men and women. These open-heeled slippers are often called “babouche” by foreigners but carry different names in Darija: “bilgha” for men, “cherbil” for women. You may see a fez or two, though these are typically reserved for traditional ceremonies, such as weddings or Friday afternoon prayers at the royal mosque. Moroccans actually call these “tarboosh”, the generic word for hat.
Communication – how to keep in touch from Morocco
The country code for Morocco is 212. When calling Morocco from the U.S., first dial 011–212. When calling Morocco from continental Europe, first dial 001-212. Within Morocco, simply dial the number starting with 05 (for fixed land lines) or 06 (for cell phones). Morocco operates on GSM technology, common in Europe and certain U.S. networks. Check with your provider if your phone can be used in Morocco, and be sure to ask about international roaming or data rates. You may need to unlock your phone from your home country before your departure. Wi-Fi is available in many hotels, and we make it a point to offer it within our vehicles. Internet cafes are popular and easily accessible.
Currency – how to pay for items and services in Morocco
The official currency is the Moroccan Dirham, commonly shown as Dh or MAD. Bank notes are in denominations of 20, 50, 100 and 200 dirhams. Dirhams are considered a closed currency, meaning they are only traded within Morocco, although a small personal amount can be imported/exported. Consider bringing cash to exchange at banks, hotels and exchange points. ATMs are widely available throughout Morocco. Credit/debit cards are not commonly used in daily life in Morocco, though usually accepted in major tourist spots, stores and hotels. It is strongly recommended to contact your financial institution or credit/debit card issuer regarding your travel plans, as they may charge you currency conversion, surcharge or cross-border fees, or even block your card if unfamiliar charges appear. A special note for our Australian clients: Australian dollars cannot be exchanged within Morocco. You will need to use your debit/credit card, or consider bringing American dollars or Euros.
Electricity in Morocco – Stay plugged in
Voltage in Morocco is generally 220V, and sockets are outfitted with a two-pin round plug, same as used in most of Europe. Most new electronic devices, such as camera, laptops and cell phones, already have a built-in voltage converter, so you will only need a plug adaptor. Other items, such as curling irons, hair dryers and shavers, may require a voltage converter in addition to a plug adaptor. In all cases, please consult your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to ensure proper use of your personal electronic item overseas.
Food and Water – what to expect when dining out in Morocco
Moroccan cuisine is beyond compare! Make sure to enjoy such national dishes such as couscous, a hearty stew served on steamed semolina grains, or tajines, saucy stews whose name is based on the conical clay dish in which they are cooked. Other popular items include grilled meat skewers, harira (thick and hearty soup traditionally eaten during Ramadan) steamed meat dusted with cumin and salt, and bsteeya (thick “pie” filled with meat, poultry or fish, layered between flaky dough). Food is nicely seasoned without being spicy hot. Bread is served with every meal and is often used by locals as a utensil in place of a fork or spoon. Regional specialties abound, such as fish and other seafood along the coast, and tangias (slow-cooked meat in clay pots) and medfouna (stuffed “pizza”) in the south. Vegetarian food is widely available. You will undoubtedly be offered sweet mint tea, a sign of Moroccan hospitality, and pastries and light cookies make a great accompaniment. We recommend drinking bottled water throughout your stay in Morocco, as well as using it for brushing your teeth. Please let us know if you have special dietary restrictions or concerns.
Government – Politics in Morocco
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy, and the king governs along with a parliamentary system. The Kingdom of Morocco has a mixed legal system, largely based on French and Islamic law. The current King is Mohammed VI, and his accession to the throne is celebrated annually on July 30. The capital of Morocco is Rabat.
Hammam – Moroccan traditional bathhouse
Hammams, or public steam bathhouses, are very much a part of Moroccan culture, where both men and women (separately of course) gather with friends or family for hours to talk and deep-clean. It is even said that Moroccan mothers use these occasions to pick out a future bride for their sons! There are 2 types of hammams in Morocco: local and spa-quality, the latter geared toward tourists. Necessities for an authentic experience are “kees” (exfoliating glove) and “black” soap (made from by-products of the olive oil industry). For the local ones, you can hire a “scrubbing buddy” who will scrub you head-to-toe as well as provide a light massage. Both men and women strip down to underwear – full nudity is not tolerated.
Insurance – Travel Insurance for your trip to Morocco
We strongly suggest that you purchase travel insurance from a third-party prior to your departure. Many insurance companies do not cover medical care overseas. For a nominal fee, you can travel peacefully knowing such things as medical emergencies, trip interruption and cancellation due to personal reasons or adverse weather conditions will be covered.
Languages – Communicating in Morocco is easy in many languages
Arabic is the official language of Morocco. Darija is the local dialect and strongly influenced by French. Berber languages (Tamazight, Tachelhit and Tarifit) are common as well. French is also widely used throughout Morocco though Spanish is more common in the North. English is well-known in the tourism industry.
Passport – Entry requirements for Morocco
You will need a valid passport with an expiration date no less than 6 months to enter Morocco. While entry visas are not currently required for visitors from the U.S., Canada, Europe or Australia, you may want to check with the Moroccan consulate or embassy in your home country. Any stay over 90 days requires registration at the local police station.
You are required to fill out a simple police form upon arrival in Morocco. Your passport will be issued a one-time visitor number, as well as a dated stamp for each arrival and departure in/from Morocco. You may be asked to provide this number or date when checking into hotels or riads. You will also need to complete the police form when departing Morocco. Consider bringing a pen with you to complete the forms at the airport, as pens are not made available at the forms desk.
Religion – how Islam is practiced in Morocco
Morocco is predominantly an Islamic country. Mosques and other religious buildings are not open to non-Muslims. One notable exception is the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. Daily life is punctuated by the audible call to prayer, performed 5 times daily. Ramadan is the month of fasting, during which drinking, eating, smoking, sexual and general rude behavior is forbidden between sun-rise and sunset.
Safety – how to stay safe during your trip in Morocco
The Moroccan economy relies heavily on tourism, and the government takes the safety and security of visitors seriously. We only work with officially licensed city and attraction guides, and regulated drivers. There are undercover “tourist” police in most large cities to help cut down on hustlers. Moroccans are friendly and welcoming, but as petty crime can occur anywhere, please use common sense when out late at night or in dimly lit or unpopulated areas. Distance yourself from public demonstrations or soccer matches. Woman and solo travelers are common.
Tipping – proper tipping etiquette in Morocco
Morocco is very much service-oriented, and many local salaries depend largely on tips received. While a few dirhams suffice for most small services rendered, consider offering 15% in restaurants and $15-$25USD per person per day for your driver. $10-$15USD per person is reasonable for city or historical guides. If you receive excellent service, you may want to acknowledge it with a more generous tip.
Visa – entry visas required (or not) for Morocco
While entry visas are not currently required for visitors from the U.S., Canada, Europe or Australia, you may want to check with the Moroccan consulate or Embassy in your home country. Any stay over 90 days requires registration at the local police station.
Weather – what to expect for your trip to Morocco
Morocco is a land of contrasts, and its climate follows suit. While temperatures and rainfall vary greatly between major tourist destinations and seasons, Moroccan weather is typically sunny. Spring and Fall are the most popular seasons for travel. For your comfort, our vehicles are equipped with air-conditioning and heat.