Mouhcine was born and raised in Morocco. He loves animals, books, and most importantly coffee. He's also interested in meditation or, generally speaking, spirituality.
He is fond of learning more about various civilizations because a new culture for him is a fresh window into a different reality.
In my previous article, I mentioned some of the most interesting facts about Morocco. But in this one, I’ll try to tackle some of the safety issues in our country. As everyone knows, the “good and evil” are basically the two sides of the same coin. Therefore, it would be improper to mention the positive things about a country without paying attention to the dangers that may lie beneath the surface.
As a matter of fact, before coming to Morocco, everyone should know a few basic safety tips to make the trip worthwhile. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll share some of the major hazards that one should be aware of.
Possible Scams in Morocco:
It’s true that you can find scammers all over our country. In fact, Marrakech is well-known for the different tricks that some scammers do to get what they want from tourists. Some of these scams are:
- In some touristic places such as Jamaa el Fna, one will always encounter a number of people performing some type of street shows, like playing with snakes and monkeys. However, they are infamous for pumping up the price of what they offer (e.g., taking a picture with a snake) when it comes to tourists. Since locals know their tricks, as well as the real price of their service – they would never fall for this scam.
- In Marrakech and almost all the cities that I had personally visited (Idriss Zerhoun, Fes, and others), tourists would always encounter some vendors who claim that their goods are very antique and unique. However, that’s just ink on paper – that is, there is no practical or real value in what they offer. Some of these merchants add a mixture of chemicals to their rugs and clothes to make them seem old, so they could sell them at much higher prices.
Morocco’s Transportation Scams:
If you don’t know much about Morocco’s transportation system – you might become a victim of a scam as well. Some of our local taxi drivers might take an opportunity to spike their prices up to 200 percent. To avoid being cheated, one has to do a quick search of the costs over the internet. If you don’t have a working wifi on you – do it in advance.
I would also suggest taking a train if you’re traveling between cities. As to the local taxis, I highly recommend taking small taxis (petit taxis) if, and only if, there is a meter. In fact, there are two types of taxis in Morocco: big taxis and small ones. Although the price of a small taxi can be a little higher than of a big one, the small ones usually have a working meter, which shows you how much money you have to pay, based on the actual mileage.
Places to Avoid in Morocco:
In general, the crime against tourists is rare in Morocco, thanks to our policemen who specialize in protecting foreigners. However, there have been incidents when hustlers and stealers targeted tourists. The most efficient way to avoid them is to stay close to your official guide, and not to give an opportunity for strangers to approach you. Here are some of the most dangerous places in Morocco where you have to be very careful:
- Fès: this ancient city deserves a visit. But there are some small rural areas, like Ben Dbab, Zwaga, and Boujloud, which tourists should avoid.
- Casablanca: the troublemakers here use motorbikes. Here are some of the places in which you can find them most frequently:
- Hay Moulay Rachid – Sidi Othmane
- Derb el Kabir
- Derb Essultan (there are a lot of drug dealers here)
- some areas in Hay Mohammadi
Every city in the World has some places that everyone should avoid, or at least should visit in a company of a local. And of course, Morocco is no exception.
Criminal Tour Guides:
Faux guides, meaning unofficial guides, are found everywhere in Morocco, due to poverty. A few of them have even taken this job to an extreme. Here’s how. They would lead the tourist to an unknown destination and then take all his or her money and possessions away. Or in a “nicer” scenario – use some tricks to part the tourists with their valuables.
It is not unusual for strangers to offer help with directions in almost every city, especially in Marrakech. However, if you need a tour guide – you should go and ask for an official guide in a tourist office. An official guide should have a badge, as well as a license from the ministry of tourism. As mentioned above, the unofficial guides can be untrustworthy. They can also be organized similarly to gangster mobs. A documentary called “Scam City – Marrakech” depicts how they can apply their clever tactics on tourists. So don’t take a risk!
Morocco is a conservative country:
It is also worth mentioning that one should dress conservatively, especially when visiting places of worship since there are always some conscientious people there. That is, people who do not tolerate their cultural norms being challenged by either the locals or strangers. Even though Morocco has gone through some major changes as a consequence of globalization, there’s still a considerable number of people with a deeply religious mentality.
Lastly, every country has its pros and cons. One should follow some basic precautions before visiting any country to avoid being embarrassed, shocked, or worse. A new culture is the “unknown,” and the unknown must be treated carefully and with respect, especially a conservative society like Morocco’s. However, with that being said, if you follow the above safety tips you will have an unforgettable trip. And of course, Morocco is an amazing country which everyone should visit!