So I’ve been reminiscing on my trip to Morocco on December 2013-January 2014. While I was on my trip there were lots of things I wish I had known, and lots of things I was happy to have learned from blogs. So I’ve decided to re-post* this in the hope that it’ll help you plan your trip to Morocco, or at least give you some ideas.
Without further ado, these are the things I think everyone should know when they go to Morocco:
#1. Go to a Hammam:
So many people I met were if-y about going, not sure if it’s worth spending so much of your precious travel time on a public bath house, so I’m just gonna say it: it IS. No but REALLY. I have never in my entire life been so perfectly clean, it is the best bath you will ever have and it is sooo relaxing and cleansing of the body and soul. It is probably one of the best things I did in Morocco. My advice would be to go to a public one instead of a touristy one, buy an exfoliating globe for the gommage, and don’t take anything except the money you need (I learned this one the hard way). Also, if you’re a bit of a germaphobe like me and you don’t wanna sit down in the wet floor, bring an extra towel to sit on. For my friend and I, it was 1 euro (10 dirhams) to bathe ourselves and 6 euro (60 dirhams) if we wanted someone to do the gommage for us- yes, that is an option. Take your time and relax, it is so worth it!
#2. Beware of false guides!!!!!
I put emphasis on this one because I had read about it, I was warned about it, and I still fell for it. Yeah, I know, I know.
False guides are people on the street who pretend to guide you or take you places and then charge you for it. A lot of the times they tell you that you’re going the wrong way, that the street is closed, and then suggest to take you somewhere more interesting. The guy that scammed me told me that I was going to the museums which were already closed (which was a LIE! I was actually going back to the main square) and that he could take me to the more interesting part of the city. And what really got me was that he said he didn’t want money! I had been so smart about avoiding false guides but I was silly enough to think he was telling the truth. So be wary of people who pretend to be nice to get money from you.
That being said…
#3. Be prepared for the best hospitality ever
I was so shocked at how incredibly accommodating and nice everyone was. From the hostels to the Hammam to restaurants. There are so many examples of people going out of their way to help us; from the hostel who paid for my friend’s taxi when she couldn’t take cash out, to the receptionist who called in his friend to take my other friend to the airport for cheaper because he didn’t have much money left, to the people at the hostel in Marrakech who brought everyone free cake and musicians on New Years’, to the three beautiful, incredible women from the Hammam who saved my trip and showed me that genuine affection can happen between strangers (yeah yeah cheesy but true!).
Moroccans are incredibly friendly and warm. Enjoy these types of experiences that give you hope in man kind.
#4. Avoid wearing shorts:
Or any type of clothing that revels a large part of your skin. This goes for everyone regardless of gender identity. As a tourist, you will probably stand out anyways, but my philosophy is that you should try to stand out as little as possible. Wearing shorts will make you stand out from the people who are standing out. Yes even in the summer.
#5. Go for the street food:
Seriously, this is some of the best street food I have had in my life! It’s not as easy to find but you can find wonderful things like 30 cent soup (you can actually get this one at the main square in Marrakesh at night), and the best sandwiches for 70 cents. The food we bought at touristy places was much more expensive and less tasty. So go out of your way and prepare your taste buds for a party.
#6. Drink lots of mint tea:
So good and so cheap. Need I say more?
#7. If you’re traveling between cities, think about taking the night bus/train:
This is for any country where you’re traveling between cities that are far away from each other. Yes, sleeping on a bus/train is definitely not as comfortable but it’ll save you the money you’d spend on a hostel AND it’ll mean you won’t waste any of your precious traveling day time moving to a place. Since you’d probably be sleeping, it’s a good game plan to sleep and travel a the same time. Even if it means you have to take a nap once you get to the hostel, a 1 or 2 hour nap is not as much of a waste of your day as a 12 hour bus ride.
#8. Bargain, bargain, bargain:
You need to ask yourself, how can I save money? It’s the name of the game. If you don’t do it, you’ll get scammed. Also, if you’re not sure how much something really costs ask in different stores and that way you can compare prices. One guy tried to sell me a shirt for 30 euro (300 dirhams) where everyone else had said 15 or lower (I finally got it down to 9). Learn how to barter. Bargain for what you feel is a fair price, even for taxis (actually, specially for taxis), sometimes the taxi drivers will find you someone who will take you for a lower price than they will- yeah, I know, blows our capitalist minds!
#9. Don’t worry about alcohol:
Yes, it’s not too easy to find alcohol in Morocco, but honestly, who cares?? So many of the people at the hostels were literally desperate to find booze, and they kept complaining about it. You’re in Morocco!! There’s so many things to do and see, don’t loose out on them because you’re focusing on alcohol. If you find it, awesome, but don’t make it the most important thing of your trip!
#10. Go to the desert if you can:
Unfortunately, I couldn’t do this (one day though, one day) but everyone said it was an amazing experience. Just make sure you bargain for this as well, a guy I met got the price lowered to 70 euros so you can do it too! Also, be prepared for cold, cold nights.
#11. Take the local bus:
It’s a really great and cheap way to see the city, and it’ll allow you to have some quiet, looking out the window time.
And enjoy!! You’ll have to pee in bathrooms with a hole in the floor (apparently it’s more hygienic than Western-style bathrooms), and you won’t find toilet paper anywhere, and it might be a bit different from what you’re used to but that’s all part of it isn’t it?
I’m excited for all of you who will be going! Happy, happy travels 🙂