What are the essential things you must know before visiting Morocco?
While visiting a place where you’ve never been before without having a prior idea can be exciting and full of surprises, not all of us are capable of doing so. It’s good to know a thing or two about a country you want to visit before you head there, especially if it’s too exotic to your homeland culture. So, what are the essential things you must know before visiting Morocco?
Morocco is a culturally rich country that might come across as strange and exotic to Westerners. Some aspects of Morocco may seem interesting, exotic, strange, and even shocking to someone who’s never been there.
This article will explore the top 11 Things you Must Know Before Visiting Morocco. The list will include only the aspects that make a trip to Morocco a special occasion.
1-Morocco Is Geographically and Historically Diverse
The diversity of the Moroccan landscape is one of the major attractors. The geographical diversity of Morocco showcases itself as soon as you step into the country and start traveling. You can explore high snowy mountains, forests with monkeys, and desert dunes in a single day of travel.
The Moroccan north is known for its relatively moderate weather and beautiful Mediterranean beaches. The Atlantic Coasts of Morocco are the most active demographically, especially around Tanger, Casablanca, Rabat, Essaouira, and Agadir. A trip around the coasts of Morocco from the Mediterranean Sea to the Coasts of the Atlantic is full of diversity and interesting places to visit, especially if you’re a fan of archeology, sunny beaches, and partying.
As for the rural areas, you’ll always be surprised by how people managed to adapt to their surrounding nature in many interesting ways, especially in the Sahara Desert. People who inhabit the depths of the Sahara Dunes are full of surprises and interesting things, which may come across as bizarre since most of us think of the desert as just a deserted place. Most people who camp in the Moroccan desert carry that experience with the best impressions throughout their lives because of how fascinating it is to live there, even for a short period.
Moroccan cities are also very diverse in terms of their vibe. Exploring cities like Fez and Marrakech is like taking a history/geography class. You can see civilization unfolding in front of your eyes. As you take a walk from the old parts of the Medinas that belong to medieval times, you see the buildings and facilities unfold in front of you in chronological order. There’s a whole history to witness, from the 7th-century old mosques, madrassas, and riads to the fancy contemporary roads, malls, and hotels.
2-Moroccan Culture Can Seem Contradictory
Moroccan culture can feel like a clash between the past and the future. There’s an abstract battle between the culture of the parents and the culture of the children, which is apparent everywhere.
On the one hand, you have a traditional society that values family, chastity, moderation, humbleness, and other old values. On the other hand, you have a new generation that grew up on global values, individualism, materialism, and old sorts of post-modern moralities and amoralities.
While Morocco is by no means a country that self-identifies as secular, it’s undeniable that a whole generation is raised by what many would call secular values. The West has always been a great influence upon a certain class of Moroccans ever since the colonial era. And with advancements in communication and living standards, Moroccans have followed the example of Western nations.
The Western influence upon the newer generations of Moroccans is apparent from the way they dress and talk to the manner in which they see issues related to gender roles and whatsoever…
Culture is one of the essential things that you must know before visiting Morocco.
3-Haggling Is the Norm in Morocco
Back to Moroccan culture, especially in the traditional markets. While you might not know that, haggling for the appropriate price is the norm. In Morocco, the price of the good leather bag you liked is 100% inflated. If you don’t haggle for a lower price, you would pay the whole inflated price.
While it’s not applicable to all shop owners and merchants, it’s natural to inflate the price in Moroccan culture. It’s generally believed that it’s good to have a buyer who has no idea about what an object costs. If you don’t know the real price of an item, it’s a window of opportunity that the seller must take advantage of.
The trick is to lower the price and have a strong stand. When you do such a thing with a persistent mentality, you’ll often get your desired item at a much lower price than you expected. So, don’t be shy about negotiating the prices in Morocco, especially if you’re the person who enjoys that sort of thing.
4-Moroccans Know How to Party
This one is definitely one of the things you must know before visiting Morocco if you’re the life of the party.
Morocco is officially a Muslim country, but that doesn’t mean Moroccans don’t know how to party. In fact, cities like Marrakech, Agadir, Tangier, and Casablanca are known for their vibrant nightlife with cool clubs, drinks, beautiful young people, and sometimes, some of those shady substances we shall not talk about publicly.
Anyway, the point is Morocco is definitely a cool place to party when the purpose of your visit isn’t exactly family-friendly.
Some of the best parties in Morocco happen in the hotels in the Sahara desert. You can also party in the middle of the dunes in Merzouga’s camps with traditional Gnawa music, recreational drinks, and whatnot.
5-You Might Get Lost in the Medinas
If you’ve ever researched the medinas (old towns) of Moroccan cities like Fez, Marrakech, or Meknes, you must’ve encountered them somewhere that they’re labyrinthine. It feels like exploring a maze every time you take a walk in one of these medinas because of their overlapping alleyways and narrow paths.
The old medinas are built in the old times when there were no cars or bikes. So, there was no need to make the roads wide. The cities were not pre-designed for traffic. The cities rather grew up in a rhizomatic way similar to some plants in nature.
With all the colorful shops and ancient buildings surrounding you from everywhere, you might feel like you’ve been there before. Sometimes, it’s just a Deja Vue, others it’s actually you being trapped in a loop.
Indeed, the essential things you must know before visiting Morocco allow you to visit Morocco before even been there!
6-Some Moroccans Can Be Scammy at Times
Morocco is relatively a safe country, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get scammed there if you’re not careful enough. When you shop around or just wander around, you have to be awry of the folk who approach you with that suspiciously agreeable personality and creepy smile. If your gut feeling is telling you something, you should probably listen to it.
Scam shop keepers, fake tour guides, and other types of people with low ethical standards will display the best personality traits to sway into deals and situations where you’ll pay more than you can handle.
The best way to avoid these types on your first trip to Morocco is by booking with a professional tour agency with competent guides and professional connections.
Scam is one of the things you must know before visiting Morocco.
7-The Tourist Police Is Always There to Help you
Morocco dedicates a whole department of the police just to tourists. These tourist police departments are usually located near tourist areas. For example, in Marrakech, you can find the headquarters of the said police department right next to Djamaa El-Fna Square, which is the number one hot spot for tourists in the city.
If you have any inquiries, complaints, or issues with anything that might require the intervention of the police, all you have to do is to give them a call or go directly to the police department. Since you already know how to Google things on your own when you need to, I will spare listing contact data for you in this article.
8-Non-Muslims Cannot Enter Most of the Mosques
Don’t take it personally if you were denied entrance to a mosque in Morocco. The mosque might seem very elegant and beautiful from the outside, which might compel you to take a look from the inside, until locals chase you away rather rudely — sometimes.
See, mosques are Muslim sanctuaries. According to Islam, every mosque is the house of God, reserved only for worship and holy communion. Tourism is definitely the least thing a mosque is built for. It’s actually quite disrespectful in the local culture to look at a mosque just as this beautiful architectural piece, which piques your tourist mindset’s interest.
However, the whole situation doesn’t apply to Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. When King Hassan II ordered the building of the mosque, he wanted it to be everything, including a cultural icon that attracts visitors from all over the world. Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is a must-visit with its impeccable architecture, gigantic size, and huge cultural significance. And, you’ll also get the chance to take an inside look at the mesmerizing internal architecture, decoration, and lights. The mosque is also located in a beautiful spot near the ocean, which is a plus.
To avoid culture shock, you should follow reading the things you must know before visiting Morocco.
9-Only Cash Will Get you By Smoothly
Cash is the norm in Morocco. You’ll have to exchange your euros or dollars for Moroccan dirhams if you want to get by smoothly. Moroccans believe in cash, hard cash that they can put in their pockets, and not have to worry about anything. So, make sure to have cash wherever you go.
Tipping is also customary in Morocco, so you might want to keep that in mind. Many people you’ll encounter in the service industry are paid minimum wage, which makes your tip quite the treat, especially if it’s a relatively big one.
Cash is very essential! So, we think that it’s one of the things that you must know before visiting Morocco.
10-Moroccans are Touchy About Photographing and Filming
Many Moroccans can be a little bit touchy about photography. They just don’t like to be photographed without their consent.
When you want to take pictures with street performers like snake charmers, you’ll have to ask before you do that and ask for the picture’s price. It’s only natural to give those people compensation for their troubles. After all, charming snakes isn’t the easiest job ever, although it might seem simple. Have you ever trained a dog? You can only imagine how hard it is to train a snake.
11-You Should Consider Dressing up More Modestly
Morocco falls on the slightly more conservative side of the world when it comes to dressing up, especially for women and non-binary people. While the situation isn’t very extreme, you can wear a bikini to the pool, the situation will actually be less complicated if you dress up modestly in the street. Wearing revealing clothes in public places is provocative to many Moroccans. And you will actually avoid a lot of attention, cat-calling, and uncalled-for sexual advances if you dress up modestly.
So, this is the end of our list of things you must know before your visiting Morocco.
Anyway, although this list is far from perfect, it should be a good starting point if you want to get an idea about the things you must know before visiting Morocco. Having some facts will only make your trip more fun.
If you want to learn more about Morocco, please check out our all-encompassing guide to Morocco.
Head to our Morocco tour catalog and pick up a tour that suits you the most; we’re always happy to help. We can make a tailor-made tour just for you to explore Moroccan culture as best as possible. Plan your journey with us on Zoom for Morocco’s top-notch travel experience.