Moroccan life: 5 things you need to know before travelling to Africa's Arabic north
"Let us sit bent, but talk straight" - Moroccan proverb
Morocco, a beautiful country in northern Africa, attracts a huge amount of tourists every year - and for great reason. Despite that, there are still a few things that every traveller should be aware of before landing to have the best trip. So with that in mind, here are our top 5 things that everybody should know before landing in Morocco.
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How to dress in Morocco
Parts of Morocco may be very used to western travellers, but you should still remember that it is a predominantly Islamic country. This means that female visitors (men are kind of exempt from this) have to dress more conservatively. Yes, it may seem a little annoying when it's over 30 degrees celsius and you're having to cover your shoulders and legs, but you'll be glad you did when you're walking through the streets and you're not being shouted at for the way you've dressed that day (and yes, this does happen occasionally).
Don't be shy, talk up!
If you don't speak French or Arabic, it may seem easy to withdraw into your shell when out and about but, y'know, don't. There may be a language barrier but if you don't like something then say so. Too often in the medinas people will bank on tourists not knowing enough or not being confident enough to speak up and take advantge of that to swindle some extra money out of you. There were a couple of occasions on our trip when we had to call locals out on their actions and be prepared to argue extensively. It may seem a little rude but needs must :/
Keep a map handy
The medina may look manageable on a map, but once you're inside it's easy to get lost. For that reason you should 100% download an offline map of the area (and possibly ask your hotel for a print-out as well just in case). Any time that you seem a little lost a 'helpful' local may come and offer directions or to take you but these are often another way to get you disorientated ad forced to pay someone else for directions/ get some easy money so yeah, when possible, definitely rely on your own maps. On our recent trip to Marrakech, a man came and said - semi menacingly we should add - that if we wanted to get anywhere we had to pay him. Just smiled, nodded, and wandered off in the direction that google maps told us sooo...
How to get a taxi in Morocco
Taxi's, too, will often try to avoid putting on the meter in order to rip off naive tourists so just make sure that they put it on and if they refuse, walk away and find one that will - it will be considerably cheaper.
Also, don't get in a car when a 'taxi driver' approaches you offering one. You'll often get these at bus and train stations hoping for weary travellers who just want to get to their hotel, but be sensible and find a proper red taxi or approach a taxi rank.
Haggling is not optional!
This should come as no surprise, but never accept the first price. I feel like haggling is a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it and ell, if you love it, you can pick up some absolute bargains in the markets. Know how much you want to pay and hold firm there during negotiations. If one vendor doesn't budge, there'll be many others who will!
Just a final note. I know most of this sounds negative, but don't overthink it! Morocco is a beautiful country and a lot of the people are amazing, these are just some things to be aware of so that you can make the absolute most of it without a negative experience impacting it!