Is Morocco Safe?
If you're having desert dreams of Morocco but nightmares about staying safe, fear no more. These easy ways to stay safe and helpful resources will help make your Moroccan dreams a reality.
After months of turmoil and being placed on a travel advisory by the U.S. Consulate in 2017, travel aficionados around the globe may be wondering if it’s safe to travel to Morocco. The good news is the safety status of Morocco was updated to level 1 in early 2018, which means it’s now considered safe to travel to the country and tourists should exercise a normal level of caution while visiting. If you’re still feeling apprehensive ahead of a trip, here are some tips that can help you have a safe and secure Moroccan experience.
Stay Current on Currency
Knowing the average prices of everyday items can help you budget for the trip, and avoid getting ripped off while shopping in Morocco. Moroccan currency, the Dirham, is currently worth approximately 0.11 USD. Learn more about how much you can expect to shell out for everyday items here.
Hire a Driver
Hailing a cab and haggling about prices in Morocco’s currency can be stressful. Hiring a driver before arriving who can pick you up from the airport and take you anywhere you want to go for a previously determined price can prevent you from being taken advantage of or spending more than you need to. TravelChannel.com producer and veteran Morocco traveler Jennie Andrews says you can arrange everything online before you leave. She did so by checking out Desert Day Tours.
Don’t Go Out Alone After Dark
Jennie also says locals agree on the importance of avoiding walking through the medinas, small alley-like corridors that wind through the city, after dark. If you must, consider asking your driver or a security guard to escort you.
Escape the City
If the metropolitan hustle and bustle of Marrakech or Casablanca start to feel too stressful, there are tons of beautiful sights to see outside the big cities. From riding a camel across the Sahara to chilling out on the beaches of Essaouira, exploring small villages or hiking the Atlas Mountains, there's no limit to the experiences you can have off the beaten path.
Bring a Buddy
Think Valentine-red when you visit Marrakech, often called the “Red City” of Morocco. Many walls, palaces and other structures in this ancient city were made of clay, so they’re pink or terracotta-colored. Heat up your love life with some spicy regional cuisine like tajine, an iconic Moroccan stew often prepared with finger cinnamon and saffron. Buy your loved one a pair of traditional Moroccan slippers, or haggle for tin lanterns and Berber carpets, at a colorful, bustling souk (market). A 10-day Topdeck Travel Moroccan Explorer tour includes a camel ride into the dunes, where you can snap selfies while the sun sinks over the golden sand.
It's always safer to travel with a friend. Make sure to stay together as much as possible. Packing a phone and activating an international plan could wind up costing an arm and a leg; if you plan to stay for longer than a week you may consider purchasing an inexpensive prepaid cell phone once you arrive so you always have to way to stay connected to the other members of your group, or to someone at home who could help in case of an emergency.
Zara Choudhary of travel blog Sacred Footsteps shares her advice on how to blend in while traveling in Morocco. “Generally speaking, we would advise American women who want to respect local customs and not attract unwanted attention to dress conservatively. What we mean by this is to keep legs and shoulders covered, and carry a shawl or scarf in case the need arises. Having said that, it may well surprise some people that Morocco can actually be pretty liberal in terms of dress; western dress is common and it is not at all unusual to see Moroccan women wearing miniskirts, etc. However, as some cities, and indeed some areas within the cities can be more conservative than others, the safest and most respectful option is outlined above. If visiting mosques or shrines, then arms and legs should be covered, along with hair, and men too should have their legs covered below their knees. It is best to wear loose clothing as even Muslim women wearing trousers have been asked to wear a cloak over the top when entering a shrine. Morocco gets a lot of western tourists, so don’t worry too much; a little common sense is all that’s needed! Lastly, Moroccan clothing is beautiful! In the heat, many tourists (both men and women) choose to wear local clothing as it keeps them cool and looks great!”
As you traverse the medinas inside the city, you'll likely encounter some very insistent salespeople and shop owners. They're known to chase down passersby, and they may even offer to take you somewhere special or try to sweep you into a back room. Never go to a place you aren't familiar with anyone who you haven't researched ahead of time, especially if it involves a place away from populated areas. If you ever feel threatened do not hesitate to involve police or, as travel blog MarocMama suggests, run to the closest riad even if it isn't where you're staying. Read more about Maroc Mama's tips for dealing with persistent salespeople here.