Morocco has long exerted a strong pull over those looking for the exciting and unusual. From the Sahara to the Atlas Mountains down to its sandy beaches on two oceans, this country offers a wide variety of experiences and adventures. In order to make the most of your time in a timeless culture, we hope the following tips will help you to sail smoothly across the Moroccan sands.
Travel: The Casablanca Airport is the main point of entry into Morocco. It is located about 30 km south of Casablanca. Many tourists take the two hour ferry ride from Algeciras in southern Spain., arriving in the Bay of Tangier. However one arrives in either city, there are many forms of public transportation to use in order to move on to your next destination. Royal Air top 10 has many daily flights to the more distant locales. Casa is also the hub for trains and buses, not to mention all sizes of taxis. There are car rentals everywhere but they do tend to be somewhat expensive relative to other countries ($30 -40 a day.) Morocco has an excellent freeway system between Casablanca, Fez and Tangier with rest areas with good restaurants and clean restrooms. In other areas there are generally good two lane roads.
Money: The currency in Morocco is the dirham. Check for the latest rate but recently it has been US$1 = 10DH. This is not only a favorable rate, it is easily calculated.
Language: Arabic and French are the official languages but most Moroccans are wonderful linguists who are conversant in English, German, and Spanish (especially in shops and hotels). It always helps to learn a little of the local language. We recommend Basic Arabic By Video . You'll find attitudes change and doors will open.
Health: No vaccinations are required by the Moroccan government. However, as the most prevalent tourist illness is gastric in nature, appropriate medications should be packed. Exercising caution can greatly reduce any onset of short term discomfort. This usually means using bottled water and eating foods that have been well cooked. Another health precaution is to protect yourself from too much exposure to heat and sun. It is easy under the desert skies to develop sun sickness, dehydration, or sun stroke relatively quickly but using minor precautions such as sunscreens, drinking fluids or wearing light clothing and hats can prevent most of it. It should be noted that the further one travels away from the cities, the more the need for having health precautions readily available.
Guides: Most of the old imperial cities, such as Fez, Marrakech, Meknes, etc., are divided into two sections - the old walled-in medinas and the new cities surrounding them. The old cities tend to be mazes of dark cobblestone alleyways that are all too easy to get lost in. Tourist offices or hotels will recommend and provide official tour guides. Hiring an official guide helps you avoid spending time trying to find your way out of the old medinas, while fending off crowds of young boys volunteering to be unofficial and illegal guides. Agree on a rate before setting out and the official guides can prove invaluable in making your time enjoyable.
Bargaining: It is an essential part of Moroccan business life to bargain over the cost of goods and services. And as there are so many wonderful arts and crafts for sale in the markets (souqs), you will want to buy something at some point. The best way to approach this method of selling is to enjoy it. It is not recommended to get involved in a bargaining discussion if you are not serious about ultimately buying the goods or service in question. You should determine prior to getting involved how much you are willing to pay and then offer less than your desired final price. Keep in mind that the Moroccans have a lot more experience and are more likely to end up closer to their desired price than yours! However, by shopping around, you can figure out the fair market price for something you want to purchase which helps in negotiations. And if you don't reach the price that you think is fair, then walk away! In any case at all times keep your sense of humor and dignity.
Security: Morocco is a relatively safe country for both sexes to travel in. However, one should use discretion in manner of dress as Moroccans do not go about in shorts, except on the beaches. Light comfortable cotton clothes will provide protection from the heat and avoid offending religious sensitivities. Theft does remain a real concern that requires caution. Most hotels provide safe deposit boxes which should be used for valuables. You can reduce risks by keeping the display of valuables to a minimum when on the streets. Also, it is always a good travel idea to take photocopies of your passport, tickets, credit cards, etc. that you store away separate from the main place where you store or carry these items.