Some Moroccans you meet on the street have come up with dozens of ways to separate you from your money. Be on your guard, but don’t let that stop you from accepting the offers of generous Moroccan hospitality. Put on a smile and say hello to anyone who greets you, but stand firm if you are not interested. You’ll be much better off that way than if you just ignore them.
- Fake tour guides or touts assemble at touristic spots offering to show you around the medina, to find you accommodation, to bring you to arts and handicrafts stores, or even to buy drugs. Although these men can often be harmless, you should never accept drugs or other products from them. Be polite, but make it clear that you are not interested in their services, and if they become too persistent, go to a taxi, a salon de thé or the nearest shop – the shopkeeper will send the false leader away. However, if it is a shop frequented by tourists, the shopkeeper may be equally eager to get you to buy something.
The best way to avoid fake guides and false informants is to avoid eye contact and just ignore them, which will generally discourage them because they would try to spend their attention on harassing some other more enthusiastic tourist. Another way is to act quickly. In case of eye contact, simply give the person a smile, preferably a strong, bright smile, “No thanks! (they are very good at judging people’s feelings and they will harass you if they think you are vulnerable), instead of a weak smile which means “I’m sorry”. The word La (Arabic for no) can be particularly effective as it does not betray your native tongue. Another option is to pretend that you only speak some exotic language and do not understand what they are saying. Be polite and walk away. If you get into an argument or a conversation with them, you will have a damn hard time getting rid of them because they are incredibly persistent and masters of harassment, nothing really embarrasses them as they see this as their way of making a living.
- Some of the most common tactics to watch out for are the following.
Many fake guides pretend they are students when they come up to you and then tell you they just want to exercise their English and discover more about your culture. If you follow them, there is a good chance you will end up in a carpet or souvenir shop. A variation is that they show you an English letter and ask you to translate it for them, or they ask for your help to their English-speaking friend/cousin/relative etc. abroad.
Expect to be told that everything and every place is “closed”. Inevitably this is not the case, but a scam to get you to follow them instead. Do not do this.
Do not accept “free gifts” from sellers. You will find that a group of people will come up to you and accuse you of stealing it and extort the price from you.
Always insist that prices are fixed in advance. This is especially true for taxi fares. As a rule, trips in the city should not cost more than 20 MAD or be charged by taximeter. This cannot be stressed enough. In ALL situations (including henna tattoos) you should always agree on a price beforehand!
When haggling, never name a price you are not prepared to pay.
At bus/train stations they will tell you that there have been train cancellations and you will not be able to get a bus/train. Again, this is almost always a scam to get you to accept an inflated taxi fare.
In general, do not accept services from people who approach you.
Never be afraid to say no.
- Drugs are another favourite of scammers. Kif ( dope) will certainly be offered to you in the cities around the Rif mountains, particularly in Tetouan and Chefchaouen. Some dealers will sell you the dope and then hand you over to the police for part of the baksheesh you pay to get free, while others will get you stoned before selling you lawn clippings in plasticine.
- Ticket inspectors on trains have reportedly tried to extort a few extra dirhams from unsuspecting tourists by finding something “wrong” with their tickets. Make sure your tickets are in order before boarding and if you are harassed, insist on taking the matter up with the station manager at your destination.
- There can be a shortage of toilet paper in Moroccan toilets, even in hotels or restaurants.
Try to have at least a phrasebook level of competence in French or Arabic (Spanish is useful in the north, but not for the most part). It may be useful just to be able to say “Ith’hab!” and “Seer f’halek” (“Go away!”). …. Many of the locals ( particularly the nice ones who don’t want to take advantage of you) only speak very limited English. If you can at least check prices with the locals in French, you could end up saving a lot of money.
What to wear in Morroco?
You don’t need high and heavy mountain boots unless you are travelling in the coldest time of the year like February: it is quite warm in the countryside, even if it rains heavily in November. Even in the medinas, the roads are paved, if not asphalted – just make sure your footwear is not toeless in the medinas, as it can be dirty or unhygienic.
For trekking in the valleys, low trekking shoes are probably sufficient.
On a desert trip to the dunes, make sure that your bags can be easily shaken out, as sand accumulates there very quickly.
Time in Morroco
Daylight saving time applies in Morocco, except during Ramadan.
In 2015, it will start again on Sunday, 26 April, at 02:00 and end on Sunday, 27 September, at 03:00.
Note that the further south you go, the more people refuse to use Daylight Saving Time (also called “political time” as opposed to “wild time”); government places there will always adhere to Daylight Saving Time, merchants not necessarily.