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14 Crucial Morocco Safety Tips + Common Scams: Is Morocco Safe For Tourists To Visit?

    In light of recent events, travel communities have been abuzz with endless questions about more or less the same thing: “Is Morocco safe for tourists to visit anymore?” “Should I cancel my trip to Morocco?” and a whole lot of other sweaty, panicky, first-world-problemmy lines of inquiry.

    credit : Yotut@ Flickr

    … And I totally get it.

    If you want to travel to Morocco, safety is of course a key concern that you should address. (Alongside what to pack and how many giant rugs your home really needs)

    But comments like “MOROCCO IS A DANGEROUS COUNTRY AND THIS IS WHY I WILL NEVER TRAVEL THERE” or equally aggressive “THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER TRAVEL IT’S NOT SAFE”? Yikes.

    I find those sweeping statements not only harmful, but super upsetting because Morocco, in spite of recent safety scares, is a really beautiful country with a rich culture that I’d happily explore over and over.

    BUT, and I say this with a big BUT, Morocco is not a country for the faint of heart. Unless you’re prepared for it, you might be sorely disappointed.

    So that’s why this article will go in-depth into the safety of travel to Morocco, based on two experiences I’ve had both as a group of girls travelling to Morocco and as a couple. It’s a long one, so grab yourself a mint tea and snuggle up.




    Morocco Safety: General Overview

    As I mentioned in the intro, I’ve been to Morocco twice, mainly flouncing around the hot tourist spots (Fes, Chefchaouen, Marrakesh, Essaouira and Ouzoud Falls). I’ve never been to the desert or to smaller villages, but since the cities I’ve been to are the usual spots that people swarm to as first timers (thanks RyanAir!!!), I’m going to give you a run-down of what my experience has been in these places.

    But first: remember that safety is a very subjective thing, and is influenced by a LOT of factors including your sex, sexuality, colour of your skin, etc. As a straight, Asian, cis-female, I enjoy certain privileges when it comes to safety, but also face unique threats too. With that in mind, here are some other perspectives and experiences from other travel bloggers, showing what it’s like to travel as a gay couple to Morocco, what it’s like to travel as a black woman in Morocco, and travelling around Morocco in a wheelchair.

    Anyways, based on my own personal experience, here’s my honest opinion about safety in Morocco: as a tourist, I consider Morocco totally safe… you just need to be well equipped to handle it.

    It’s really that simple!

    Sure, any Google search about safety for tourists in Morocco will inevitably yield horror stories and negative reviews, but that’s just the nature of the Internet.

    People will more readily take to the interwebs to complain than to praise… but you need to understand this: Morocco is built for a certain type of traveler… the kind of traveler that goes with the flow and more readily laughs things off than let it bother them.

    If you don’t have thick skin when it comes to dealing with travel troubles, I think you’ll probably hate Morocco to be honest. It’s rather inevitable that you’ll get swindled (or at least someone will attempt to swindle you) at some point, and too often, people will let this ruin their trip.

    If that sounds like something you’d be able to get over, then read on. I’m going to quickly run down my experience with different types of safety in Morocco, before giving you my top Morocco safety tips. First…


    Crime in Morocco

    Crime in Morocco (from my own personal experience) is more opportunistic and focused around petty crime and scams rather than outright violent crime. This isn’t to say such crime doesn’t happen (I’ve heard of some armed robberies for instance), but as a female traveler in Morocco, I have never felt I was in physical danger. Instead, any perceptions around a lack of safety stemmed from good ol’ fashioned paranoia, either that people were trying to scam us, or (to a lesser extent) that we might get sick from the food.

    That said, crime in Morocco does exist. Pickpocketing is common in crowded spaces (as it is in any touristy city), and I’ve heard of some “bag snatchings” from motorbikes as well, so do keep your belongings close to you at all times and think about investing in a slashproof anti-theft bag. They’ve come a long way these days and can be really cute and functional:

    Food Safety in Morocco

    I’ve personally never gotten ill from eating anything in Morocco, and trust me, I eat enough for five families, so those are great odds. BUT people of course do get sick – it’s kind of an inevitable consequence of travel. The level of hygiene can vary a lot in Morocco depending on where you eat, but as a general rule of thumb, stick to cooked foods only and bottled water (some say tap is fine but I wouldn’t risk it) OR even better – bring along a steri-pen to treat water as an extra safety measure. I’d also read reviews on food stuff beforehand – often that’ll give you a good indication on their cleanliness.

    NOTE: As much as we can try to avoid getting ill from food, it tends to happen in a frustratingly unpredictable way. For example, a friend of mine ate street food for a solid week in Morocco, then got food poisoning after a meal at the nicest, fanciest restaurant of her whole trip… so sadly, it’s not predictable, but I find that if you stick to the main cities and visit reputable restaurants or touristy areas, you’re fine.

    Road Safety in Morocco

    One area that I have no experience in is driving in Morocco. I’ve heard a few horror stories about getting pulled over and fined for very random reasons, or just about the general recklessness of Moroccan drivers. I’ve also taken a few buses and know that the roads can be very bumpy. All that said, driving is one of the most flexible and exciting ways you can explore Morocco, and I’ve heard of quite a few travellers doing this, so I know it’s possible.

    14 Crucial Morocco Safety Tips + Common Scams: Is Morocco Safe For Tourists To Visit?
    CHRISTINA GUANFEBRUARY 1, 2019
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    In light of recent events, travel communities have been abuzz with endless questions about more or less the same thing: “Is Morocco safe for tourists to visit anymore?” “Should I cancel my trip to Morocco?” and a whole lot of other sweaty, panicky, first-world-problemmy lines of inquiry.

    … And I totally get it.

    If you want to travel to Morocco, safety is of course a key concern that you should address. (Alongside what to pack and how many giant rugs your home really needs)

    But comments like “MOROCCO IS A DANGEROUS COUNTRY AND THIS IS WHY I WILL NEVER TRAVEL THERE” or equally aggressive “THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER TRAVEL IT’S NOT SAFE”? Yikes.

    I find those sweeping statements not only harmful, but super upsetting because Morocco, in spite of recent safety scares, is a really beautiful country with a rich culture that I’d happily explore over and over.

    BUT, and I say this with a big BUT, Morocco is not a country for the faint of heart. Unless you’re prepared for it, you might be sorely disappointed.

    So that’s why this article will go in-depth into the safety of travel to Morocco, based on two experiences I’ve had both as a group of girls travelling to Morocco and as a couple. It’s a long one, so grab yourself a mint tea and snuggle up.

    PS: For more travel in Morocco safety tips, be sure to read this article I wrote about important must-knows before you travel to Morocco as well.

    Travelling to Morocco soon? You might also find these posts helpful…

    A Guide on What to Wear in Morocco + a Free Packing List

    18 Super Important Must-Knows Before You Travel to Morocco

    The Glittering Magic of Morocco (in Photos)

    1 Week in Morocco (Travel Diary)

    Fes to Chefchaouen Day Trip Guide

    Morocco Safety: General Overview
    As I mentioned in the intro, I’ve been to Morocco twice, mainly flouncing around the hot tourist spots (Fes, Chefchaouen, Marrakesh, Essaouira and Ouzoud Falls). I’ve never been to the desert or to smaller villages, but since the cities I’ve been to are the usual spots that people swarm to as first timers (thanks RyanAir!!!), I’m going to give you a run-down of what my experience has been in these places.

    But first: remember that safety is a very subjective thing, and is influenced by a LOT of factors including your sex, sexuality, colour of your skin, etc. As a straight, Asian, cis-female, I enjoy certain privileges when it comes to safety, but also face unique threats too. With that in mind, here are some other perspectives and experiences from other travel bloggers, showing what it’s like to travel as a gay couple to Morocco, what it’s like to travel as a black woman in Morocco, and travelling around Morocco in a wheelchair.

    Anyways, based on my own personal experience, here’s my honest opinion about safety in Morocco: as a tourist, I consider Morocco totally safe… you just need to be well equipped to handle it.

    It’s really that simple!

    Sure, any Google search about safety for tourists in Morocco will inevitably yield horror stories and negative reviews, but that’s just the nature of the Internet.

    People will more readily take to the interwebs to complain than to praise… but you need to understand this: Morocco is built for a certain type of traveler… the kind of traveler that goes with the flow and more readily laughs things off than let it bother them.

    If you don’t have thick skin when it comes to dealing with travel troubles, I think you’ll probably hate Morocco to be honest. It’s rather inevitable that you’ll get swindled (or at least someone will attempt to swindle you) at some point, and too often, people will let this ruin their trip.

    If that sounds like something you’d be able to get over, then read on. I’m going to quickly run down my experience with different types of safety in Morocco, before giving you my top Morocco safety tips. First…
    Crime in Morocco
    Crime in Morocco (from my own personal experience) is more opportunistic and focused around petty crime and scams rather than outright violent crime. This isn’t to say such crime doesn’t happen (I’ve heard of some armed robberies for instance), but as a female traveler in Morocco, I have never felt I was in physical danger. Instead, any perceptions around a lack of safety stemmed from good ol’ fashioned paranoia, either that people were trying to scam us, or (to a lesser extent) that we might get sick from the food.

    That said, crime in Morocco does exist. Pickpocketing is common in crowded spaces (as it is in any touristy city), and I’ve heard of some “bag snatchings” from motorbikes as well, so do keep your belongings close to you at all times and think about investing in a slashproof anti-theft bag. They’ve come a long way these days and can be really cute and functional:

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    Food Safety in Morocco
    I’ve personally never gotten ill from eating anything in Morocco, and trust me, I eat enough for five families, so those are great odds. BUT people of course do get sick – it’s kind of an inevitable consequence of travel. The level of hygiene can vary a lot in Morocco depending on where you eat, but as a general rule of thumb, stick to cooked foods only and bottled water (some say tap is fine but I wouldn’t risk it) OR even better – bring along a steri-pen to treat water as an extra safety measure. I’d also read reviews on food stuff beforehand – often that’ll give you a good indication on their cleanliness.

    NOTE: As much as we can try to avoid getting ill from food, it tends to happen in a frustratingly unpredictable way. For example, a friend of mine ate street food for a solid week in Morocco, then got food poisoning after a meal at the nicest, fanciest restaurant of her whole trip… so sadly, it’s not predictable, but I find that if you stick to the main cities and visit reputable restaurants or touristy areas, you’re fine.

    Road Safety in Morocco
    One area that I have no experience in is driving in Morocco. I’ve heard a few horror stories about getting pulled over and fined for very random reasons, or just about the general recklessness of Moroccan drivers. I’ve also taken a few buses and know that the roads can be very bumpy. All that said, driving is one of the most flexible and exciting ways you can explore Morocco, and I’ve heard of quite a few travellers doing this, so I know it’s possible. If this sounds like your jam, my friend Nina wrote a great post about driving in Morocco which you can read here.
    Terrorism and Civil Unrest in Morocco?
    Lastly, because of recent events, people have become increasingly concerned about potential terrorist attacks in Morocco. Unfortunately, this is a risk anywhere, even in some of the world’s most touristy cities like Paris or London. What I will say is that it is very very very uncommon, but the risk is up to you. As with any place, there’s always some risk, but if we went by that, we’d all just stay at home, crying into our buckets of popcorn while watching reruns on the Travel Channel…

    So, is summary: Morocco safe? I think it is, if you’re smart about the way you visit. Below you’ll find some of my handiest tips around safety in Morocco for visitors.


    Safety in Morocco for Tourists: My Most Important Tips

    To maximize your safety in Morocco, and to ensure that you have a thoroughly enjoyable and unspoiled time, here are some of my top Morocco safety tips. These will hold true in many of the cities that are popular with tourists (Marrakech, Fez, and to a lesser extent, Essaouira and Chefchaouen for example). Now, I know this is a long list, and it might make Morocco seem more scammy or dangerous than it is. Trust me, Morocco is great! It really is! I just want you to be prepared. *laughs nervously* really.
    Anyways… let’s get to them tips.


    1. Make it clear that you’re not a dumb tourist
    This is my number 1 tip for safety in Morocco: make it evident to EVERYBODY (scammers, shopkeepers, hustlers, taxi drivers, etc.) that you’re a savvy tourist, and not a dumb one.

    Really! The foundation of ALL the scams that happen in Morocco is the assumption that as a foreigner, you’re a walking ATM doofus and don’t know your right from your left in this foreign environment. Inflated prices? You’ll get them because you don’t know the real prices. Fake tour guides? They’ll follow you because they think you can’t tell the difference. So, what I’ve actually found is the BEST scammer-shield is to just make them aware that you know what they’re up to. It’s that easy.

    Things like:

    “I know the price you’re giving me is too high. This is my third day in the city and the other shopkeeper offered me x for the same product.”

    “This is my 5th time in Morocco. I know the price of the taxi should only be x”

    “I know that ____ isn’t closed yet. I have lived here for x years”

    Etc. etc.

    Emphasize that you know what they’re up to, and that basically this isn’t your first rodeo. This is my top tip and it’s the best way to get scammers off your back. As soon as they know you’re not just “another dumb tourist”, they’ll probably get off your back and peruse the hundreds of other dumb tourists who have just trickled in


    Related to this is you should dress appropriately (here’s a packing guide for Marrakech), and you should never look lost. Walk with purpose, head held high, strutting your stuff through the mean streets of Morocco

    Trust me: looking like a lost kitten is a sure recipe for unsolicited help. If you need to stop and check a map, do it discretely, maybe duck into a shop or cafe. This will minimize the amount of fake tour guides on your back.


    2. Know that “La” means no in Arabic
    While “no” is pretty universally understood, busting out the Arabic can make eager beavers disappear faster. LA LA LA.

    If you want to be more polite, “la shukraan” is “no thank you”.


    3. Be mindful of your surroundings and when crossing the street
    Basic advice, but Moroccan cities are chaotic. Even in the tiniest narrow streets, there are motorbikes whizzing by and trust me when I say they do NOT give a damn about tourists bumbling about. I’ve heard of people getting knocked over by these bikes, only to have the driver whizz off without a care in the world… so remember, be mindful of your surroundings, get out of the way of vehicles and be very very careful when crossing the street.

    FYI, in crowded spaces, pickpockets are also very common so be mindful of your belongings.

    4. Remember: safety in numbers!
    Even if you choose to visit Morocco solo, I highly advise you either book a tour, find a private guide or make friends at your hostel, riad, etc. that you go out and explore with. This is especially true for female travelers. I never explored solo during my time in Morocco, but even in instances when it was just me and a (female) friend, I felt much more intimidated by my surroundings vs. when I was in a group setting, certainly at night. On that note…

    5. Don’t walk alone at night
    This might be common sense, but particularly if you are staying in any maze-like parts of the city (think the medina of either Marrakech or Fes), you should avoid wandering around at night after everything has closed. Not only is it harder to find your way around, this is prime time for a lot of “faux tour guides” to kind of lurk around, usually young men who ask you if you’re lost and try to lead you back to your hotel, demanding a fee at the end. And on that note, it’s important that you also…

    6. Familiarize yourself with common Moroccan scams
    Scams are as common in Morocco as fresh orange juice and glorious tagine comas. Luckily, it’s the same scams that recur over and over, so if you are familiar with them, then you’re able to avoid them. I’ll detail some of the most common scams I’ve encountered down below.

    7. Stick to the main streets
    In pretty much every city there will be the big busier streets, even within the medinas. I highly recommend you stay on these because you’ll at least be near other tourists and just people in general. I’ve accidentally walked down “back alleys” a few times and it can be a little intimidating, certainly once in Essaouira when I was walking with a girlfriend of mine and this guy ran into a cafe to tell his buddies two honeys were walkin’ down the alley and literally a million men emerged from this tiny bar to stare us down. It was like ants coming out of an anthill, but pervy.

    Yuck.

    8. Don’t flaunt your wealth
    I would leave any flashy jewelry, expensive watches, brand name clothes or bags, etc. at home.

    This isn’t necessarily because someone might come yank it off you (which is possible) but it’s because appearing “rich” will make you a bigger target for any kind of scam. In Morocco, even just saying you’re from Canada, the US, etc. will label you instantly as someone who has some dough to spend, which results in a higher likelihood of inflated prices, bait-and-switch scam tactics and more.

    9. Avoid eye contact and ignore
    If you do find yourself the victim of some kind of uncomfortable attention, whether that’s catcalling, overly aggressive shopkeepers or anyone else, I’ve found that it’s very rare they continue to pursue you even when you ignore them and avoid eye contact. The worst thing you can do is give them any kind of attention, because even a “no” will invite further conversation. The best thing to do in these instances (if you don’t want to be bothered) is to just avoid eye contact and keep walking. If they do happen to follow you, go for a firm “NO” or “LA (again, that’s no in Arabic).

    PS: Sunglasses help with the whole avoiding eye contact thing too.

    10. Negotiate prices for taxis beforehand, or get them to turn on the meter
    Taxis are one of the easiest ways for you to get scammed in Morocco. In sum, there are two types of taxis you can take in Morocco: the petit taxis (the small taxis), which fit 3 people max and the grands taxis (the big taxis) which can fit 6. With grands taxis, rates vary and you pay per seat. The only advantage is they’re able to travel outside the city whereas petits taxis can’t. I’ve heard unanimously that you should take petits taxis whenever possible.

    On that note, I’ve only ever taken the petit taxis, but with these ones, they are legally obligated to turn on the meter. Forcing them to do so will probably be the best way to ensure you don’t get scammed. (Just make sure you have an idea on Google Maps of where you’re going so you can tell if they’re purposefully taking the wrong route to gauge you for more money). Alternatively, you can agree on a fixed price BEFORE you get into the taxi. If you’re getting a taxi from the airport, look for a big sign at the taxi stand with fixed prices and insist they stick to that OR save yourself the stress upon arrival and book a 5* shuttle transfer from the airport. It’s relatively inexpensive and you pay for ease of mind.

    A few additional notes:

    Make sure you have small coins and exact change. Often they will pretend they don’t have the change you need so they can keep extra cash.

    Check with your riad or hotel what a fair taxi rate would be to get there from main spots like the airport, central square, etc. so you have a rough idea of how much a set price should be

    French is very helpful for conversing with taxi drivers – many are more comfortable with French than English. The meter in French is “le Compteur”.


    11. Know that the initial price for anything in a market will be inflated
    If you plan to do some shopping in the markets around Morocco, remember, every price you are initially given has a…. let’s call it a “foreigner’s tax”, AKA a hyper-inflated price they think you might pay because you’re a rich foreigner.

    I feel a little torn about this. On one hand, I hate getting ripped off just because they know I’m from abroad. On the other hand, I get that they’re just trying to run a business and make money. Relatively speaking, I do earn more than the average Moroccan, and so if I am able and willing to pay a certain price for my pretty scarf, why not pay a little extra?

    Anyways, no matter where you stand on this issue, just know that the first price they give you is VERY high, maybe 7x higher than what they’re willing to sell for (really!) and it’s pretty expected that you haggle down. There aren’t really any shops in the markets that are 100% unique anyway, so if you don’t like the price, you can just move on and that bag, scarf, etc. will probably be available elsewhere. To test out how inflated the price is, just start walking away, they’ll begin to lower the price immediately.

    12. Be wary of entering small stalls

    This sounds weird but I’m referring to the little stalls in the market that you can step into to look at bags, shoes, etc. On two occasions, I’ve basically been “blocked” by the shopkeeper from leaving because the stall was so tiny. They never touched me or got physical but it was pretty intimidating.

    13. Be careful around the stray cats
    One of the very sad things about travelling around Morocco is the abundance of stray cats. It makes me really sad to see these kitties just roaming the streets and trust me, they’re everywhere. That said, do not touch these cats – they may be cute but they potentially carry diseases. In extremely rare cases, you might even get bitten and contract rabies

    14. Be mindful of double pricing
    This is kind of a niche tip, but if you love fresh juice as much as I do, you’re probably going to get drawn in by the MANY delicious fruit juice stands around the country. I just want to warn you that the advertised price that they plaster everywhere (usually it’s very cheap) can often be for a “dine-in” price rather than takeaway. As in, if you want to take it away in a cup and straw, you’ll pay extra. The small price is only for those who take a glass and drink it on the spot. This is a little sneaky because sometimes they’ll automatically give it to you in the takeaway cup and straw, then just give you the higher price even though all the signs say one price.


    A final note on booze and drugs

    Alcohol in Morocco isn’t tough to come by (most hotels will have it, and select bars) but it’s really not that commonly consumed. If you want to have a few drinks during your vacation, go for it! That said, know that getting too drunk (and roaming about) will probably put you at risk of things like pickpocketing or just falling for the scams we’ve chatted about.

    Drugs are a different story. If you’re backpacking through Morocco, odds are at some point you’ll be offered hashish (AKA kif), which is like marijuana. While smoking hashish is often done among locals (and is actually seen as an incentive for some backpackers to visit), it is technically illegal, so remember that. While I’ve not witnessed this happening, I’ve heard of scams where undercover “cops” try to sell foreigners hashish then get a bribe from you to cover up your crimes… I’ve also heard anecdotes of tourists who were caught and then sent to prison (you can get up to TEN YEARS for it!) So…. what I’m saying is: buying drugs in Morocco is NOT a great idea.

    A final note on the safety of Morocco
    Remember, everything in this article comes from my own personal experience and can’t necessarily be generalized to every single person and experience. I visited primarily the very touristy cities that have had tourism for years – and as a young female I was more at risk for certain types of aggression (e.g. catcalling and verbal harassment) while I was less of a target for others (e.g. violent crime, muggings, etc.)

    And while scams suck and nobody likes to be swindled, I have to remind you that it happens to everyone and you shouldn’t let them ruin your vacation. Morocco really is a beautiful country – the landscapes are unreal, the architecture is beautiful and the food is delicious. Hospitality here (when it’s genuine and not scammy) is unmatched. I strongly urge you to come here prepared (with all these Morocco safety tips in mind), but if something negative does happen, don’t let it taint your experience! At the end of the day, even when you get scammed, often the amount is negligible compared to how much you’d pay somewhere else to travel.

    Source : HappyToWander

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