We are making the long journey back to Honolulu from Morocco and can I just say — it was an absolutely amazing trip! Part of me didn’t know what to expect in so many different ways and I was blown away by just how wonderful of a country it was to visit. Planning a trip to Morocco took us a good bit of time and it’s not something that came together overnight, but all of our planning paid off in a big way — we conquered everything we set out to do! Today I’m sharing 8 things to know before you go to Morocco and if you’re in the midst of planning a trip — can I come?
8 Things To Know Before You Go To Morocco
If you’re an American, you don’t need a visa.
If you are U.S. resident visiting Morocco, you won’t need a visa to visit the country. Just make sure your passport is up to date and you’ve checked the CDC website to make sure your travel vaccinations are current.
You will probably spend a lot of time in a car/train/bus.
Because we knew we wanted to see a good bit of Morocco while we were in-country, we knew that a good chunk of time would be spent traveling. That said, I don’t really think anything prepares you for the actuality of sitting in a car for up to 6 hours at a time twisting through mountainous roads and speeding around other cars.
To be honest, I got a lot of work done in those car stretches and read a good bit, too, but just know ahead of time that if you have plans to see places like Fes, Sahara, Marrakech, etc, you should build in travel time.
Note: Public buses and the train are also good options if hiring a driver is not something you are comfortable with! We used Tangier Taxi for our entire trip and they were awesome.
Getting hassled is the norm.
I had read on many travel blogs that we would likely get hassled by vendors as we walked through the streets, but like the car situation notated above, I don’t think I was fully prepared. It’s impossible to walk down the street without someone trying to pull you into their shop or restaurant.
A tactic we noticed was for the shop owner to sit across the street from the shop, so when you look inside, it looks empty, so you go in. Once inside, they start chatting away and it makes it incredibly hard to say you are just looking. After all, you’re in their shop!
To note, we never felt they were being rude, just pushy.
The smell of hash will be everywhere.
I don’t know how much explanation is needed here, but we smelled and were offered hashish, an extract of cannabis, regularly.
If you like to shop, you need to haggle.
Before we left for Morocco, I knew I wanted to buy quite a few home decor items. I read up on what you should anticipated paying for each item and I’m so glad I did. Haggling is honestly an art form in the souks!
Almost every time we went to pay, we were given a figure (in Moroccan Dirham) on a calculator and told to put in our price. The shop owners start big and expect you to barter, so don’t hold back! Obviously, be respectful of the craft and quality of the work, but don’t be afraid to bargain, bargain, bargain!
Don’t hire a guide unless you have done your research.
Hiring local guides to do tours in Morocco is a great way to see an unfamiliar city, but make sure you aren’t being swindled. We didn’t use a guide for our trips, but the concierge at one of our hotels gave us a friendly reminder not to take up any street offers for guiding or assistance, because they will expect to be paid, regardless of how helpful (or not) they are.
We researched what parts of each town we wanted to see ahead of time, downloaded the offline Google Maps for each city and starred the high points of interest. When we got to each new. place, we navigated ourselves to each location and it worked out really well!
Don’t bring your drone.
It’s illegal to bring a drone into or a fly a drone in Morocco. I know, I know…you’ve seen photos on Instagram. Yes, same, but following a national law is far more important to me than getting a good photo.
Most Moroccans do not want you to take their photo.
This wasn’t something we had top-of-mind before we left, but our driver to Chefchaouen mentioned it on our way there and sure enough – we experienced it!
Dane was snapping a photo of a beautiful staircase, when a woman exited a store and thought he was taking a photo of her. He explained it was just a scenery photo, which seemed to make it okay, but she made it very clear she was unhappy he had the camera out at all.
And also to know – many shop owners don’t want you taking photos in their shops. We saw many, many signs about not taking photos (particularly in the nicer rug shops and lantern stores) and anytime I wanted to snap a picture, I was sure to ask ahead of time to make sure it was okay.
Our trip to Morocco was an absolute dream – there is so much to see, eat and do. One of our favorite parts of the country was the extreme attention to detail in architecture and design, as well as all the bright colors. No matter how you spend your time in Morocco, I know you’ll have a wonderful time!