September 9-19, 2019
Route:Tangier – Chefchaouen – Fes – Merzouga (desert) – Marrakech – Safi – Oualidia – Casablanca
If I have one tip, it would be to skip Safi and skip Casablanca (or is that two tips?)Safi is just dull with no beaches within walking distance of the town centre and Casablanca is dirty, loud, crowded and probably the most unsafe place to be a tourist without much to offer to actually see/do.
General Morocco tips:
– The first thing anyone asks is “is Morocco safe?” Absolutely, 100%, I felt safer than anywhere in Central or South America, as well as some parts of Europe and North America. Unlike parts South America where you can’t even snap a photo without your phone being snatched from your hand, we walked around at night taking photos and only ever felt a little sketched out in Casablanca. Going out alone as a woman at night was a little dicey as I did get a lot of male attention but it did seem mostly harmless (one guy wanted a photo with me and my blonde hair and kept boasting it was his souvenier!)
– They say Moroccan Dirhams are a closed currency, only available in Morocco but many currency exchanges in Europe sell this currency. You may want to arrive with a bit of cash in case you’re unable to withdrawal money when you arrive in Morocco (as happened to my friend) and to avoid the additional fees of airport withdrawals or exchanges. Bring multiple bank cards in case yours don’t work or they get lost/stolen (yeah… that happened in Casablanca to someone in my travel group)
– Despite my bank at home waiving international withdrawal fees (which can be $5 CAD if your bank doesn’t waive them) some of the bank machines in Morocco charged 26-30 MAD for a withdrawal. This is for you to decide whether you want to make frequent withdrawals at a higher cost, or carry larger amounts of money on you. Eventually we were able to locate bank machines who do not charge this surcharge. They do exist! If you don’t have free international withdrawals at any machine, another option is using BNP Paribas for free if you’re part of the Scotia Global Alliance.
– If you book accommodations online, double check what you prepaid online. Multiple times they tried to charge us taxes that had been prepaid online or a higher rate.- You can usually get accommodations for at least 10% off the online price by booking in person at the riad/hotel/hostel. Ensure you have the updated online price (one riad tried to charge us more than if we booked on booking.com until I showed him the advertised price and then he gave us a better deal)
– I wasn’t sure about dressing conservative as I had read online beforehand so erred on the side of caution with long sleeves and pants. I didn’t see a single person in a tank top, shorts or short skirt while in Tangier so this turned out to be wise. The more touristy Chefchaouen and Marrakech had some tourists dressed more Western but it is probably polite to honour the dress code.
– Everything we read said the best place to visit in each city are the medinas, and the worst place to visit in each city are the medinas. This is probably true but I loved them all, especially at night. They all pretty much sell the same things and can be a bit dirty (omg we saw a rat larger than any cat we had seen!) but the hustle and bustle (and adorable stray cats) was always entertaining. Marrakech was my favourite and an absolute must visit if you only go to one medina.
– Medinas seem to always be at the top of hills. You will be climbing a lot of hills. Plan accordingly.
– We bought sim card from Orange – 50 MAD for the sim, 5 GB of data, and one hour of calling (international included). This would prove useful for planning our next legs of our trip while on long bus and taxi rides. The 4G service was comparable to home (Canada). Wifi was a bit spotty in a few of the hotels but we were almost never without 4G data on our phones.
– Never pay the first price offered by a taxi or market vendor unless fixed prices are posted. Everything is negotiable and if you start walking away you’ll notice the price drops substantially. Knowing prices for transportation in advance by reading this blog or others will help you with your negotiations.
– Being vegan in Morocco didn’t offer a lot of choice but I didn’t starve. The vegetable tagines are usually vegan (confirm they aren’t made with lamb stock) and there are plenty of fresh breads, roti, and fresh fruit on every corner. I managed to get the most incredible calzone and salad at a pizza place simply by asking for no cheese in the calzone. I was told that by the end of the trip I’d be sick of tagine, this was correct.
– The bus is not always the cheapest or most efficient way of traveling. We mostly stuck to grand taxis. They meet at a designated place in town (see each blog for specific locations) and travel popular routes, allowing you to pay for one seat rather than the whole taxi. An amazing option for solo travelers! They only depart when they are full meaning this can be much faster than waiting for a bus (sometimes we waited 5-10 minutes) or can leave you wishing you had booked a bus ticket before handing over 200 MAD to pay for the final 2 empty seats after waiting 45 minutes.
Individual blogs for each area posted here:
Marrakesh: coming soon
Oualidia (and Safi): coming soon
Casablanca: coming soon