Safety in Morocco: How to stay safe and healthy while traveling in Morocco
Here is a list of the most important rules and tips for Safety in Morocco. In addition to health safety tips, I’ve also included a short list of what to wear, and what to pack.
Ways to stay safe in Morocco
If it’s your first time going to Morocco, or if you’re just thinking about going to Morocco, you may have many questions. What should you pack for a trip to Morocco? What clothes are acceptable in Morocco? Are there certain customs or etiquette in Morocco that you need to be prepared for?
So let’s assume you’re on a tour of Morocco with a group of people, kinda like my
all-inclusive Morocco tour.
Here are some tips that will keep you happy, and healthy in Morocco.
Cash & Shopping
Do Bring Cash
Bring some cash–just in case your card doesn’t work. We’ve run so many culinary tours now, and on absolutely every one of them, someone’s card doesn’t work, the place you just brought 5 much-needed drinks from has their credit machine hiccupping that day—you name it, it happens.
In fact, it happens on EVERY one of our trips to at least one or two people. It’s very unnerving to be in a strange country, and not even feel like you have cash if you need something or if something goes wrong.
You also will find yourself forced to pass up on experiences or things you might have wanted to get, at least until you can get your card sorted. In 2023, I’d recommend $700 cash on our trips. You can always bring the unused money back.
Do Exchange money at the airport
Note that Morocco is a closed currency system which means you can only acquire MAD while in Morocco.
After clearing Immigration & Customs at Casablanca airport, you might want to change an equivalent of about $200 for Moroccan Dhiram. This will be very handy while we are on the drives for our Moroccan tour because we stop every 02 hrs or so for a break. These cafes prefer local currency. A coffee is about 15-20 MAD and a packet of chips will be about 40 MAD.
It is also customary to leave a small tip after using the washrooms. The staff keeps them pretty clean. You can check the current exchange rate here.
Do treat shopkeepers with respect
Keep in mind that the average salary in Morocco is $11k. Shopkeepers likely make even less. I understand that some of them may act quite pushy, but they’re just trying to make a living.
Don’t accept tea from shopkeepers unless you intend to buy. Don’t bargain too hard. Yes, there is a culture of bargaining, but find out what things cost before you start haggling.
Here’s the thing. The $2 difference will mean nothing to you. But it may make the difference between a child going to bed hungry or being well-fed that night.
You’re visiting a country where the median income is $1000 a month—and the vendors
on the streets are making a lot less than that. If you don’t like the price, just walk away. But let’s leave behind the extra $2 when we can.
Do Bring space in your suitcase
If you’re going on my Morocco tour, we’re going shopping a few times! We will also be given a small tagine to bring back after our cooking class.
Staying Safe in Morocco
Safety in Morocco is largely a matter of common sense. While we don’t need to be paranoid, a few cautions may help make your Moroccan vacation safer.
Don’t wander off alone
Morocco is a fairly safe place for tourists–as long as you exercise a little common-sense caution, and respect the country’s cultural norms.
Apart from people soliciting your business rather assiduously as you walk down streets, you’re unlikely to experience much danger. Obviously, use your common sense and avoid narrow alleys, unlit streets, and dark spaces, especially at night, but this is good advice all over the world.
If you are on one of my tours, please stay with the group. If you must go investigate a shiny squirrel someone let someone know, so we aren’t wasting time looking for you. Definitely don’t wander off when we are on the streets.
Don’t walk alone if you are a woman
Unfortunately, when it comes to safety in Morocco, it’s a little different for solo female tourists. Women walking alone are likely to garner unwelcome attention, and may even be groped, or touched against their will.
Verbal harassment of women is common. The best advice I can give you is to just become temporarily deaf and keep walking. This is not the time to “educate” the populace on your idea of how men should treat women. Just keep walking, walking, just keep walking.
While you are still extremely unlikely to encounter violence, you’re still better off going with a group as you enjoy the many sights and experiences that Morocco offers.
Be hyper-vigilant in tourist spots
Note that scammers and pickpockets can be an issue in larger cities, especially in souqs and medians.
Carry very little money, keep the money in your front pocket, or hold your purse in front of your body. Carry only what you will need as you enter the markets. Be sure to negotiate a price for taxis ahead of time.
Don’t flash your money about
To increase your safety in Morocco, consider leaving your expensive, flashy, large jewelry at home.
While shopping, try not to take out large wads of cash and start counting out what you need. It’s a lot safer to bundle your notes in batches, so you only remove one batch at a time.
Not only do such signs of wealth leave you open to pickpockets, but you’re also going to be charged higher prices at the smaller shops.
Do Exercise caution in hotel rooms
Your passport is best left in the hotel room, but be sure to leave it locked, along with any electronics, jewelry etc. For women, don’t be alone in the room with a male staff member. Ask the hotel for a card so you have their contact info handy.
All of this should be standard procedure for tourists away from home, but it’s a good idea to refresh your memory so that you can be sure you’re traveling safely in Morocco.
Don’t drink tap water in Morocco
The last thing you want is to get sick when vacationing in Morocco. It’s not just that the water may not be filtered properly, the main reason you’re getting sick is that you’re not used to the germs and microbes in Morocco.
- Do not drink tap water in Morocco. Bottled water or water from hotels is recommended.
- Do not eat ANY raw vegetables. You don’t know when they were cut, or what type of water they were washed in. As much as possible, eat freshly cooked, hot food.
- Try to consume yogurt or other fermented foods daily.
- The follow-up to this is don’t eat raw veggies or fruits with their peels when on the street
- Don’t believe the waitstaff who tell you the water is filtered—it is, but not to the point where it won’t make you sick. Instead, ask HOW the water was filtered. Make sure they’re using a reverse osmosis filter, or something other than a filter attached to a tap. On my Morocco culinary tours, we try to stay in places that use reverse osmosis filters. But if in doubt, ask.
- Don’t consume ice unless you’re sure it was made from properly filtered water. This is the one thing people forget all the time, and then I have to knock that delightfully iced drink out of your hand as you’re trying to drink it.
- Think of how drinks are made before you order them. Does the lemonade use properly filter water? Does the popsicle use filtered water?
Just don’t be fooled by the “but that was a 5-star hotel!” argument. You’re not getting sick because it’s a dirty country/hotel/home. You’re getting sick because you’re being exposed to bugs against which you have no immunity
What to Pack for Morocco
Do Dress in layers
Daytime and nighttime temperatures can vary widely. Especially at night, and in the desert, temperatures can drop rapidly. Bring a jacket during these cooler seasons. Dressing in layers while in Morocco will help you be comfortable in a range of temperatures as well as in different social situations.
Do Dress Conservatively in Morocco
Morocco is a Muslim country, and while you are in their country, it’s only polite to respect their norms and culture.
For women, this means covering your shoulders, stomach, and legs. Wear shirts with at least half sleeves, and midi or maxi skirts are best. Bring a few different scarves and cover your head, to better fit in. In Mosques, women will need to be covered from elbows to ankles.
For men, this means long pants with a shirt. Singlets or tank tops are rarely considered appropriate dress. Shorts are typically not appropriate, especially in rural areas, as well as religious areas.
Don’t think that wearing a headscarf compensates for your booty shorts. It’s actually more insulting than the booty shorts by themselves.
But she’s wearing shorts!
Yes, there will be kids and young adults wearing all these things I just told you not to
wear. But as a visitor, you really shouldn’t.
You already stand out, in a country where staring is not considered rude. Trying to fit into someone else’s norms while in their country is only a sign of respect.
I’m not trying to tell you how to dress. I’m telling you what will be considered
respectful and appropriate.
The drive to Merzouga and camp in the desert will be by 4×4 vehicles. We will leave the coach behind in Erfoud.
It would be advisable to carry your change of clothes and toiletries in a small overnight bag.
You will ride a camel at sunset so wear loose comfortable clothing. The evenings get chilly so remember to pack in your jacket.
Important things to pack
- Nighttime temperatures can be quite chilly in early spring. Similarly, desert camping can get quite cold. Dress in layers. that you can add or shed as either temperatures or social settings require.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes when visiting the souks in the Medina (an old walled part of a North African town). The visits involve a lot of walking. They are amazing and there is a lot to see and buy.
- In the hotels, you can wear lighter shoes. A few of the hotels we are staying in while on our Morocco culinary tour are a bit fancy and you might want to dress for dinner (business dressy or business casual.
- For women bring a couple of headscarves.
- Hair dryers are available at all the hotels on the Moroccan Tour, except at the Desert Camp. Kettles / Coffee machines in the rooms were not available in Erfoud or the Desert Camp
Bring some medication with you, but not your entire pharmacy.
- Bring Diarrhea meds, especially ones that contain colostrum
- Probiotics are helpful. But honestly, eating yogurt or drinking lassi every day is a better bet. Just don’t consume lassi made with unfiltered water. And no ice unless it’s filtered!
- Electrolytes can’t hurt. I usually carry a few packets and drink one a day. Travel can be dehydrating, feeling wary of the water and so drinking less can be an issue, and wondering about your ability to find a clean bathroom can dissuade you from drinking. Sometimes having to squat may make you drink less. I also try to find some coconut water daily. YMMV, but it is the best medicine against dehydration as far as I am concerned.
- Sunscreen is a good idea. You’re quite close to the equator, and it’s very bright, even when it’s not very hot. It’s not very easy to find good sunscreen everywhere so I’d take enough to get you started.
- You may find a hat and a light coverup on your arms may help you as well.
- Insect Repellent. On my culinary tours, we don’t frequent areas with a lot of mosquitoes, typhoid, cholera, etc. so I don’t typically carry insect repellant. But if you’re going into smaller villages etc., I’d definitely carry some.
- Things that help you pee standing up (women). For men, I’m assuming most of you come equipped with these handy devices already.
Other things to note for Morocco Travel
Do Prepare for Western as well as squat toilets
Although most riads, hotels, and restaurants will have Western-style toilets, you may also encounter many squat toilets. While traveling in Morocco, it makes sense to carry your own little roll of toilet paper, or some wet wipes.
Don’t indulge in Public Displays of Affection
Men and women don’t often touch or hug each other in public. But even husbands and wives touching or hugging will often find that they are making others around them very uncomfortable.
LGBTQIA+ Safety in Morocco
LQBTQIA+ travelers will want to exercise caution and extreme discretion, as homosexuality is not widely accepted in Morocco. By and large, the same rules apply to both straight and queer couples—no PDA. At all. Transgender travelers should be aware of potentially abusive behavior, especially toward transgender women.
Do ask before you take photos
Not only is this always polite, but certain religious groups may not appreciate being photographed.
You will find some shopkeepers very happy to be photographed. You will find others who want to be paid before you take photos. Ask politely and find out and respect the choices.
Do NOT take photos of police or military personnel.
Do plan to enjoy the wonderful food, the beautiful countryside, and the warm and welcoming people
You are in for an experience of a lifetime. The food is delicious and abundant. As soon as you get out of the cities, you will be taken aback by how beautiful and lush the countryside can be.
The people are warm and welcoming, and genuinely glad that you’re there, that you’re curious enough to learn about them and their culture, and that you are keen to learn what you can.
I hope you see that safety in Morocco is partly common sense, and partly respecting Muslim culture. I hope you have a wonderful and enjoyable stay in Morocco, and that you stay safe and healthy by following these tips.