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Morocco Travel Information, Tips and More

Passport and Visa

Most travelers who want to visit Morocco can do so without applying for a visa if your trip will not exceed three months. However, is it essential that all travellers arrive with a passport that is valid for at least six months from the time you enter Morocco.


Currency
The official currency of Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham, denoted as MAD or Dhs. The Moroccan Dirham is composed of 100 centimes; notes are available in denominations of (Dhs) 200, 100, 50, 20 and (very rarely now) 10 and coins are available in denominations of (Dhs) 10, 5, 2 and 1, or 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes. Credit cards are widely accepted, though small businesses may not accept them.

1 Moroccan Dirham = 11 cents (USD)

The Moroccan Dirham cannot be obtained outside of Morocco so carry enough cash for your trip.  Currency exchanges are done in major banks and currency exchange locations. Keep your exchange receipts as they are needed to change your Dirham back. If you are approached on the street by locals asking to exchange currency, ignore them as this is illegal. ATMs in larger cities may be used to withdraw local currency just call your bank to let them know you are traveling to Morocco.

Water
Do not drink the water or brush your teeth with tap water - bottled water only!

 

Time

5 hours ahead of EST / 8 hours ahead of PST

 

Electric Plugs

Morocco Electric Plug
Electricity in Morocco is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to Morocco with a device that does not accept 220 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter.

Outlets in Morocco generally accept 2 types of plug:
The "Type C" Europlug and the "Type E" and "Type F" Schuko.

If you are traveling from the USA or Canada you will need an electrical converter, not just an adaptor.


Weather

It's hot and sunny for most of the year in Morocco and the climate varies from region to region. Visiting in the height of summer can be stiflingly hot, especially in the cities where there is little respite from the heat. The most comfortable times to visit are Spring and Fall.


Marrakesh is classified as having a semi-arid climate, which means that it is cool during the winter and hot during the summer. The average temperature for November to January hovers at around 54ºF, while June to August temperatures average around 77ºF. Winters can also be quite wet, while the summer heat is dry rather than humid. The best time to visit is in spring or fall, when you can expect lots of sunshine and cool, pleasant evenings.


The weather in Rabat and Casablanca is Mediterranean, and similar to Spain or southern France. Winters can be wet, and are usually cool with average temperatures around 57ºF. Summers are warm, sunny and dry. The humidity level at the coast is higher than it is inland, but is cooled by ocean breezes.

Fez has a mild, sunny Mediterranean climate. Winter and spring are often wet, with the greatest amount of rain falling between November and January but winters are rarely freezing with average temperatures around 57ºF. From June to August, the weather is typically hot, dry and sunny with the average summer temperatures around 86ºF.


The weather in the Atlas Mountains is unpredictable, and depends heavily on the elevation that you plan on traveling to. In the High Atlas region, summers are cool but sunny, with temperatures averaging around 77ºF during the daytime. In winter, temperatures frequently plummet below freezing, sometimes falling as low as -4ºF and snowfall is common. The rest of the Middle Atlas region is characterized by abundant rainfall in winter and warm, sunny summers.


The Sahara Desert is scorching in summer, with daytime temperatures averaging around 115ºF. At night, temperatures fall dramatically - and in winter they can be positively freezing. Spring and fall months is neither too hot or too cold. Be aware though that March and April often coincide with the Sirocco wind, which can cause dusty, dry conditions, poor visibility and sudden sandstorms.

 

What to Pack for Your Morocco Vacation

Morocco is an Islamic and modest country so pack accordingly. No short skirts, shorts or tank tops. Wear a bikini or swimsuit only at a pool or on a beach. You'll attract attention regardless what you wear, just ignore it and move on, most of it is harmless.

Most Moroccan women (though culture is changing, especially in the big cities) tend to wear tops with sleeves past their elbows. Tops are also usually long and loose. Many women cover their head or wear their hair back instead of wearing it loose. Younger women tend to dress more “modern” with jeans and long shirts, while older women tend to wear the traditional djellaba and headscarf. Even though Moroccan women cover their elbows, but as a tourist, that is not necessary. Moroccan women do wear makeup, so wearing makeup is not a problem, contrary to what some might tell you.
Many tourists will find that they draw more unwanted attention when they are wearing spaghetti straps or clingy tops that are more revealing. Stay away from excessively flashing jewelry, not only to find in culturally, but also to maximize safety. You’ll also want to stay away from low cut shirts.
Bring clothes that work well with layering! Looser tops are great not only for modesty’s sake but also to protect against the heat.

If you are coming in the summer, light cardigans are an ideal item of clothing. Pack a neutral colored cardigan with some sleeves that you can throw on over tank tops. Pack a heavier cardigan for the winter months for stylish warmth!

Older men in Morocco will still wear the djellaba, but most younger men are moving towards business casual dress when they are out in public. Most Moroccan adult men won’t be wearing shorts. You might see young men or boys wearing shorts, but as a general rule, long pants are most common. Moroccan men also usually wear collared shirts. Sleeveless T-shirts are not worn, especially in the more rural areas. Men tend to avoid sandals, choosing to usually wear closed toed shoes out of the house.
Westerners do wear T-shirts, but you might feel better if you are wearing a polo or a button up shirt. Moroccan men rarely wear sleeveless shirts or shorts,  However tourists do wear shorts but you might want to consider packing long pants. In  the summer months or if you are going to the desert, bring cargo shorts or something of that nature to stay cool.

 

You should definitely bring comfortable walking shoes to wear in Morocco. Most tours involve a lot of walking to see the beautiful sights. Sandals are convenient to keep your feet cool as long as they are sturdy. If you are going to the desert, you will want to have a pair of closed toed shoes available because the sand can burn your feet in the summer. Be aware that many women who pack high heels find they only wore them at dinners or restaurants.

Shirts should cover your shoulders, vests on either men or women are considered improper attire.


* Conservative clothing is worn throughout Morocco (clothes should not be tight or too revealing)
* Bathing suit for hotels
* Brimmed hat, visor, baseball cap

* Sunglasses

* For women, it can be handy to have one or two scarves or shawls to cover your head when entering religious buildings.
* Windbreaker or warm sweater for cooler months

* Bring socks or slippers. Most of the floors in Morocco are ceramic to keep houses cool.

* For HOT summer months, packing long sleeve, lightweight dresses that hit at or below the knee are your best options.

Wipes & hand sanitizer: There isn’t always soap in the available!  Toilet paper (Tissues) is sometimes hard to find!

 

Important Local Customs

* Moroccan people meet and greet with the Muslim "as-salaam-mo-alaykum" which means "peace be with you".

* Don't enter mosques and shrines unless you are a Muslim or your guide says it is okay, and then act respectfully.
* Remember to remove your shoes in homes and in holy places.

* When invited anywhere a small gift (of sweets) to say thank you is a customary gesture

* Accept hospitality graciously and with the appropriate thanks. Moroccan hospitality is legendary and guests are treated as gifts and tests from God. You will be afforded every courtesy possible.

* Tipping is always appreciated, and often loudly encouraged.

* Keep your patience. Dealing with the merchants in the medinas and souks can be exhausting, so keep a happy face on and don't lose your sense of humor.

* Public displays of affection are not advised.


Mobile Phones

Nowadays it’s relatively easy to use your own mobile phone in Morocco, however, the costs of both making and receiving phone calls can be high. Please check with your carrier for availability and rates and look into getting Moroccan Sim card.

Internet Service
Internet connectivity around Morocco is generally very good and Morocco is quite an unrestricted regarding internet access. Censorship is fairly light but topics related to the independence of Western Sahara and terrorism are mostly blocked. Internet users should also be aware that Morocco has started prosecuting people for certain online activities; such as defamation of the Royal Family, insulting Islam, and getting into serious controversial political discussions. There are no laws directly related to internet use.

Restaurants and cafes that are touristy will often offer free Wi-Fi. The more up-market coffee shops have wifi but the more traditional coffee shops don’t.

 

Shopping

Shopping in Morocco is a unique experience and should not be missed. Bargain, bargain, bargain... the original price will be much higher than the asking price. Haggling is encouraged and the shopkeepers are very skilled, So check the prices at numerous vendors and don't be afraid to walk away once you have reached your price limit!

 

Medinas, the central and oldest part of the city and souks are a way of life in Morocco and also the country’s best tourist attractions. Every town has its own souk and large cities likeFesandMarrakechhave labyrinths of souks. Whether or not you are a big shopper going to the Souk is a cultural experience that should not be missed on any trip to Morocco.

Great Souvenirs to Buy in Morocco
Moroccan carpets are famous and you can purchase them almost anywhere. It is legal to take antique carpets home but don't believe your carpet is genuine as antique carpets are not commonplace. The experience of buying a carpet is a tourist attraction in itself. After mint tea and conversation, it seems all the rugs in the shop are rolled out for your perusal. Bargain as the vendor will usually start at least 50% higher than what he actually wants for the carpet.

* Tea drinking is a national pastime in Morocco and silver-plated teapots are popular

* Belly Dance Costumes - A perfect accompaniment to a CD of Moroccan music

* Inlaid Wood - Beautiful carved wood products can be found throughout Morocco

* The Moroccan oud, a fretless, pear-shaped instrument used in traditional Arab music.

* Henna Dye - Used by Moroccan women to make complex designs on their hands and feet

* Leather - Fez is the place to buy leather goods. In the old medina,  you can visit the tanneries where leather is treated and dyed in traditional fashion. 

* Pottery is available in all shapes and color but the traditional pottery is blue and white

* Scarves and shawls are on display in most of Morocco's markets. 

* Jewelry - Most of the silver is not valuable  but the designs and stones can be quite mesmerising. Popular items are antique Berber belts, bracelets and silver Hand of Fatima good luck charms.

 

Local Foods

Moroccan cuisine reflects the country's past with influences from Africa, Arabia, and the Mediterranean. Most of the food is homegrown with a wide selection of fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains. There is also an abundance of sheep, cattle, poultry, and seafood. Dining in Morocco can be a social ritual and sharing family meals is a way of life. There is great pride in purchasing the freshest produce for the preparation, cooking, and presentation of each dish.

 

Salads are very common in Morocco and are usually tasty. Outside of the hotels, check with your guide before you order to make sure the salads were prepared with safe water. Also do not eat fresh fruit unless you wash it with bottled water or peel the skin off.

 

Moroccan cuisine is famous and the Tajine, a slowly steamed sizzling stew of either mutton or chicken baked with prunes and nuts with olives and lemon in a cone-shaped clay cooking vessel is the national dish.

 

Common Moroccan dishes:

Amlou: sweet spread made from almond paste, honey, and argan oil

Baghrir: sponge like pancake with little open-air pockets on the top, similar to a large crumpet

Brochette: skewered meat grilled over a charcoal fire

Couscous: hand-rolled semolina grain steamed until plump and fluffy

Harira: soup usually made from vegetable or chicken stock with added chickpea and tomato

Kefta: minced lamb or beef generously spiced and either rolled into the shape of a sausage brochette or shaped into meatballs and cooked in a tagine

Khalli: poached egg, sometimes cooked and served in a tagine

Khübz: circular, flat loaf of bread

Mechoui: whole roasted lamb or beef

Msemmen: thin, oily, flat bread

Pastilla: flaky, phyllo pastry pie with a savory filling of chicken, pigeon, or sometimes seafood, topped with cinnamon or sugar icing

Zaalouk: spiced eggplant dip

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