Morocco Travel Guide

Morocco Travel Guide

Morocco Travel Guide

The tourism industry is very important to Morocco. Accordingly, the Moroccan authorities actively promote tourist safety. There are tourist police offices in every major city.

Arabic is the official language, Berber is also in most parts of the country. French, being the second language, is widely spoken throughout the country. English is also popular in schools, hotels, restaurants and shops catering for tourists.

Morocco follows GMT, daylight saving time is observed during summer.

Banking & banking hours
Main banks like the BMCE, Credit du Maroc, Wafabank, and Banque Populaire are available in every part of the country and the easiest way to get cash is to use your Visa or cash card at an ATM cash dispenser. Credit cards
Credit cards are widely accepted at banks, most hotels, brand name stores, restaurants and supermarkets. Most banks are open between 8:30 a.m and 3:30 p.m.

Office hours
office working hours for Most government offices and private businesses are from 8:30 a.m and 4.00 p.m.

The major unit of currency in Morocco is the dirham (DH). In 1 dirham there are 100 centimes. There are coins for 1, 5, and 10 dh, 20, 25, 50, 100 and 200 dh notes. Currency is labeled in Arabic and French. You can exchange Moroccan dirhams at any bank or currency exchange facility which exist in every corner in most cities or at every airport in the country.

Credit cards
Several thousand shopkeepers accept major credit cards such as visa, Mastercard, Diners Club International and American Express. There are several thousand branches and hundreds of ATMs which belong to the Visa network which also accept other cards.

Electricity throughout Morocco is 220V, you may find some 110V outlets in some hotels and Riads in Morocco. Please pack a suitable adaptor with two-cylinder prongs (the French type).

Postal services
Posting letters is relatively easy, with Barid Al Maghrib post office, available in numbers in every town and city selling the appropriate stamps. Postage costs to Europe are 8.5dh for a letter and 7.5dh for a postcard. It is best to post the letter in the yellow drop box inside or just outside this building as these are emptied daily.

Mobile phones are widely used in Morocco since there are three different service providers; the network coverage is pretty descent in general. International roaming prices are expensive. It might be worth getting a simcard which allows free incoming calls, and cheaper international calls. There are also phone shops or téléboutiques everywhere using land lines, they are clearly marked in distinctive blue and white and they stay open late throughout the year and are always supervised, with change available at any time. Fax machines can also be found at these shops. One can make a quick international call for a few dirhams and the connection is excellent. Dial the international code: 00 + country code + area code + number.  When calling Morocco from abroad, the country code is 212 you must drop the first zero included with the number before you dial it.

Internet is widely available for free in hotels, Riads and cybercafés which are found in most cities and towns and for a few dhs an hour you can take care of most of  your online chores if you are not equipped with a laptop.

As it is throughout the world, tipping is expected in restaurants and cafés, by guides, porters and car park attendants, and others who render small services. Make sure you have small change at the ready.

Off-road driving
In addition to well over 20,000 km of surfaced road, Morocco has several thousand kilometers of unsurfaced tracks, generally referred to as pistes (dirt tracks). Some of these can be negotiated with care by an ordinary car with high clearance; most cannot. Remember that you are responsible for any damages caused to a rental vehicle that is unsuited for off-road.  Four-wheel drive fans should plan their trips carefully, noting that bad weather can impede travel. Snow blocks mountain tracks in winter, rain and melt-water can make them impassable. Ask locals about conditions. If you are driving into remote areas, always travel in the company of another vehicle just to be on the safe side; and in case you are not unused to off-road vehicles, request the services of a professional driver who would know the routes well and be able to chat to locals and other drivers about the state of the tracks and the safety of the area. If you don’t have a driver and get a bit lost, you can always pick up a local hitchhiker who will show you the way, Moroccans are very kind and hospitable but do use your judgment carefully.  Do not drive into a ford without checking the depth of the water first by wading in. Remember when you are driving off-road distances can be measured in hours rather than in kilometers. Motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles and Mountain bikes can be hired in cities with a large tourist population. There is no shortage of mechanics to fix bikes and mopeds. Trains, buses and even grand taxis will load bikes for a small fee. Most travel agencies in Morocco offer cycling holidays, with bikes being carried on vans on the longer stretches. Off-road biking is popular near Tafraoute in the Anti-Atlas and the Gorges du Dades. If you go touring with a bike or motorcycle, beware of the sun. For motorcyclists, helmets are compulsory. Do not hesitate to use your horn. If you are going to go off-road make sure your tires are in tiptop condition.

Vehicle rental
Having a car makes a huge difference to the amount of distance you can cover. All the main car rental companies are represented and there are numerous small companies which vary in price but most have air-conditioned, fairly new and reliable vehicles in their fleets ranging from the smallest modern cars to the heavy duty desert 4WDs.There’s a huge demand for car rental during Christmas, new year and the summer peak months. Carry phone numbers of different agencies in case of emergency. Most cars use unleaded gasoline. Care must be taken driving in Morocco, the new traffic law is vey strict, always drive slower than you would in Europe or the USA. Remember to always wear your seat belt.  The best car rental agencies will provide all risk insurance, check before you sign the contract and have the required documents onboard. Always check the condition of all tires including spare and the presence of a jack, warning triangle, glowing vest and fire extinguisher, as these are obligatory accessories to have onboard. Check that all lights and safety belts are in good working condition and that the vehicle you are renting is clean and the engine has been serviced. Most companies will take credit cards, if cash payment is requested; you have to make the necessary arrangements.

Highway Code
The Moroccan Highway Code follows the international model. Speeds are limited to 120 kph on the highway (the autoroute), 100 kph on main roads, 60 kph outside urban areas and 40 kph in urban areas. Speed restriction signs are available to warn drivers. There are two types of police patrolling the roads: the blue-uniformed urban police and the grey-uniformed gendarmes in rural areas. The latter are generally stationed outside large villages, at busy junctions or under shady eucalyptus trees near bends with no-overtaking marks. The wearing of seat belts is compulsory anywhere. Slow down for any kind of police or road officer. Note that the police are empowered to levy on the spot fines for contravention of traffic regulations. Fines are now quite severe since the implementation of the new law. In the case of an accident, report to the nearest gendarmerie or police station to obtain a written report for insurance validation.

Parking is fairly easy in town. Parking meters exist in large cities, elsewhere, a guard wearing a random uniform and badge will show up anytime you try to take or leave a parking spot; the fees are a few dirhams during the day and up to 10 dhs at night depending on the location. Most hotels and streets with restaurants will have guards who will keep an eye on your vehicle but always do make sure you are parked in an area allowed for parking and with enough lighting.

Airport Agadir Al Massira
This international airport is within 28 km from Agadir, is modern, clean and has non-stop connections by bus and grand taxis. Banks and car rental companies are open during office hours.

Airport Casablanca Mohammed V
Casablanca’s main airport is 30 km southeast of Casablanca. This international airport is modern, equipped with anything you can think of from cafés, gift shops and post boxes to currency exchange offices and car rental companies. There are also ATM Machines on the main floor. There is no hotel at this airport since Casablanca is a short drive away. A grand taxi is 300dh to Casablanca city centre, 500dh to Rabat.

Airport Marrakech Menara
Marrakech’s airport is just 6 km outside the city. Modern and very well equipped. Reliable transportation is available any time to the city center, Jamaa el Fna square, and train and bus stations.

Airport Tangier Boukhalef
Situated 15 km from Tangier, the Airport Boukhalef is equally good and well equipped. Reliable transportation is available from and to the city.  

Other airports
There are also some international flights to other airports such as Airport Fès Saïss, Airport Hassan I, Laayoune; Airport Tourist, Ouarzazate; and Airport Rabat-Salé, 10 km from Rabat. All these airports are well equipped and connected by buses or grand taxis.

Shortest ferry crossings from Europe to Morocco are from Tarifa, Algeciras or Gibraltar to Tangier or Ceuta. Algeciras to Tangier is the most convenient crossing, Tangier being the northernmost point on the Moroccan rail network and the starting point of the Highway (autoroute) down to Casa-Rabat and all the way south to Marrakech and Agadir.

Lodging and accommodation
Morocco provides an excellent and wide variety of accommodation modes and standards to suit all budgets. There are several well-selected and luxurious hotels in every part of the country. There is also a growing number of fabulous and exotic riads and guesthouses that are appreciated by independent travelers, some of these are very high class in deed. Clean basic  hotels to suit those with limited means is on offer in every corner of the country, while in the mountain areas, hikers and climbers will find rooms available in local dwellings. For travelers looking to get the best out of their Morocco travel experience, accommodation is widely available in Kasbahs and more adventurous visitors should try at least one night camping in Berber nomad tent under the stars. Modern self-catering accommodation is also available.

Ramadan is a period of fasting for Muslims observed widely throughout Morocco, Ramadan lasts for one month. Spending your vacation in Morocco during Ramadan offers a uniquely different Moroccan experience. In general the tourist cafes, restaurants and sights are open a little later in the morning during Ramadan. You can expect your drivers and guides to be observing Ramadan and neither eating nor drinking between sunrise and sunset. You will not be expected to fast and will be able to obtain food and drinks during the day any time you feel the need. However, we ask that you be aware of and understand that your drivers and local guides will stop to break their fast at sundown as do most Moroccans.

Food & drinks
Moroccan food is delicious, tasty and varied but not hot like some South East Asian food with lunch being the main meal. Commercially bottled water and most popular non-alcoholic drinks are readily available. Drinking untreated tap water is not recommended. Tea is locally used as a welcoming drink and is a type of green tea often blended with fresh mint and lots of sugar. Morocco produces excellent red wine which tourists can freely purchase from liquor stores in larger cities and towns. Larger hotels and tourist restaurants generally serve alcohol.

Women travelers
Morocco is a Muslim country. Women travelers who are considerate and respectful toward the people, culture and religion of Morocco will themselves be treated with courtesy and respect. To avoid unwanted attention, we recommend you dress modestly in loose fitting clothes that cover your shoulders, upper arms and knees while in public places.

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