Travel to Morocco is different from travel to Europe. Morocco is unique! It is unique because you can find lots of traditional markets where you MUST bargain the price. It is unique because almost everything is not well-organized like in Europe. If you like to experience some adventures and see different cultures travel to Morocco will suit you very well.
In general, people in Morocco are very nice. We had a pleasant experience in Tangier when the guard of the KASBAH’s ruin let us in without paying anything to see around the KASBAH when it is under renovation. They kindly showed us Gibraltar strait, Spain, and Portugal. Though they don’t speak English, they welcome us like good friends.
However, there are some people you need to avoid because they might scam you. Stay safe and enjoy Morocco!
#1 Scam: Snake and Monkey Scams
When you go to Djemma El Fna in Marrakesh, you will find some people playing instruments with monkey or snake dancing nearby. They sit and play the instruments/sing together in a group. They are very cautious to tourists or foreigners with a camera in their hand. You can always watch the monkey or snake show, or if you are interested you can take pictures. But these people will ask you some money. They ask for paper money. When we were in Marrakesh, we saw some tourists were chased by one of these people for money.
How to avoid: If it is not on your list then you can always just skip monkey and snake show. For us, it was such a terrible show, because they put diapers on the monkeys! If you really want to see the show and take pictures of these poor animals, you can give them as much as you want, maybe some coins. If they insist you for a paper money just say you only have coins or just walk away. Don’t be afraid If they look angry when you give those coins. Just ignore them and walk away. We just play some games in here.
#2 Scam: Henna Lady
In Djemma El Fna, you can always find a henna lady which offers you temporary tattoos. Be careful because they might greet you when you enjoy the crowd in Djemma El Fna. They will greet you in a very nice manner then insist you to get henna. If you keep saying NO, they will give you a small piece of henna tattoos on your hand. Some might have a good quality of henna, and some might don’t.
How to avoid: If you have a sensitive skin, you might want to skip henna because when the quality of the henna is not so good, you will feel like your skin is on fire and very itchy. If you already had a tattoo on your hand and this happens to you, just wash away the henna with water and soap. It will be fine in a couple of hours.
If you want to have a henna, just go to a reputable henna shop and always ask for the price in the first place. Make sure what do you want to draw on your hand, because of some of the henna scams you with extra cost for extra drawings.
#3 Scam: Fake Nice Guy
When we were in Morocco, we met lots of nice people. However, when you are on the street, especially Marrakesh, it’s hard to distinguish a truly nice person or a person who tries being nice because they know you have money. Some of them claim to be a student and admit that they are not ‘a guide’. If you look confused to find a way, they will offer you help and assist you to the place you want. Unfortunately, it is not FREE. In the end, they will ask you some money. Moreover, never ask the direction for your hostel to people on the street. They might guide you to a wrong hostel and insist you to stay in that hostel with more expensive rate than normal rate, or ask you some money for their guidance.
How to avoid: Whenever you are confused and need to ask to somebody, ALWAYS ask police or people inside a store. They will show you the way yet they won’t guide you to reach the place where you want to go. These people are hardworking people, they won’t ask you money for offering you some help.
The easiest way to make sure you don’t get lost is to use the technology of Google maps. You can always get a FREE SIM card at the Airport and you can pay for about ~20-30 MAD for 1GB internet package (Maroc Telecom Provider).
#4 Scam: Kind of ‘Mosque’ Scam
There are many beautiful mosques in Morocco, however, it only opens for Muslims. If you are a Muslims and you wish to see and get inside the mosque, don’t forget to put on your hijab – just in case you don’t wear any. Besides mosques, there are some places which are similar to a mosque yet they are actually tombs of a famous family. You need to know the differences. We found the differences between the name and of course our map. Just avoid this kind of place because at the end you will be asked for some money.
How to Avoid: watch for the sign of a mosque! If it doesn’t say anything about a mosque then obviously it is not a mosque through the architecture is much like a mosque and you might see some people pray. If you really want to go inside, then prepare your coins because they will ask you for some money. Just give some coins and walk away.
#5 Scam: The Rules of the Bargain Game
In Morocco, you need to bargain for almost everything. Well, we think that it happens for tourists and foreigners. So, before you go to Morocco, you need to have a “local” minded, because almost everything in Morocco is cheaper than in Europe. Never ever convert Moroccan currency to Euro because you will find it’s so cheap that you don’t need to bargain things. Well, it’s ok to do that, but we think that it’s just not wise to use your money in that way. Sellers in Medina or the market usually increase the price up to 3-4 times higher than normal price.
How to avoid: When you go to Medina, and you see something you want, you need to divide the price by 4. For example, they offer a coat for 200 MAD (20 €), you need to bargain the price down to 50 MAD (5 €). We know that the price doesn’t make sense, but trust us this is how it works in Morocco. A Bargain game then starts at 50 MAD. From there, the seller will go down, and you need to go up. Set up your maximum price for the thing you want, a half of the price or slightly higher would be fair enough. For example, a coat for 200 MAD might be worth for about 100-130 MAD. If you can’t get your price, just ‘pretend’ to walk away like you don’t really want that thing. If you win, the seller will agree on your price and you will get the things you want. Congratulations! Now you are a master of a bargain game.
#6 Scam: Taxi without a meter
Taxi’s in Morocco usually have a meter. However, they never use a meter for foreigners or tourists. Actually, a taxi without a meter is illegal. Yet it’s a normal thing in Morocco.
How to avoid: you can always use the rules from the bargain game on #5. Yet you only need to divide the price by 2-3. For ~10 km travel, a petite or small taxi driver usually ask you for about ~40-45 MAD (4 – 4.5 €). Actually, if you use a meter, for a less than 10km travel, it only costs about 10-15 MAD. So you can start your bargain price from 15 MAD and you could go up to 25 MAD. Do not pay more than 25 MAD for less than 10 km distance for a petite or small taxi.
#7 Scam: Salads are not always for FREE
Whenever you eat in the restaurants, you will get a salad for an appetizer. However, it is not always for free. It costs about 10-15 MAD more for a very small plate of olives.
How to avoid: whenever you receive salads that you don’t order, always ask whether it is for free or not. It is always okay to ask whenever you are in doubt, especially if you have a limited budget. It is better to spend your money elsewhere than to pay salads that you don’t order. If the salad is not for free, then you can just say thank you and you don’t want the salad, they will take away the salad for you.
#8 Scam: Drugs Dealer
It is such a big surprise that Morocco, where the majority of people in there are Muslims, sell lots of drugs. Even they export good quality of Marijuana to The Netherlands, which they called “AMSTERDAM Quality”. Some people might approach you to offer you some Marijuana, they call it ‘hash’. It is illegal to have or to smoke in Morocco. Never ever try to buy Marijuana from drug dealers! When you get caught, the police might not put you in a jail, yet they might ask you for lots of money.
How to avoid: whenever people approach you and offer you marijuana “do you want to smoke some hash”, then you just need to say no thanks, and walk away. You might find this scam in Chefchaouen or Tangier.
#9 Scam: Looking for a Hostel Guide
When you plan to travel to Morocco, it is better to book your hostel in advance. Some people might approach you to offer you some help or to help you to find a hostel. However, in the end, these people might charge you for some money, or you need to pay the hostel more expensive than its actual rate because the hostel needs to give these people a commission because they brought you to their hostel.
How to avoid: always book your hostel in advance before you came to Morocco. If you forget to do that, you can do it by yourself when you arrived in Morocco. Whenever people on the street offer you help to find a hostel for you just say “no, thank you” or “La, syuckron” and walk away.
#10 Scam: Traditional Moroccan Clothes
In some places in Morocco, you will find some people offer you to get a picture with traditional Moroccan clothes. We found this scam in Djemma El Fna at Marrakesh and near a waterfall in Chefchaouen. These people bring Moroccan traditional clothes with its accessories. They might come and put the accessories on your head very quickly, then ask you to take pictures without you knowing it is a scam! They do not mention the price, and well they will ask you some money which is quite a lot.
How to avoid: whenever you see these kinds of people who bring or wear traditional Moroccan clothes, you just need to avoid to walk nearby them. If you really want to get a picture with traditional Moroccan clothes, always ask the price first and bargain it using the rules of a bargain game in #5.
In the end, you don’t need to be afraid of the scams mentioned above, they are just a very small piece of Morocco. This writing shows you some scams which exist in Morocco so that you are aware of those scams and stay safe during your stay in Morocco. We personally experience a warm heart of Moroccan people. They are very nice and welcome you like an old friend.
We wish you a wonderful stay in Morocco, stay safe and enjoy your adventure!