Morocco is such a cultural and special country. But I must say you need to be well-prepared before travelling there to avoid bad experiences. There are some good things to know before travelling to Morocco. Here are 8 of them:
Almost all English-speaking countries (with the exception of South Africa) require no visa to enter the country, and they can stay up to 90 days. It’s always better to check online or call their local embassy to make sure nevertheless. For INDONESIAN passport holder (like Damar and I), no visa is required.
However, one thing for sure is everybody will need to fill in arrival form so prepare your PEN (it’s not provided). It was quite annoying when you have to depend on someone to lend you one. Also, prepare the detail of your stay, the name and address.
It is possible to take bus from the airport
It is very cheap, only 30 dirham/person (3 euro). It will get you to the main square and what not where usually tourist stay. It’s the BUS no 19! We had a great experience with it with a nice and sincere driver who told us where to stop. Worry not when you go out of the airport and you seem like the only one wait for the bus. Not to mention, the taxi drive who would come towards you and say ‘Taxi taxi, the price is same with the bus”. It’s not true. The fix rate of taxi is usually around 100-150 dirham. Slowly but sure, other tourists will follow you and wait together with you. The bus station is not right in front of the door. You have to walk a little bit towards the packing lot where taxis wait.
They claim that the tap water is drinkable enough. However, if you come from a country with a high quality of water or used to drink from package, I’d suggest to avoid it. The price of water bottle is not ripping you off, it is more or less 9-11 Dirham or 1 euro. Damar and I did try out the tap water. For both of us, it has a bit of chlorine touch of taste which we did not really prefer. When you have no other easier option or want to save up your money, you can combine with packaged water bottle and once in a while take the tap water with your own.
Generally, Morocco’s climate is moderate and subtropical, cold by breezes off the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Winters can be fairly cold and the summers are very hot. Do not underestimate the weather of Morocco during winter time. It can be quite contrast during the day and night. We went on December and we thought it could have been a nice escape from a freezing-almost-snowing Amsterdam. But nope, it was quite cold than expected. In day time with sun exposure, the temperature could get to 15-20 celcius, at night it could really drop to 7 degree. It was very nice nevertheless because it is always almost sunny everyday. You will definitely need jacket and sweater for winter in Morocco, especially in the desert.
Regardless of when you travel to Morocco, it’s a good idea to bring layers as your trip might involve travel through many different climate zones.
Do not feel obliged to order drinks and do not feel obliged to give tips. Obviously if you are in a budget trip, you want to save while still enriching your experience. In my opinion, not so many drinks you should try to get to know Morocco better, except the juices (especially orange and pomegranate) and the moroccan mint tea. Other than that, you are welcome to stay with water in which is okay to bring from home. However for the tips part, you are always welcomed to do so and it is always better to do so. To put a smile to someone’s day is always a nice feeling.
You will see a lot of people just hang out in a cafe to enjoy their morocco tea time (or coffee). Most of them are men and just by themselves. It is quite interesting to see. I guess in the ‘mess’ of the county, they need some times alone to think and reflect. It is part of the culture that they take seriously.
Get to know Berberian whiskey
Damar and I were a bit surprised when we first got offered Berberian whiskey because Berber is supposedly known as muslim. Well it was a mislead, they refer to Moroccan tea. It is basically infused mint leaf in hot water with sugar. I do not usually put sugar in my drinks, but this time is special 🙂 Sometimes, it could get quite strong, but I love it. That’s the beauty of it, just like drinking coffee. It hit and wake you up. By the way, berbers are an ethnic group indigenous to Northern Africa. They are over 70% of the Moroccan population! I have met some of them and they are very welcoming with their limited english vocabulary.
Most of the Moroccan people dress modestly, especially when we speak about the women. Thus, it is polite to respect their culture by not dressing up vulgarly. Avoid too short bottom and sleeveless top. It is also for your own comfort to not be seen strangely and also to feel blended with your surroundings. If you are a woman travels solo, it might be a good idea to cover your self or have scarf with you.
Considering the crazy traffic and road, it is wise to not wait for the vehicles driver to stop, because they simply WILL NOT. So, just be brave and cross that road. In some places, it is clear with the traffic light for pedestrians, and some others are not.
Be very discreet, if you want to take pictures of local people or the stuff in the market. Or just simply avoid it. Trust me, there are so much more details to capture in every other corners! Moroccans will not be happy by the idea of you taking their picture or the stuff they sell, which is understandable. If you take pictures of street performers in the square of Jemma el-Fna, they will surely ask and push to get money from you. Be extra careful, if you want to take risks, prepare some coins with you 🙂
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