Morocco Holidays - Hints and Tips

Travel Advice for Morocco

At Rediscover the World we believe in providing our clients with the best service and key to the enjoyment of any holiday in our opinion is the balanced and up-to-date information offered by the tour operator. We are confident that the items detailed below when taken in conjunction with a reputable and reliable guide book will enhance your holiday experience as well as ensuring you receive the very best service from Rediscover the World in the UK and in Morocco.

Guide Books

We recommend the following guide books to complement your reading.

  1. Footprint Handbook - Morocco (also in Marrakech, High Atlas & Essaouira edition).Our favourite comprehensive guide books.
  1. Everyman Guide - Morocco - full colour guide with lots of great background reading as well as detailed diagrams on natural Morocco, architecture, crafts, etc. This book is encyclopaedic in style.
  1. Time Out - "Marrakech, Essaouira & the High Atlas” and “Marrakech Shortlist” which details shopping, restaurants, nightlife & entertainment in the city.

Maps for Driving and Trekking

A very useful and highly recommended on-line store selling maps of all kinds including many trekking maps unavailable elsewhere in the UK is:

   

 

A very useful large-scale road map is published by Insight.

Arriving in Morocco

Arrival by international flight into any one of Morocco's 14 major airports or by sea into Tangier requires the same minimal formalities outlined below:

Passports

A full passport is required. It may be wise to have a photocopy of the important page(s) to carry around with you as ID should be presented on request and therefore carried at all times. UK customers: Please note that in the event of a 'no-deal' Brexit you may have to have 6 months validity on your passport (6 months remaining on your return date). The maximum length of a tourist trip is 90 days.

Visas

Whether you need a visa depends on your nationality. UK and Irish citizens do not need a visa, all other citizens will need to check with their local embassy.

Most nationals will not require a visa to visit Morocco; however, en route you will be presented with a landing card. On arrival in Morocco you will be required to hand over this completed card with your passport at immigration for a FREE one month entry stamp.

For nationals requiring a visa, this can be done at a reasonable speed direct through Moroccan Embassies, located in most countries; we will provide proof of return travel and holiday booking to complete your application successfully.

As you prepare for your trip, make note of the contact information for your embassy and consulates outside the capital. You can go there to reissue your travel documents if they are lost and to get an array of advice (health, safety, etc.). Each diplomatic mission usually has an emergency number to be used only if absolutely necessary. Most of the time there is a social services office to help you, even in an emergency.

Money

The currency in Morocco is the dirham.

It is illegal to import or export Moroccan currency so we advise using the following methods:

 

  1. ATMs are installed in most towns so this is a secure and cost-effective way to retrieve money from your bank account or credit card (usually up to maximum of 2000 dhs per transaction or per day) - please check costs involved with your bank or card issuer; we have had reports of some credit card issuers using poor exchange rates on both purchases and cash advances, best stick to debit cards if possible.

 

  1. UK Sterling cash (or US Dollars or Euros). If you are happy with the security of taking cash then you can change your notes into local currency when you wish at any hotel, airport or bureau de change. The exchange rate is fairly fixed and commission rates low or non-existent.

 

  1. Credit cards are relatively widely accepted, even in some shops in the souks, particularly for carpets; however, it is advisable to have cash for petrol/diesel.

 

  1. Travellers’ cheques are costly and time-consuming to acquire and, apart from the added security, are not particularly useful in Morocco.

NB: keep your exchange receipts to change money back into Sterling (if available) at the airport for your return journey, useful but also technically compulsory.

Time

Since 2018 Morocco has been on GMT +1 for most of the year. It has been confirmed that the clocks will go back to GMT on 19th April 2020 and then back to 'normal' on 24th May 2020 (to fit in with Ramadan).

Insurance

Insurance is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for travellers to Morocco.

 

Other Customs Matters

Arriving with your own vehicle you must have Green Card insurance. If you have a trailer or caravan a relevant customs certificate must be completed. No vehicle can remain beyond 6 months and must never be left behind in Morocco.

Alcohol imports are limited to 1 bottle each of wine AND spirits or 3 bottles of wine and tobacco limits are 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 400g of tobacco per adult. No limit on import of foreign currency.

Any large, valuable items may be stamped in your passport and must be with you on your departure.

Health

No inoculations are compulsory for Morocco; however it is always advisable to be up-to-date with Tetanus and Polio and possibly Typhoid and Cholera; many agencies also recommend the Hepatitis A vaccination for travellers, which can last up to 10 years with a booster jab.

NO Malaria treatment is necessary, although insect repellants for your hotel room and body are sensible precautions against general bite-related infections.

Bottled water (still and gaseous) is easily and cheaply available so we recommend sticking to this for all drinking and also for cleaning teeth - it is said that, of the two main brands, Sidi Ali is lighter on the stomach than Sidi Harazem which has a higher mineral content, although there is now a wider range of waters to choose from. In some areas it may also be prudent to avoid ice cubes, lettuce, and rice that isn't freshly boiled. Street food such as that in the Djemma el Fna in Marrakech can be considered reasonably safe to eat once you are sure it has been cooked through and consider the usual rules of hygiene. 

 

Rediscover the World Vouchers

For all reservations at hotels, riads and apartments we will issue a pre-paid voucher guaranteed by our local agency (Complete Tours). All reservations are made in your name and for Rediscover the World. Occasionally, some of the smaller hotels may have the reservation located under Complete Tours as they pay the invoices on our behalf. This also applies to car hire and excursions; transfers and most day excursions in Marrakech do not require a voucher as these are stated on your itinerary. Vouchers are issued with final paperwork via our online app Vamoos. 

 

Transfers

If we have arranged private transfers these will be operated by a trusted taxi driver or one of our agency drivers in an agency vehicle, e.g. minibus (depending on availability, terrain and number of people). Arrival transfer drivers/representatives will have one of our 'Rediscover the World' boards held up for your attention at ports and airports (sometimes they may have to locate themselves outside the arrivals area due to ongoing security arrangements). Times and further details for onward and departure transfers will be reconfirmed to you by our local representatives.

Car Hire

We have developed a good relationship with a local car supplier and you should always receive a well-maintained vehicle.

Self-Drive Itineraries

In addition to your final and more detailed itinerary we will also supply, where necessary, the contact details and directions, usually via Googlemaps on Vamoos, for each hotel you have reserved to avoid unnecessary frustration trying to locate them, particularly at the end of a long day's drive.

Drivers

Private English-Speaking Driver Service

If you would prefer not to drive or wish to enjoy the scenery as you pass through this fantastic country then we can offer you a private driver. The driver will be English-speaking and will be able to assist with any local sightseeing, e.g. arranging a local, official guide for historic monuments, etc. (entrance fees to National Monuments and local guide charges apply in some places).

You would need to bear in mind the size of your party (including luggage) plus the driver when choosing a suitable rental vehicle and, of course, you would be responsible for payment of fuel as usual (unless you have a minibus or 4WD in which case it is included).

 

Private Driver Service

If you require just a driver (or are fluent in Arabic) then we are able to provide a driver (non-English speaking) at a slightly cheaper rate.

 

Representatives

In Marrakech, Fez and Agadir we have a full representative service provided by our local agency; these reps are a mixture of UK, European and Moroccan nationals and all are very experienced in the travel industry. In other locations we will alert you to a local contact or they will visit or call you at your hotel to ensure that you have settled in.

All our local representatives are able to provide recommendations, general advice and offer excursions - the full programme for Marrakech and Agadir is actually on our web site, linked from the relevant hotel section of each destination.

NB: we also provide a 24hr emergency telephone number for our Moroccan office for assistance outside normal office hours. All contact details are contained on your vouchers and printed itineraries. Please feel free to text or Whatsapp this number once you are in Morocco, even if it is simply to check something on your itinerary out of hours.

 

Guides

Buying from shops whilst you are with a guide is useful when you don't know the cost of things or wish to consult on quality and materials. To set the record straight, ALL guides will take a commission from your purchases from the shop but if you use him or her wisely and haggle hard then the guide's commission, paid by the shop, is not an issue. Remember tour guides in the UK take commissions from distilleries and woollen mills in Scotland, for example, as well as many shops and tea rooms on traditional tourist routes so the practice is 'normal' and not Moroccan 'corruption' that some people or guide books may lead you to believe.

 

Shopping

We are asked this all the time - "How do I haggle successfully?" - the truth is that there is no formula as such but you should have in your mind what something is worth to you, how much you are prepared to spend and what your bottom line is. Use techniques such as finding small faults with the item(s), suggesting you saw something cheaper or better quality elsewhere and walking away feigning indifference; as a general rule be tough and confident but polite rather than timid or rude. See below for a few useful phrases!

Great reading on this and all matters relating to living in Marrakech can be found in, 'The Voices of Marrakech' by Elias Canetti.

 

Language

Exploring a country means learning about the language. Morocco's two official languages are Arabic and Amazigh, or Berber, but virtually all Moroccans speak and understand French. Spanish is widespread in northern and southern Morocco. The Amazigh language, which uses the Tifinagh alphabet, is the shared heritage of all Moroccans. 

To rub shoulders with the locals and make the most of your trip, here are some useful Arabic phrases. With "as-salaam alaykum" you have said hello to a new friend, who will reply with "waalaykum as-salaam". Ask "labass" to find out how he's doing, then say goodbye with a hearty "beslama".

In the souk the art of negotiation kicks in. For successful dealings, make note of these essential phrases: "kayen" means "do you have" something; "ma'arft" means you are not sure; "iyah" and "lla" mean "yes" and "no". Finally, say "rally bizef" for "too expensive" and the bargaining has begun! 

Finally, as you are relaxing after the souks "AtiniAttay" means "I'd like a mint tea" and when your waiter brings it to you, thank him: "Shukran".

Dress Code

It is advisable to wear modest dress in the cities to avoid giving offence and to avoid unwanted attention. Trousers, skirts (knee length or below) or longer shorts are perfectly acceptable. We advise against very short shorts, mini skirts and strappy tops. Outside the cities women tend to wear more traditional clothing and you are encouraged to dress more conservatively when travelling around Morocco.

In summer months loose clothing is recommended; in winter warmer clothing should be taken with you and in spring and autumn you may have the odd chilly evening so a warm fleece will come in handy.

 

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory but it is a good way of appreciating good service and is very welcome!

 

Restaurants

When eating out 10% of the bill is a good guideline. There is no set percentage for drinks but when having a drink in a café 5 dirhams will suffice and in a bar between 10 – 20 dirhams.

 

Accommodation

For less than 3 nights we suggest 50 dirhams for housekeeping and 100 dirhams for a longer stay. Please give this in person to the room maid and don’t leave cash in the room as staff members have to hand this in. We suggest 20 dirhams for the porter when he carries your luggage. There is no need to tip the concierge unless he assists you with a special request. Some customers need to make use of trolleys to get from a parking area to their riad – the minimum cost for the trolley man is 30 dirhams.

 

Taxis

Petit taxis have only 3 seats and they run on meters. There is no need to tip them but most people give a few dirhams extra as these taxis are not expensive. The grand taxis run on meters and you would need to agree a price in advance and therefore no tipping will be required.

 

Excursions

As a guideline we suggest 50 dirhams for a half day excursion and 100 dirhams for a whole day per couple for the driver.

Tips for guides start from 50 dirhams for a half day to 150 dirhams for a full day depending on the quality of his/her service.

 

Climate

Morocco has a very varied climate ranging as it does from the Mediterranean in the north to the Sahara in the south; however, the general 'holiday' seasons run as follows:

High Season - March, April, May, September & October - perfect warm temperatures (25 to 35 degrees Celsius) in the south, little chance of rain, and warm evenings.

Low Season (winter) - Mid November to Mid February - mostly warm (15 to 25 degrees Celsius), can be very chilly in evenings and it may rain but rarely for long periods.

Low Season (summer) - June, July and August - can be very hot in Marrakech and south (up to 45 degrees Celsius), more pleasant in mountains and on coast. We would suggest afternoons by the pool or a siesta and make use of long days for sightseeing; early and late and enjoy long warm evenings.

 

Responsible Travelling

We believe in creating a real and valuable experience for our customers to enhance their holiday whilst providing benefit to the local community. 100% of our guides and drivers in Morocco are local people as are all our trekking and desert guides. Our Head Guide, Houceine, regularly reviews our small team of guides to test their local knowledge and guiding abilities. We believe that a local licensed guide offers more insight on the High Atlas region and Berber people as well as enhancing the local economy. This is preferable and safer, in our opinion, than sending a guide from outside the area, whether that is the UK or even elsewhere in Morocco.

Most of the riads we use are locally owned or are partnerships with a European owner and a Moroccan National as are all of the hotels/riads in the mountains and south of Morocco. We prefer to recommend smaller, locally owned hotels and riads rather than large, impersonal hotel chains. Even those riads and small hotels we use which are owned by foreign individuals will employ local staff, buy all food and materials and services locally.

Our main desert supplier is operated by local people. Employment, in both cases, is local and profits are ploughed back into the local community. On most of our desert trips we include a visit to the pottery co-operative at Tamegroute where customers can purchase souvenirs from pottery made on site in a very traditional manner.

Electricity

220 volts in most hotels, some older ones may still have 110 volts - best to check. Continental type adapters will be required for UK visitors.

 

Public Holidays 2020

January 1st - New Year's Day

January 11th - Manifesto of Independence

May 1st - International Labour Day

23rd April - 23rd May (estimated) RAMADAN

23rd May - Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan) (estimated)

July 30th  - Coronation Day

August 1st -  Eid Kbir

August 14th - Allegiance Day

August 19th -  Fatih Muharram (Islamic New Year)

August 20th - Anniversary of the King & the People’s revolution

August 21st  - King Mohammed’s birthday

October 29th  - Eid Al Mawled

November 6th  - Green March Day

November 18th -  Independence Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moroccan National Tourist Office

205 Regent Street, London - W1R 7DE

(0207) 437 0073

 

British Embassy in Morocco

B.P. 45, 17, Av. de la Tour Hassan, Rabat

Tel: 053 772 9696

 

 

Embassy of Morocco

49, Queen's Gate Gardens - SW7 5NE

(0207) 581 5001

Independent Holidays for all budgets since 1998