Top 10 Morocco Tourist Traps

In spite of an excellent range of riads and hotels in Morocco, the beautiful mountains, deserts, atlantic coastline and cities (Marrakech and Fes in particular), Morocco can also serve up some rather ugly tourist traps for the unwitting visitor.

Here are the top 10 tourist traps to look out for in Morocco.

1. Unlicensed tour guides
Particularly in the Souks of Marrakech, unlicensed tour guides will try to hassle their way into being your guide for the day, only to take you to the stalls of their ‘cousins’ where they will assist you in paying well over the odds for goods. Avoid these individuals and only book official guides through your riad or hotel.

2. Unmetered taxis
Often taxis in Marrakech have their meters missing or not working. Where a journey price is not agreed in advance with such taxis, tourists can often find themselves paying over the odds. Always agree a price before getting in and be prepared to walk away if this price seems too high compared to your other taxi journeys. If in any doubt, discuss or arrange your taxis through your riad or hotel.

3. Photograph backdrops
When taking photos, beware of your backdrop to your shot. Street beggars in particular often will demand a fee for being in your photo. If this happens, avoid an argument and move purposefully on. Better still, always select your photo-shot carefully and respectfully too.

4. Vegetarian food
Many Moroccan restaurants have still not caught on with vegetarian cooking and often they do not understand that a meat-cooked dish does not become a vegetarian dish when the meaty chunks are taken out. So never ask for a vegetarian version of a meat dish already on a menu, as this is what will happen. As a backup, eating at your riad or hotel in Morocco is always a good option as you can explain your preferences.

5. Not haggling
Not haggling over prices in the Souks for goods such as rugs, scarves, babouches, wood and leather items is a certain way to end up being fleeced. Prices in Morocco are set to be haggled over and brought down. As a rule of thumb divide starting price by four and then go up in decreasing increments until you are paying around half of the starting price.

6. Letting your credit card out of your sight
Over the last few years, stories have cropped up of a small minority of souk stall owners taking a customer’s credit card to payment terminals “in the back’ of their shops. In this ruse, payments are then taken more than once on the same card. Lesson is, never let your credit card out of your sight (although this should not be a risk with your own riad or hotel).

7. Fake or poor quality goods
From fake antique rugs to leather bags artificially tanned with dark polish (which washes off in the rain), there is a myriad of opportunities for buyers of goods to be duped. Best advice is to keep a clear, cautious head when shopping and remember that, whilst Morocco still offers excellent value for goods, there is rarely any such thing in life as a knockout bargain.

8. Palace-restaurants
Promoted heavily amongst tourists (although hopefully not by the better riads or hotels in Morocco), these venues are supposed to offer an evening of Moroccan music and dance folklore together with a local gastronomic experience. However, food quality is often low and the entertainment overdone, all in dining rooms packed with large, noisy groups of tourists. Personal taste perhaps, but we say avoid.

9. Telephone cards
High street teleboutiques in Morocco are a good way of calling home and avoiding expensive riad or hotel telephone charges. To use teleboutiques, telephone cards are bought on site but don’t expect these cards to be usable throughout Morocco - usually phone cards can only be used where purchased.

10. Water sellers, snake charmers and monkey handlers
In the main square of Marrakech, these colourful characters make a living from milling around and putting their various animals and reptiles around the necks or shoulders of tourists for a photo. They then try to charge tourists royally for the experience. Fine if you wanted the photo and give them no more than 10 or so dirhams, but not great value if you didn’t.

The Top 10 Morocco tourist traps was written by the team behind Morocco Gateway, a Morocco hotel and riad enquiry website for independent travellers

Jellyfish stings Australian dream job winner

Do you remember the Best Job competition, where you could win great paid job in the paradise island - Hamilton Island? Apparently this job could also be dangerous.

Ben Southall, British who won the place, has been stung by extremely venomous jellyfish called Irukandji. You can read the full story on his blog - Island Caretaker Blog

New Flights from Bournemouth

There is a good news for Dorset and Hampshire residents, as Ryanair has announced 4 new routes from Bournemouth:
  • 30th March to Malta and Ibiza (2 per week)
  • 1st April to Fuertevetura (2 per week)
  • 2nd April to Valencia (2 per week)
Ryanair has also increased the frequency of flights to Alicante and Malaga (5 per week) and to Palma (4 per week)

Christmas and New Year in Morocco

For people who are not tied to staying at home for Christmas and the New Year, Morocco offers a fascinating break at a range of riads and hotels only a short plane trip away.

Many of the riads and hotels in Morocco are open over the Christmas break and offer guests relaxation, great service and a certain exotic inspiration, just the tonic at the end of a long, hard year.

In Marrakesh, Morocco’s best known city, Marrakech Hotels such as, Riad Aya, Riad Dar Karma, Riad Isis, Riad El Cadi, Riad L’Orangeraie, Riad Dar Attajmil, Riad Dar Ilham, Riad Dar Sbihi, Riad Dar Housnia, Hotel Tigmi, Hotel Caravanserai, and Hotel La Maison Arabe all welcome guests over Christmas as well as offering spa and hammam facilities on site.

In the less visited but equally cultured city of Fez, Riad Numero 9, Riad Les Oudayas, Riad Mabrouka, Riad Alkantara, Riad Fes and Riad Ibn Battouta offer rooms in the €70-110 per night price range and welcome guests over Christmas. A stay in Fez can be combined with an overnight visit to neighbouring Meknes to stay at Riad Bahia, a small and friendly four roomed riad.

Many city riads in Morocco are small enough to be easily rented exclusively. This is popular as the service staff are still on hand to make a stay run smoothly. Riads and hotels in Marrakesh, such as Dar Warda, Riad Ksiba and Riad Zina are some of the best examples.

For people wishing to leave the city behind, then Morocco’s Atlantic coast is a fantastic destination for Christmas and the New Year. Riads Dar Liouba, Villa Allun and Lalla Mira and hotels Madada Mogador and Ocean Vagabond in Essaouira all host guests warmly over Christmas with the added benefit of offering long walks along the local beaches on Boxing day.

If physical activity is the order of the day, then a stay in the famous Atlas Mountains may be preferred. Hotel Kasbah du Toubkal and Ksar Shama offer comfortable rooms and facilities in easy access of the mountains for easy walks or multi-day treks.

For desert activities and excursions, hotels Kasbah Ennasra, Dar Azawad, Riad Dar Zitoune, Ksar Jenna and Auberge Derkaoua welcome guests and provide 4x4 and quad bike excursion, treks, camel rides and overnight Bedouin camping in the desert sand dunes.