Reasons not to visit Morocco

Reasons not to visit Morocco

First of all, let me start off by saying this: I have spent almost 3 months in Morocco in total, spread across three different trips, and Morocco is one of my all time travel destinations. I am even thinking about going back for a fourth trip! So why would I write about the reasons not to visit Morocco? Well, a lot of people ask me about this, and I believe that it is important to give both sides of the story. No travel destination is all peachy! Although Morocco is a fantastic destination for me, Morocco is not without it’s challenges, and I want to be honest about what makes it difficult from time to time. Please also read my positive blogs about Morocco so that you get the balanced viewpoint, and you can make up your own mind about whether or not Morocco is for you.

what to wear in Chefchaouen travel clothes
Here I am en route from Fez to Chefchaouen!

What are the main Reasons not to visit Morocco?

So, some of the main reasons not to visit Morocco include health issues (such as dehydration or diarrhoea), hassle from touts and rip off taxis. Some people (like me, I guess!) get used to the hassle and bartering as part of the culture, but other people really do not like it, and that’s understandable too. Let’s take a look at some of Morocco’s downsides in more detail.

#1 Health Challenges in Morocco (diarrhoea and dehydration)

Make sure, of course, that if you are wanting to visit Morocco, you make sure that your travel vaccinations are up to date and relevant. A quick visit to your GP a few months before you travel to Morocco is a good idea.

One of the bad things about travelling in Morocco is that if you get sick, you may be far away from doctors or hospitals, particularly if you are trekking in the Atlas Mountains. Also, Morocco doesn’t have as high standards of food preparation as England and the USA, and although I never suffered from bad diarrhoea in Marrakech, I did get it when I first travelled into the High Atlas.

The other problem that many visitors to Morocco have is dehydration. It’s easy to forget to drink water when you are enjoying the sights and sounds of Morocco’s cities and Kasbahs. But with temperatures regularly exceeding 40°C, dehydration is sadly a common problem for tourists. Remember that heat exhaustion needs immediate medical attention and sun stroke can be deadly.

Atlas Mountains Tichka Pass
Tichka Pass, Atlas Mountains, Morocco – now that’s one sicky road!

#2 The Craziness of arriving in Marrakech Airport

Nothing really prepares you for the sea of people at Marrakech border control. In fact, during high season and busy periods to travel (such as Christmas), the queues can easily be a three or four hour wait. This is basically standing a hot and stuffy hall with no food and no water (unless you managed to bring your own). It is not a good introduction to Morocco, and I would advice anyone travelling to Morocco to pre-book a fast pass or skip the queue passport control ticket. It is well worth the money.

The elderly, young children and disabled should have priority, so if this applies to you, then alert the staff, and if they refuse then don’t be afraid to be more assertive with them. If you have a Blue Badge (disabled parking badge) then show this to the staff and insist you are to be put in the fast lane due to your medical condition or disability.

#3 Bartering in the Souks and no fixed prices

I honestly ended up finding the bartering fun in the end, especially if you relax and have a bit of a laugh and a joke with them, but I can see why some people from UK or US cultures find it challenging. Many people are ripped off simply because they don’t know how to properly barter or because they didn’t find out in advance how much to pay for the item that they were shopping for. Don’t sit down for mint tea in any shop, otherwise you will be expected to buy something! One of the most stressful things about the souks is that sometimes people run after you holding their goods, and sometimes they don’t give up! Be firm, but polite, and remember that it’s all part of the fun!

You can even get ripped off in corner shops and snack bars that don’t have prices displayed. I was recently charged about £10 for two Kit-kats and two cokes at a shop in Marrakech! They caught me off guard when we were quite hot and worn out, so I forgot to check the price and barter with him. Needless to say, we never went back to his shop again, as he had charged us over double the going rate.

#4 Touts and Fake Guides

One of the most annoying things about Morocco is how much you get followed by touts and fake guides. If you need a guide, you should only book an official one through a proper website or tour operator (I like to use GetYourGuide).

The number of fake touts and boys on the street who will send you the wrong direction is out of control in places like Marrakech! The problem is that they will keep telling you things like ‘it’s closed’ or ‘it’s not that way’, when they don’t even know where you are going! This is very annoying! And, it’s the main reason why you can never trust anyone on the street in big Moroccan cities.

Quite often, they will tell you that a tour or a visit is ‘free’, when of course, at the end of the short guide, they will demand an extortionate fee and sometimes bully you into paying it. If you need help with directs in the big cities, pop into a local shop and the shop keepers will tell you the correct way to go, as they will want you to come back to their shop. Also, they won’t lie to you, because you know where to find them!

Is Morocco worth visiting street Marrakech
A horse and cart and traditional shops in Marrakech, Morocco.

#5 Casablanca!

SO….my #5 is a controversial one….but one of the things to avoid in Morocco is potentially Casablanca! I feel sorry for people who come into Casablanca on a cruise ship and this is their only insight to Morocco. Casablanca itself is dirty, noisy and sometimes unsafe. There are reports of crime including motorbike bag snatchers and pick-pocketing. I have to be honest, I wished that we hadn’t stayed in Casablanca at all. It is worth going simply to see the beautiful Hassan II Mosque (see my article is Casablanca worth visiting?), but please don’t stay overnight there! You can see Casablanca as a day trip from Rabat.

Is Casablanca worth visiting Casablanca sign
Reasons not to visit Morocco – Casablanca! This was a city that unfortunately I did not enjoy!

#6 Rip-off Taxi Drivers

One of the most stressful things about Morocco for me was trying to get a taxi – what a palava! There is no Uber or Bolt in Morocco, and Careem (the growing taxi app in the Middle East) is registered in Morocco but is unreliable. The worst of it happened to me coming out of Casablanca train station to literally a sea of them standing shouting and following us quite aggressively! I also experienced hassle outside Marrakech train station, but I was more used to Marrakech.

Taxi drivers in Morocco are supposed to have working seat belts by law, and they are also required by law to put the meter on at the correct rate. However, most of them don’t bother, and it doesn’t seem to be regulated. I would recommend that you barter with them before getting in the car and agree a fixed price that you are both happy with.

Another good option if you can book your taxis is advance is to use to book a private driver. We used this for our transfer from Casablanca to Rabat and it was really good. Simply download the app and login, then click on ‘airport taxis‘. It works for transfers as well (other than just the airports).

Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail Meknes Morocco
Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail – Meknes, Morocco

#7 Hassle of Girls and Women

It’s difficult being a female traveller in Morocco at times, particularly if you are young and blond! You may find men wanting to touch your hair, asking for ‘a kiss’ or pinching you bum. This can be at it’s worst around Jemaa el-Fnaa (the main square in Marrakech). Some families report men trying to touch their young or teenage girls in resorts such as Agadir. needless to say, it’s not acceptable, and sexual harrassment cannot be claimed to be ‘cultural’ so do not be afraid to yell at them and tell them off or shout to attract attention if you do get harrassed. A good deterrent is to wear a headscarf tightly covering all of your hair and sunglasses, as well as conservative clothes such as a long sleeved dress that goes to the floor. Once, when I did this in Marrakech, I was hardly hassled all day. A local even told me ‘you look Moroccan!’

The existence of sexual harraassment, along with the fact that homosexual behaviour is completely illegal in Morocco, are probably the worst of the reasons not to visit Morocco.

#8 Not very LGBTQ Friendly and Homosexuality is Illegal

It’s not just that Morocco is not very LGBTQ friendly, but that homosexuality is actually illegal in Morocco. Sometimes, if it is two gay tourists, the police will turn a blind eye to it. But remember, if you flaunt your homosexuality, you need to understand that it is an imprisonable offence. In fact, back in 2014, a British man was arrested and imprisoned for four months for being gay. The likelihood of being arrested for homosexual behaviour increases significantly if the relationship is with a Moroccan citizen. You may want to think twice about travelling to Morocco as a member of the LGBTQ community, or at least if you do decide to travel, keep these views to yourself and your actions hidden away from the public eye.

Chefchaouen Blue city Morocco
The beautiful streets of Chefchaouen – The Blue City

#9 No sharing of beds if you are unmarried!

Did you know that according to Moroccan law, it is actually against the law to share a hotel room with a member of the opposite sex if you are not married? Essentially, this means that it’s not the place for a romantic getaway with your new beau, or for anyone to run away to have a sordid affair! Hotels can and may ask for marriage certificates on check in, and so it would be wrong to presume that you can get away with this as a foreigner, although many hotels and riads avoid asking the question so that they can turn a blind eye.

#10 Ridiculous Airport Charges on the way out!

And finally, if you have survived Morocco, you still have one last hurdle to pass, and that is getting home! This is the last of our Reasons not to visit Morocco, and is a somewhat minor annoyance rather than a reason not to go at all. In Morocco, they do NOT accept digital tickets – no PDFs, no QR codes, just a massive fine at the airport for them to print it for you! I saw one guy getting charged €60 just to print out his boarding pass. The moral of the story is to always print your boarding pass in advance. Most hotels and Riads will do it for you for a small fee, most will kindly do it for free!

Further Reading on Travel to Morocco

Although we have looked at the Reasons not to visit Morocco in this article, there are many reason why you SHOULD go there! Morocco is still a fantastic place to travel, with great food, friendly locals and beautiful architecture. It is a diverse country with the perfect combination of natural beauty and culture. If you are travelling to Morocco from the UK, you will find that it is a relatively short flight (around 3 and a half hours), but the cultural rewards are as if you had gone long haul! Morocco is so close, yet so different! If you are visiting Morocco, consider seeing Marrakech, Rabat, Fez and Chefchaouen – all of these are amazing travel destinations. Here are some more of my Morocco travel blogs for further reading….