We are back from our 8-day visit to Morocco. This time around it was just the husband and I creating new memories in this North African country that’s distinguished by its Berber, Arabian and European cultural influences.  We flew from New York into Marrakech where its walled, maze-like Medina served as our home base while we trekked to various towns taking in the scenery of the diverse landscapes – from high mountains, palm tree filled valleys, and the sweeping desert. Morocco is a beautiful country!
Draa Valley – Date Palms
This trip brought us so many new experiences that I’m excited to share, which you can see on instagram. First, I’d like to share my personal Morocco Travel Tips that will help you plan for your trip to the magical country of Morocco, and navigate it while there.
Passport – You will need a passport to get into Morocco. Please make sure that your passport isn’t about to expire within six (6) months of your trip, otherwise you will get to the airport and be turned right around!
Visas – United States citizens do not need visas to enter into Morocco as long as you’re
staying no more than 90 days.
I know it is common for people to visit a country, and exchange their money at an airport currency exchange kiosk. Some people even order currency through their bank. Moroccan dirham is closed currency, which means you may not be able to exchange money before leaving the U.S., and you are not allowed to take more than 1,000 Dirhams (MAD) into or out of the country.
When visiting Morocco, it is best to withdraw money from an ATM. ATM’s are all over Morocco, especially in the large towns like Marrakech. By withdrawing from an ATM you ensure you’re getting the best and most current exchange rate.  You’re probably wondering if it’s safe. I’ve withdrawn money several times throughout our trip without any issues. Keep in mind that most ATM’s limit you to withdrawing only 2,000 MAD at time, which was equivalent to around $200 USD.
A member of one of the travel groups that I’m a member of stated that, “If you must exchange money, the best rate is in Marrakech at Hotel Ali near the main square. They gave $9.79 versus other places that had rate between $9.43 – $9.63 (airport rate was worst at $9.43).” – Shiddah S.
Most businesses that we visited didn’t take credit cards; they wanted cash. Even the riads where we stayed – unless booked through Expedia or through our tour company – wanted cash, too. Make sure you carry enough cash with you just to be on the safe side, but don’t take out too much Moroccan dirham because you’re going to lose big time when exchanging it back into your native currency.
Morocco is an Arabic country with a heavy French influence, which means most Moroccans speak both Arabic and French, and sometimes Berber. We were lucky that the people we encountered during our travels spoke at least four to five languages, including English. However, before we visited the country, my husband did his due diligence and taught himself Arabic. Our tour guide, Abdou also began teaching us Arabic and some Berber as well.
My husband speaking with a local
We [I] got by with what we knew.  When visiting, I think the most common phrases or words you will need to know are:
  • Shukraan – Thank You
  • La – No
  • La Shukraan – No Thank You (we used this a lot in the Medina)
  • Nem fielaan – Yes
  • Sabah alkhyr –Good morning
Worst come to worst, download the Google Translate app. We used it at a restaurant to translate the menu. It’s pretty amazing.
Getting Around
Taxis are all over Marrakech; however, it is a walkable town. I mean, if you are someone like me who is used to walking in New York City, then this wouldn’t bother you.  That said, while in Marrakech, we walked everywhere, from the Medina to the Majorelle Gardens, from our riad to the Jemaa El Fna Square… everywhere. We got lost while walking through the Medina, but that’s part of the fun and magic of Marrakech. However, when we visited other towns, we hired a tour guide through a tour company, Your Morocco Tour. There’s no way we would have been able to trek to places like Skoura, Atlas Mountains, Ouarzazate, etc. without a guide, and in the short amount of time we had because if you didn’t know, Morocco is huge! I mean HUGE! Therefore, the distances between each place were at minimum four hours.
How we got around… LOL
Driving through Morocco was amazing. Eight days was definitely not enough time. We are definitely planning a trip to get back to make it to Fez, Chefchaouen, Essaouira, Rabat, and more.
FYI: The maps of the Medina are useless. Trust me, getting lost is your
way to go.
Morocco in January is supposed to be cool with temperatures in the mid to low 60’s; however, we were told that the weather was warmer this year. We got lucky. During the day, even when in the mountains, we experienced temperatures in the 70’s. At night, it got cold! Cold weather for me is around 40 degrees, and in the desert it seemed to be much colder by nightfall. Make
sure you pack thermals for the evening.
What to wear
For this trip I packed light. I packed modest pieces with versatility because if you didn’t know Morocco is a Muslim country. To our surprise, it wasn’t nearly as strict as a previous Muslim country we visited. I’d say wear clothing you’d normally wear, but just be mindful (and respect) that you’re in a Muslim country, and your clothing should be a bit more on the modest side. No booty shorts, mini skirts, cleavage showing etc. It also helps to pack clothing items that you can layer, especially for the chilly nights. Bring a warm coat/jacket.
I brought sneakers for walking, and a pair of black knee boots I could wear with pants or even a dress. My boots came in handy when I was riding the camel in the desert, and for the cold nights.
The Food
There’s amazing food to be eaten in Morocco. All I can say is you are going to have to prepare yourself to be a “Tagine Machine”. Moroccans Tagine everything! Beef, chicken, fish, vegetables… everything! Lunch and dinner was tagine…something.
And if you’re not into carbs, I feel bad for you son ’cause in Morocco you have 99
problems, but a carb ain’t one!
Some of the breakfast we enjoyed at Riad Turquoise
Every part of breakfast was some sort of bread. With dinner came bread and more bread. Just be ready! And the amount of food they give you is just insane. My husband and I never finished a meal. This trip was the first time I’ve seen my husband “tap out” when it came to food.
We had some great pizza and fried calamari at Central Food in Gueliz (New Medina), and Stall 14 (at night) Jemaa El Fna Square.
Everything Comes with a Cost
Do not stop to ask anyone for directions. Do not be brought into a restaurant by anyone from the street. Those things will cost you. If you need directions stop in a shop or ask your Riad manager to draw you a map.
No Means Yes
We’ve learned that Moroccans are persistent. They will tell you, “Please come look at my [insert item]. No obligation to buy. Just look. Just touch.” And then a few seconds later, “You like? I give you good price.”  Just go with your game face. Walk out if you have to. Don’t stop. Don’t make eye contact, unless you want to buy something, and in that instance, bargain your ass off!
Where to Stay
Morocco, so far is one of the countries that epitomizes luxe travel on a budget. The number of beautiful four and five star riads, kasbahs, and ksars we stayed during our trip was crazy, and they were affordable.
Dar Chamaa in Ouarzazate, Morocco
I think staying at a Riad, a traditional Moroccan house, is one of the best things to do because it not only offers you an authentic experience, but it’s also an affordable option. There are riads that start at $25 a night and go up to $200 or more – aaand you get breakfast!
Important Items to Pack
  • Extra tissues or Cottonelle Wipes because not all bathrooms have toilet paper.
  • Outlet Converter although most riads provide them, most of the time they didn’t work.
  • Portable Charger because no one likes to run out of battery in the middle of nowhere. Just imagine trying to take a photo and your battery dies. Not good!
Moroccan Mint Tea
Moroccan Mint tea is probably the best tea I’ve had in life. It’s a mix of green tea and fresh mint. Some Moroccans add other herbs like verbena as well. There’s a science to making and pouring the tea to make it taste delicious and to get it frothy. It’s the beverage of choice when Moroccans have guests, so just be prepared to have tea, just like the tagine,
all of the time.
I hope your find my Morocco Travel Tips useful! I can’t wait to share my entire Moroccan
experience with you.
Be sure to keep up with me on my social networks for the latest in my travels, and more!
Kim S. on FacebookKim S. on InstagramKim S. on LinkedinKim S. on PinterestKim S. on Twitter
Kim S.
Kim is a 30 something Brooklyn, NY native, currently enjoying Long Island suburban life with her husband and 8-year-old daughter, Chloe as they await the arrival of her sister in February 2020. She not only works full-time and is a freelance makeup artist, but also shares her love for the things that she finds beautiful: her love of family, travel, cars, and makeup and skincare on Beauty and the Bump NYC. In addition to that, she is a writer for A Girl's Guide to Cars. Now, if that wasn’t enough, she also took on the role of class parent for her daughter's 3rd-grade class. These are all tough jobs, but somehow, she gets it all done with style, grace, and of course, beauty.