If you are reading this article now, probably the thought of visiting Morocco have already crossed your mind enough often to make you really consider this destination for your next holiday.
Either you’re a fan of the mountains or a lover of oceanic/sea air, there is no taste this country cannot satisfy. Placed in North part of Africa, having direct access to the Atlantic Ocean and to the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco is covered by a part of Sahara and crossed by the Atlas mountains. Thus, hiking, sunbathes and riding of camels are all possible.
Moreover, the diversity of relief is complemented by the existence of medieval cities, Roman ruins, Berber fortresses and Muslim monuments which will cut your breath through their beauty. There’s no chance that the enchanting atmosphere of this country will not suddenly conquer your soul.
Therefore is not surprising that Condé Nast Traveler chose Morocco as one of the best places in the world to take a trip in 2018.
However, since Morocco is located on the African continent, you might ask yourself how safe is to visit this place. And that’s exactly what this article is gonna tell you.
- Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Morocco
- Overall Risks in Morocco: MEDIUM
- Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Morocco: MEDIUM
- Scam Risk in Morocco: HIGH
- Kidnapping Risk in Morocco: LOW
- Terrorism Risk in Morocco: LOW TO MEDIUM
- Risks for People Traveling with Children in Morocco: MEDIUM
- Natural Disaster Risks in Morocco: LOW
- List of Vaccines You Need When Visiting Morocco
- Concluding Remarks: Is Morocco Safe to Visit?
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Morocco
Overall Risks in Morocco: MEDIUM
From a general perspective, Morocco is relatively safe to visit. It means that on a scale from one to ten, the possibility of being injured in any kind of way would be somewhere between the fourth and the fifth level.
Being an Islamic country, Moroccans behavior is influenced by the traditional culture. Although people are generally kind and friendly to strangers, the possibility of getting robbed or physically hurt grows directly proportional to how much unfamiliar you look.
The tourists who have already been there declared that wearing clothes similar to the locals made them feel more protected. Here you have some tips related to this subject, which will help you when you make your luggage.
According to OSAC, crime in Morocco represents a moderate concern, especially in major cities and tourist areas. The most frequent crimes tend to be crimes of opportunity (such as pickpocketing, robberies, purse snatching, burglaries, theft from unoccupied vehicles etc.) committed by criminals who primarily operate in high-traffic and density areas.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Morocco: MEDIUM
As I have already said in the lines above, one of the most common dangers in Morocco is depicted by the burglars. Always on the guard, they are looking for careless persons who keep their valuable goods unprotected and on sight.
Most of the thieves are needy people from the poor quarters, who rather take advantage of the inattention of tourists than violently attack them. Thus, carrying your money and other precious objects (jewelry, electronic devices and so on) covered in a bag that you can permanently supervise (this kind of front-purses is strongly recommended) should be enough to keep thieves away.
Obviously, the areas most targeted by muggers and pickpockets are medinas, the famous bars and the agglomerate streets. In particular the medinas from Marrakech, Casablanca and Tangier have a bad reputation when it comes to petty theft.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Morocco?
Pickpockets often work in a group, so if someone tries to steal your attention by asking something, keep your eyes on your belongings. Be distant and vigilant whenever your instincts tell you that something is wrong and not only. Never let your bag unattended on a table or hanging on a chair in a restaurant.
Don’t take a large amount of money with you. Try to approximate how much you’ll need to spend after you’re out of your hotel room and leave the rest of the banknotes there. At least, supposing you are robbed, you won’t lose all your financial resources that way.
Don’t leave your precious thing on the seats of the car, so that everybody who takes a look into it can see them. It’s like asking for trouble.
As credit card fraud is also a common kind of robbery, be careful whenever you use your card. Make sure nobody is watching your pin code. Keep your card in your breast pocket, especially if you have all your money on it.
Also, in the bigger cities such as Fez, Tangier or Casablanca aggressive begging is common at ATMs. Try to use ATMs inside buildings and banks and take somebody with you for added safety.
They tend to focus on people who are dressed in obviously foreign clothing and seem not to know the surroundings. Pickpockets and bag snatchers may target pedestrians, particularly in big cities.
Since street crimes are not unusual, areas frequented by tourists are widely protected by the police. Visitors are advised to carefully take care of their possessions if riding on public transportation or if passing crowded places.
The biggest number of crimes against tourists and visitors are registered in Marrakech, followed by Casablanca, Tangier, Fez, and Rabat.
Scam Risk in Morocco: HIGH
In Morocco scam is, undoubtedly, on the top of the risky things pyramid. There is a huge list of tricks used to fool the tourists and take their money. So if you’re planning to visit this exotic African paradise, you really need to know some of the most common scams practiced there.
1. The friendly guy
He is gonna be there to help no matter what your desires are. He is the friendly guy who wants to show you the best parking space in the area, who knows some secret wonderful views and who can guide you wherever you want to go.
This seems to be the portrait of an angel, but in reality we’re talking about exactly the opposite creature, as after he finishes his job he will ask for a huge sum of money in exchange for his services. In case you won’t give him what he “deserves”, usually the friendly guy instantly becomes a little devil, aggressive and threatening.
To avoid this situation, whenever a nice guy offers to do something for you, ask for the price of his services.
It is good if, before starting your vacation, you verify on the internet the average prices that should be paid for common services in Morocco (as the rental price of a sun lounger, the hourly price for parking etc). In this way, you won’t be fooled because you have no idea about the normal local rates.
Also, don’t trust everybody who pretends to be a guide, opt for a person who works for a touristic agency or ask for their guide diploma before starting a trip, unless you want to be financially exploited or even worse.
2. Costume photo and cute animals scam
The mechanism of this scam is pretty simple. While walking on the street, admiring the surroundings, talking with your travel mate(s), eating a tasty B’stilla or whatever else, one or more guys wearing traditional Moroccan costumes or having a cute little animal come(s) near you and, somehow, convince(s) you to take a picture with him/them or with the fluffy creature.
Sure, after this, you’ll have to pay as if you have just made a photography with Madonna.
From the same sphere, you should also know about the parrot/ monkey scam. The owner of the animal will tell you that his pet is able to predict the future. All you have to do is to touch it, and then the animal will pick a note from a hat on which you’ll find a cliche sentence about life.
This amusement usually costs like a witchcraft session with Morgan Le Fay.
If you don’t want to waste your money on this kind of “memories”, all you have to do is to stay away from these street performers, who can be met in places like Jemna El-Fna and Marrakech’s main square.
3. Fake Persian objects and Argan oil
A bunch of traders will claim to own original Persian objects (such as carpets, mats, ceramics) or the most efficient end natural Argan Oil. Although in some cases their intention to fool you is obvious, sometimes they can use more subtle strategies.
For example, they can organize a kind of theatrical piece, in which a man who looks like a versed collector, negotiates a precious “original” object. You will “incidentally” hear all their loud conversation, both the arguments of the seller and of the fake buyer and, in the end, you’ll begin to believe all the story about the authenticity of the objects.
This playing is also available with the beauty expert in the role of the collector.
In order to avoid throwing your money on fake things, before buying something search on the internet for tips about how to distinguish an original from a counterfeit good. Ask the personal from your hotel /hostel about how much certain items should cost. The locals know better.
Always negotiate. The initial price is even in the case of original items many times much higher than they deserve.
4. Overcharging the taxi trips
As this is already part of the common knowledge of every traveler, I won’t insist too much on the world’s most famous scam: overcharging the taxi trips. As it usually happens in the developing countries, the taxi drivers from Morocco will also try to rip you off. So only take taxis that use meters.
Also, whenever a taxi driver insists that you should see some cool shops, kindly refuse. The reasons they tell you about this shops are that they are not on your route and that they are paid to bring clients there.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Morocco?
In short, in order to avoid getting scammed while in Morocco, it is important that you are both cautious and suspicious when it comes to any activities that involve the contact with strangers and locals. As you can never be too sure what they’re thinking about, it is better to just lay low, how they saw, and stick to using the services and buying the products that don’t come with such risks for you.
Also, whenever someone approaches you and tries to be either too friendly or to draw your attention – in an obvious way -, it is better if you just refuse them, politely, and walk away.
Kidnapping Risk in Morocco: LOW
Morocco kidnapping rate is really low, compared to the same rate for more developed countries such as Belgium, Canada or France. However, the number of kidnappings has increased in recent years, which means you also need to consider this risk if you decide to go there.
The most likely to be kidnapped are Westerners, as the terrorist organizations from the Sahel are the main responsible for this kind of acts. They usually take rich, important people or journalists in order to underline their power.
However, be you a minister or a simple worker, prudence is the best approach, regardless of your holiday destination.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Morocco?
Although traveling alone is our biggest pleasure, if you choose to visit the areas which are generally associated with a high rate of kidnapping (the desert, the peripheral parts of cities- yes, there are people who love to do that) maybe you should start searching for a traveling mate.
Try to travel during the day, the emptier the streets are, the more vulnerable are you.
Don’t accept strangers’ invitation to their place/ a very intimate and special place. Generally be skeptical about unknown people’s invitations. If your instinct tells you that something is wrong, trust it.
Terrorism Risk in Morocco: LOW TO MEDIUM
Given the unfortunate events related to terrorism that have taken place in the world in recent years, is normally to ask yourself how safe you would be into a Muslim country.
The US Department of state asserted in its 2017 report about Morroc crime level, that this country presents a low to medium risk of terrorist attacks. During 2016, the governmental authorities reported the discovering and annihilation of multiple terrorist groups which were tied to international networks that included ISIS, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Al-Nusra Front).
As stated in local media, Moroccan security forces dismantled 18 terrorist cells and conducted 161 terrorism-related arrests in 2016. Since then, continuous counter terrorism efforts contributed to the decline of this kind of risk.
Although the country is still facing threats, largely from small, independent, violent extremist cells, only a few people have been injured by the terrorist in the past two years.
- How to avoid terrorism in Morocco?
Even though the risk is there, you should not be worried too much about terrorism and terrorist attacks, mainly due to the fact that Morocco’s government has instated some protective security measures, meant to protect and help avoid any attacks – security personnel and such, for example, can be seen in hotels or areas that are popular with tourists.
However, if you want to make sure that you’ll be away from any terrorist attack, then we recommend you to limit the time you spend in places of prayer, official buildings, markets, shopping centers, as well as any touristic objectives, as these are usually targeted by terrorists. If you notice anything suspicious, leave the area as soon as possible and contact the authorities.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Morocco: MEDIUM to HIGH
Among the various risks you expose yourself to as a solo woman traveler, such as theft, pickpocketing, and such, you also risk being either kidnapped or even assaulted. Tourists, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, and business people are likely to be targeted by either criminal or terrorist groups and be kidnapped.
It is also well-known that female tourists are prone to harassment and unwanted attention, especially when traveling alone.
Naturally, all of the above go without saying when it comes to solo woman travelers. Traveling all alone comes with many more risks compared to traveling with company – pickpockets are more likely to target you, as well as scammers and taxi drivers that want to make some profit.
Furthermore, traveling during the night is a big no-no for any solo traveler, not only for women that are alone. Morocco is not the safest country out there, so it is better for you to be cautious and aware of your surroundings at all times.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Morocco?
First of all, you should avoid displaying any valuables, such as gadgets, money, and jewelry. As a solo woman traveler, you have to acknowledge the fact that pickpockets and thieves are quite likely to target you, especially if you have a rich, foreign look, so to say. All of your valuables should either be left back in your accommodation or tucked in your bag.
Then, you’d want to approach a decent dress code, not only to offend any locals, but also to avoid any verbal harassment or even more serious incidents. If possible, try to blend in with the locals as much as possible and you won’t have any issues/ problems while traveling through Morocco.
If you are visiting the medina quarters, make sure that your guide has the local tourist authorities’ agreement to operate and display an official badge. In case you are there without a guide, keep in mind that there have been some cases of fake tourist guide that have harassed tourists.
Rape Risk in Morocco: MEDIUM to HIGH
Harassment of women is something common in both urban and rural areas. Foreign female travelers are more exposed than the local women, as their modern clothing is perceived as a kind of “rape me” sign in the Islamic culture.
Also, the women who travel alone are extremely vulnerable to this kind of aggression and not only, as their independence can be seen as a sign of depravity.
Moroccan men often whistle after a woman who has her legs/ breast exposed. Also, they feel no shame in giving a rude stare or yelling if they consider a woman is dressed too sexy. Occasionally, they even try inappropriate physical contact.
Aggression incidents and rapes usually happen during the night, thus women who walk alone after the sun goes down are the main targets of the rapists. However, assaults have also taken place in the daylight, at public events, though these incidents are unlikely to happen.
A good news is that the Moroccan legislation has been modified recently in order to decrease the number of rape cases. The punishment for any form of sexual harassment is more harsh.
Although the lines above may have changed your mind about visiting Morocco if you follow the next advice you’ll be completely safe as a woman during your holiday.
- How to avoid getting raped in Morocco?
Do not walk alone during the night. If you are in a group of people or if you are accompanied by a man, you are safe.
Wear conservative clothes. A long dress and a scarf to cover your shoulders is the perfect anti-rape combination. As long as it doesn’t let too much of your body exposed, any type of clothing is ok. Excepting tight items, obviously.
However, if you are in a larger city and you are accompanied, you can dress the way you want, but better try to respect the local culture.
Do not make your makeup too strident. You’ll be seen as a typical easy woman.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Morocco: MEDIUM
No matter if you already have a lot of experience with traveling abroad with your kid(s) or this is the first time you take your little monster(s) with you in a foreign country, you should mentally prepare for the Moroccan adventure.
One of the biggest risks for people who travel with their kids in Morroco is that they might lose their off-springs in the crowded medinas.
Also, the desert trips might be too tiring for the children, which need a proper hydration and a higher sun protection. Also, usually they want to do more exciting things than riding a camel for a day. Thus, they might become irritable.
Generally, the medical system in Morocco is not the best in the world. Unless you have enough money to go to a private hospital, the state hospitals in which the tourists with a valid passport have access might make you go out your mind before you see a doctor.
Anyway, if your kid(s) is/are not the sickly type and you choose to visit Marrakesh, for example, Morocco might me the dream destination for your family, as the locals really love the children and are really kind to their parents.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
As you probably already know what to do if your children get injured or sick, the only thing left for us to tell you is to make sure that someone is taking care of them at all times. Given the fact that you are in a foreign country, it is important that you do not leave them alone – they should not be able to roam around the location you are currently visiting without someone supervising them.
So, all you need to avoid unwanted scenarios is your attention, a first-aid kit containing medicine that the little ones may need, and awareness to your surroundings.
Natural Disaster Risks in Morocco: LOW
The main natural risk in Morocco is represented by the earthquakes. Although they occur occasionally, usually they’re not enough strong to provoke great damage.
The last strong earthquake hit northern Morocco around the port town of Al Hoceima in 2004. More than 600 people died then.
Hence, try to familiarize yourself with general safety procedures in the event of an earthquake and take read carefully the instructions about what you have to do in case of an earthquake from the hotel room.
Transportation Risks in Morocco: MEDIUM to HIGH
When it comes to transportation and road travel, Morocco comes with alarming numbers – almost 100,000 people were injured and 3593 were killed in traffic accidents in 2016. When compared to the UK, for example, Morocco’s road fatality rate is nearly nine times higher.
Therefore, it is safe to say that you have to either drive safe or not drive at all. While the main roads are usually safe and don’t come with many risks, mountain roads and secondary routes are highly dangerous, especially in poor weather conditions.
Vehicles here are usually poorly lit, while trucks and lorries are usually overloaded – naturally, this can be a disastrous combination when traveling during the night. Moreover, pedestrians are also known to randomly cross motorways. You should avoid traveling during the night.
Even if you are a good driver, it’s the other drivers that you have to worry about when driving through Morocco. You have to stay sharp and aware at all times when driving. We highly recommend you to avoid stepping on the gas if you are in a hurry and take your time to slowly reach your destination.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Morocco: MEDIUM
While there are no reports of incidents taking place in night-clubs, pubs, and bars, we can expect to see things happen if we decide to visit one of the aforementioned locations. For example, petty crime is common throughout Morocco, especially in the medina quarters, on the beaches, and in the areas that are frequented by tourists – all of these are likely to have bars and pubs.
Therefore, the inside world of a pub may come with as many risks as the outside world does. However, we do have to keep in mind that most night-clubs and bars have security guards that will prevent criminals from entering. In this case, you – as a traveler – should be extremely cautious when going to and leaving from such a facility, as petty thieves might wait for their prey in the surrounding areas.
It is also recommended that you do not go to pubs and bars alone – it is better if you are accompanied by someone, to make sure that you won’t get approached by any locals/ strangers or such. If someone tries too hard to draw your attention, then you might want to start becoming suspicious and perhaps check your pockets. In any case, limit the time you spend talking with strangers.
Naturally, if you are leaving late in the night, we recommend that you use a taxi from a reputable taxi company – you can ask your accommodation for such information.
Health Risks in Morocco
There are no diseases, viruses, or outbreaks in Morocco. When it comes to health risks, the only thing you should worry about are the henna tattoos you are likely to get, as they are common here. This is because some of them may contain the PPD (para-phenylenediamine) chemical, which can cause an itchy rash, as well as painful allergic reactions – including swelling – in some people.
If you plan on bringing medication with you in Morocco, make sure to check that in can be brought inside the country – even though the country’s customs don’t have a prohibited products’ list, they still advise anyone that’s traveling with prescription medication to bring with them a copy of their doctor’s prescription.
Naturally, it is recommended that you travel only with proper travel health insurance and with enough funds to cover the costs of any medicine that you may be required to buy or any treatment that you might be subject to in case of a more serious injury. In case of a medical emergency you are most likely to be referred to a medical facility for treatment – if so, it is advised that you contact your medical assistance company as soon as possible and inform them of your situation.
List of Vaccines You Need When Visiting Morocco
No vaccines are mandatory for entering Morocco, although it is advisable to get immunizations for Hepatitis A and B, as well as for typhoid fever.
Most Dangerous Areas in Morocco
- The Medina Quarter of any town or city – petty crime is common in these areas.
- Mount Toubkal – trekking and camping can be dangerous in this region; you must also take into account the possibility of an assault, as two foreign people were killed while hiking near this mountain at the end of 2018.
Concluding Remarks: Is Morocco Safe to Visit?
As every country on the earth, there are advantages and disadvantages to visiting Morocco. Wherever you go, there will be some risks you have to assume, it only depends on you if you want to take them or not.
Although Morocco is a medium-risk country, if you are aware of what might possibly affect you and you put in practice the tips from above, you will be as safe as you are home.