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Is Morocco Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Is Morocco Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Morocco is an ancient North African country with a lot to offer tourists. The country is rich in history and culture, with a truly unique landscape.

From the vibrant markets of Marrakech to the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. In addition, Morocco is home to some of the best food in the world, including traditional dishes and Berber cuisine.

While countless tourists experience no issues in Morocco, that doesn’t mean travelers shouldn’t take precautions when visiting.

Travelers must heed the risk of petty crime and take preventative measures, such as carrying only small amounts of cash and keeping valuables out of sight. In addition, it’s essential to be respectful of local customs and cultural sensitivities.

Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country that follows Islamic laws and traditions, so it’s wise to consider dress code and etiquette. To ensure your trip to Morocco is safe and enjoyable, be sure to follow these travel tips.

Is Morocco Safe to Visit in 2022?

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Morocco is generally considered safe for Western tourists but there are a few safety concerns to be aware of. Petty crimes, like pickpocketing and snatching bags, are unfortunately common.

Tourists are often targeted by thieves, as they are perceived to be more likely to be carrying valuables and less aware of potential risks. 

Another persistent safety concern for unsuspecting travelers is scams and con artists. From simple street fraud to more sophisticated internet and email scams, travelers and locals can unknowingly fall victim to clever con artists.

Given that, always book tours and guides through reputable organizations to avoid an unpleasant experience. In April 2022the U.S. Department of State issued a travel advisory for Morocco.

The advisory warned travelers of the potential for terrorist attacks in the country. It also advised travelers to exercise caution when traveling to Morocco and avoid large crowds and demonstrations. 

In addition, the State Department urged travelers to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive updates on any travel advisories and safety information.

Petty Crime in Morocco

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, panhandling, and car theft, has been a serious issue for several years. These types of crimes typically occur in tourist areas, beaches, and even stopped traffic.

One of the most common forms of thievery is the “snatch and grab.” This involves someone quickly grabbing your bag or wallet and then running away or driving off on a motorcycle or scooter.

This type of theft can happen anywhere but is most common in crowded areas like markets and busy streets.

Sometimes, the thief will work in a group and use a distraction technique, like asking for directions, to steal your belongings. While some tourists have reported being held at knifepoint during these disputes, they rarely turn violent.

In fact, the violent crime rate in Morocco decreased by 9% in 2019, and the World Bank reported a single intentional homicide in 2018.

Common Scams in Morocco

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Truthfully, what Moroccan criminals really want is money, which is why scams have become increasingly prevalent in popular tourist areas.

With that in mind, be wary of someone who approaches you offering help or services, as they may try to charge you for something you didn’t need or want. Another common scam is the “fake guide.”

This is when someone approaches you and offers to show you around the city for a fee. However, once you start following them, they will lead you to shops and restaurants where they receive a commission for bringing in customers.

In addition, some local vendors may prey on tourists by aggressively pushing overpriced, poor-quality goods.

Therefore, it’s necessary to be firm and negotiate a fair price for any souvenirs you want. Also, verify that you’re receiving the item you actually purchased, as some vendors may switch out goods once the sale is complete.

It is also essential to be careful when booking tours or transportation, as unscrupulous operators might overcharge or not provide the promised service.

Do your research in advance and book through a reputable company to avoid issues. Drug scams in Morocco are also becoming more common, as criminals target tourists looking to buy illicit drugs.

These typically involve being offered hashish (a form of cannabis) at a high price, but the drugs are either fake or of low quality. 

In some cases, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to being blackmailed as a seller might threaten to report you to the police. Recreational cannabis use is illegal in the country.

Avoiding Crimes in Morocco

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The good news is that you can reduce your chances of becoming a victim. First, try to blend in as much as possible. If you dress like a tourist, you’re more likely to attract attention from criminals.

Also, never flash your money in public, as this clearly identifies you as a valuable target. Second, pay attention to your surroundings at all times. If you look like you’re not paying attention, thieves will be more likely to take advantage of you.

Stay away from alleys and less-populated side streets where the crowds don’t go; these are bad places to find yourself ambushed. If possible, avoid traveling the roads alone at night.

Third, don’t carry your valuables with you when you’re out and about, and keep your money in multiple places. That way, you won’t be left stranded if your wallet or bag is stolen. If you decide to carry a wallet or purse, keep it close to your body and don’t let it out of your sight.

Finally, trust your gut—if something feels off, it probably is.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

While Morocco is generally a safe place for tourists, a few areas should be avoided. In urban areas, visitors should steer clear of the slums and neighborhoods that are known for crime.

This is especially true of cities such as Casablanca, Fes, Sale, and Meknes, which have the highest crime rates in the country. In Casablanca, the neighborhoods generally considered unsafe for tourists include:

  • Bernoussi
  • Bousbir
  • Derb Ghallef
  • Derb Milan
  • Hay Lalla Meryem
  • Hay Moulay Cherif
  • Sbata

In Fes, dangerous neighborhoods that are high in poverty, crime, and delinquency include:

  • Bendebab
  • Bensouda
  • Zouagha
  • Areas beginning in Ain or Aouint

In Meknes, despite being one of the safer cities, it’s recommended to avoid:

  • El Berj
  • Ain Chabiik

Sale, a small town located just outside of the capital city of Rabat, is known for its high levels of crime. In particular, pickpocketing and mugging are frequent.

And many tourists have been victimized while walking around the town center. In addition, drug-related crimes are a daily occurrence. If you find yourself in Sale, stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.

Things to Consider

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When planning a trip to Morocco, planning ahead is important to ensure a pleasant vacation. In particular, consider:

  • Climate. Morocco has a Mediterranean climate. That means that the weather can be pretty hot, especially during the summer months. Pack light, loose-fitting clothing that will help keep you cool. 
  • Language. While Arabic and Berber are both official languages in Morocco, most of the population speaks Moroccan Arabic and French. It can be helpful to learn some basic phrases before your trip.
  • Culture. Morocco is a land of contrasts, where ancient traditions rub shoulders with modern conveniences. This colorful melting pot can be exhilarating and overwhelming for the traveler. A little knowledge about the local culture and customs will go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable.
  • Currency. The currency in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD). You should exchange money into Dirhams, as it can be challenging to find places that accept foreign currency.
  • Religion. Islam is the recognized religion of Morocco, and the country has a long history of religious tolerance. Despite this, visitors are advised to refrain from disrespecting Islam and the monarchy.
  • Political Unrest. Visitors should be aware of the potential for political unrest and take steps to stay safe. When possible, avoid large crowds and political demonstrations. If you find yourself in the middle of a protest, remain calm and move away from the action.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Morocco is a beautiful country, and there are countless questions asked about it online. Here are answers to several of the most common queries.

What should I avoid in Morocco?

There are some things you’ll want to avoid when traveling to Morocco to have a smooth, stress-free trip. For starters, it’s important to dress conservatively, especially when visiting religious sites.

Women should avoid wearing shorts or revealing tops, as this can draw a lot of unwanted attention. In addition, be respectful of local customs and traditions. Avoid talking about sensitive topics such as religion or politics.

It is best to stick to lighter conversation topics. Finally, be sure to research Moroccan culture before your trip so that you can avoid potentially offensive behaviors.

What are the dangers of Morocco?

Morocco is an enchanting country with a rich culture and history. However, there are some dangers to be aware of if you plan a trip there.

First and foremost, Morocco is located in a region of the world that has endured terrorist activities. There have been several terrorist attacks in Morocco in recent years, and the risk of another happening is always present.

In addition, Morocco is home to many dangerous animals, including snakes, scorpions, and spiders. These creatures can be found in both rural and urban areas, so remain vigilant when walking around.

Stray dogs may also be encountered in towns and could pose a risk. They also experience frequent earthquakes and flooding, so having a contingency plan when traveling in Morocco is essential.

Is Morocco safe for tourists from Europe or the United States?

While the overwhelming majority of visitors have an enjoyable experience, tourists from the United States and Europe should do thorough research before traveling to Morocco. For one thing, Morocco is a Muslim country.

While most Moroccans are welcoming to people of other faiths, tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims can occur. Additionally, Morocco is home to many different ethnic and tribal groups, and some areas are more prone to conflict than others. 

Is Morocco safe for female travelers?

Yes, Morocco is safe for female travelers; however, some things should be considered. First, it’s prudent to dress modestly. In general, it’s best to avoid shorts, skirts, and tank tops.

Second, know your surroundings and avoid being out alone late at night. Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it, especially from families and other women.

The people of Morocco are typically helpful and will be happy to assist you if you need directions or advice. Stick to busy areas and always carry a map to orient yourself if you get lost.

Are people friendly in Morocco?

In general, Moroccans are amicable and hospitable people. They pride themselves on their culture of openness and welcome travelers into their homes and lives without hesitation. 

That being said, there are certainly some cultural differences that can make it challenging to connect with locals at first.

For example, always greet with your right hand, as your left is traditionally used for sanitary tasks and is therefore considered unclean. However, once you get to know Moroccans, they will go out of their way to make you feel at home.

From invitations to family dinners to help with directions, the warmth of the Moroccan people is one of the most memorable parts of visiting this North African country.

So, Is Morocco Safe to Visit?

When most people think of Morocco, they picture soaring sandstone mountains, sprawling deserts, and bustling souks selling everything from spices to handmade carpets.

But is it safe to visit? In general, the risks are relatively low, but it’s always better to stay vigilant and use common sense. Petty crimes and scams are common in Morocco, ranging from things like pickpocketing and theft to fake taxi drivers and people selling counterfeit goods.

So, with a little bit of preparation and caution, you’re sure to have a fantastic trip to this North African gem.