As a blonde American woman traveling to Marrakech, Morocco, I didn’t really know what to expect. I read a lot of conflicting blog posts online regarding safety for women traveling to Marrakech. For this reason I wanted to share my experience and provide a few tips.
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While safety is subjective, I personally felt quite safe my entire time in Marrakech. I did receive a lot of comments from locals on my appearance, but I just waved them off and did not engage. Thankfully no one tried to pester or follow me. And none of the comments were even overtly sexual, as I’ve experienced in other countries. Please understand this was my personal experience, and I can’t guarantee other women traveling to Marrakech will feel the same way.
As a woman traveling anywhere, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and understand local customs. Morocco is a Muslim country, which follows Islamic laws. It’s important to understand this not only for your own benefit, but also to ensure you are not being disrespectful of the religion and culture.
Here are my tips for women traveling to Marrakech, Morocco.
Tip #1: Dress modestly
Women in Morocco, both locals and tourists, are expected to dress modestly. This means covering your shoulders, knees, and stomach. Some hotels and public places have rules that you cannot show your knees after a certain time of day. I did see a few female travelers dress less modestly. In my opinion, it’s better to try to fit in with the crowd as a female traveler, especially if you are traveling alone. This will also help with receiving less uncomfortable comments (but unfortunately you will probably still receive some).
I care a lot about fashion, so I made an effort to find ways to make sure my outfits were modest while also cute. I traveled to Marrakech in winter, so this wasn’t much of an issue for me since I was usually wearing a light jacket or cardigan. But it might be more difficult in the warmer months. When I wasn’t wearing a jacket, one of the ways I ensured I was covering my shoulders without compromising my outfits was packing a few boleros, like this one from Amazon. You can also bring or buy a scarf to drape over your shoulders.
Here are a few of the outfits I wore.
Tip #2: Be prepared for taxis
The only time I felt somewhat unsafe in Marrakech was when taking the local taxis. This tip doesn’t only apply to women traveling to Marrakech, but everyone. When we needed a taxi, we typically asked the concierge at our hotel to hail one. Because of the language barrier (most of the taxi drivers we encountered didn’t speak much English), the concierge would speak to the driver and tell them the location to take us, then advise us of the price the driver would charge (for example: 50 MAD).
However, oftentimes when we got to our location, the driver would change the price and demand more money. In these situations I didn’t really try to argue, as I was sitting in the back of the taxi and felt the driver could just take off and not let me out. Some of the drivers already seemed pretty angry and I didn’t want to escalate things.
I read online that some taxis have meters, but I did not see a single one! The only thing I can say is make sure you confirm the price ahead of the ride, and involve the concierge in this discussion (if you are leaving from your hotel). But be prepared that you still may get cheated.
Marrakech is a pretty walkable city so I’d recommend walking as much as possible, unless of course it’s nighttime and you just want to get back to your hotel. Something else to know is that you can also arrange to be picked up by the same taxi that dropped you off at your destination. For example, on our first night we got a taxi to a restaurant, and the driver gave us his card so we could call him 15 minutes before we were ready to be picked up.
Tip #3: Keep an eye on your belongings
Marrakech is a crowded city, especially in the souks, so it’s essential to keep an eye on your phone and bag. Rather than carrying an over-the-shoulder purse, you should have a fanny pack or crossbody that you can keep in front of you. If you’re wearing multiple layers, you can also tuck it under your cardigan or jacket. Thankfully I did not experience any pick-pocketing, but I could definitely see it happening especially in the more crowded areas, and especially to tourists.
As for your phone, I definitely recommend a phone lanyard. I can’t find the exact link but this is just like the one I used. DO NOT keep your phone in your back pocket! A phone lanyard is not only for keeping your phone safe, but also accessible to take photos so you don’t have to keep pulling it out. Generally in the souks you won’t really want to be on your phone because you need to watch where you are going. There are motorbikes everywhere and they don’t particularly yield to pedestrians. The souks can be overwhelming, but it helps to feel that your belongings are as secure as possible.
Tip #4: Avoid sharing too many details about your trip
In conversations with taxi drivers and shop owners they would occasionally asked details about our trip (i.e. Where are you staying? How long is your trip? Where are you going tomorrow?). I might have been overly cautious, but I decided not to share many details and provided vague responses.
Also, if you post travel content on social media as I do, you may want to avoid posting content in real time. After I posted and used Marrakech-related hashtags, I was messaged by a few men who live in Marrakech trying to start a conversation. For this reason I avoided posting about the hotel I was staying in until after the trip, and didn’t post any Instagram stories from the day until that night or the following day.
Tip #5: Don’t get a henna tattoo in the main square
This tip is a bit niche, but you should avoid getting a henna tattoo in the main square (Jemaa el-Fnaa) because you will likely get scammed. My mom and I were thinking about getting henna tattoos, but once we walked over to a stand the women basically grabbed our hands and started doing the henna with no discussion of design or price.
They also tried to extend the henna above the hand to the wrist and arm and make it as intricate as possible. When they were finishing up I began to talk price (I should have done this earlier but was feeling uncomfortable). The woman doing my henna first said 600 MAD each, which is about $60 each. Obviously an insane price! It’s standard in Marrakesh to barter, so I lowballed and suggested 100 MAD each ($10). She firmly said she would not go below 300 MAD each, so we ended up paying $60 in total.
Even though we got duped we weren’t too bothered since we know the money went to local Moroccan women who were doing the henna. However, the henna was bad quality and was completely gone in a few days. If you really want to get a henna tattoo while in Morocco, I suggest finding a local place with reviews that is not in the main square. Also make sure you talk about the price before they begin!
Those are my top tips for women traveling to Marrakech. In my opinion, you don’t need to be worried or afraid to travel to Marrakech as long as you take basic precautions. If you ever feel unsafe, walk to a crowded place with other locals or tourists to seek help or contact the tourist police (phone number can be found here).
Enjoy your trip!
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