Marrakech Travel Information
Morocco has no GMT offset.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Two-pin round plugs are in use.
Arabic is the official language, but eight other languages are also spoken including Berber, French and Spanish. English is generally understood in the tourist areas, but French is the most widely spoken.
No vaccinations are required to enter Morocco. Those who may be at risk of animal bites or who will be coming into contact with bats should consider a rabies vaccination.
It is advisable to drink bottled water and avoid street food and raw or uncooked meat. Avoid swimming, wading, or rafting in bodies of fresh water. The beaches around Casablanca are polluted and considered unsafe for swimming. Medical facilities are decent in all major cities but can be extremely limited in rural areas. Health insurance is essential. All required medications should be taken along, in their original packaging, and accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.
A tip of 10 to 15 percent is expected in the more expensive bars and restaurants, though some establishments include a service charge. Most services are performed with the aim of getting a few dirham, but aggressive hustling shouldn't be rewarded. Nevertheless, visitors should note that tips are the only income for some porters and guides.
Violent crime is not a major problem in Morocco, but there have been some incidents of theft at knife point in major cities and on beaches. Sensible precautions such as avoiding badly lit streets at night should be adhered to. Guides offering their services should display an official badge from the local tourist authorities. Most visits to Morocco are trouble-free; however, terrorist attacks have occurred in the past and there is a general threat of kidnappings in northern Africa, so visitors are advised to be vigilant. Be sure to check with your travel agent or tour advisor about the current political situation in Morocco before finalising your travel plans - the area is potentially volatile, and political demonstrations (although they are mostly peaceful) are not the kind of memory you want to take with you from Morocco. The touts and merchants can get quite pushy and confrontational so don't be shy to be firm in your refusal of goods or services. There have been reports of female travellers struggling with lots of unwanted attention from Moroccan men, and it is considered a difficult country to travel in alone as a woman.
Morocco is a Muslim country and it is preferable to keep the wearing of swimsuits, shorts and other revealing clothing to the beach or hotel poolside. Women travelling alone will receive less hassle if dressed conservatively. Smoking is practiced widely, and it is customary to offer cigarettes in social situations. Religious customs should be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture. Several foreigners were expelled in 2010 for alleged proselytising. The giving and receiving of things, and the eating of food, should only be done with the right hand, as the left is considered unclean. Homosexuality is a criminal offence, and sexual relations outside marriage are also punishable by law.
Business in Morocco has been influenced by France and therefore tends to be conducted formally, with an emphasis on politeness. Dress is formal, and women in particular should dress conservatively. Most business is conducted in French, although some English is spoken. It is best to ascertain before hand what language the meeting will be in, and arrange an interpreter as needed. Visitors are expected to be punctual, though meetings may not start on time. Moroccans are friendly and enjoy socialising, trust and friendship are important bases for business dealings so be prepared to engage in small talk. A handshake is common when arriving and departing. Women may encounter some sexism in business, although this is starting to change. Most businesses are closed on Fridays, and some are also closed on Thursdays.
The international access code for Morocco is +212. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)524 for Marrakech and (0)537 for Rabat. Hotels can add a hefty surcharge to their telephone bills; it is best to check before making long international calls. Two mobile GSM 900 networks cover the north of the country. Internet cafes are widely available in tourist areas.
Travellers to Morocco over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 400g tobacco; 1 litre spirits and 1 litre wine; and perfume up to 5g.
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