Female Travel in Morocco: Bartering, Etiquette, and Helpful Phrases

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This is Part 2 of a 2-part blog series for traveling as a woman in Morocco. Click here for Part 1.

Morocco is an awesome country to visit, but it can be a bit frustrating to navigate as a woman if you don’t know what to expect. Scratch that – even if you do, it’s still frustrating. But, hopefully these tips can help set you up for a pleasant trip regardless!

Bartering/Negotiating

When you’re at the souks (markets), there will be tons of items to choose from that you may want to purchase! But, keep in mind that you should not go with the first vendor you see; and you should always ask for a lower price than they tell you.

Although I had a significant advantage traveling with two Moroccans (one being male and older) during my trip, I still would never have gotten the deals that I did if I didn’t haggle. My proudest example: I got a red leather jacket that was originally priced at $250 (2500 dirhams) down to around $90 (900 dirhams). I was able to get to this final price by insisting I could not pay the price that he asked; and beginning to walk away each time. Finally, we got to 900 dirhams as the final offer!

That jacket is now my favorite fall piece, and higher-quality than what I would’ve found state-side!

Etiquette

Don’t point or use your index finger

Keep that index finger to yourself! This etiquette is actually pretty common among non-Western cultures in general: using your finger(s) to point at or beckon to someone is considered impolite. If you need to gesture to something or someone, be sure to keep your palm open. Also, do your best to have it facing downward while sweeping your hand toward yourself. Lastly, strive to use your right hand with as many gestures as possible instead of your left – more on that below.

Eat and greet right-handed – even if you’re a lefty!

As in most Islamic and/or Arabic cultures, the left hand is considered dirty, since it was traditionally used for sanitary tasks. Although it’s not the end of the world if you forget to use your right hand, it’s a great tip to remember when eating off a community plate (such as tagine). It’s not as big of a deal to use your left hand for picking up your drinking glass or passing bread, but definitely strive to use your right hand first and foremost.

Tipping is customary

Tipping is generally expected in Morocco, but the exact amount is really up to you and the particular circumstance. For example, restaurant tipping will vary depending on the style: a modest restaurant may warrant about 5 dirham (the local currency) while 10-15% tip makes sense in a more upscale setting.

For hotels, you should generally tip bellhops 10-20dh while maids should receive approximately 20dh for each night that you stay. For a spa treatment, consider leaving 20-25dh for the person who provides your service(s).

When it comes to tipping taxi drivers, a tip isn’t typically expected; but, rounding your bill up to the nearest 5dh or so will be appreciated.

Ix-nay on the PDA

Morocco is a conservative culture, so keep those kissy-faces to yourself! Just kidding. But seriously, keep the PDA to a minimum when you’re out in public. Hand-holding is considered okay, and can be seen as platonic between members of the same-sex. But outside of that, be respectful of the culture and don’t make yourself seem like an obvious tourist by showering your partner with affection around other people.

Also, for anyone who is LGBTQ, be aware that same-sex relationships are illegal in Morocco. Unfortunately, Morocco is one of far too many countries that outlaw homosexuality, so be very aware of the risks if you choose to travel here with a partner in order to avoid confrontations, possible jail time, or worse.

Helpful Phrases

Depending on where you go in Morocco, you might encounter locals who speak Arabic, French, English – or a mix of each! Below are some phrases that I found helpful in French and Arabic, respectively:

French

Hello – Bonjour

Goodbye – Au revoir

Yes – Oui

No – Non

Please – S’il vous plaĆ®t

Thank you (very much) – Merci beaucoup

Arabic

Hello (Peace be unto you)Salaam Aleikum (“Sa-lam Ah-lay-kuhm”) / Response: Aleikum Salaam

Yes – Nem

No – La

Please – Raja’ (“Raja-ooh”)

Thank you – Shukrran (“shuh-krahn”)

~

I hope these etiquette and linguistic tips prove to be useful for your trip! What other tips or customs do you think travelers should be aware of when visiting a foreign country? Let me know in the comments below!

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