General knowledge about Morocco

Is Morocco safe?

In terms of the world today, Morocco is considered a safe country. In fact, the crime rate is very low. Morocco stands committed to dedicating significant resources to counter-terrorism intelligence, both on the national and international levels. The Kingdom of Morocco is stable politically and receives more tourists than any other African country. Of course, every potential visitor must use his or her own judgment regarding traveling to anywhere in the world. We at Open Doors consider Morocco a very safe place to be not only for ourselves, but for our families.

Our host offered information on what was safe to do, what to avoid and how to avoid being taken advantage of.
– Deb K.

My three friends and I, all females, felt safe and secure at all times.
– Adriana P.

Do I need certain vaccinations to enter Morocco?

Morocco does not require specific vaccinations. However, it’s always a good idea to ask your primary care physician for his or her opinion.

What languages are spoken in Morocco?
The Moroccan ability is switch languages is unparalleled. It’s not uncommon for three languages to be represented in one sentence! Morocco has two official languages: Arabic and Berber. Moroccan Arabic (Darija) is what majority of people use in everyday interactions. There is no written form of Darija, although it can be spelled using Arabic letters. Street signs are in Classical Arabic. French is the language of business, the government, and higher education. French is considered a 3rd “unofficial” language of Morocco. In the north of Morocco, Spanish is spoken due to the proximity of Spain. English is becoming the second foreign language of choice among educated youth.
Do I need a visa to enter Morocco?
If you hold a passport from the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, China, Malaysia, or Singapore, as of the writing of this documentation, you do not need a visa. Those from another country not listed may or may not need a visa. It is always good to to check with your local consulate office to determine the facts. Regardless of visas, Morocco requires at least 6 months of validity remaining before the expiration date on the passport. They also require one blank page for the entry stamp.
Are there safety considerations for homosexuality in Morocco?

Morocco is a popular destination for LGBTQ+ travelers. Traveling as an LBGTQ+ individual may pose specific challenges due to varying legal and societal attitudes toward non-heteronormative identities. For example, Morocco is not safe for LGBTQ+ individuals who desire to openly express sexuality in contrast to a rigid view of the heterosexual binary. Homosexuality in Morocco is illegal and punishable by law under article 489 of the Penal Code. This is not always strictly enforced, especially, when both partners are foreigners.

LGBTQ+ individuals can still enjoy what Morocco has to offer with appropriate caution. These cautions are not different from what is recommended for heterosexual couples. Public display of affection is not culturally acceptable in Morocco and will draw unnecessary attention. LGBTQ+ travelers should avoid engaging in even mild displays of affection.

While there is an LBGTQ+ community in Morocco, it is not advisable to seek this community out. This could draw undue attention. It could also put local LBGTQ+ individuals at risk.

It’s important to note that the situation for LGBTQ+ individuals can change, and attitudes may evolve over time. Stay informed, use common sense, and prioritize your safety while exploring the beauty and diversity of Morocco. Consider consulting with LBGTQ+ organizations for further advice.

Touring Morocco with
Open Doors

What type of tourism does Open Doors Morocco offer?

We are a full-service operator focused on private individual and group tours. We strive to remain at a distance from the “mass tourism” that plagues many countries, including some areas in Morocco. Instead, we design organic, sustainable, and culturally authentic tours that offer our guests amazing cross-cultural experiences while they explore the beautiful country of Morocco. Our goal is to offer more than just a vacation, but an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime.

In Open Doors Morocco, we work with families, couples, groups of friends, and others. We also specialize in photography tours as many of our local guides are amazing photographers.

Comfort and luxury accommodations are booked where available. All of our accommodation partnerships have been personally inspected by one or more of our team. We strive to develop and maintain ethical working relationships with all local suppliers.

Because we do not conceptualize your tour as a checklist of services, please note that we do not offer a cost breakdown with our quotes.

When is the best time to visit Morocco?
The geography of Morocco is such that all throughout the year there are locations where the climate is mild. For instance, during the summer months when it is extremely hot in the interior of the country, the coast is a cool respite. Summertime is the best time to hike and explore the higher altitudes of the Atlas mountains. In winter, the Atlantic coast is warm. The desert is very hot in the summer, but pleasant at other times of the year.
Do you charge an itinerary planning fee?
No, we will work with you until you feel comfortable and excited about your plan.
Will Open Doors Morocco help me book airfare?
Open Doors Morocco does not book airfare, nor are we responsible for changes or delays in your reservation or flight. However, we are more than happy to provide tips and even research suggested flights.
How does Open Doors Morocco determine pricing for tours?

Like the old adage says, “You get what you pay for.” We have no interest in being the cheapest tour in Morocco. You receive an excellent value and return home with amazing memories and new friends in Morocco. Our tours are not cookie cutter, one size fits all tours. While we have example itineraries on our website, everything is customized. Because we put a great deal of focus on each of our tours, we limit the number of bookings at one time. This enables us to design great individualized itineraries and match people with our excellent guides. We do not compromise on the quality of our local guides.

We believe in paying our local guides fair living wages. This is also something we will not compromise. One of the primary reasons we started Open Doors Morocco was that we saw the disparity in the tourism industry here. In most cases, the locals work the hardest, yet are compensated the least. The majority of Moroccans working in the tourism industry are not able to support their families on their income. At the same time, we won’t compromise on the expectations we lay out for our guides. We have high standards for our local guides and they rise to the occasion because they love their jobs and engaging with their foreign guests. You can read an outsider’s review on our vision by visiting Sixnie and Salt: Ethical Tourism: What is it? And Why Should You Care about It?

Please note that we do not offer itemized cost breakdowns.

The company is certainly not the least expensive option, but it is very, very, very much worth it!
– Emily D.

Why is it better to book with Open Doors than to travel independently?

There are many reasons to select Open Doors Morocco for your Morocco vacation. First, our primary goals are to create amazing experiences for our guests, while relating ethically with the Moroccan nationals. Those who choose to travel independently in Morocco, miss out on so many things that can only be experienced with a local guide. Your ODM guide is the touchstone between you and the Moroccan culture. They love introducing guests to their country and being involved in cross-cultural experiences. You will have the opportunity to meet some very special Moroccan people as you travel throughout the country simply because you are with a Moroccan.

Depending on where you are in the country, we may hire an additional guide. For instance, we always hire a guide in Fes and Marrakech. 

We have never used a guide in any of our travels, but this was the only way I could talk my husband into this trip. I’m so glad we did. We would not have been able to navigate on our own and see as much otherwise.
– Vicky L.

Secondly, traveling with us enables you to forget about the details. We will handle everything from touchdown to departure.

Finally, at Open Doors Morocco we believe in paying our guides a thriving wage. We don’t pay them peanuts for their knowledge and expertise. They are passionate about their work and sharing their country with others. They work hard and should be adequately compensated for their work. This is unusual in the tourism industry and it’s something we don’t compromise on.

We enjoyed Said’s company immensely, his knowledge, insights and stories were golden. We discovered spots we wouldn’t have on our own, and I doubt with anyone else.
– Disco Donkey

Who will be my local host / guide?

Open Doors Morocco makes guide assignments one month to a few weeks before your trip. We will communicate this information as soon as the assignment has been made. All of our guides are friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced. Thet all share Open Doors Morocco’s  passion for transformative travel. Each of our guides offers a unique personality, perspective, and passion to share with you during the trip.

What types of accommodation do you use?

We do not book in the large international branded hotels unless specifically requested. We utulize accommodations  that we know personally and have been rated by our guests as excellent. That said, there are various levels of accommodations in Morocco. We will book Standard, Comfort, or Luxury accommodations. Depending on location, luxury is not always available. We typically only book Standard where there are no other options, or when requested.

Standard accommodations are clean and simply decorated, yet still beautiful. Comfort (or Superior) accommodations are slightly more plush. Finally, luxury accommodations are the most plush.

In addition to traditional accommodations, we also offer home visits in various parts of the country. These home visits are available for those wishing to experience life in a Moroccan home. Our home visits are well vetted. 

The care that this company takes in preparing customized itineraries that accommodate all manner of needs/desires (my partner is an above-knee amputee) is impressive, and resulted in great experiences for us.
– Rosemary Y.

What type of vehicles do you use?

The majority of the time we use Toyota Land Prados. These are the same as Toyota Land Cruisers in the United States. Although the legal limit is six guests in these vehicles, we have found that four guests is the limit in terms of comfort.

In much of Morocco, 4x4s are the best means for transportation. However, there are exceptions depending on the make up of the group. For families, we often use Mercedes minivans. If the desert is included in a trip where a van is utilized, it will be necessary to switch out to 4x4s in the desert. A mini bus is often utilized for a larger group tour. If a group is traveling to the desert, it is necessary to switch out to 4x4s at that time. Some small groups travel in a caravan of 4x4s.

What is a riad?

Riads are traditional homes in Morocco, usually found in medinas (the old cities). Many have been turned into small, intimate hotels. They are characterized by an inner courtyard or garden as the central element of the building. The courtyard is open air with the rooms situated around the courtyard. The courtyard is on the bottom floor and the rooms rise 3 – 4 floors around the courtyard. The rooftop is usually set up as a terrace for relaxing and meals.

In keeping with the Islamic idea of privacy, riads do not have large outward facing windows. Instead the rooms have windows facing the opened courtyard. From the outside most riads have simple doors. Upon entering the riad, you find yourself in a beautifully decorated palace, or sanctuary, hidden away from the hussle and bussle of the busy medina.

Are children welcome?

All children our boys’ ages should be let loose in a giant sandbox once in awhile.
– Sidsel

Absolutely! We love having kids along. You’ll find that children are loved and cared for in the Moroccan culture.  Morocco is very family oriented. Bringing your children along may be an advantage for engaging with locals, as Moroccan society is very child focused. Your children will love Morocco. It will be a vacation they’ll remember for a lifetime.

Our kids gained a great appreciation for the different lifestyle and the country.
– Amy S.

How much time do I need in the country in order to experience the Sahara?

There are few words adequate enough to describe the wonder of a visit to the Moroccan Desert, especially when your host was a Nomad who grew up calling it home.
– Deborah K.

To visit the desert, you need a minimum of three days, four is better. In fact, a desert trip wrapped up into a longer tour is the best way to see it. There is so much to experience that it’s difficult to process in a short time period, especially since the desert is far from the primary tourism cities.

As a word of warning, now and then someone will come to us asking to see the “Marrakech Desert,” or “Agafay” just an hour outside the city. There is no desert directly outside Marrakech, and any tour operator who tries to sell you a tour to the Marrakech Desert is lying to you. The “Marrakech Desert” consists of hills with dust on them.

Additionally, if you run across a tour for $100 – $200 USD, you would be wise to ask questions. It’s impossible to operate a private tour for this amount of money. These types of tours are those that will take up to 17 people per vehicle, and in our opinion, it is not the best way to experience the desert.

A private tour, in a high-quality 4×4 with the capability to drive off-road is the best means of travel for this adventure. In addition, when the vehicle is driven by an experienced ODM guide, who not only has been to the desert but grew up in the desert, your experience is so much richer and authentic. It’s similar to the difference between hiring someone from Delaware to take you on a tour of California and hiring someone born and raised in California to lead you. In other words, how many times in your life will you get to see the Sahara Desert?

What about photography in Morocco?

Please always ask permission before photographing someone. Your guide will help you with the language barrier. Many Moroccans, especially those in smaller cities, villages, and rural areas do not wish to be photographed. In fact, many consider photographs of themselves to be forbidden by Islam. Many travelers have posted photos of Moroccans on Facebook and other social media without permission. This is understandably uncomfortable to those in the photos. We recognize that the Moroccan people are very photogenic, however they are real people with hopes and beliefs, not exhibits. We ask that you approach photography with empathy and respect. Our rule of thumb is that if the person’s face is easily identified, their permission should be granted before posting.

Our hosts are specialists when it comes to photography as we work with many photographers. They can help you as you navigate photography and the Moroccan culture. For avid photographers, we can arrange photo fixer experiences for you to ensure that the Moroccans are accepting and you shoot great portraits.

Photographers Take Note! Personal, Professional, and Original with a focus on Cultural Awareness and Sustainability
– Laura H.

Can you connect us with cooking classes?

Absolutely! Mention something to us during the tour planning and we will make suggestions based on your specific itinerary and desires. In Marrakech, we work closely with Creative Interactions. Creative Interactions offers many interesting workshops that provide various levels of introduction to the Moroccan culture, including food. We’ve had many guests take advantage of their workshops that typically last 90 minutes to 3 hours. It’s amazing how much preparation for the rest of the tour can be wrapped up in these short sessions. People walk out with more confidence in greeting the culture and asking simple questions such as, “Where is the bathroom?” We can make the arrangements for you with Creative Interactions. 

We also arrange cooking classes in a variety of other locations, even homes. 

I have special dietary restrictions. Can you cater to these?

Open Doors Morocco is happy to accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences. Please let us know at the time of booking if you have any dietary requirements or allergies and we will pass the information on to your guide and hotels. For those who have significant dietary restrictions, it is a good idea to bring along a card stating your dietary needs in French and Arabic. We are happy to help with translations. Having a card will help when you find yourself eating in a location where your guide isn’t with you.

Before you go: Preparing for your trip to Morocco

Should I purchase a Travel protection plan / insurance?

While Open Doors Morocco does not require guests to purchase travel protection, we highly recommend that they do so. Those who choose to protect their trip are responsible for arranging this on their own. We work with Arch RoamRight, and you can request a quote HERE. Arch RoamRight offers a free child policy with each parent policy purchased. Whichever company you choose, we encourage you to look for a policy that covers emergency medical expenses, emergency evacuation, trip interruption and delayed arrival, trip delay, baggage delay, missed connection, in addition to the other elements you believe are important.

Further, if you feel nervous about cancellations due to global pandemic, a personal health issue, or other reasons, we highly recommend looking into a “Cancel for no reason” policy. We recommend that you purchase your coverage at the time of booking and double check the small print to ensure it covers all you want it to cover. Many policies will cover pre-existing conditions as long as the policy is purchased within a certain number of days that the deposit is paid.

How should I pack for Morocco?

For the most part, Moroccans are very good at accepting cultural differences. That said, as a Muslim country, modesty is important. In general, larger cities are more tolerant than rural areas. However, just like anywhere, showing too much skin can attract unwanted attention. It can also cause discomfort to locals. We recommend the following, especially in smaller cities, villages, and the countryside:

Long skirts or dresses that cover the knees
Maxi dresses with scarves to cover shoulders
Jeans or pants
Loose fitting tunics and blouses
Shirts with sleeves –short sleeves are fine
Cuddl Duds – for warm layers in winter

Long pants
Shorts are acceptable, but less common among adult males

Clothing that doesn’t expose the décolletage, shoulders, or thighs
Comfortable shoes
Flip Flops
Scarves, hats, or turbans for sun protection
Ear plugs in case of unwanted noise
Small packs of Kleenex for unstocked restrooms
Hand Sanitizer
Covid Rapid Tests
Electrolytes – not found in Morocco (the Nuun brand is an easy one for traveling)
Snacks for young kids

How do I prepare for my stay at the desert camp?

The camp is quite comfortable. There is running water, toilets, and a shower. The tents have double beds or twin beds, depending on the composition of your party. All linens are provided. Do not worry, you will not be paired with strangers!

You will arrive in the 4×4 with your local guide at a meeting location for camels. Your luggage will be carried to the camp by car. You will board camels and ride, led by your experienced camel guide(s), approximately 90 minutes to the camp. Here you will find yourself in a beautiful area. (*If you prefer not to ride camels, please let us know and we’ll take you to the camp by 4×4.)

You can climb the dunes as high as you like to watch the sunset. Afterwards, there’s dinner and music around the fire (depending on weather). Night photography in an isolated unlit area is possible – please ask for more information.

You’ll want to have batteries fully charged.

Suggested Items for Packing:
Clothing layers for warmth and sun protection
In winter: gloves and warm socks
Hat or Turban
Flip Flops or Sandals
Resealable bags to protect phones and tablets from the sand

All facilities are great, not very primitive as some might expect – proper toilets, nice beds, good food.
– Sidsel

Should I exchange money before traveling to Morocco?

Morocco’s currency is the dirham (MAD). For the most part, Morocco is a cash country. Plan to use cash, and when you find an opportunity for a credit card, it will be a pleasant surprise.

It may be possible to order Moroccan dirhams from your bank before travel. However, Moroccan dirham is a closed currency. If you find it outside Morocco, you’ll pay a lot for it. It is usually preferable to get dirhams when you arrive. There are ATMs all throughout the country. Your guide will be happy to take you to a money exchange cashpoint that will give you the best deal. We do not recommend using the ATMs or the exchange counters in the airport as you will pay a higher exchange rate.

If you are an American citizen, the bank Charles Schwab, offers an excellent checking account. They do not charge any foreign fees on purchases or ATM withdrawals. If your bank charges you for using a foreign ATM, they will refund you at the end of the month.

It is good practice to notify your credit card companies and / or bank as to the dates of your travel to Morocco.

You can’t use traveler’s checks in Morocco.

Is alcohol available in Morocco?

Although Morocco is a Muslim country, there is generally a liberal attitude toward foreign use of alcohol. In fact, Morocco produces good wine and even a few popular local brands of beer such as Flag and Casa.

We have compiled the following tips for those wishing to have access to alcohol:

  • Alcohol is not served or available for purchase nearby mosques.
  • You’ll find that some cafes and restaurants will serve alcohol. Likewise, there are often bars in large hotels.
  • Most riads and smaller hotels aren’t licensed to sell alcohol. But many of them allow guests to bring alcohol in to be consumed. We can always check with your specific accommodations to determine their policy.
  • Most large grocery stores sell alcohol in areas that are sectioned off.
  • Alcohol should not be consumed in public areas and intoxication is highly disapproved. It is illegal to carry open containers in public.
Can I drink tap water, is it safe?

We do not take chances and ensure that you have access to bottled water at all times. Water used for tea and coffee has been boiled and is considered safe to drink.

How do I keep from getting sick?

Our guests rarely have issues, although some have had mildly upset stomachs, probably due to adjustments to new foods. We recommend only eating cooked vegetables or fruits that are peeled so that you don’t eat food washed in tap water. In some locations the fruits and vegetables are washed in bottled water. In that case, it is safe to branch out. Your guide will be able to check all of this out for you.

Just in case, pharmacies are well stocked with anti-diarrhea medication. It is not necessary to obtain a prescription for antibiotics. Sudafed, available for colds and allergies, in the USA is not available in Morocco. If you think you may want Sudafed, just bring it with you. 

What types of electrical plugs / voltage should I have when visiting Morocco?

The electrical plugs in Morocco are the same as in Europe: 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. If bringing devices from the US, UK, Australia, and South America you will need adaptors for two-pin European plugs. You can get these before arriving in Morocco, or you can buy them in Morocco.

How does tipping in Morocco work?

Because tourism is such a large part of Morocco’s economy, tipping is regular practice in the country.

Tipping Caddy
To alleviate searches for small change, we offer a tipping caddy. You can pay into the caddy and your local guide will use those funds to pay the hotel staff, city guides, camel guide, and luggage porters for you. The tipping caddy doesn’t include the tip for your local guide. We leave that up to you at the close of the tour. If interested in this service, just ask at the time of booking.

Upon booking, we will provide you with some good rules of thumb for tipping in Morocco. You can also find more information HERE.

As a note, you are expected to tip the “keeper of the bathroom” 2-3 dirhams when using the facilities. However, if the bathroom is not clean or stocked with toilet paper, do not feel you need to pay a tip.

Is WiFi available?

Wifi is widely available, yet spotty. We recommend coming to Morocco with an unlocked phone. Upon arrival, you may purchase a Moroccan SIM card for around $5.00 USD.  Note that if you have one of the newer iphones, you’ll need to purchase an eSIM at the phone store. Your guide will assist with this. You can also use the app Airalo to purchase a Moroccan eSIM. Be sure to download the app before your arrival in Morocco. 

Purchasing a Moroccan SIM will enable you to have data on your phone. A combination of wifi and data will keep you online pretty consistently. You can easily pay-as-you-go as top up cards are widely available. There are three phone, text, and data operators. We recommend Maroc Telecom as it has the largest coverage area. 

From the 4×4 (which had wifi!) to the desert camp accommodations, everything was perfect.
– Barbara

Can I use my phone?

If you have an unlocked phone, you can purchase a Moroccan SIM card. This is what we recommend. A SIM card costs approximately $5 USD. Once you have a SIM card and some data, you will be able to use Whatsapp, the Internet, and other web apps. You should also be able to use your phone as a hotspot as long as you have connectivity. There are three phone companies serving Morocco. The best company to use is Maroc Telecom as it has the best coverage. Your local guide will help you get up and going with this.

If you are from the US, we recommend getting a Google Talk number before leaving. You can provide that number to those in the US. As long as you have access to the Internet, they will be able to reach you by calling the local US number you select when you set up your Google Talk account. The same is true for Whatsapp. However, the Google Talk number will enable people who don’t have Whatsapp to call you in the same manner as they would in states.

Morocco Country Phone code: 212
Calling Morocco from the states +212 (destination number)
Calling USA from Morocco: +1 (area code) + (destination number)

What if my luggage gets lost?

First, remain calm. Secondly, it’s a rare occurrence, but it has happened occasionally, especially if rerouted at the last minute. If you land in Marrakech you will want to go to the “lost luggage room.” This room is a small door across from where you entered the baggage hall. It’s near the restrooms. There is a small desk in there with a man behind it who will take your information (your baggage claim tickets are important here.)

If he finds your luggage – more than likely it is still hanging out at your last stop – he will tell you when you can expect your luggage to arrive, usually the next day. You’ll get a piece of paper with a phone number to call before returning to the airport to retrieve your luggage. Your local guide will help with this the next day. If you have trouble understanding the man behind the desk, insist that he call your guide. You will have their number before arrival. Your guide will help translate for you. You can give the airport your guide’s number and he will communicate with them as your luggage is on its way.  Sometimes the airport has wifi. In that case, you can WhatsApp Nancy at +1 513-295-3260. Again, this is rare, but we want you to have the information just in case.

Hint: If there is more than one in your party and you’ve waited for quite a while for your luggage, we recommend sending one person in the party to the “little door with the man behind the desk” as mentioned above. The other person should keep watching for the luggage. We mention this because, once the line forms outside that door, it can take quite some time to get everything arranged. There is usually only one person behind the desk and it is not a quick process.

If you land in Casablanca, you should look for your airline desk after you’ve discovered that your luggage has not arrived.

From the time Habib met us at the airport, I felt like we were in good hands.
– Janet T.

An incredible and unforgettable experience!

Barbara (New York, NY)

Ready to return transformed and experience a life-changing trip to Morocco? Get in touch today to start planning your one-of-a-kind adventure.



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