Snake charmers, carpet sellers right out of central casting, artisans who are more like con artists – they're waiting for the unprepared tourist. Don't be one of them.
If you're getting a henna tattoo, make it clear exactly what you want, and where you want it on your hand. The henna ladies have a habit of very quickly extending their designs up your arm and demanding payment for the extra work.
Even if you haven't actually requested a tattoo, don't stand too close, or have your back to them – particularly in theJemma el-Fnna in Marrakech – you may find unwanted henna appearing up your arm, and of course a request for payment.
The henna ladies also offer a small design sample for free. Some assume that it might be good for business if other tourists see you getting henna or walking around with a small pretty design - a loss leader - so they accept the free sample. Even with careful upfront explanations like “I have no money with me”, the henna ladies, of course, demand payment. If you don’t pay, they will take a cloth and smear the henna all over your hand which is extremely messy until it dries, and you’ll likely get it on your clothes. When looking at their “menu” note that the listed prices are ridiculous and if you really want a design, you can negotiate.
Avoid avoid avoid the henna ladies! Most hotels will arrange a henna artist or recommend a place for you to go with fair prices and quality henna.
Taking photos of snake charmers, dancers, monkey keepers and water sellers will require a payment. Take a few coins whenever you go looking for a photo opportunity.
Perversely, in the Jemma el-Fnna the water sellers get annoyed if you don't take their photo, it can be unpleasant or annoying, but never reaches menacing proportions.
You'll be approached by hundreds of Moroccan men asking to be your guide or assistant. Same with any other friendly strangers around the world, there's often a price to pay. These "guides" can be very persistent and intimidating – particularly in Tangier, Fes, Marrakech and Essouaria.
It's a scam. You know it's a scam, they know you know it's a scam – so they come up with more subtle ways of making themselves your guide.
You're taking a photo and find yourself approached by someone who can show you a better viewpoint. As you snap your photos and take their advice, they're suddenly leading you all over the medina, until finally, they request money for the "service" they've just provided you.
You ask directions to a place, or a market to buy something, and you're led on a wild goose chase through the souk for an hour, and then asked to pay for their guiding services. This wouldn't be so bad if they hadn't taken you to the usual tourist haunts (the ones you would have found on your own) or to the over-priced shop where they get a commission for delivering you.
You're approached by someone wanting to practise their English, which leads them to show you around the souks and medina, where you'll have tea and they'll tell you about life in Morocco. Until finally, they demand money for the service and become very persistent when you don't pay.
Don't buy drugs in Morocco. Hard to believe, but true: the authorities take a hard line against drug use. But, of course, some take advantage of this.
One of the most common scams is for a dealer to claim, "it is safe, no problem!" and sell you a large amount of "kif" (two layers of pot with tobacco between in a pipe).
The hapless tourist is arrested, either because the dealer was an undercover policeman, or because the police gave the dealer a payment for the tip-off – or they were all in the scam together. The only loser is the tourist who will most probably end up in a very unpleasant Moroccan jail.
In Chefchaouen (the blue city), the propositions to buy drugs are even more prevalent, given the numerous cannabis plantations in the region.
Morocco has hundreds of carpet shops, and as you walk by, you'll no doubt be invited in to "just look" and try some tea.
While this isn't a scam, it certainly preys on a sense of obligation to pay from westerners. Not a bad deal though, 1 cent for a cup of tea, just to try and secure a big sale.
If the carpet seller becomes demanding, offer to pay for the tea, which will release you from your obligation to buy an expensive carpet.
This carpet scam preys on your greed. You meet another foreigner who's in Morocco to buy carpets, and sell them back home – at a handsome profit.
He'll invite you to dinner with his local guide, and then the following morning you're taken on a tour of the souks and craft shops – where you inevitably end up in the carpet shop.
You'll see your new friend selecting a few carpets and you'll overhear the price.
The carpet sellers start showing you the rugs and carpets and will offer you a lower price! Can you believe your good luck?
If you pay the amount asked, you've been scammed at a hugely inflated price, as all your new friends are in this deal together.
It's also very unlikely that you'll be able to resell the carpet for a higher price back home, despite their advice.
Don't let the scams put you off, there are some lovely items to be found in Morocco – but do some research!
Know what the carpets cost back home. Then, in the souk, look around and get an idea on prices.
If you're feeling pressured to buy, just say you need to get your friend for a second opinion before committing to a purchase, or when you return to the city after your tour in the Atlas Mountains you'll make the decision.
It'll take a lot of willpower to resist the well-practiced selling techniques, and some great haggling skills to get a good price – but that's all part of the adventure.
You can buy at home or while traveling, and claim online from anywhere in the world. With 150+ adventure activities covered and 24/7 emergency assistance.
Morocco has a reputation for crooks, scammers and petty thieves. Find out what crimes and hassles to avoid while you're there.
With a bad reputation for misogyny and reports of sexual harassment, just how unsafe is it for women to travel in Morocco?