Things are getting better (than they once were) for female travelers, but it pays to be on your guard. Here are our top tips for women traveling through Morocco.
Morocco is still a very conservative country, and many women walk around with their hair covered. This is a message to visitors that skimpy tops, shorts and revealing clothing are not appreciated by the locals. Dress modestly with legs and arms covered and you'll avoid the wrong kind of attention. It's also helpful to carry a scarf, it helps you blend in and avoid unwanted attention.
If you'd like to avoid being an object of curiosity, get a husband and kids - fake ones of course. Just say you are married. Many female travelers say wearing sunglasses helps avoid eye contact with the leering men.
If you think you're being hassled, walk into a shop or restaurant and ask for help. If you've been groped, or you're receiving unwanted persistent attention, make a fuss and show your disgust, locals (especially women) will come to your aid.
Note that marriage proposals are very frequent in Morocco, but they are almost always a throwaway line, kind of the equivalent of “you look nice in that outfit” in the west. I received several proposals a day from males aged 10 to 70, a smsile and “no thanks” is almost always received with a corresponding smile.
There are marriage proposal scams as well, and western women entering a relationship with a man in any developing country should question whether it is for immigration purposes.
Morocco has many historic sights and fascinating souks. Plan your day using a map before you go out, and do your best to get a sense of direction (keep an eye on landmarks, nt shops which change in appearance markedly when then close the doors at night). Regardless of where you are traveling, always walk with a sense of purpose. If you look lost, you're more likely to be a target.
Just as you would in any other big city or remote area, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don't accept drinks from strangers, and never leave your drink unattended.
Visiting the Jemaa el-Fnna in Marrakesh at dusk is a sight not to be missed – with snake-charmers and families out to enjoy the cool evening. Stick to places where the families are. The surrounding streets up until about 11 pm are just fine. The biggest risk here is having someone put a monkey on your shoulder and demand money for a photo.
There are very few destinations in the world where hitchhiking is still safe. You probably wouldn't do it at home, so don't do it in Morocco either. Trains are often cheaper than buses and both are cheap.
Remote and mountainous areas remain dangerous, especially to women traveling alone.
Make sure you stay in a hotel where you can lock the hotel door securely. If you're not confident on the integrity of the lock, a simple door stop is an effective way to prevent access from an intruder, and it takes up very little room in your luggage.
Traveling alone brings many benefits, and one of them is meeting local women who will provide a glimpse into their daily lives. But, most local women remain in the family home, and it can be challenging to make contact.
Some cooking courses in Morocco include a trip to the markets to shop for ingredients, and cooking alongside a traditional Moroccan dada. This is an excellent way to experience the local culture and meet local women.
Search for female guides in the main towns who can take you around the souks and medinas and explain a little more about the way of life.
Visit a hammam or traditional bath on ladies day. You'll see a whole other side to daily life in Morocco, although not understand much of it unless you speak Arabic. As a side note, while the women may go naked, men never do.
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