Attitudes towards women are improving, but it pays to stay aware and use some common sense. 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 won't attract 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, kids and a ring - fake ones, of course. Or you can just say you are married. Many female travelers say wearing sunglasses can also help avoid eye contact.
If you're hassled, walk into a shop or restaurant and ask for help. If you're 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. A smile 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 genuine or for immigration purposes.
Morocco has many historic sights and fascinating souks. Plan your day before you go out using a map, and do your best to get a sense of direction. Keep an eye on landmarks rather than shops which change in appearance markedly when they 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, be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don't accept drinks from strangers, and never leave your drink unattended.
Visiting the Jemaa el-
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. As with most places around the world, avoid wandering alone at night or in poorly-lit areas.
If traveling on public transport, try to sit with other women or families. Avoid remote and mountainous areas which remain dangerous, especially for women traveling alone.
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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.
Taking a cooking class which includes a trip to the markets to shop for ingredients, and cooking alongside a traditional Moroccan dada (women cooks who share their culinary know-how, from generation to generation) is an excellent way to experience local culture and meet local women.
Search for women guides in the main towns who can take you around the souks and medinas and explain a little more about their way of life.
Visit a hammam or traditional bath on ladies day. You'll see a whole other side to daily life in Morocco. Note, while the women may go naked, men never do.
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The souks and medina of Morocco draw visitors in to explore the labyrinth of alleys, shops and craftspeople. Here's how to avoid the dodgy spots and see it all safely.