Author Topic: Morocco  (Read 3202 times)

SweetLife

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Morocco
« on: April 11, 2018, 08:32:00 AM »
Hey there everyone!!! I am taking a location off my bucket list ... Morocco ... by "taking off" I mean I've booked a trip!!! With my husband and our 3 1/2 year old.

I have a few questions if any of you have been there/live there!

I am going next week (19th) and we are staying the first 5 days in Marrakesh at a lovely Riad owned by a Canadian (go figure!)
Have any of you exchanged money at the airport? Is it an easy thing? Just need passport? I was thinking of just exchanging all of our cash there rather than get dinged by the bank taking it out of the ATM's (and because we are going to be going to smaller towns ATM's not so prevalent I've read). Our goal is not to spend over $2800 I've saved for the trip.

I want to take a Suprabus to Ouarzazate stay the night then go on to Mergouza and stay at least 3 nights in a desert camp then go on to Fez for at least a night (likely two) then take the train back to Casablanca for the last two nights. (we fly out on the 2nd)
Does that seem like a reasonable amount of time in each place?

Do you think the money will stretch that far (we were thinking of doing a tour but it would have to be private and for this itinerary much too costly) But we have to factor in taxis in various places ... food ... entrance fees ... train ... bus fare ...

Just thought I would pass it by in case anyone had any better ideas or places we should not miss out on. We are pretty easy going travellers even with our toddler so hopefully this will work.

Thank you all!!!!

Oh... credit cards... any ideas where we can/cannot use these??? Most of the places to stay are cash only. Which is fine but I was just wondering if anywhere takes credit ...








Jtrey17

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2018, 03:55:12 PM »
Hey there everyone!!! I am taking a location off my bucket list ... Morocco ... by "taking off" I mean I've booked a trip!!! With my husband and our 3 1/2 year old.

I have a few questions if any of you have been there/live there!

I am going next week (19th) and we are staying the first 5 days in Marrakesh at a lovely Riad owned by a Canadian (go figure!)
Have any of you exchanged money at the airport? Is it an easy thing? Just need passport? I was thinking of just exchanging all of our cash there rather than get dinged by the bank taking it out of the ATM's (and because we are going to be going to smaller towns ATM's not so prevalent I've read). Our goal is not to spend over $2800 I've saved for the trip.

I want to take a Suprabus to Ouarzazate stay the night then go on to Mergouza and stay at least 3 nights in a desert camp then go on to Fez for at least a night (likely two) then take the train back to Casablanca for the last two nights. (we fly out on the 2nd)
Does that seem like a reasonable amount of time in each place?

Do you think the money will stretch that far (we were thinking of doing a tour but it would have to be private and for this itinerary much too costly) But we have to factor in taxis in various places ... food ... entrance fees ... train ... bus fare ...

Just thought I would pass it by in case anyone had any better ideas or places we should not miss out on. We are pretty easy going travellers even with our toddler so hopefully this will work.

Thank you all!!!!

Oh... credit cards... any ideas where we can/cannot use these??? Most of the places to stay are cash only. Which is fine but I was just wondering if anywhere takes credit ...
Morocco is a bucket-list trip for me too. Please report back to us on how it went!

MrUpwardlyMobile

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2018, 04:39:23 PM »
Hey there everyone!!! I am taking a location off my bucket list ... Morocco ... by "taking off" I mean I've booked a trip!!! With my husband and our 3 1/2 year old.

I have a few questions if any of you have been there/live there!

I am going next week (19th) and we are staying the first 5 days in Marrakesh at a lovely Riad owned by a Canadian (go figure!)
Have any of you exchanged money at the airport? Is it an easy thing? Just need passport? I was thinking of just exchanging all of our cash there rather than get dinged by the bank taking it out of the ATM's (and because we are going to be going to smaller towns ATM's not so prevalent I've read). Our goal is not to spend over $2800 I've saved for the trip.

I want to take a Suprabus to Ouarzazate stay the night then go on to Mergouza and stay at least 3 nights in a desert camp then go on to Fez for at least a night (likely two) then take the train back to Casablanca for the last two nights. (we fly out on the 2nd)
Does that seem like a reasonable amount of time in each place?

Do you think the money will stretch that far (we were thinking of doing a tour but it would have to be private and for this itinerary much too costly) But we have to factor in taxis in various places ... food ... entrance fees ... train ... bus fare ...

Just thought I would pass it by in case anyone had any better ideas or places we should not miss out on. We are pretty easy going travellers even with our toddler so hopefully this will work.

Thank you all!!!!

Oh... credit cards... any ideas where we can/cannot use these??? Most of the places to stay are cash only. Which is fine but I was just wondering if anywhere takes credit ...

Airport exchanges usually hit you really hard on the exchange rate because you waited until the last minute to make a currency exchange.

life_travel

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2018, 04:49:50 PM »
We went to Morocco last year and loved it ! We only had 3 days ( it was a side trip of our Spain / Portugal trip) so we stayed in Marrakech only.
We had euros when we arrived and our Riad owner booked us a car. We ended up paying them in euro .
Our Riad owner( Moroccan family ) ended up exchanging our euros at a very good rate , just because it was the evening and exchange places were closed the next day !
We did a private whole day tour to Atlas Mountains with rides on mules up to high altitudes . It was scary at times but fun ! We paid 140 euros for2 and it included buffet Moroccan lunch up in the mountains .
We also did a walking tour ( group of 7-8 people ) of Marrakech for 30 euro pp.
there were exchange booths at the airport .
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 04:53:16 PM by life_travel »

Gondolin

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2018, 05:00:32 PM »
You should be fine using credit cards in the large cities (Marrakech, Fez, Casablanca) though you'll want cash if you plan to shop at any street vendors. I would hit the ATM in Marrakech and take out enough to cover your time in the smaller towns.

Things are generally cheap though except for Marrakech I visited different parts of the country from where you're going.


So either of you speak any Arabic? As with most places, English and French get much rarer once you  venture out from the cities.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 05:04:47 PM by Gondolin »

life_travel

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2018, 05:10:42 PM »
Forgot to add we also withdrew money from ATMin Marrakech

SweetLife

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2018, 08:45:57 PM »
Thank you all!
I tried to get Moroccan money before we go but it's a closed currency only available in Morocco.

Will try the airport when we get in.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2018, 11:15:07 PM »
We just got money out of ATMs - no problem at all. Euros are widely accepted, take some of those if you're worried about arriving with no money. I'd imagine US$ too. I think you will find the locals incredibly friendly & helpful if you're traveling with a 3yr old. Away from Marrakech, things can be very cheap, depending on how good your negotiation skills are. Speaking French is a definite help.

Are you planning to stop off at AÔt Ben Haddou on your way to Ouarzazate?

We took a night train from Marrakech to Tangier, via Casablanca & Rabat. Fairly memorable experience for our children - they remember the smell of the train and the urine flowing from the toilet floor just as much as the snake charmers in the souk, the Atlas mountains, the camel rides in the Sahara etc. Of all the many countries we've visited, Morocco is my youngest son's favourite.

COEE

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2018, 08:30:52 PM »
We went there last year.  We have family that lives there (doing the expat thing) - so we were mostly there to see them and live like a local - not so much touristy stuff.  Although we did go to the mosque in Casa (Hassan II Mosque) and the tourist souk one day.  My suggestion is to go to the medina for a more local experience - don't forget to put a pin on google maps or something when you enter - or you may never get out!.  When we went we only saw one other person that looked European everyone else was Moroccan.

The real local experience is quite the culture shock.  It's an extremely poor but friendly country.  I usually describe it as the French Mexico (for vacationing) and everyone is Islamic instead of Catholic.  If you haven't been to a Muslim country before you're in for a real culture shock!  Women are second (or third class) citizens - literally property of their husbands.  When we went to dinner the men were served first, then the children.  The women were served whenever the cook got around to finally making their meal.  YMMV and i suspect this is different in the more touristy areas.

The country is a former French colony - so if you speak any French it will go a long way!  If you speak any Arabic it will go even further.  The difficulty with that though is that each town speaks their own form of Arabic, and it will be completely different in each town.  Even the words yes and no are different from town to town.  Taking a Arabic class was fun for us one day if you can find a teacher.

I'd get money from an ATM somewhere.  There were quite a few in Dar Bouazza.  I suspect most places have a bank to get money.  Schwab has no fees (other than exchange rate).  It's worth the time to call all of your cards and find out who will have the lowest fees in advance, and let them know you're going on the trip.  Keep LOTS of single dirham on you.  Everyone wants a tip.  You park your car for 5 minutes you owe a dirham (about $0.10).  That is someones job, and that is what is feeding their family - don't stiff them - if they ask for more, just give them more, what's another $0.10 to you?

One of my favorite parts of the trip was going to the cafe's.  Very french style, but also extremely cheap (unlike France).  For about $1 you can have a coffee and some water - don't forget to leave a 2 dirham tip!  And just sit there all day long if you'd like.  Be careful - some of the cafe's are male only!

Your last chance to buy liquor is in the airport - if that's your thing.  Speaking of airport, the airport in Casa was a scary place (for me anyway).  It was also my first international travel - so that may have played a part.  I was desperate to find my family and shake off the taxi drivers.  But it was a filthy airport and I didn't feel safe at all (the women were not searched or asked to remove shoes or anything when going through security.).

I'll leave you with one last story.  We spoke with the language teacher a bit and we were talking about eggs.  We were explaining how our eggs come in containers of 12.  The teacher asked, "But what if you can only afford one egg?"  Heartbreaking.  My insides churn when I leave eggs on my plate now at the end of a meal.

Overall, It's a great place to spend a few days!  Don't forget to come back and tell us about your trip!  I'm hoping to get out a bit more next time we're there so I'm looking forward to hearing about more highlights from others' trips!

ETBen

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2018, 09:04:30 PM »
Iím actually going to Morocco this weekend!  I found a blog Maroc Momma and she has some good culture tips and other info I would not have thought of (and Iím not a naive traveler). We are going to many of the same locations as you.

expatartist

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2018, 10:25:49 PM »
Morocco was great, my trip was only 2 weeks and 16 years ago, so may not be helpful. But I went to many of the same destinations you will soon visit.

* I just used the ATM at Marrakesh airport - exchange rates are better from ATMs than most currency exchanges
* I'd bring along 150+ Euro and 150+ USD in a separate spot from your wallet in case you run out of dirham or have a wallet stolen. Ditto for an extra ATM and/or credit card, also kept in a separate location

It does sound like you'll be hitting a lot of spots rather quickly especially with a child in tow. During my trip I worked for a tour company for elderly people. We generally budgeted 2.5 days minimum per destination, groups of Americans shepherded along with all their needs taken care of by efficient, expert guides. But everyone travels differently and you know what works best for you.

Agree with others that French will get you a long way in the cities and with most tour guides who'd take you out to more remote areas.

Have a wonderful time!

TheExplorer

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2018, 12:24:47 AM »
I echo the others that said just use ATMs. Easy. Try and get your first cash from an airport ATM.

SweetLife

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2018, 12:07:23 PM »
Iím actually going to Morocco this weekend!  I found a blog Maroc Momma and she has some good culture tips and other info I would not have thought of (and Iím not a naive traveler). We are going to many of the same locations as you.

Cool beans!!! I am super stoked .... though I just spent most of the morning on the phone with the airline trying to get a glitch in my ticket fixed ... ugh. I think our best bet will be to take one of the 3 or 4 day tours and just leave them in Merzouga to stay a few nights longer in the desert then make our way to Fes then on to Casablanca for a few nights... have to bring our little one to a water park lol... I think I will try to get the cash exchanged at the airport then as much as possible at ATM's ... though I think there is a 200$ / day limit which annoys the heck out of me.

JoJo

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2018, 12:32:55 PM »
It surprises me how many people still try to trade hard currency for forex.

0 fee credit cards + ATM cards are by far the cheapest way to get and spend money abroad (with the exception of the few countries that have a black market exchange that gives you a better rate for hard currency).

That being said, I try to carry a stash of at least $200 USD that I don't plan on exchanging and use only for emergencies.  The one time I didn't do that I was in Romania and running out of money fast (at that time I only had 1 ATM @ credit union that blocked transactions in Romania due to fraud - my mistake I didn't check on this before my trip, and a credit card that didn't have a chip so was worthless).   Now I use schwab bank for ATM and CSR for credit and never have problems.

Have fun in Morocco!  A friend is going in May and trying to convince me to go but I will go later.

expatartist

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2018, 11:29:14 PM »
I think I will try to get the cash exchanged at the airport then as much as possible at ATM's ... though I think there is a 200$ / day limit which annoys the heck out of me.

Can you get your limit raised by calling your bank? $200 is nothing especially in most of the first world. Sounds like just another way for them to extract fees.

Villanelle

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Re: Morocco
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2018, 12:27:38 AM »
ANother voice for using ATMs.  Call your bank to see if they will raise your limit.  Do you and your spouse (or travelmate(s), since you mention "we") both have cards?  If so, that should effectively double your withdraw limit.

I spent about a week in Fez a few years ago.  I don't remember exact details but I do recall that our money went very far.