Morocco | Safety of being a Solo Female traveler

Prior to my trip, I’ve read up online a lot about traveling in Morocco as a solo female traveler. It did scare me a little, just as prior to going on my trip on the Trans-Siberian railway. I didn’t actually know any girls that have been to Morocco alone so I didn’t have anyone to ask this time. Most of the things I read online were mainly themed around the salesmen being very aggressive, men cat calling as they don’t get to meet a lot of women in their local Moroccan life. I’m going to break down what I experienced personally in Morocco:

Drivers, hotel/riad staff, restaurant staff
These are going to be the nicest people you meet in Morocco. You’ve prepaid or you are paying for a service, so in general they treat you pretty well. All of my drivers were prebooked online with an agency, including the taxi ride to and from the airport. They generally speak good English as they’ll need to communicate with people on where to drive them to. As for the hotel and Riad staff, I didn’t have much trouble with them. My Riad was a smaller one so they spoke limited English. But I didn’t have a problem when asking them questions. Restaurant staff will vary a little depending on how nice of a place you are going to, but in general they are approachable. 

Tour guides
This can be good or bad. They are trying to get money out of you, so sometimes they will get upset if you don’t tip enough. Also if you are part of a tour (like the one I went on in Zagora desert), they will have merchants they work with. For example, they took us to a shop that sold head scarfs as well as rugs. They didn’t force me to buy anything but it was a really hard sell until someone from the group bought something. 

I had one of my guides from the desert camp harassing me a bit, it was pretty inappropriate. He offered to talk me through the constellations and stars. I’m a big fan of anything related to space, so I was happy about the idea. But next he said we should go out to where the camels were. As we walked away from the camp and closer to the camels, I realized it’s almost complete darkness. Good for star gazing, but not so good when you’re alone with a male stranger. I said we can say hi to the camels quickly and then head back as I was tired. He insisted that I sit down for a bit and then proceeded to force me into a foot massage. “Your feet must be tired from a long journey”. I felt pretty violated, and so I just said my feet are fine, but I want to go to bed. Honestly, this is really disappointing. If I wasn’t in a country where my country and passport was not recognized, I would’ve been much more aggressive. But I didn’t know what he would do if I reacted too harshly so I just had to put up with his bull sh*t for a bit longer than I wanted to. 

On the streets & inside Medinas

So there are 2 different topics here: Cat calling and Scams.

Cat calling to me wasn’t a huge problem. I’m not one of those girls that get hyper offended when someone cat calls. I just think of it as a weak way of trying to get a girl’s attention. Usually in Morocco you hear things like “hey beautiful” “You’re so pretty” and since I’m Asian, they shout things to me like “Anata wa nihonjin desuka? (are you Japanese?)” I responded before back in Japanese but they don’t understand anything else. They also shout this at me “CHINA? KOREA? JAPAN?” to which at the end of it I was shouting back “No! Taiwan!” and I continue to walk forward confidently whilst waiving my hat back at them. 

Scams are another thing, here are the most common ones:
  • “No, it’s closed” (meaning the road). Then they try to guide you somewhere else and ask you for money
  • Kids will try to show you the way and then ask for money
  • People will ask if you’re lost
  • “HEY!! Square, that way, that way” and then follow you and ask for money
  • “SMELL” while they pinch some unknown spice right up to your nose
  • “Sahara? Sahara?” They’re trying to sell you a tour into the desert.
  • They will ask for money if you take a photo, you can ignore them. Be strong and outright refuse to pay.
  • People will offer to “guide” you through the tanneries, this will end up costing you at least 100 MAD. It’s not worth it, just don’t visit the tanneries.

At the end of my trip, I was pretty used to it and I tuned it out. I generally walk with a big sun hat and sunglasses on. Depending on how friendly the person was, I might respond or not. If it’s a friendly “hello”, “good morning”, or “hi” and they’re not shouting it at me, I’ll say hi back and they won’t bother me afterwards. If they try to offer me to show me the way or ask me if I’m lost, I just hold up my hand and say “No it’s okay, I know where I’m going”. Or just “No Thanks” to any offer of things to sell. 

The only time someone got offended was when I said “I know where I’m going” with my hand up. The guy just got pissy and copied my tone of voice back. I just shot a I-will-rip-your-throat-out look and walked off. 

Going out at night 
Even in alley ways and late at night, I never had any issues. I felt a bit scared when I saw a big group of men standing right at the street to my Riad, but I walked past them and nothing happened. In general, just walk with purpose, don’t wander like a headless chicken at night. Don’t engage with people, just walk and you’ll be fine. 

He wants to what?!
On my last day, I walked past a store selling some trinkets in the medinas. The store owner (guy around his late 20s) stopped me. He showed me around the store and told me about his Berber family and how they lived in the desert. Then he got his neighboring stall owner to make some tea. He asked me to write down “hello” and “thanks” in Chinese. At this point I’m thinking, oh dear he’s gonna ask me money for tea. 

I was so wrong. He started becoming more touchy, like sometimes putting his hand on my hand when he laughed, or on my shoulder when he’s saying something and leaning in. He put his hands on both sides of my cheeks. Just about the time I was walking out, he said he really wanted to kiss me and he wished he could marry me. I rejected politely and ran off to lunch.

@La Mamounia, Marrakech

All in all, I don't think Morocco is a particularly dangerous place to travel in. If anything, as I've mentioned before in my blog about Safety in Russia, Paris and Barcelona are far more dangerous than both Morocco and Russia. Someone tried to rob my mother in the Paris subway, and someone slapped my ass out in the public under broad daylight in Barcelona. 

As always, apply common sense, be aware of your surroundings, don't get drunk and wander off in the street late in the wee hours past midnight. Try to fit into the culture (I always wore over the knee length dresses and covered my shoulders in Morocco). Be respectful. 

Happy Travels! 

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