While conducting your research regarding safety in Marrakech, you’re probably going to see most articles indicating that it’s safe for travelers. Indeed it is, if you’re there with a group of friends/family or if you’re a male. If you felt safe, good for you. Then this article isn’t calling out your name. From personal experiences, I wouldn’t recommend female travelers to go solo in Marrakech. There remains areas you should avoid, especially when zigzag Medina alleys appear literally identical, it’s hard to tell where NOT to go as a foreigner. Let alone, the likelihood of being followed and swarmed around by local men is high, it’s important to drill some handy tips in your brain so you can avoid unfortunate surprises.
To have a stress-free time as a solo traveler in Marrakech, here’s what you should be aware of:
Don’t stay at a riad,
Since they’re mostly situated in the center of the Medina. Walking back to the riad alone at night can trigger a sense of uncertainty when the streets aren’t well lit (if not completely dark.) Trying to navigate through maze-like alleys become fairly confusing, and will turn a relaxing night stroll into a scary experience.
If you DO stay at a riad,
Then arrange with the riad to coordinate someone to accompany your walk back to the hotel. Or make sure to return via a taxi, and have someone from the riad meet you then guide you back to the riad.
Before you get inside a taxi,
Negotiate the prices first. Especially in the Medina, the meters won’t be running. In order to avoid conflicts after the ride, make sure to settle on a price BEFORE the ride starts.
When you’re being followed,
Stay silent, and don’t make eye contact. This will most likely happen near the Medina, where locals sit on the pavement and children are taught to follow travelers back to the riad for coins. In our case, groups of men followed us constantly and verbally harassed us with, “nice tits, “nice ass” comments. Despite that our attire was conservative, completely covered up. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to do but to keep our heads straight and walk very quickly.
If someone says “this way”, or “follow me”,
Don’t follow him. He wants to lead you back to his shop to make a sale. Unless you prefer spontaneous shopping trips by following strange men. If not, ignore completely.
Only stop to speak,
When you’re ready to buy something at a shop. If not, you’ll be hassled ’til no end. To save yourself from your trip being ruined, keep walking even if you’re being showered with souvenirs on the streets. If you decide to buy, it’s okay to bargain.
When it comes to bargaining,
It’s okay to start from a 50% to 70% discount (here are more tips!) It’s important to note that you shouldn’t believe everything the seller says, especially when it comes to products like silver, expensive jewelry…etc. Use your better judgement and don’t be fooled.
Try not to stay out alone in the Medina, or areas surrounding Jemma El-Fna plaza. If you’re in l’Hivernage or outskirts of central area, there’s less danger to be followed. As a general rule, always take a taxi at night!
When it comes to pickpockets,
Be sure to keep an eye on your purses, handbags, and fanny packs.
No one will purposely hurt you. Although when locals told us men would only holler but not touch us, my butt was touched while local men swarmed around us in various occasions. As a general rule, don’t stay out too late and be street smart. Follow your woman’s intuition!