Destination Guide: Morocco

Morocco Destination Guide
Pastry seller in the local market

The impression of Morocco was exotic and mysterious prior to my recent vacation. I now realise that this destination offers an amazing selection of cultural, architectural and geological experiences!

Overview

Officially known as the Kingdom of Morocco and located in the Northern side of African continent, Morocco is surrounded by Atlantic and Meditterranean coastline, and a ferry ride away from Spain.

Image credit: G Adventures
Image credit: G Adventures

My trip started from Casablanca – where the international airport is based – and ended in Marrakech, passing through the city of Fes, the Sahara Desert at Merzouga and UNESCO Heritage Site Ait Ben Haddou.

Sights and Scenes

Morocco is predominantly an Islamic country and the main languages spoken there are Arabic and French. Few people speak English, therefore it is best to have a English-speaking guide with you on your trip.

Morocco Destination Guide
The imperial city of Meknes

Casablanca is the largest city and a key financial centre of Morocco. From there, we traveled through Meknes to Fes – also known as the “Mecca of the West”.

Morocco Destination Guide
Intricate details are part of Moroccan architecture.
Morocco Destination Guide
The Roman Ruins of Volubilis, an UNESCO Heritage Site.
Morocco Destination Guide
Shopping at the ancient medinas in Fes.
Morocco Destination Guide
The Moroccans’ work of art – the hand-painted pottery!
Morocco Destination Guide
Tannery in Fes

Most would refer to Marrakech when discussing about Morocco. Fes is the second largest city there and equally packed with the medinas (both ancient and new), as well as  the traditional trades and wares. For instance, I stumbled upon the bridal store where local brides could purchase their traditional matrimonial kaftans, and passed by the traditional blacksmith stores and carpenter shops at the Ancient Medina. This city is a must-go when you visit Morocco.

After we departed from Fes, we made our way to the Sahara Desert at Merzouga. I will share my desert experience in a separate post. Meanwhile, a teaser picture of the magnificent Sahara that was previously only a familiar term in my Geography textbook.

Morocco Destination Guide
The Sahara which felt so unreal.

Next, we traveled to the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou, another UNESCO Heritage Site. I saw a number of Kasbahs (a mud fortress) along the way but nothing prepared me for a sight as grand as this.

Morocco Destination Guide
Ait Ben Haddou
Morocco Destination Guide
Overlooking a town from the top of Ait Ben Haddou

I could break into a tune, “Rock the Kasbaaahh…”

Marrakech was the final stop of my week-long Moroccan vacation. For the obvious reason, no one misses Marrakech in a trip to Morocco. In fact, I had the most memorable gastronomic experience at the Jemaa El Fna Square – I am referring to simple street food here, nothing fancypants. I will share this memory in a separate post.

Morocco Destination Guide
Bahia Palace, Marrakech
Morocco Destination Guide
Djemaa El Fna Square, Merrakech

The Djemaa El Fna Square is where you could go crazy feasting on street food, and get lost in the souks shopping local goods, and be entertained by street performers. So much colour, so much life.

Quick tips on visiting Morocco:

  • Visa is not required for Singaporeans.
  • You could change the Moroccan Dirhams (MAD) at the airport. Bring Euros or USD along to be changed to MAD in Morocco. There are also ATMs at most of the towns.
  • The sanitation standard in Morocco is decent. You may have read about poor hygiene level in food preparation. Exercise some common sense while dining at street stalls. Go for the cooked fare and avoid raw food or salad.
  • The weather can be fickle and especially so if you travel through the Atlas Mountains. Dress in layers and pack a warm, waterproof jacket.
  • Language is a primary issue in Morocco for English speakers as most people speak Arabic and French. If you are visiting without a guide, it might useful to learn some French prior to the trip!
  • As Morocco is largely Islamic, it is harder to get alcohol at eateries or restaurants. Only certain bars and restaurants are licensed to sell alcohol. Nonetheless, you may (or may not) be surprised to know that Morocco does have vineyards and they manufacture and export wine!
  • When in Morocco, check out the hammam for an interesting (and clean) public bath experience.

I can’t wait to share more in due course!

You may also wish to refer to the following posts:




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