Top 10 things to do in Morocco21 July, 2015
This guest post is brought to you by cashback site ShopBack. Writer Hui Min is an avid traveller who loves offbeat travel destinations. She likes the cheap thrill of collecting passport stamps in her passport. Besides travelling, she likes to meet new people from diverse cultures and have drinks with them.
Singaporeans are a restless bunch of people. Whenever a long weekend break comes along, many of us choose to take the first flight out. This travelling trend is so common that a certain minister encouraged us to stay in the country to partake in the SG50 celebrations instead going off somewhere. With so many Singaporeans travelling religiously, the challenge is to be constantly on the lookout for fresh, interesting and affordable destinations to go to. Europe? Too passe. Japan and Korea? Too common! Increasingly, many Singaporeans have chosen to go to far-flung places like Africa.
The African continent is rising in popularity amongst the more adventurous travellers. When one thinks of Africa, images of vast grasslands filled with various animals usually comes to mind, Madagascar-style. However, there is more to Africa than that! The northern African states seems to be completely excluded from African narrative. The states of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, to name a few, share an intertwined history with Europe. With unique geography, North Africa offers a novel and enriching experience to tourists.
My trip to Morocco was truly one of the most memorable experiences I have had so far. If you are thinking of heading to Morocco, here are the top 10 things that you should do in Morocco!
- Stay in a Riad
When in Morocco, throw away the notion of staying in a hotel with its generic layout. Stay in a traditional riad for the authentic Moroccan experience. A riad is a traditional single or double storey Moroccan house that is built around an inner open courtyard. Even though the entrance outside may seem plain and old, the interior of the riad is often homely and cosy and built to offer an oasis of peace and respite from the chaos and bustle of the main streets of Morocco.
- Get lost in the Medina of Fez
Nothing is more inaccurate than the maps of the ancient medina in Fez. No matter how diligent you try to follow it, you are bound to get lost at least once. However, do not be afraid and let the alleyways take you to wherever it leads. You will be able to see the snippets of the daily lives of locals, something which you will not get to see if you stick to the main tourist street. Furthermore, with cars banned within the medina, the way of life within the medina has remained the same for a few centuries.
- Spend Time in the Sahara Desert
With the biggest desert situated right within its territory, you cannot say that you have visited Morocco if you do not make a trip to the desert. Ride a camel underneath the desert sun to your desert camp, accompanied by a warm welcome by the berbers who had lived the way their ancestors did in the desert. Sit around a campfire and dance and sing to the songs of the desert people. If you are able to spend more time, i suggest that you take the time to go deeper into the desert to visit the desert dunes of Merzouga. The dunes are the ones that will leave you in awe and remind you exactly how small you are compared to nature.
- Try a Camel Burger
Besides being used for transportation, camels apparently make good food too. We made a trip to cafe clock, a popular tourist hangout place who offered the signature camel burger. For those whose tastebuds are more adventurous, give the camel burger a shot. It is like a mix of mutton and beef.
- Stroll along the streets of Chefchaouen
The small little town has been gaining massive popularity due to its insta-worthy blue painted walls and streets. Painted blue to ward off pesky mosquitoes during the summer, the main charm for me was the laid back nature of the town. Doors remain unlocked, life functions at a leisurely pace and you are spared from the chaos of the typical Moroccan streets you encounter in major cities like Fez and Marrakech.
- Have a cup of Moroccan Mint Tea
Mint tea is not just tea in Morocco. It is a sign of hospitality a host has towards his guest and can also be a toast to symbolise friendship. Moroccans treat their mint tea very seriously. I am not too sure what the Moroccans put inside their mint tea but the taste is different and unique as compared to other kinds of mint teas that i have tried. When drinking the tea, do it the teh-tarik way. Angle the teapot at a certain height and pour the tea out. It is supposed to taste better that way.
- Bargain in the souks of Marrakech
Another famous part of Moroccan culture. The souks are like one giant market where you can buy all your daily groceries and necessities in one go. Anything you want, you can literally find in these souks. Ranging from live animals to little trinkets, all you have to do is to bargain. Do not be afraid to bargain with the shopkeeper. Bargaining is seen as a way of life and shopkeepers will not be offended by you as you counter-offer with a lower price. It is a thrilling experience within itself
- Visit Tanneries
Morocco has the oldest tanneries in the world. Located in the ancient city Fez, one of the tannery, the Chouara Tannery, is reported to be almost a thousand years old. In the tanneries, leather are still made using the ancient methods, with no aid of any modern technology. A lot of tourists also go there for the stench test- to test out if the tannery really stinks according to guidebooks and other tourists. (It does!)The best place to view this ancient practice will be through the leather shops surrounding the tanneries. Do note that you have to pay a small “entrance fee” before you are allowed in.
- Experience a Traditional Hamman
A traditional Hammam is something that the locals still visit today. A visit to a traditional hammam is one of the best ways to connect and talk to locals. Every Moroccan town will almost certainly have a public hammam so all you have to do is to ask your local hotel or any local for directions. Hammans are not “mixed” and there will be certain timings reserved for each gender. Take note of that and have an enjoyable time!
- Visit Ait-Benhaddou
Named as a UNESCO heritage site, this mud city situated on the edge of the Atlas mountains is a popular location site for many movies. Two of the most popular movies filmed are Gladiator and Game of thrones. Besides the fact that Ait-Ben Haddou boosts stunning views of the town’s surrounding landscapes, there is a lovely and friendly uncle whose house has been used in the Gladiator and has a sign that reads “ Visitors Welcome.” His door is always unlocked and you are welcome to step into his house, free of charge. Furthermore, you will be warmly embraced by him and his wife, with the offering of mint tea according to traditional Moroccan hospitality. This is the true Moroccan hospitality and an encounter which you will never forget.
If you’re a truly avid traveller and you frequently book your hotels or flights online, one of the essential websites you have to check out is ShopBack Singapore. They give cash rebates to you when you shop through them on shops like Agoda, Expedia and more, meaning that you will get a portion of your holiday expenses back when you shop through them. If you’re a frequent flier, you can reach savings of $100+s easily! This money can be easily cashed out into your local bank accounts — yes it’s that easy!
Passport Chop is teaming up with ShopBack in a collaboration! Get $10 bonus when you signup with this link: Passport Chop x ShopBack (: What are you waiting for, sign up today! More details can be found at this link: https://www.shopback.sg/passportchop