Morocco Tourism: Ripoffs, Con Artists, And Scams At The Airport
From the minute, I arrived in Marrakesh, I was scammed. There’s nothing to make me lose my enjoyment of a country faster than to immediately feel like I can’t trust the people who live in that country. The official price for a taxi from the airport to the Djemaa El Fna area of Marrakesh is 70 dirhams during the day and 150 dirhams at night. However, when I asked the price of a taxi, I was told it would be a whopping 300 dirhams.
Fortunately, a local expat overheard their quote and came rushing to my side to help me avoid getting scammed. I told the taxi drivers that I would pay no more than 100. A huge argument broke out, and I was soon surrounded by a crowd of taxi drivers. The expat needed to go to the city as well, and we decided to share a taxi, and after ten minutes of negotiations, we got the driver to finally agree to a price of 100. However, once the expat went around the taxi to get in with me, the driver locked the doors, and all the male taxi drivers outside wouldn’t allow the man to share the taxi with me. My taxi driver sped off leaving me feeling unsafe and very rattled.
As soon as we got out of sight of the airport, the driver told me I would have to pay him 200 dirhams to get to town. I was so tired of arguing, that I told him I would pay 150 and no more. He argued with me. I told him that he needed to stop the taxi and take me back to the airport. He shook his head. I asked him if the dishonest way he was treating me was how he wanted visitors to think of the people of his country. He finally agreed to 150, which was still dishonest, but I was exhausted, and didn’t have it in me to fight. “Welcome To Morocco.”, he said as he grinned. Little did I know that this “welcome” would be the underlying theme of my entire visit to Marrakesh.
Morocco Tourism: Ripoffs, Con Artists, And Scams At The Djemaa El Fna
Once I arrived to the central square, I had to transfer my bags to a donkey and cart. Since, I was going to a riad, I decided not to even ask how much it would be. I was so tired of arguing, I decided I would let the owners of my riad help me sort out the cost. When I got to the riad, I was told to pay between 20-40 dirhams, so I gave 40. The driver acted outraged, and tried to have me give more. The manager of the riad gave the driver another 10 and told him to leave. However, when the manager left the riad twenty minutes later, the driver was still there. He lied to the manager and told him I had only given 20 dirhams to try to get even more money from him.
Every day people in Marrakesh tried to scam me. I couldn’t go anywhere without someone trying to extort money from me. Here’s what to watch out for:
Don’t even look lost while navigating the streets of Marrakesh. The minute you do will be the minute you will be pounced on by “helpful” guides to show you the way. Once they have guided you to your destination, they will expect payment. And by payment, I mean 150 dirhams ($18 USD), View Current Exchange Rates on Dirham / US Dollar, or more. Even the children are taught to hassle you to “show you the way.” It got very annoying, and made me want to stay out of the streets. If you do get lost, go ask a shop owner for directions, as they can’t leave their shop and won’t try to charge you to give you directions. Also, anyone who you think is being friendly and guiding you through a museum or any other area will also ask you to give them money even though you didn’t ask them to guide you in the first place.
2. The Tannery Scam
Whatever you do, don’t agree to go see the tanneries. The scammers will tell you how amazing they are and how you must see them. The streets of the tannery area are very narrow and easy to get lost in. Once your guide succeeds in getting you completely lost, you will be extorted for huge amounts of money to get out of this smelly and clausterphobic area. Many people who have visited the tanneries have had terrible stories to tell of feeling unsafe and being harassed in the tanneries. DON’T GO!
3. The Snake Charmer Scam
Whatever you do, don’t take a picture of the snake charmers unless you want to pay a high price for it. One group of women that I talked to took pictures, then the charmers separated the women so they couldn’t see each other. They each wound up paying about $10 US for the picture. I had the experience of walking away from one of the snake charmers without taking his picture and he actually chased me around the square with his snake. It was horrifying . Steer clear of these guys.
4. Henna Tattoo Women
The henna women will give you a tattoo that is larger or extends longer than the one you look at in the book and then demand extra money for the extra work they did. Make sure you agree on the size of the tattoo and cost before getting one.
5. Mistreatment of Animals
Please whatever you do, don’t support the
performing chained monkeys in Marakkesh. These animals are severely mistreated. The monkeys have had their teeth removed and are viciously reprimanded and choked if they don’t comply with the owner’s wishes.
With these scams in Marakkesh, you would think the Morocco Tourism Board would do something to change how tourists are treated, but the only thing anyone seemed to care about was making another dirham. Seeing Marrakesh is an interesting experience as there’s no place like it anywhere else in the world, but for me it was tainted by the sheer number of scams that the locals tried to pull on me every day. Go there at your own risk.