Morocco is becoming somewhat of a go-to destination. When some of the trendiest, yet least worldly people (like the Real Housewives of New York City and the fashion-forward ladies of Sex and the City) drop their high heels and cell phones to visit this exotic locale, you know there has to be some kind of allure. These women make the desert heat seem bearable and the crowded marketplaces seem quaint.
Accommodations - Morocco’s least expensive motels are better than comfortable chains in the U.S.; pay $100 per night in Morocco and you’ll feel like royalty. Cozy riads are lavish traditional houses with central, open-air courtyards. Many offer plunge pools, saunas, lounges and fountains—amenities you normally don’t find in a budget hotel.
Gratuities – They are customary, expected, and encouraged—and better yet, they actually gets you spectacular service. Giving a local kid a few extra dirham to guide you home from the restaurant and he’ll also give you some insider advice on the local cuisine and carry your parcels. Unlike many U.S. city restaurants, where the maître d’ rolls his eyes when you slip him a 20, Moroccans are very grateful and responsive to your generosity
Camel Rides – Go green; riding a came means you’re not wasting gas, and the camel is storing its own refreshments. Experience a camel trek to the Western Saharan dunes near the town of Merzouga. At what other time in your life can you have an experience like that?
Bargaining – Haggling at the markets is not only acceptable, it’s expected. Nobody in Morocco expects you to actually pay the listed price for an item. Shopping is a lively and worthwhile experience.
Tea Time - When you’re invited to have a cup of mint tea, it is customary to accept. Tourists are generally offered tea at least once daily, often to entice them to enter a particular shop. Why not accept and take the chance to relax. You can always pull out your blackberry and do some texting on the sly if it really makes you uncomfortable.
Sand Dunes - Even if you’re not a fan of the movies “Blackhawk Down,” “Dune,” or “Mummy Returns,” you’ll still feel a bit of bravado in the middle of a desert with sand blowing around you. In fact, helicopter tours can be arranged so you can really do the whole “magically-appear-out-of-a-fog-of-sand thing” after you land. If you do this with a few friends—and walk in slow motion—you’ll really get the full effect.
Indulge - Women should not show too much leg, belly, or cleavage; loose kaftans are all the rage. The upside to dressing like a Catholic schoolgirl is that you don’t have to sweat to the oldies and lay off the dessert during the months before your trip. You can actually eat and drink to your heart’s content on this journey and enjoy your curves.
Exotic doesn’t have to mean overpriced and overdone. Travel in Morocco is down to earth, friendly, and can offer you the experience of a lifetime. Don’t overlook this wallet-friendly locale for your next vacation.
Carolyn Pearson writes for Morocco Tours, a site dedicated to planning (and enjoying!) a trip to Morocco.