Marrakech is a beautiful city, but the sad reality is that due to the fact that it is a tourist destination there are a lot of scams. Don’t let this deter you, just be aware when about. Here are top scams to avoid in Marrakech.
- Taxi’s from the Airport
The taxi rank is run by an organised gang, with dishonest drivers. They frequently charged tried and lost travellers four times the price. posted price is about MAD15 (2015). The airport is about 30 minutes away from the Jemaa el Fna.
Advice: Get an organised driver from your Souk / Hotel they cost around 15 dollars, return 10 dollars.
- Henna in the Jemaa el Fna
There are lots of women (relatively old) in the main square that are offering Henna. Avoid these women for two main reasons they will overcharge you and the henna is poisonous. They mix dangerous chemicals such as PPD, which is toxic, that makes it appear black. That holiday drawing may scare your skin and become a nasty tattoo. I have also read some blogs that say that men on motorbikes ride over and charge you surplus rates.
There are often people in Djemaa El-Fna offering henna tattoos, which are popular with locals and tourists alike. But among the many genuine traders are one or two scam artists. They appear very charming and trustworthy while you choose a design, but will then cleverly divert your attention. Before you know it, you have the beginnings of a rather poor henna tattoo. Even if you do not want a design, keep your hands away from them as they will grab your hand and begin a design anyway. The scam artist later demands massive payments, in whatever currency you have (dirhams or not). After emptying your pockets, if they consider you can afford more, they will demand that you visit a nearby ATM. Always agree on a firm price before work starts. If you can’t do this, insist that the operator stops immediately — then go to another (hopefully more reliable) operator to get your design completed. If they say it is free before they start or while they are doing it, they will always ask for a price later on. If this happens to you, you can walk away without paying; however, they will harass you for a little before giving up and moving on to another tourist.
Advice: Got to Henna Cafe if you really want to try Henna, this place offered reasonably price Henna and all the profit goes to local charities.
- Monkeys and Snakes in Jemaa el Fna
I really hate the animal cruelty that this poses. The monkeys and snakes are left in the square day and night and live in poor conditions. The owners often put the snakes or monkeys on people and then demand money to have them taken off.
Advice: avoid them and politely say no to them.
- Posting as a guide
This can be for around the city or in one of the many historical places around Marrakech. Moroccans are not permitted to be guides for foreigners without a license. Police officers (under cover) are patrolling to catch Moroccans who are bothering tourists or try to make some money. They may say do you remember me from your hotel or from that restaurant. They will always ask for money, just avoid this as some will then take you to an ATM.Advice: politely decline and say you’re fine. Download maps.me, this could not be more of a saviour in this situation. It routes you to the locations and doesn’t use data.
- landmark is closed.
Throughout my travelling experience, this one seems to be the oldest in the book. That places are closed and that they can take you to a better place. Check websites before you go on holiday or on the day (via trip adviser). Maps.me is also another useful app that is offline and it tells you when the places are open! It also is the perfect guide to making your way around the city.