It’s not a big, touristy city if there aren’t scams, right? Unfortunately, that seems to be the case nowadays, and Marrakech is the city of scams! But lucky for you, we wrote down every scam someone tried to pull on on us in Marrakech and thus have for you 15 scams in Marrakech to avoid!
Yes, you read that right. In our three days in Marrakech, we had each of these 15 scams pulled on us more than once. In fact, we lost track of how many people were trying to say these things to us! It’s quite ridiculous, but if you go into your time in Morocco knowing of these scams of Marrakech, you may be able to get by without being part of a con artists’ day!
Number One| “The Street is Closed”
Oh honey, don’t tell me the street is closed. All streets lead to another street which leads to another.. you get the point. Streets are never “closed”. Construction above, construction below… the streets are always open! There’s no safety concern, even when construction workers are digging a trench in the middle of the street (like literally digging who knows what ten feet down and tossing it up over their heads onto the pathway) – you’ll always find a small path to walk along! Streets are always open. They just want to see if you react by asking, “Oh, well how do I get to…” And then they offer to guide you there instead of you taking the street you were on that is very much so open.
Solution: Just act like you didn’t hear them. When this scam was pulled on us, most people weren’t very aggressive.
Number Two | “Have you Heard of the Special Festival?”
This one’s typically said around the tanneries. People will try and tell you there’s a special festival going on, but there’s not. Our host in Marrakech actually warned us about this one when explaining things to see in the city, and then we heard it countless times as we got closer and closer to the tannery in Marrakech. Just know, there is never any festival!
Solution: Ignore them, or tell them you’re not looking for the festival or the tanneries at all. Even if you are looking for the tanneries, just tell them you’re not! ha.
Number Three | “Good Man, Women Always on the Right.”
Why on Earth is this a thing?! Who knows!! You’ll see women walking on both sides of the road on both the inside and outside of the man they’re walking with all throughout the city. Though, the scam artists think it’s a good way to start talking to you. They literally say that (multiple times) and then just start walking with you. Strangest thing, but anything to try and make themselves a dirham or two, I suppose.
Solution: Ignore them and keep walking or start just talking with the person you’re walking with. Fair warning though, both times we heard this, the men became extremely aggressive. One man shoved us and both of them told us to f-off. So, though you can ignore them, be prepared for some not so kind words or actions to follow.
Number Four | “The Medina is This Way”
No sir, the medina is not that way, because I literally just walked from the medina. I’m not even looking for it! Oh. My. Gosh. This scam is what we heard the most of, and it was getting so annoying that we started snapping back to people, which in turn typically ended in being told to F-off, but for real.. this one’s annoying. Surrounding the medina, on all sides but the northwest area, we heard this one. No matter what directions you’re walking, even if you just came from the medina, people will try and tell you it’s a different way.
Solution: Ignore the people, or tell them you’re not looking for the medina, or I’m going to my hotel. They’ll typically leave you at that, but a few times people got more aggressive with us. Just be sure to keep a stern face and keep ignoring them and walking away from them.
Number Five | Someone Slowly Starting to Walk in Front of You
This one’s a tricky one to spot, but if you pay attention, you can see it happening. People will either walk quickly up from behind you, and then slow down matching your pace just a bit ahead of you, and even stop when you stop. You’ll see them continually looking back at you to see if you’re still “following them”. Then they’ll ask for money saying they just “guided you” to wherever it is you stopped.
Solution: If you notice this happening, turn and walk the opposite way, or at the first chance you get turn down a different road than they take. You can also try stopping to take a few photos, and exaggerate the time you take to actually take a photo. After a minute, they’ll get bored of you and move along to someone else.
Number Six | “Here, Here! Watch This for Free”
“Oh don’t worry.. look it’s free, there’s no charge.” Then when they’re finished making something with the wood, or sewing something, or see that you’re about to leave, they ask for a tip.. and are very persistent about that tip for the free thing you just watched. Or they’ll give you/put whatever they just made on you, and then have you pay for it. We had people try this scam on us multiple times and actually watched other people fall into this trap a few times too.
Solution: Even when it looks interesting and you want to watch it. Just say no thank you and keep walking. Usually, people will respond with “Why not? It’s for free.” And you can just repeat the no thank you, and just turn and walk away.
Number Seven | “Just Look, Just Look”
“Just Look. Looking is Free.” Ummm.. thanks but I’m not even interested in your stuff anyways!! Shop owners will tell you to just look and pull you into their shops and then harass you until you buy something… even if it’s the cheapest dinkiest little thing, they just want you to buy something, anything! Umm.. Not cool!
Solution: Typically, these people aren’t very aggressive because they have a shop to man, so they will stay within their little shop area, so you can get away with a quick, “no thank you” and keep on walking.
Number Eight | Adding Water to Your Juice
Getting fresh squeezed orange juice, or freshly pressed pomegranate juice is to die for in Marrakech. However, with all good things in the city come some type of Marrakech scam. If you’re not watching carefully the worker will pour water into your “freshly squeezed juice” making it not so juicy. You have to really be careful with this one, as most of the juice shops in Jeema El Fna have something blocking you from viewing what’s actually going in your juice.
Solution: Get your freshly squeezed juice from someone on the streets. You’ll see people pushing carts of fresh fruit around, and they’ll press the fruit right in front of your eyes for less than 50 cents!
Number Nine | “Maybe Later?”
After you politely tell a person no.. whether that be at a shop or a restaurant worker trying to show you their menu, often times the next thing that comes out of their mouths is, “maybe later?”. They will ask this, and if you say, “yes”, and they remember you the next time you walk by, they will say, remember you said later. And though we didn’t have this happen to us, we’ve heard they will get quite aggressive when reminding you that you told them maybe later.
Solution: Just say no. Like Always… even if you are considering going back later. Continue to tell them no and put off the idea that you’re not interested at all!
Number Ten | “The Bus is Full”
Taxi drivers lurk around popular routes to and from the bus stations, and even just outside the bus stations as well, just waiting for a tourist to walk by to tell them, “the bus is full”. They do this and then try and sell you a seat in their taxi instead. Though, seriously… chances are it’s not even close to being full! Even if you’re looking for a bus the same day! And if it is, the bus company will most likely recommend another time, or another bus company to take!
Solution: Tell them you already have a ticket. Even if it’s a little white lie, they’ll stop bothering you after that!
Number Eleven | “Our Card Machine Just Broke Two Days Ago”
How convenient for a card machine to have “just broke”.. and more specifically “just broke two days ago”. I don’t buy it! If you book a place through Booking or Agoda, you’ll typically have to pay once you get to the hotel. Often times hotels/accommodation places will put online that they accept card, when in reality they don’t even have a card reader. They do so just to get you in the door and then ask you to pay in cash instead because the machine recently broke, A.K.A. they never had a card machine in the first place.
You see, we’ve had this happen to us in more countries than we can remember, and it’s always the same scam. It’s online to get you in the door, but they don’t want to pay the card transaction fees, so they try and make you pay in cash. Umm.. no.. Credit cards = earning points and in some cases travel insurance. Don’t fall into this scam. Even if it doesn’t seem like big deal to pay in cash.
Solution: Book through AirBnB – You pay ahead with no money transaction with the owner Get a discount on your first AirBnB stay here. If you don’t use AirBnB, no matter what, hold your ground in paying with your credit card. This scam makes us SO infuriated, so please hold your ground! After all, the company lied to you to get you in the door in the first place. Explain to them you have to use your card because you don’t have cash. Tell them you can’t pull out money because the bank charges you too much, and that you booked with them specifically because online it says they offer credit card payments. Tell them you travel with your credit card because it covers you for insurance (which is true with cards like this) and that you rely on the points to keep you traveling. No matter what, stand your ground. We’ve stayed at multiple places for free because of business owners using this scam, and in Marrakech, we only paid after going to the neighboring riad and using our card there. We can’t stress this one enough. Don’t fall for this scam!
Number Twelve | “I Don’t Have Change”
Ummm… go ask your neighbor! Haha.. Often times when paying for something for say, 40 dirhams with a 50, you’ll get told they don’t have change to give you the 10 dirhams back. Newsflash… everyone has change, and if they truly don’t, the neighboring store/restaurant will break a bigger bill for them. They’re just trying to get an extra 10 Dirham (1 USD) off you.
Solution: Offer them something smaller. Like, say, “Okay, if you can’t break it that’s fine, I have 30 dirhams I can give you”. They’ll magically find a way to make change after that!
Number Thirteen | “Extra Charge Because Chicken”
Fill in the word “chicken” with whatever word you want. You’ll be told it’s an extra charge for all things under the sun, when in reality it’s an extra charge just because you’re a touristy. This especially happens in places where the words are in Arabic, but just look at the numbers on the menu, if nothing is the price they’re charging, they’re charging you extra.
Solution: Pay attention to what other people are paying when they order stuff. And honestly, if you aren’t too picky, just ask for the same thing the local in front of you just ordered, and only offer the amount of money the person before you paid. Don’t ask how much it was, if the person only paid with a few coins, offer a few coins, if they paid with bills, offer the same bills. Just scout out before you buy and catch on to the local price!
Number Fourteen | After You Take a Picture, They Ask for Money
Regardless of what you’re taking a picture of, someone may ask for money from you. This doesn’t happen all the time but especially happens in the squares, or the souks right around the medina. Even if you’re not taking a photo of someone, or something they have, they’ll still ask for money! It’s the strangest thing. We had it happen to us even when we were taking video of ourselves talking to the camera set up on a tripod.. umm.. pretty sure you don’t need to pay to video yourself talking to a camera!
Solution: Just look at them like they’re crazy, shake your head, and say no. Then quickly get the heck out of there. Okay, maybe don’t look at them like they’re crazy.. that may be why we had so many people become so aggressive with this scam, but we were just so shocked how many people asked us for money for photos we were taking.. even of just mosques! Be prepared though, every single person that asked us for money for a photo we were taking, again not even of them or their belongings, became very verbally and in a few cases physically aggressive. Got really in our personal space and some even tried grabbing/hitting the camera. Again, just get out of there as quickly as you can.
Number Fifteen | “Hello, Where Are You From? Hello, Smell This! Hello, What’s That?”
Basically, if you hear “Hello” get the heck out of there.. Okay, just joking.. well kind of. Unfortunately, in Marrakech, most people trying to start a simple conversation with you want something in the end. They try with compliments, try asking about your belongings, try to guess what country you’re from. We heard it all. And after trying to be sold something after the first nice response we gave back, we started to pick up on this scam too.
Solution: Unfortunately, unless you want to get stuck talking to everyone on the street and going in every shop, you just have to simply ignore them, or say, “Hello” back and then keep walking away, regardless of what they say after.
Don’t let these 15 scams in Marrakech scare you away from visiting the city. However, do go into Morocco prepared, and take note of these scams! We’d also say don’t plan too much time in the city — there’s so much to see and experience in Morocco! Check out our Morocco page for more ideas on what to do in the country!