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I'm planning to visit Morocco this summer with my girlfriend, from 20/07 to 3/08.

We'll arrive during Ramadan, and I've heard and read many things about the change of lifestyle there, but at the end, I can't figure if it's the good time for this trip.

What I know so far is :

  • Nobody eats during the daytime until the sun goes down (that's a sure thing),
  • So, no shop (included food shops) are opened until then (with hard temperatures...), and every streets are kind of desert in the afternoon,
  • Some touristic facilities might be closed too (are transports available by the way?),
  • Men avoid to talk to women too, cause it can lead to a "desire" sin (not that nice for my girlfriend),
  • People might be less inclined to talk to us travellers?

Considering these few points, I begin to think about reconsidering this travel...

Could you confirm my thoughts, what else can I expect from this situation? Is this a good / bad idea to maintain this trip?

  • 2
    Note for future visitors: I'm still open to other points of view – Bigood Jun 24 '14 at 7:53
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+50

Nobody eats during the daytime until the sun goes down (that's a sure thing),

This is true, and Morocco is one of the strictest countries in this regard! Unlike Tunisia, Lebanon or Syria for example.

So, no shop (included food shops) are opened until then (with hard temperatures...), and every streets are kind of desert in the afternoon,

Not really true, restaurants are closed until late afternoon, but groceries and other shops will be open.

Some touristic facilities might be closed too (are transports available by the way?),

Transportation will not be a problem at all (except for an hour or so at sunset because people will break their fasting at that time), night life will be almost dead, other facilities will be fine, just timings might be different.

Men avoid to talk to women too, cause it can lead to a "desire" sin (not that nice for my girlfriend),

Not true, you can talk normally to ladies. Ladies will be dressed more conservatively.

People might be less inclined to talk to us travellers?

Not true.

If I were you, and I wouldn't have to pay any fees to change the times, I would change the times a month forward. I guess you will miss some activaties, especially beach activities, the weather will be hot also and not being able to drink or eat in public during the day will really be an issue for you.

Last thing, as a foreigner your actions will surely be tolerated there, so if you decided to go do not over think this, just act normally and remember Morocco is a tourists attraction and people there are used to tourists at all times.

  • Thank you for your detailed answer! Could you elaborate more on what you mean by "night life that will be almost dead"? You mean, like everybody's home with family? – Bigood Jun 23 '14 at 20:49
  • And moreover, would this also be true for Turkey? – Bigood Jun 23 '14 at 20:50
  • @Noclip by night life I meant clubs and stuff.. – Nean Der Thal Jun 23 '14 at 21:28
  • @Noclip and regarding turkey, I never been there during Ramadan, but I know that they are not strict, go for it. – Nean Der Thal Jun 23 '14 at 21:29
  • Turkey is huge. It very much depends on the place. Even within cities the expsrience may change from one neighborhoud to another – Maître Peseur Apr 15 '15 at 11:32
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If you travel to the major cities, like Marakech, Fes, Casablanca and Rabat, you will barely notice any change. But in smaller towns, there is a huge impact of Ramadan on the population. Tourists restaurants, cafés and shops will still be open as normal, transportation is available as normal, and all tourits attraction will be open until like 16h00. Only between 16h00 and about 20h00 streets will be deserted, as the locals are exhosted, and take a nap before they break fast, then at about 20h00, life gets back to its normal course.

7

I would not personally travel to Morocco during this time, based on my experience in traveling in Muslim countries (actually during Ramadan, by mistake and more than once). I would be OK with going to Turkey but I would not go to Morocco.

  • First, you're not just traveling during Ramadan, you're traveling on the last week. Which after a month of daytime fasting, kids being home from school, well just imagine it can be exhausting for those observing.
  • Second, you'll be there for Eid, which is the end of Ramadan and can often end up in rioting (or just celebratory gunfire that will scare the sh*t out of you). I wouldn't call an Eid celebration I'd like to experience again as a non-Muslim traveler.
  • Technically speaking 'travelers' are exempt from fasting requirements, so it's not like you would be breaking any rules.
  • You'll want to eat in the daytime. And no matter how accommodating people are, I know I felt a bit bad eating in front of people fasting. As far as I remember, restaurants in Morocco are closed, while those in Turkey remain open, but nobody eating or smoking in view.
  • I don't know about Morocco, but in other places people go around with drums to make sure that Muslims wake up in time to cook & eat a pre-dawn meal, before fasting starts again. Probably if you're in a resort it's not relevant, but yeah, another reason it's not an ideal time to travel.
  • Night life could be more interesting because there are special meals for Iftar, more people in the mosques & special hymns. But if you're into drinking alcohol and partying it's not really a great time.

Bottom line: If you can push your visit back by just 8 days, you can avoid any of these issues. If you've stuck with those dates, Turkey would be much more enjoyable.

  • I would just say that the Eid celebrations I've seen were nothing like you describe, though they were not in Morocco. The character of the celebration must vary from place to place. – phoog May 29 '16 at 16:35
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Short answer: Don’t

Less Short:

Don’t at least if you have never traveled to a Muslim country during Ramadan, or a strict Muslim country at any time, and don’t know what to expect.


Very long verbose, ranting answer

Morocco is one of the most liberal Muslim countries. Cosmopolitan Moroccans are not typically religious and have a westernized lifestyle.

NOT SO during Ramadan, a couple of weeks before Ramadan many urbanized Moroccans suddenly remember that they are supposed to be Muslims and that they are supposed to pray, not drink alcohol, not eat certain things, not have sex outside of marital bounds, not, not, not…..the ones that were religious to start with often get rabid and start foaming at the mouth…

Your trip could be horrific if you expect business to be as usual, be prepared as you would if you traveled to one of the stricter middle eastern country that practice Sharia (Islamic law)

Alright, I am exaggerating a bit, but it is better to be prepared for the worst…

“Nobody eats during the daytime until the sun goes down”

Well; not publicly, and don’t forget no public smoking or drinking water which is a lot worse.

Children, sick people, woman with their period, travelers….eat indoors; plus there are still some “Ramadan eaters” who eat furtively (and often have a month’s supply of alcohol at home).

Not relevant to traveling, but some do all they can to avoid doing Ramadan. European capitals swell with rich Moroccans as technically a traveler doesn’t have to fast, women have periods that last four weeks, people get sick and need to take pills during the day (not on an empty stomach of course)…..

Most western restaurants close during this period, but mostly because even at night, this is a month where people tend to eat traditional foods with family.

Your hotel will have eating facilities for foreigners during the day. At night, still a lot of places are open. For alcohol this is one of the only times where the law is enforced for locals, they can’t buy or be served alcohol, but you can without problem.

“So, no shop (included food shops) are opened until then (with hard temperatures...), and every streets are kind of desert in the afternoon,

Nope, this is paradoxically the most commercial month of the year. Most shops are open; streets are filled with hungry people buying 4 times what they need and then some. Streets are desert only during fatr, the breakfast, but then some people do eat in the street and cafes do a thriving business; about an hour later streets start to fill till very late, dawn in some cities. Don’t expect them to rise early, or really do any work though.

This is the most social month and the streets are filled with more people than any other time of the year. It can be quite enjoyable and can be a reason to choose to come at this period.

Btw if you hear alarms, sirens, detonating canons…that’s not an air raid but the ftr announcement. The pre-ftr tension is quite unique, millions of people are on the edge eagerly waiting the green light to pounce on their food and devour it all? Most Moroccans gain a lot of weigh during this “fasting” period by eating nearly non-stop throughout the night.

Also, if you are a light sleeper….this is the month where the mosque’s muezzin (call to prayer) are at their loudest, they do try their damnest to wake you up. There are prayer calls in the morning, afternoon, sunset, dinner, dawn.

“Some touristic facilities might be closed too

No, I don’t think so, opening hours do change though.

Men avoid to talk to women too, cause it can lead to a "desire" sin (not that nice for my girlfriend),

No, maybe there is less chatting-up as pre-marital sex is off the menu. However, many modern Moroccan consider the sex rule not to be applicable at night. That plus this is the month where single girls are allowed to roam the streets till the AMs…. No need to draw a picture

People might be less inclined to talk to us travelers?

They are generally more ineffectual, belligerent, sullen, and uncooperative, toward everyone during the day.

But yes, for some they suddenly remember that you are a dirty impure foreigner who will burn to hell for eternity. Others suddenly get political and identify with some Muslim “brother” country that was mistreated by some western power, of which you are the present incarnation

you're traveling on the last week.

Going toward the end is much better than just before or early on. People have been used to fasting; they are more relaxed, more tolerant. It is even more social and the Eid is kind of like Christmas, no rioting for sure, and can be quite social as it is not only family oriented.

Life starts again, and although it will be a few days before they can buy alcohol, some find ways around it and start partying right away. Also the ones that held to a strict Ramadan are suddenly liberated and rush to enjoy unconstrained freedom.

Even the fanatics tend to mellow down and feel charitable toward their neighbors....

A trip during this period can be quite enjoyable if you know what to expect. But if you land in it or have been to morocco before and expect the same, prepare to be alienated.

Note, I am a westernized Moroccan, some of my view may not be shared by others, but that’s my experience with Ramadan in Morocco.

protected by Community Jun 9 '16 at 0:47

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