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Buses in Morocco

By , 13 December 2015

Buses in Morocco
Buses in Morocco

Morocco wouldn't be such a bad place if it wasn't for all the people constantly harassing you. At first I thought it was just me, but ask anyone who has spent a day in Marrakech and they'll give you the same story. Aggressive touts, pickpockets, ridiculous scams, opportunistic vendors, and at best, dubious advice.

My girlfriend joined me in Morocco on my search for warm weather and good surf. Even though we had expected it, our first trip to the bus station in Marrakech was a freaking headache. We were followed around the whole station by the a local guy who was literally shouting in our faces.

"Essaouira? Casablanca? Agadir?"

"That bus is canceled"

"I work here, counter 7"

"Ouzazarte? 6.30pm"

"Essaouira, counter 7"

"No no, wrong way"

"Hurry hurry, it's leaving now, counter 7"

"Fuck you!"

It doesn't help that half of the bus companies leave their booths unattended. Even if you do find a bus you want to take, there is no one there to buy the ticket from. Well, no one except the touts that is. They carry identical ticketing booklets and scribble on them in Arabic. It makes you wonder if they are real bus tickets at all.

In the end we were overcharged by about 50% of the already overpriced ticket. It's the harassment that is the worst part though, so we devised a plan to get our next bus with less hassle. It played out pretty well so I figured I might as well share it with my beloved blog readers. Here's how it goes:

  1. Go to the station the day before to check the bus times. They are all written on the boards in front of each company's booth. You can ignore all the touts. You aren't going to buy a ticket anyway. You don't need to buy a ticket in advance. They are just scraps of paper and there is no booking system.
  2. If there is someone at the booth you can ask them the price. They should give you the real price and you can always confirm with the other passengers. If there is no one at the booth you might as well not ask. You could ask a tout if you feel like entertaining yourself. Tell him you're traveling tomorrow to get rid of him.
  3. Now that you know the time of the bus you can just turn up half an hour before it leaves and look for the right bus. It can be difficult since everything is written in Arabic. If you have to ask a tout, tell him you already have your ticket.
  4. Get on the bus without a ticket. You can buy it when they come around to check for tickets. You know the price already (or if you don't you can ask the other passengers) so there shouldn't be a problem. The ticket inspector is getting paid so he shouldn't overcharge you.

Minimum stress :)

If you want to get by as a tourist without getting cheated you have to put in as much effort as the spammers put in to cheat you. This is just one example. Most of the time you will lose. They simply have way more practise than you. My phone was stolen here for the first time in 6 years of vigilant travel. It didn't matter that we were on the case a few seconds after it had been taken. It was already too late.

Not everyone in Morocco is trying to cheat you. Unfortunately the cheaters have more incentive to approach you so it just feels that way. There is a certain amount of relief when you find an honest merchant and you can just buy stuff like a normal human being. If this was the status quo I might have considered coming back to Morocco. As it is, next winter I think I'll go back to Asia or Central America.

Buses in Morocco

About Roger Keays

Buses in Morocco

Roger Keays is an artist, an engineer, and a student of life. Since he left Australia in 2009, he has been living as a digital nomad in over 40 different countries around the world. Roger is addicted to surfing. His other interests are music, psychology, languages, and finding good food. Click here to subscribe to his weekly blog, or stalk him on Facebook and Twitter.

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