Tips for Taking a Taxi in Morocco

Taxis are a relatively cheap way of getting around Morocco, in the city and in between cities. Depending on some things, the experience can vary from fun to frustration or panic. Here are my tips after going through all these states during my seven months in Morocco.

Petit Taxis – in the city transportation, color changes with the city

  • it helps knowing how to greet and say thanks in Darija: Salam Alaykum and Shukran. Say Beslama before you leave.
  • avoid taking a taxi at rush hour or before a call to prayer. You’ll either have a tough time finding a car or find yourself stuck in traffic, which is especially annoying when the driver doesn’t know the address…
  • have a map of the area of your destination. Have it written in Arabic, or at least the street name in Arabic. I lost track of the times when instead of getting where I wanted, I ended up in a completely different part of the city. After some frustration that I couldn’t find any driver with a map of the city – one actually pulled out a tourist map that had only a small part of the city center – I started printing Google maps of my destination. That helped a lot getting there fast and at a fair price.
  • sometimes petit taxis will stop to take someone else that goes in the same direction as you. You can tell the driver not to if you want, it’s your right, but usually it’s common courtesy to not complain. You should definitely complain if the taxi starts detouring. If the driver picks someone else, you won’t be sharing costs. So don’t expect to pay less.
  • if you desperately need a cab but there’s no empty one in sight, stalk one that’s waiting at the traffic light. If it has people inside but it’s not full, chances are you’ll be getting a ride if you’re going in the same direction.
  • taking a taxi at night usually costs you what’s on the meter + 50%

Grand Taxis – in & out of the city transportation, cars are big, white Mercedes Benz

  • know how much you have to pay for the ride. The Lonely Planet guide usually offers a good estimation. The best way is to ask other travelers, if possible without letting the cab driver intervene in the conversation.
  • wait until the grand taxi is full. It’s cheaper to travel in a full car (4+2+driver), and this is the local way to travel. Sometimes the 6th place might be hard to fill, in which case the empty (shared) seat cost is shared amongst the rest of you.
  • there are no seatbelts in grand taxis, and in between cities it can get wild if your driver goes 120 km/hour on a mountain road, rain outside and a cliff on your right. So if your driver doesn’t understand when you tell him to slow down, ask someone in the car to translate it to him (99.9% of the time it’s a him). If that doesn’t work and the image of the car tumbling down the rocks continues to bother you, pretend you have nausea and you’re about to throw up. They usually take good care of their cars. This helped me once.

pro tip #1: if you’re feeling ripped of by the price when taking a grand taxi from the airport, but you’re already on your way to the destination, argue with the driver. This tip is for the people that can raise their voice without raising their temper, which is a way of negotiation in Morocco. It helps knowing an approximate cost for your ride, so you can benchmark your negotiation.

pro tip #2: whatever happens, try to be as positive as possible about the experience. Raging and complaining with a person that doesn’t understand you helps no-one. And passers by that otherwise might want to help, will probably stay away from a person that screams, swears, and gesticulates angrily.


Influence, Pizza, and an Expensive Taxi Ride

I read Influence by Robert Cialdini. Something unexpected happens and I have to take a taxi that costs a lot. I arrive late and think that I can buy a pizza instead of cooking dinner – the pizza seems less expensive than the taxi today. I remember the chapter about the merchant that sells an expensive suit first, then the shirt, so that it seems less expensive compared to the price of the suit. I give up on buying the pizza and cook dinner.