Morocco Travel Experience During the COVID19 Pandemic as a Filipino

As I was writing this, I’ve been traveling around Morocco for  more than two months already. Looking back, I’m grateful to have made it here safe amidst traveling during the pandemic. The day that I arrived here, I didn’t expect that I would love Morocco as much as I do now. This country has it all — the four-season climate, the desert, wide range of natural resources, the mountains, countryside, the coastal, fresh produce, food, the people, and so much more.
Cap Spartel in Tangier City, Morocco
At first, I was a bit hesitant to document and share my travels in my blog nor on social media because the world is facing a lot of problem, most especially the COVID pandemic. I just feel guilty sharing that I’m having a good time traveling amidst the pandemic. But I also came to realized and accepted that COVID is here to stay; and we should learn how to adapt, live with it, and not halt our lives because of it when we can. It’s also important to always practice safety precautions like wearing masks, being healthy, being mindful of where you are going, and most especially, getting a vaccine.
No matter where we go and what type of trip we take, travel itself is an act meant to broaden our horizons. It is meant to open us up to something new, widen our perspective, to peek behind the curtain of our daily lives and see how others live. 
Sahara Desert, Morocco
Time for a sense of adventure and to get out and see places like I’ve never seen it before. That’s what this time offers. Something completely unique, not what it was.
Morocco Overview
The Kingdom of Morocco is an Arab country in North Africa. Morocco can offer everything you want to experience – beautiful beaches some in the Atlantic Ocean and some are on the Mediterranean Sea, mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, and falls. The Sahara Desert also covers this country which is completely a different travel experience. It has a four-season climate – super hot in the summer without much rain, winter turning wet, snowy and humid, and the shoulder seasons of autumn and spring.
Marinid Tombs in Fes El Bali, Tangier
Is Morocco Visa-Free for Filipinos?
Yes, Morocco is visa-free for Filipinos! We can can enter the Kingdom of Morocco for 90 days without a visa. It is one of four visa-free countries in Africa for Filipinos.
What it’s like traveling in Morocco during the pandemic?
The COVID19 pandemic has definitely affected the travel and tourism industry. It’s sad to be in places where most locals rely on tourism to earn a living. It’s sad to see some closed establishments; and restaurants, stores, and people that are trying to survive.

But popular holiday destinations in Morocco like Chefchaouen, Tangier, Marrakech, and Rabat have a good number of both local and foreign tourists which mostly are Europoeans.

Going around Morocco, I’ve noticed that it is mostly not required to wear face masks in public. Except if you’re traveling by bus, car, or train crossing different town or cities, where there are police on check point that will check if you’re wearing face mask. Some bus companies follow social distancing, some don’t.
In malls, grocery stores and trains, some people wear masks, some don’t. Big cities like Rabat, Tangier, and Casablanca, I saw more people that wear face mask compared to places from Marrakech down to Merzouga where there’s just few.
I feel like some places that I traveled here in Morocco, COVID19 is not a thing and not being taken seriously. But nevertheless, I feel safe so far throughout my stay here.
Jemaa el-Fna Square in Marrakech City
Why I chose Morocco
The main reason why I chose Morocco is that it’s one of the countries that is open for tourism during the pandemic and it’s visa-free for Filipinos. I have never imagined myself to be in a North African country but I am so glad and lucky to be here. Morocco is a beautiful country full of wonderful and exotic places to see and things to do. When I traveled to this country, I fell in love with it and knew I wanted to stay here longer.
Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech City, Morocco
What’s the climate of Morocco?

The country’s Mediterranean climate is similar to that of southern California, with lush forests in the northern and central mountain ranges of the country, giving way to drier conditions and inland deserts further southeast. The Moroccan coastal plains experience remarkably moderate temperatures even in summer, owing to the effect of the cold Canary Current off its Atlantic coast. (source: Wikipedia)

When is the best time to travel?
I suggest you visit during the early summer months, around April to May where you’ll experience comfortable warm days and cool nights and will unlikely rain. Summer months from July to August can get very hot inland and in the desert areas.  But summer is a good time to visit the coastal regions.
Somewhere in Atlas Mountains
What languages do Moroccans speak?
Moroccans can speak Arabic, French, English and some Spanish. Arabic and French are widely spoken. Note that if you’re not in touristy areas, don’t expect people to be able to speak English. Even tourist areas, expect that most locals may or may not be able to speak English so prepare to use a French translator app or learn few basic French or Arabic words.
Is it cheap travel to Morocco?
It’s yes and no. That depends on what are your standards for accommodation and food. But most food and accommodation that you’ll find in here are affordable. The cost of flight ticket going here from Manila can get expensive.
Chefchaouen City, Morocco
How To Fly To Morocco From The Philippines?
If you are going to fly from the Philippines, there are one-stop flights in Middle East Countries such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and few European countries.
Places to See in Morocco
Morocco is a country with almost everything you want to experience in traveling that will give you a complete unique experience. (Separate written blog posts for these destinations are still in progress.)
  • Marrakech
  • Atlas Mountains
  • Ait Benhaddou
  • Sahara Desert
  • Fes
  • Chefchaouen
  • Tangier
  • Rabat
  • Casablanca
  • Essaouira
Le Jardin Secret in Marrakech City
My Experience Flying to Morocco
Going through the Immigration at NAIA
I always wonder how it would be like to travel again internationally during the pandemic. Mind you, it’s definitely not a piece of a cake if you’re traveling abroad from the Philippines with the purpose of tourism. If you plan to travel at this time, be prepared to do your research, comply with all the needed requirements, and expect to spend more money because of this.
NinoyAquino Terminal Airport 2 During COVID19
I decided to fly two days before Metro Manila is going on a lockdown.  I was excited and very nervous, expecting that I will have a challenging experience going on a non-essential international outbound travel. But I also told myself that there’s nothing I should worry about. I am traveling just with the sole purpose of tourism and wanting to explore places that I have never visited before. I did my research and I know I am not breaking any rules.
When I arrived at NAIA, it’s not as full as it was before. As I have observed, most of the travelers in the airport are Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) like seafarers. I went to the check-in counter and showed that I already checked-in online, they then handed me forms to fill out, weighed my luggage. But before that, the staff asked me what’s purpose of traveling and where I am going. I told them I’m going to Marrakech, Morocco with the purpose of tourism. She then said that it’s not an essential travel but I told her that I emailed the embassy of Morocco and read all the news; and it’s clear that Morocco is open for tourism. She just said okay and confirmed the food I requested for the flight because I don’t eat meat.
Next step: passing through the immigration. There’s no line when I went here and I just went straight to the first immigration officer that I saw. This is where it got a bit complicated.
“Where is your destination and your purpose of travel?”, she asked.
“I’m going to Marrakech, Morocco as a tourist”, I answered.
“How long do you plan to travel there? Is Morocco open for tourism? Are you traveling alone? Are you going to meet someone there? May I see all your documents.”
I then handed her all the documents I prepared. “I emailed the embassy of Morocco to confirm if it’s open for tourism and sent me the documents I need to prepare to be able to travel there”, I added.
She then told me to go the second immigration officer. I have already expected that going through the immigration will be really challenging at this point of time. The second immigration officer was nice and explained that they just want to understand why I am traveling amidst COVID pandemic as a tourist. She asked me to fill out a form and she checked all the documents I prepared.
Face shield required at NAIA
I can’t remember anymore all the questions that were asked to me because it was just too many, mostly personal questions like my work, where I am living, my travel plans in Morocco, my bank statements, etc. She even insisted that Morocco is not a very usual travel destination for Filipino but I because I did my research, I enumerated all the reasons why Morocco is a worth to travel to and showed to her that I am knowledgeable enough to my destination. After that, the immigration officer stamped my passport and I’m already good to go! Phew, going through the immigration has drained my energy but I’m happy that I made it! The airport feels different now, most stores are closed but there are still some restaurants that are open.
Travel Requirements
Here are the documents I prepared for my Morocco travel:
  • Round-trip ticket
  • Vaccination card/negative COVID Test
  • COVID Travel Health Insurance
  • Proof of Financial Capacity
  • Proof of work/business
  • Return ticket
  • Travel itinerary
  • Booking accommodation
Note that the only main requirements needed to be shown to the immigration is the round trip ticket, COVID19 test, health insurance, travel itinerary, and booking accommodation. But it’s better to be prepared so I compiled all of that. Don’t forget to include travel Tax: 1600+ in your budget.
Flight to Istanbul
My first flight is going to Istanbul, Turkey which is my transit flight going to Marrakech. All the seats in the flight were full! I did not expect that. The cabin crews told us that there’s no need to wear a mask and we can remove it. This flight has been quite a touching one since almost all the other passengers are OFWs, seafarers – hearing their life stories, their work made me appreciate their work even more.
Flight to Istanbul through Turkish Airlines
Full packed flight to Istanbul, Turkey via Turkish Airlines
Here’s a tip: if you want to be the first person in the whole flight to be served with food, choose a vegetarian meal!  All the meals that were served during my flight to Istanbul and Marrakech, I’m always the first person to be served with food. I’m usually done eating and the other passengers were still not able to have their food (this made me feel guilty). My overall flight with Turkish Airlines have been convenient and safe; and I was satisfied with their service.
Turkish Airlines Inflight Entertainment
Do Filipinos Need Transit Visa for Istanbul?
There’s no need to have a transit visa if you’re layover will not be more than 24 hours in Istanbul airport. If you do a layover here, they have kiosks where you can get 1 hour of free wifi using your passport. If you want to use more than an hour of wifi, you can pay online using your credit card. On that day, Istanbul Airport is quite full of people that there’s not much seat and you’ll feel like there’s no pandemic.
Istanbul Airport
Flight to Marrakech
After 7 hours of waiting at the Istanbul airport and fighting myself not to sleep by eating, it’s already time for my flight to Marrakech. The staff checked our passport and Covid test/vaccination card one by one. When it was my turn, the staff asked me if I work as a seafarer because most Filipinos in that airport are seafarers. I answered that there are lots of Filipino seafarers but I am going to Morocco as a tourist.
Flight to Marrakech, Morocco via Turkish Airlines
Arrival at Marrakech
I was stoked when I’m already at the airport of Marrakech. It has been a long way for me traveling in this country and I’m just happy I made it here.
The immigration officers of Morocco are not that strict. Here are the documents that they asked me to show them:
  • COVID test, vaccination card
  • hotel accommodation
After showing the documents, they only asked what my job is. The officer then stamped my passport and told me enjoy my stay in Morocco. He didn’t even asked for my return flight.
Marrakech Menara Airport
Last updated: October 1, 2021

 

 
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The views, the opinions and the positions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent those of the companies or any company or individual affiliated with them. 

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