If you’ve never been to a Marrakech souk (market) before, be prepared for major sensory overload! Not only is it a visual extravaganza, the noise and smell will also overwhelm you. There will be a lot of shouting, motorbikes streaming by, but you will also be amazed by all the beautiful things you can buy at minimal cost. To help you prepare for and get the most out of this visit, here are seven things you need to know before visiting Marrakech souks.
7 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Marrakech Souks
Have GPS or Bring a Map
If you want to visit the Marrakech souks, I would recommend to start at Jemaa el Fna. This is a large square in the medina from which you can enter the souks. Each souk has its specialty, ranging from leather goods to spices to metal work. You will need to bring a map with you to navigate these narrow and dimly-lit alleyways. If you have internet, then Google map is your best friend. If you don’t have internet, make sure to download the map so you can still pinpoint your whereabouts on Google map. (Guide: How to Download Areas of Google Map and Navigate Offline)
Don’t Worry About Getting Lost
Even when you have a map handy, you will most likely still get lost! Marrakech souks are a labyrinth with endless twists and turns. But don’t worry if you get lost. In fact, it’s fun getting lost in the souks! Just follow your senses and go by how you feel! At the end you will be able to exit somehow, and you can navigate from there.
Like any good bustling market, in the Marrakech souks you’ll need to haggle hard for a reasonable price. I have lived in Asia for several years in my life so haggling and bargaining is part of my lifestyle. If you’re not used to it, it may feel weird or even embarrassing at first. But trust me, they expect you to haggle! My general rule is to start at about 1/3 of the price they offer, and then go from there. If you really want to get a good bargain, show enough interest, offer a low price, then just walk away. I guarantee they will come chasing after you with a cheaper price. But at the end of the day, there is no “right” price. The right price is how much you’re willing to pay for the goods you want.
Things to Buy
There are SO many gorgeous things you can buy in Marrakech souks. The endless choices make it a bit difficult to decide what to buy. Personally I really recommend getting a couple leather poufs, spices and maybe even a tea pot set. Leather poufs are super fashionable and can add a great pop of color to your living room or bedroom. Moroccan spices are great ingredients for your next Moroccan inspired meal! And of course, mint tea is a national Moroccan drink and a beautiful tea pot set to drink out of would be just perfect. If you still have space left over in your luggage, I would get a gorgeous gold lamp/lantern or intricately designed silver tray. These are great home decor items that can add that ethnic vibe to your current furniture.
What to Wear
Morocco is a Muslim country so it is recommended that tourists wear more conservative clothes. However, out of all Muslim countries, Morocco is one of the most open-minded. Furthermore, enough tourists visit Marrakech that they are accustomed to Westerners who bare their legs or shoulders. Just bear in mind that revealing clothing may get you some unwanted attention, especially for women. (But it’s the same case everywhere in the world really) Of the both times I visited Morocco, I didn’t purposefully wear conservative clothing, but I would always bring a shawl with me wherever I go so that I can cover up appropriately. Then when I want to take photos I take the shawl off.
Ask Permission Before Taking Photos
In Morocco people can get very offended if you take photos of them without permission. Sometimes if you’re filming they will straight out say “No photo!” I’ve found that the best way to get the shot you want is to befriend the owners of the shops. Chat with them and show interest in their products. Then ask politely if you can take some photos of their stuff to share their amazing arts and crafts with the world. More often than not they would happily oblige and pose in the photo with you!
Be Aware and Alert
Marrakech souks are often very busy with a lot of people and vehicles coming in and out, so always be alert! There were several times where donkey carts or motorbikes would speed by us without so much as a warning honk. Also, I know that it is pretty safe in Marrakech and theft is not common, but just be aware of your belongings.
– OUTFIT DETAILS –
Off The Shoulder Playsuit from Princess Polly
Sunglasses by Prada
Bag by Parisa NYC
Earrings by Jennifer Fisher
| Photography by Austin Donohue |
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