Few destinations capture the curiosity of travelers as vividly as Morocco.
Its bright colors, dramatic landscapes and exotic experiences create the perfect storm for an enchanting adventure. Not to mention, the warm hospitality and colorful culture will ensure you never want to leave. In this roundup, we’ll be exploring this beautiful country and sharing some tips to help navigate one of the destinations’ top draws, shopping in the souks.
While there are winding medinas in many of Morocco’s city, Marrakech offers one of the richest. From Djemaa el Fna (the big square) you’re standing on the edge of the main souks (Arabic for “market”). There are three main entrances from the square that will lead you deeper into the confusing, chaotic, amazing labyrinth of sensory overload and shopping. After exploring these winding paths extensively, here are some top tips to navigating them with confidence.
At the edges of the market you’ll find everything mixed together – lamps, clothing, rugs, spices, leather, wood, and metal works. Resist buying here and instead push inward to the speciality area for better prices and more selection from the artisans themselves.
Hire a great guide!
Making your way through Morocco, though thrilling on your own, is truly enhanced by the care, expertise, and attention of a trusted guide or touring partner who can open doors to experiences and connections otherwise missed. These experts help to maximize your time as you go straight to the best artisans. Plus, they lend a hand in both translating and negotiating on your behalf.
Speaking of negotiating, while it may feel a little out of your wheelhouse to haggle, do as the locals would! It is completely culturally acceptable, even expected, to barter until your heart’s (and wallet’s) content. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal and return later.
Embrace the chaos
It goes without saying that shopping in the medina isn’t going to have the same sense of order as your local haunts. And while most of the souks are car-free, watch out for bikes, donkeys, hand carts, and motorcycles whipping past you. Above all, embrace it, the electric energy of the chaos is half the fun.
Ship it home
You may be thinking, “how can I possibly fit more into my suitcase?” But, fear not. The vendors make it easy to ship your finds back home for a reasonable cost. Plus, when you’re shopping with a guide, they help offer an extra sense of security in guaranteeing tracking on the shipment. So, stock up on all your favorite pieces!
Engage your senses
The market is a true sensory feast. Take in the sights, smells and sounds as you make note of your favorite shops. Also, don’t hesitate to engage your tastebuds. Pick up some of the savory bites like olives, or, for the sweet tooth, try some of the fried desserts soaked in honey.
Keep an eye out
As with anywhere you travel, it’s important to be mindful of your valuables. Particularly in Djemaa al Fna, watch out for pickpockets and keep in mind the vendors will expect payment for any photos; don’t fall into the trap of letting a snake charmer or palm reader push you into accepting a photo and then demand payment…that is, unless you want to!
Enjoy the journey
Ultimately…enjoy it! Shopping in the souks is an experience as much as it is a transaction.