It’s been a few weeks now since Tim and I got back from our trip to Morocco and I’m excited to share some more Moroccan inspired posts with you all! One of the most memorable experiences from our trip was definitely shopping in the markets of Marrakech. If you’re traveling to Morocco, the souks are a must visit while you’re there. Today I’m sharing my top tips for making it the best experience and getting the best deals.
Before we dive in, I highly recommend you read my post on the 18 things you must know before traveling to Morocco so you have a good foundation. Already read that post? Perfect, let’s go!
So what are souks? In the heart of the Marrakech medina (the old walled city) there are 6,000+ (yep, you read that right!) little shops selling everything from shoes, clothes, moroccan blankets and rugs, household decor, pottery, and more. Each corner you turn will reveal new shops and to say its a maze, is absolutely an understatement! All of these little shops make up the traditional markets that you’ll find around Morocco and other parts of Northern Africa These markets are known as souks.
Visiting the souks is a must do on your trip to Morocco but they can be a bit intimidating if you don’t know what to expect. Here are some tips to make it the best experience possible:
#1: Embrace Getting Lost
The only way you’re going to enjoy shopping in the souks is if you don’t try to figure out where you are 🙂 Give yourself several hours to explore and get LOST. Wander around and choose which way to turn solely based off of what looks interesting to you. Just make sure you star your hotel on your phone before you get started so you can navigate back when you’re done for the day.
On our first full day in Marrakech, we just wandered around the souks aimlessly for hours and loved it so much! The deeper we went into the souks, the cooler the things we saw. There are clothing sections, leather sections, metal working sections, and so much more. You’ll even see people making the items they sell right there in their shops. Give yourself the opportunity to take it all in!
Want to get a feeling of what it’s like to be in Morocco? Check out my Youtube video!
#2: “Window Shop” Before You Buy
Before you start purchasing, it’s good to get an idea of the different vendors that sell what you’re looking for. Walk around and practice haggling to get an idea of the starting prices for things. Many of the shops will have drastically different prices. For example we found the closer we got to the main square, Jemaa el-Fna, the more expensive the prices got for the exact same things. The shops deeper in the souks tended to offer better prices because they don’t see the foot traffic that those closer to the square do. As we were walking around we heard prices ranging from 600- 1,900 dirhams for the exact same blanket!
#3: Never Pay the First Price
Morocco is not a country with set prices for most things. Each store owner dictates the price and will start high, expecting for you to bargain. As a rule of thumb, paying ⅓ of the first price they give you is a good deal.
As you’re bargaining, don’t be surprised when they act offended by your numbers or tell you that you’re crazy. That’s all part of the game! If they aren’t budging much on the price, ask them what their final price is. This communicates to them that you’re serious but will only purchase if they give a good price. If their final price is still too high, say no thank you and walk out of their shop! The funny thing about Morocco is that most of the shop owners will follow you out of their store if the price you’ve offered is a fair price! The key is to hold your ground and not get intimidated. Check out the list below for some examples of the prices Tim and I negotiated on our trip:
- Leather Laptop Bag: First Price:1300 dirham, Paid: 400 dirham ($40 USD)
- Knock off Adidas Tracksuit: First Price: 800 dirhams, Paid 320 Dirhams ($32 USD)
- Tajine: First Price: 150 Dirhams, Paid: 40 dirhams ($4 USD)
- King size Moroccan Blanket: First Price 600 dirhams, Paid: 350 dirhams ($35 USD)
- Small Moroccan Bowls: First Price: 30-40 dirhams, Paid 10 dirham each ($1 USD)
Want to see some of our purchases? Check out my Marrakech Highlight on Instagram!
#4: You’re NOT American
We’re going to use America as an example because I’m American and I believe American’s have the biggest stereotype. In countries like Morocco where the daily wage is $10 USD, Americans are seen as being rich! You will notice when you shop around the souks that the shop owners will ask you where you’re from. At first it seems like they are being sweet (and I hope some really are) but many times this is more so to get an idea of how much money you have. They will base their starting price off of your answer. I would recommend skirting the question if you don’t want to lie. I told them to guess and got a good kick out of their responses haha. Another great option is to say you’re a student!
#5: Ask Your Riad!
If you’re staying at an amazing riad like we did, tell them what you are hoping to purchase and ask them what they would pay for it. Most of the things in this post came from our wonderful Riad host, Hassan (thank you Hassan!) Lean into the locals you meet at your Riads and ask their advice! They are a great resource to help you get a good price.
I hope this post makes you excited to explore the markets of Morocco! It will be a unique shopping experience for sure. Tim and I got some amazing deals and love all of the things we came home with. If we had more space in our luggage, I definitely would have brought home more even more.
The only thing I didn’t cover in this post is shopping for Morrocan rugs. If thats’ something you plan to do, stay tuned for next week’s blog post where I’ll be sharing the full experience of purchasing our 9×12 Moroccan rug in Marrakech!
Thanks for reading!