We had an awesome trip to Marrakech and I thought it’s appropriate that I share few quick tips to set the expectation straight when arriving in Marrakech.
Marrakech is soon turning into a tourism hotspot so will always be good to keep few travel tips handy. Here are few basic travel tips:
- It isn’t Paris
Marrakech is a truly ancient city. So if you are coming here expecting the luxury and comforts of a modern city then this isn’t the place for you. Pre-historic mud bricked walls, shanty houses, desert heat, donkey carts is what you would see here. So if you are looking for a ‘Back to the 60’s’ experience then this is the place.
Be prepared to be haggled. You are like a walking ATM – that’s how most of the street vendors and shopkeepers see you. Most of them try their best to entice you in buying their product or offering – some even go to the extent of offering you some mint tea, singing Bollywood songs or even putting their arms around you.
- A Stern ‘NO’
In line with my earlier tip – a ‘NO’ comes handy when keeping the hagglers or guides or various other dupers at bay. However, it can’t be a polite one – need to be a stern one. Most of them are quite polite, however, in one instance, one of the shop keeper in the souk who warmly welcomed us in, was rude when we said we didn’t want to buy as we didn’t like his products.
But yes a Stern NO truly helps in many instances.
- Bargain to the depths
This comes very handy if you decide to buy anything in the souk. The price quoted is up, up and above what they expect for the product. So please bargain. I usually asked for 1/3rd the price – which leaves the shop keeper shell shocked but doesn’t let u leave which is a good sign and finally gives the product off close to 1/3rd of the price.
- The Best Orange juice
The Medina square is lined up with fresh juice stalls, however, stick with the ‘Orange Juice’ only here. We had a bad experience of asking for mango juice and then being given mango juice mixed with orange juice in it!
Even the restaurants on the perimeter of the Medina offer some of the best orange juice.
- Binge on Street food
The Medina and Marrakech in general has a lot to offer in terms of delicious meals and snacks. Be it the tagines or the pasties, they are absolutely delicious and quite cheap. However, when it comes to street food which is on offer everywhere, the Medina square at night is a place not to miss. Firstly avoid having this till your last night in Marrakech/Morocco. The very fact that some vendors sell it using the line – “No Diarrhoea problem” gives something to worry about.
Secondly, as a thumb rule have street food at a stall where you see the most locals having their snack or meal. That usually will be a great place and of course with the food selling out quite quick, its mostly fresh. We had an awesome dinner at a sausage stall and a stall offering sheep’s head on the perimeter of the square.
Read more about our list of the top things to do in Marrakech – Click here.
- Stay in a Riad
A riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. Try staying in one of these Riads on the old side of the town in Marrakech. We stayed at one which was a stone’s throw away from the Medina square. The narrow alleys mean the only way one can reach the riad is on foot. So taking a cab or an airport drop means walking to the main street or the Medina square.
Very beautiful from the inside and quite self-sufficient rooms. They also offer nice roof top view over this medieval town with the backdrop of the high Atlas Mountains.
- Day tour
Marrakech lies in the lap of the High Atlas Mountains and though there is abundance to see and take in at Marrakech itself, I would still recommend taking a day tour to go visit the places outside Marrakech. The Atlas Mountains have one of the most amazing landscapes and are home to the pre- historic nomadic Berber tribes.
- Taxi fares
Though much of the sites in Marrakech are easily walkable, you would need to take a Taxi while visiting the Menara garden or the leather tanneries. The Taxis aren’t that expensive in Marrakech but you need to haggle. Most of them just quote a pice which is at least 20dh more than the actual price. We just asked our hotel reception beforehand on actual prices and it’s easy to get the price down.
Also, few taxi drivers try selling you dreams of drives to Atlas Mountains, waterfalls, Berber family etc. – Simply avoid these guys and stick to reliable tour operators.
As with any traveller/Tourist – Photos play a big part in creating everlasting memories. However as with any city, please avoid getting into someone’s personal space. Though people are quite friendly in Morocco, they usually don’t prefer to be clicked and especially that’s the case with women.
Another thing to be careful is the Snake charmers and Monkey man in the Medina square – if they see you clicking their picture, you would need to pay for the Pic or the snake is around your neck!
Marakkech seems to be stuck in time and a trip here is like getting into a time machine and travelling back to the 60’s. However that said, there is a modern element to the newer side of the city with sprawling malls and fashion outlets. However, one needs to remember that it’s traditionally an Islamic society and one needs to respect the local culture by dressing appropriately. Though we saw tourists in shorts and even some in skimpiest of clothes – its best to avoid this to avoid awkward glances and making the locals feel uncomfortable.
Rest the locals to be respected back!
Read more about our Morocco visit– Click here.
If you have queries/feedback, please leave a comment and I will get back to you ASAP.