Okay let’s be real, if you love [hashtag] the market life as much as I do then gurl you need to book a trip to Marrakech, STAT. Shopping in the souks of magical Morocco has actually been on my bucketlist forever and earlier this month I finally crossed it off (happily along with a few extra kg’s in my suitcase). There’s a magnetic pull to the markets in Marrakech, or ‘souks’ as they call them here; a labyrinth of narrow alleys lined with shops selling traditional artisan goods and souvenirs. It’s inevitable to get lost while wandering through the souks of Marrakech and you’ll find an assortment of treasures – from pom-pom and custom baskets (my favourite purchase!) to leather goods, spices, lamps and metal furnishings.
Beat the heat
I visited Marrakech in the summer (May-August) during Ramadan and temperatures soar in the afternoon! The narrow alleys and pink walled buildings increase the heat so it’s super important to stay hydrated and plan your souk visits for the mornings or late afternoons. I liked it best in the morning, then stopping by for lunch and people watching from above at Café Des Épices.
Be prepared to haggle
Haggling is part of the whole shopping experience in Morocco so it’s best to be prepared! Do your research and have a fair price already in mind as to how much you will pay. As a starting point, always offer around half of the original price. Be firm but not rude and maybe, just maybe even try the walk-away method. This can work a treat because often as soon as they see that you’re leaving they’ll agree to your price. I did my research for a couple of the items I knew I wanted to purchase to know what to expect and not pay any more than the below dirhams:
Pouffes – 150-200 MAD
Small rugs – 300-2000 MAD
Small baskets 70-80 MAD
Large baskets 100-120 MAD
The two official languages spoken in Morocco are Arabic and Berber, as well as French serving as a second language for many Moroccans. You will find it relatively easy to get by with English as it’s widely spoken in Marrakech but it’s always nice to learn a little bit of the language of any destination you travel to. Here are a couple of useful phrases to greet shopkeepers and start off on a friendly note whilst in the souks:
Hello: Bonjour [French] or Salam Alikome [Arabic – ‘peace be with you’]
How much?: C’est combien? [French] or Shahal taman? / Bish Hal? [Arabic]
Thank you: Shukran [Arabic] or Merci [French]
No thank you: La shoukran [Arabic]
How to dress
It’s important to dress conservatively in Marrakech. Whilst it isn’t as conservative as many other Arabian countries, it’s still predominantly Muslim. The locals are accustomed to many tourists visiting but that shouldn’t leave you ignorant – always respect the culture and dress accordingly. The number one tip that I would suggest is to always carry a lightweight scarf to cover your shoulders and whilst it gets super hot in the summer definitely avoid wearing anything skimpy. Throw on flowy dresses that are of breathable fabrics, protect yourself from the sun with a hat and sunglasses, and wear comfortable flats as the streets are cobbled and uneven.
Shop my Marrakech style
Do you have any tips for shopping in the souks of Marrakech, Morocco? Share it in the comments below!
Photography: Jonathan Mendoza and Aubrey Daquinag
This post was created in collaboration with Vision Direct Sunglasses.