Local Products, Marrakesh
It is very easy to fall in love with the exquisite Moroccan local products such as lamps, rugs, and spices. However, bargaining is a must unless money is of no object to you. It is often a good idea to counter offer a price that is 1/3 or at least 1/2 of what the shopkeeper initially offers. As always, the more you buy the likelier you'll get a bigger discount per item.
Go on, have fun and practice some French and Arabic!
What to buy:
Both Henna and Argan oil products are a nice souvenir from Morocco!
We bought some Henna and a moisturizing creme with Argan oil in this lovely small cosmetics place in the suqs of Marrakesh. He also had other things like perfumes, soaps, Argan oil (filled in old plastic bottles) - it was such a joy to have a look around!
What to pay: We paid 5 DH for the Henna and 20 DH for the creme. The price seemed so reasonable that we did not even bargain!
A look in at a country market can easily be fitted in with an trip out of Marrakech. Such markets serve local needs, although there are inevitably a number of persistent trinket pushers. Men from the mountain villages come down on mule, bicycle and pick-up truck to stock up on tea and sugar, candles and cigarettes, agricultural produce, maybe have a haircut or a tooth pulled. This is the place to sell a sheep, discuss emigration or a land sale. There may also be some Islamic purists peddling cassettes of sermons, perfumes and religious texts. It really hits home at such markets just how different living standards are in the countryside. The markets are dusty, rough and ready sorts of places, and people are paying with the tiny brass coins you hardly ever see in the city. You really get a sense of the fact that people are living from the land and how hard drought can hit them.
Market days :
Setti Fatma (Thu),
What to buy: Buy real people,real times,and a real vision of Marrakech,,,the city of poor !
What to pay: Spend a half day looking,watching,and taking pictures of Moroccan country life!
But be aware,it's not a place where we wait for tourists !
What to buy:
I'm not normally a big shopper. While on vacation the usual extent of my shopping is window browsing. I don't go into many shops since I don't like to get loaded down with knick-nacks and usually I'd much rather sit at a cafe with a beer and watch the people go by.
However, Marrakesh is a distinct exception to rule in this regard. First of all, alcohol is not readily available in Morocco. You can get your cocktails in the nicer hotels, but not at the streetside cafes. Second, shopping is really more of a sport in Morocco. Even if you do not wish to engage in bartering on your own, it is fun to watch a travel companion try their hand at the game.
In Marrakesh Becky and I only bought a brightly colored bowl, probably on eof the ones pictured here. We had blown our shopping money up in Fes at the rug markets. But we did spend a few happy hours watching the crafty shopkeepers lighten the wallets of others in our group.
For other photos of the fabulous souqs, please look at my travelogue.
What to buy:
Actually there is not so much specific information that I can give you here. We did see lots of carpets in the suqs and we were taken to a carpet cooperative to have a little information and shopping opportunity. It was quite interesting to see the different types of materials (wool, silk, camel wool etc), patterns and colors, but non of us bought anything.
If you are interested in buying a carpet, you might want to make sure you get a proper receipt and maybe also a tax refund!
Marrakesh is one big open air market and must be one of the best plces in the world if you want to go bargain hunting.
You can buy all sorts of things like lamps, hats, water pipes, carpets, spices.
You name it and they most likely got it somewhere.
What to buy: Everything from water pipes to exotic spices.
What to pay: Remember to bargain.
That is the way everyone goes shopping in this part of the world.
We liked doing our shopping in this place. The owner was very NICE to me, hihihihi. He was eating me with his eyes, hihihihi
Really, I got there a nice scarves. He was pretty good with lowering down his prices.
And he gave me his GSM phone number just on case I would ever feel lonely and wanted to call him.
No, really it was fun to shop there, and Santo didn't mind.
What to buy: His name was Mounabi Abdelati
The thing about shopping is... I mean; when you're a guy - it sucks. That being said, some of the best places to be when travelling are the markets and shopping areas and the Souks are the best example of that. Leading out from the northern edge of the Jemma El Fna is a maze of shop-filled alleyways loaded with carpets and lamps and slippers and candy and scarves and hats and, and, and... Go ahead, plunge in and get lost, eventually you'll come upon the places where they actually make these things. Some have spoken of a place where the air smells horribly and large vats of urine dot the landscape, but we didn't quite make it to the tanneries.
You might think you'll get lost forever but, since you are in a walled old-city, just don't go outside the walls dummy (we did that, oops).
What to buy: Live chickens
Coconut candy that gives you a stomache ache
Strange little mysterious vials of ???
What to pay: Less than they ask for but more than it's worth.
Whatever you do! Talk the person down! Throw out 1/3 of what they qoute, then don't you dare budge from the price. Just walk away and watch the price drop. :) After the first 2 days of dealing with it....the last few were so easy. I got ALL me best deals when I stopped caring and threw out a price that I WOULD ACTUALLY PAY. Not what I thought it "might/could" be worth.
*Tip* Go in the off season...less tourists=More competition=better bargaining. :D
The Medina in Marrakech is a complex narrow net of pedestrian streets, full of flavors and aromas. In this apparently mess there is some kind of organization because the different craft guilds are together in different areas of the Medina: wooden, cooper, lamps, carpets... It's very attractive to walk without a direction, just enjoying the environment and going from one part to another without a map, mainly because there isn't a comprehensive one for the Medina ;-)
In this post I'd like to highlight the courtyards, or patios of crafs. Maybe they're less known than the popular street shops, because they're almost hidden after semi open doors, but normally you're welcome to come into them, mainly in the commercial ones. You can feel yourself like Indiana Jones exploring this yards, opening gates and asking to the people if you can enter. If they say you "no", just go out, but you could be welcomed to have a look and even drink tea with them... for sure to finish the experience buying something to them :-)
What to buy: We visited some yards with our guide Abdul ("maybe" friends of him). We loved the experience of being in real craft workshops, in particular working the wood (the ones you can see in the pictures). You can buy small or big wooden boxes, sculptures, chess games, etc. The craftsmen will explain you how they work, how traditional they are and the quality of their products.
What to pay: Pay maximum half of the initial price they're asking you for at the beginning. You need to bargain, sitting down with them, even drinking tea in the meantime, and always enjoying it, never being angry.
Good buys include fashion accesories, fabrics, spices, natural oils, pottery, and leather goods, especially shoes and slippers.
In the souks it's like a market place which specialises in particular produts in one place.
It's certainly an experience not to be missed.
What to buy: Shoes and slippers. morrocan lamps, spices.
What to pay: About 10 to 15 pounds for a nice pair of slippers.
What to buy:
Carpets are everywhere and if you have the time to spend negotiating you may get what you believe to be a bargain. It will certainly be cheaper than buying the same carpet in the UK.
What to pay: You'll pay with your heart, not your head.
As said in the previous tip of the craftsmen in the patios, the Medina's street are a real truly Moroccan experience, the main reason to come to Marrakech for most of the people. The Medina is a mess, but very well organized with its owns rules. You'd better walk always on your right and you'll be fine with motorbikes and people :-) Try to be a local more than a tourist, show respect for their culture and just join them in their attitude.
The Medina is covered in most of the part by a roof of sticks, preventing the area from the sun. Everybody will invite you to visit their shops, "just a look, not to buy". It's better not to look at them and decline their offer politely. If you really want to have a look, just do it, but try not to take too much time at least you really want to bargain with them. In any case don0t be afraid if they look angry with you for not buying, it's just a part of their "roll".
What to buy: I'd suggest you to buy real crafts, not touristic items produced in China and overpriced. Search for a good leather article, a copper lamp or pieces of clothes like "chilabas" or berber turbans for the desert.
What to pay: As suggested before, always bargain, for half of the price they are suggesting you from the beggining.
Babouches are leather slippers which come in all colours.
They look to be very comfoartble but I didn't see any tourists walking around in them...