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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
There are few experiences like that of shopping in the souks of Marrakesh. The term souk is used to designate the market in any Arabized city. Around the JEF There are so many stalls – it’s just a huge maze and it’s really quite easy, but fun to get lost.
Packed with clothes, shoes (slippers), spices, olives, sweets, leather, perfume, crafts, etc., etc. it's a lively noisy market.
You do need to bargain and shop around. Unfortunately it can be difficult to find your way back to a particular stall. I hate to bargain but we compared prices of a particular mirror and found that it varied by 3 times the amount!!
On my last day in Marrakesh, I realised that although I'd brought my copy of 'Sahara' by Michael Palin with me, I hadn't had time to read it.
I thought I'd better read his Marrakesh pages, to see if he'd visited any places I'd missed.
As soon as I'd read about his Muezzin clock, I knew this was something I HAD to have!
After a short discussion with the shopkeeper in my hotel, who acknowledged that you could purchase this item, along with instructions to go to the 'locals' shops behind the Koutoubia Mosque, I was heading in that direction!
Unfortunately, despite lots of searching and miming, I didn't find my clock! However, I thought if I could find watches in the Souk, I must be near to my goal. Again, with a lot of miming (pointing at my watch, pointing to a clock, miming sleep, then a bell waking me :-o) !! ) I finally was taken to a clock stall.
Although the owner was intent on showing me standard alarm clocks, I spotted my prize in the top corner of a cabinet!! light blue plastic, in the shape of a mosque. Instead of a shrill bell, you're woken to the sound of the call to prayer!
Since I've returned home- every time I feel a need to revisit my travels I just switch on this clocks alarm, and I'm instantly transported back to Marrakech (or Turkey, or Iran!)
What to buy Feyyaq Muezzin = Muezzin alarm clock.
Every time I hear the call to prayer, I get goose bumps! so many happy holiday memories have involved this sound!, so this souvenir gives me the chance to relive those memories.
What to pay I think I paid 80dh for this clock, the price started at 300dh!, my hotel shopkeeper said I'd probably pay 50dh.
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
I spotted these pottery Toureg figures in Djemma el Fnaa. After a while haggling I purchased a reclining toureg in a blue jellabah for 50dh. It was wrapped in that days local newspaper. OK, I can't read arabic, but it's another souvenir!
I always pack some bubble wrap in my luggage, in case I'm swayed to purchase fragile articles.
What to buy local pottery
What to pay Haggle for a price you're happy with, I was asked 200dh, and paid 50dh.
Rahba Kedima, in the central souk zone. Several small shops where you can pick up traditional bath products for a handful of dirhams. Bath gloves, terracotta scrubbers, incense. They’ll fill you a plastic bag of gooey, black, homemade shampoo for your trip to the hammam.
There is also some "Henna" artists to get a souvenir of your trip !
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 !
If you want to buy local pottery such as tagines and beautiful painted pottery, if you can find somewhere away from the souks and central medina, preferably where they make the pottery on site you may find what you want a lot cheaper.
Leading away from Djemma el-Fna (as if you were heading for the El-Badi Palace) there's a small shop with their wares outside and at very very good prices. No haggling (there was no need it was so cheap), no hassle just a friendly smile. We paid 80 dirhams for 2 glazed slightly decorated tagines. I was so impressed that I returned the next day and bought a beautiful painted vase.