Congrats!! You’re headed to Marrakech, Morocco!! One of the most beautifully vibrant and culturally diverse places in the world! What’s on your to do list? Shopping in the souks of Marrakech, obviously!! HOLD ON. Before you even think about visiting the souks of Marrakech, you NEED to prepare yourself. One of the most frustrating aspects for me before I visited the souks was not being able to find helpful information before I traveled. I searched for hours and hours, but no blog gave me exactly what I needed. So, I promised myself that I would write a blog when I got back on all the information I wish I knew before visiting the souks!!
HAVE A GENERAL IDEA OF WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING TO BUY
When you have a general idea on what you’re looking to buy, you won’t buy everything you see. Hahaha. It’s really exciting to shop in the souks and can sometimes be an adrenaline rush! But along with that can come impulsive buying. I did plenty of research before I step foot into the souks. On my radar… Moroccan teapots, colorful rugs, spices, baskets, and a few others things. This really helped me hone in on what I truly wanted, and kept distracter items at bay.
NEVER BUY ANYTHING ON THE FIRST OFFER
Never, never, never!! When Dan and I were looking to buy a Moroccan teapot, the first offer presented to us was equivalent to $3,000 American dollars. HAHAHA. Are you kidding me?! Shop owners will most definitely try and take advantage of you in terms of overpricing their items! That’s why it’s so important to be familiar with the conversion rates. And also, one of the culturally fun aspects of shopping in the souks is haggling!! I would recommend educating yourself on what items typically sell for there before you go. For example, we paid $20 USD for a Moroccan teapot. It’s really helpful to have an estimate on what you should be haggling for!
KEEP YOUR MONEY IN A HIDDEN COMPARTMENT
YES PLEASE. Please do this. I would NEVER recommend taking an actual purse or even a backpack into the souks. I would highly recommend wearing a cute fanny pack, or even some type of lanyard. My theory is, you should wear your money on your person as close to you and secure as possible. And on a side note, have your money fairly organized. Don’t take out wads of money to count in the souks when you’re about to pay for something. Not only will that make you a target, but the owner of the shop you’re buying from will automatically price goods higher for you.
ALWAYS KEEP TRACK OF WHERE YOU’RE GOING
9 times out of 10, I felt like I was in a maze in Marrakech. And I felt the exact same way in the souks. If there’s one thing I can guarantee when visiting the souks, it’s that you will get lost. DON’T PANIC. When you panic and look afraid, that will draw attention to you. And do NOT, I repeat, do NOT ask for directions. You will be followed until you pay the person you asked for directions some money. My best advice is to embrace the feeling of being lost. Crazy sounding, I know. But you will eventually find your way back out again. Don’t head towards alleys that don’t look populated, and honestly… just follow the other tourists.
Even if you don’t feel assertive… PRETEND. Showing confidence can be a total game changer. And guess what? No one, besides you, will know if you’re pretending! Carry yourself high and mighty!! Speak firm and with a purpose. Ask questions. Walk with your head held high and own it! If you’re afraid of melting under the pressure of being in the souks, then practice being assertive at home before you actually go to the souks. It may sound silly, but trust me, it will help!
LEARN HOW TO SAY NO
This tip goes alongside the tip of being assertive. If you can’t say “NO” in the souks, then you most definitely should not make a visit. It will either leave you feeling incredibly anxious… or incredibly broke. I’ll share with you my story of the souks… which I now think is hilarious. I was with my husband, Dan, and we entered quite a large shop in the souks. The second we walked in, the shop owner stuck to us like bees on honey. He was showing us literally every single item in his shop. This was our first shop, so we knew we didn’t want to buy anything. But, oh boy, this shop owner was determined. My husband and I had said we didn’t want to buy anything about 20 times (literally), and then he grabbed my hand and said, “I want to touch money with you”. At this point, Dan and I were on the verge of laughter because this was becoming so ridiculous. But also at this point, Dan was getting a little upset because this man was being so intense, and he said, “Sir, let go of my wife’s hand. We are leaving”. And then I strongly pulled my hand away and we walked out… all the while the shop owner still yelling at us to buy something from him.
SHOP AROUND AND COMPARE PRICES
Just like shopping in the mall or shopping online… shop around first before committing to something!! Not just thinking about the price, but you also want to see what is all offered!! I really wanted to buy a Moroccan teapot, but the only problem was… there were literally thousands to choose from! I looked at hundreds of teapots before finally settling on the beauty that I wanted!
WEAR CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE CLOTHING
If there’s one aspect of traveling that I always emphasize (especially with being a woman), it’s to dress culturally appropriate and modest. You don’t want to be drawing extra and unwanted attention to you, especially when salesmen of the souks are already pretty aggressive. When traveling throughout Marrakech, I wore pants, did not expose my cleavage, covered my shoulders and wore a head shawl. I would HIGHLY recommend you do the same.
So, what are you guys thinking?? Have I scared you off yet? Hehehe! I hope not! I honestly loved the souks, but I can guarantee I wouldn’t have loved them if I didn’t do my research first. The souks can be pretty intimidating and overwhelming. But just take everything one step at a time, and you can love them just as much as I did!
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