The ONLY Marrakech Souk guide you need – with PRICES!
You’d think being born in India, I would be prepared for chaos! No!
It’s mayhem stepping in Djemaa el Fna, the entrance to Marrakech’s souks, albeit in a friendly fashion.
I kept hopping around while a snake charmer followed me with a snake telling me to overcome my fear, while kissing the ‘water snake’ simultaneously!
I was also plonked into a chair by one of the local henna artists, who insisted on calling me ‘Fatima’ and continued to draw patterns while I kept telling her repeatedly I wasn’t too keen :)
Did I cause you to panic? Well you needn’t as a treasure horde of experiences lie in store for you in Marrakech’s souks! If you’ve never faced a ‘souk’ before, take a seat at one of the cafe’s dotted around the square.
Relax, have a mint tea, and take it all in.
Scour for overwhelming and unusual sights around: You’ll see herbal doctors, folk singers & musicians and the occasional story-teller, giving you a glimpse into the workings of Marrakech’s souk.
The same slot could be occupied by a monkey trainer during the day or a local gymnast in the evening, so you’ll definitely have ‘sight’ variety.
If you’ve already browsed the web for advice, you may have glanced info about Marrakech souk’s, telling you to absorb the chaos or to get lost. That being true, here’s a mini Marrakech souk guide, something to save you precious quid and some harrowing experiences if possible!
Once you feel you’re ready to step into the souk and get absorbed into it all, let’s go!
Stroll around in the souk, on Day 1 or at-least the first half!
The smells, the color and the vibrancy will overtake your senses. You will find everything in the souks of Marrakech.
Aromatic spices, amazing quality leather, dry fruits [including fancy kiwi’s], ornaments both artificial and silver, vegetable vendors – all yelling their best prices and trying to lure you! there is a souk for everything!
A leather souk, a spice souk, ornament souk, dry fruit souk, garment souk, phew! Vendors like to keep to their section of the souk. Which translates to competition, in turn assuring you of the best price!
Don’t fret about getting lost. Chances are, you very well will. But then all you have to do is ask around for directions back to djemaa el fna or walk in the direction of the Koutoubia mosque.
Do not buy anything on Day 1 in the souk,or on your first stroll around, nor ask the prices for the same! If you ask – you have to buy, as the vendors do not like bargaining when the deal cannot be closed! They consider it wasted time!
Ask the locals in Marrakech at your place of stay
I’m damn certain there will be something that will catch your attention in the souk. So if you’re off for a bite or even back to your accommodation in Marrakech, ask the locals there of the price you should be paying.
They will be more than glad to help!
Then all that’s left is to go and get your hands on that charming neckpiece or pretty lamp :)
If you’re from the UK you will find it quite funny to hear ‘Primark prices here’ or ‘Asda prices here’: it very well could be too! The vendors in Marrakech know their potential buyers ;)
If you already know the price, you still have to haggle!
Here’s how it goes: You always starts with 1/3 rd of the price stated. Then the vendor decreases his quoted price while you increase a little. Ensue you do not pay more than 50% of the price.
This is not applicable for dry fruits or most edible stuff but certainly true for wares.
Here’s a price list for items [in Dirhams] I got for myself:
- Small lamps : 30 each
- Olives : 40 for a big tub, 10 for a small one
- Harems: 140
- Handloom cloth bag: 120
- Argan oil: 150 medium size bottle
- Head turban: 70
- Mojris [local ballerinas] : 140
Hope that helps! If you do find the above goods at a better price: Wow! You must be awesome at bargaining :)
Be polite, but firm when saying No
I did go through the ‘It’s rude to walk away’ or ‘It’s impolite not to acknowledge the person’, but it’s OK to smile or wave your hand and walk away. If you’re not interested, do not stop!
Be dressed modestly
Morocco [and Marrakech precisely] is one of the most tolerant places I have been to. Even if you do wear something inappropriate, you will not be bothered but you will definitely be readily accepted if you do :)
The souk’s in Marrakech are a burst of color. If you ‘re a photographer and do want to capture the snake charmers [or the snakes] in the square willingly, ensure you settle on a price before you click away :) Applicable for a Caleche ride or any activities not involving goods. If you want to take pictures of the goods, do ensure you ask for permission. The locals do like not like being featured in pictures!
It is apparently the tradition for all to bargain and it’s fun to go with the flow.
A fantastic encounter – I was super pleased to get authentic spices and perfume bars!
Scroll down to see more treasures and novelties from a page out of the Arabian Nights!
Have I tempted you to start fantasizing about paying a visit to amazing Africa? :P
PIN FOR LATER!
Marrakech souk guide
- The vendors in the souk at Marrakech start off at about 9.30 am. This is the best time to purchase stuff when you return after a stroll!
- Although many resources provide names for different souks, they are all connected to each other and the entrance to the souk is via the Jemaa EL Fnaa square. Once you navigate internally, you will find yourself in different souks concentrating on particular goods
- The souks are usually open till 9 pm. However the performers[and some vendors] in the Djemaa el Fna square continue till 3 am!
- The cafe’s around the square close by 11 pm.
- It is pretty safe to walk around the square or the medina at night. The local military is always on standby.
I will soon be adding some exciting things that you could take up beyond having mint tea’s and orange juice in Marrakech! Stay tuned!
Till then why not check the Northern Ireland archives?
If this Marrakech souk guide did help you out…I’ll be happy to know! Do drop in a comment below :)
‘Your e-mail will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared with anyone.’