Morocco is a wonderful country for shopping. The Morocco souks (Arabic markets) in every big city have a specific culture, craftsmanship, and traditions that is bustling with life. It is absolutely amazing to see these colourful and bright markets that will remind you of places described in fairytales.
The Morocco souk is a part of the medina (Arabic city) and is the central point for the local people. Walking in the narrow alleys, staring at the various shops and admiring the beauties of crafts is a major experience when visiting Morocco. Some of the most amazing souks are in Fes, Marrakech, and Essaouira. The structure of all of them is more or less similar and is divided in sections starting with leather goods, Berber traditional medicines, pottery, utensils, spices and other amazing crafts.
At a first glance the souk might seem overwhelming. This will mainly depend in which city you are. Marrakesh is more touristic with more motorbikes riding through the media. Fes has more narrow streets and without a guide it is easier to get lost in.
If you have already made up your mind that you will be in the souks for some shopping, there are few tips that should be kept in mind. The general idea is to make your experience worthwhile and less frustrating especially if you are not so familiar with the local way of haggling or bartering.
Plan in advance
For an amazing souk experience you should plan well ahead. It’s always the best approach to scout the souk first prior to plunging directly into shopping. This will also allow you to get used to the life in the market and will give you the opportunity to observe the people while doing their trade. Start the following day with small purchases and once you have felt more confident in your haggling skills move along to the larger items.
Bargaining is considered an extreme sport when shopping in Morocco souks. Be prepared to barter in most shops that do not have fixed price items. Something to keep in mind is that whenever you ask the price of some item, you would hear the highest price that the trader believes will be able to get away with. In most of the cases the price can be brought down to more than ½.
Ask before you take pictures
If you need to take some memories from this challenging journey, don’t forget to ask before making shots. Most of the traders and shop owners will refuse to have their picture taken. In case they do, you can simply walk away with a smile.
Always bring small change with you when you are in the Morocco souks. Although, the traders accept USD dollars and Euro, it will help when bargaining to have small change too rather than large bills. Another trick that helps is to show your empty pockets as a sign that this is all you have.