We only had 4 days to explore Marrakesh, we decided to go straight to the souks. Sonal had been to the souks before but I wanted to explore and experience the hussle and bustle of the markets. There was a free shuttle bus from the hotel to the souks which dropped us right outside the entrance.
When we got off the shuttle bus a lot of tour guides came towards all of the tourists straight away, be careful as they can be very persuasive if you dont want to be shown around by them! As this was my first time we decided to give the tour guides a try. We picked a tour guide that had an official government card. A few minutes into walking towards the souks the tour guide gave us a speech about the history of the markets and informed us of the best places to eat and shop. All the tour guides seemed to know each other there, it also felt as though they were paid to bring tourists into their shops. Personally I would not recommend taking a guide as you can pretty much explore by yourself as long as you learn to say ‘no thank you’ (la, shukraan) Moroccans speak Arabic and it is mixed with French, so if you can speak Arabic or French you will fit in right away.
This is where things got a bit mysterious, the original tour guide handed us over to another guide who was an elderly chap walking around like he was taking a stroll in the park! (quite literally) Nevertheless he turned out to be very nice, but this was still risky and we would not recommend doing this. As the tour continued the new guide then took us around the markets, he explained more about the culture which was interesting.
It was scorching hot so we wanted to walk slow and in the shade but the tour guide was walking fast and ended up taking us to a shop where he knew the people and probably got a tip for taking us there.
The shop turned out to be really nice, and we ended up buying a few nice gifts for friends and family. We tried to haggle in there as we were buying a lot, which seemed to work a bit but they do put on a hard bargain!
After spending hours in the shop we left happy as we found everything we needed all under one roof. If you want to explore and haggle in several different shops this is approach is not recommend, but Sonal and I preferred to go into one shop and purchase everything. The tour ended early as we wanted to just walk around and spend time taking pictures.
Another tip is, not to take any pictures of people performing in the markets as they will ask for money (unless you want to give them a tip?). Do not be led by any stranger asking you to follow them into their shop, kindly say no thank you and keep walking as this can be a scam to lure in to giving them money.
Click here to read part 3.