A day exploring the souks is a must for anyone travelling to Morocco. The thrill of haggling with the streetwise stall sellers amongst the bustling Medina atmosphere is something that ever traveller should experience. You can buy everything here – from bags and shoes to spices and carpets!
However, for some, knowing what to buy in Morocco can be confusing. The Marrakech souk prices can vary greatly from stall to stall, and it can be hard to tell who’s ripping you off and who’s selling you quality product. Add the chaotic touting and persistence of eager souk salesmen to the mix, and it can feel like quite an intimidating experience for solo travellers.
During my trip to Marrakech, I was lucky enough to get chatting to a stall holder named Omar, who has since remained a good friend. For this post, he was kind enough to answer some questions and give us his ultimate Moroccan souk shopping tips for the best buys in Marrakech.
1) Hi Omar! Tell us a bit about yourself? How long have you worked in the Marrakech souks?
I’ve been working in the souk since 2010. I started by cleaning and helping my uncle in his shop.
2) It’s been said that all the stall holders are in collaboration so that tourists can’t get better prices from one to the other. Is it true that everyone is friends, or is there big competition?
Of course we are not all friends! The market is so big, there’s big competition over here between the shops!
3) As a seller who works in the souk day in and day out, what sometimes annoys you about the customers?
It’s common for the customer not to see the value in the traditional products that we sell. They don’t see the value in them, and as a result, expect a low price or sometimes sneer at them.
“The best way for a customers to get a good price is by not taking a guide with them”
4) What’s the best way for a customer to get a good price in the Medina?
The best way to get a good price from us is by not taking a guide with them. The guides may seem like they have your best interests at heart, but they are set up to deal with particular sellers, and will take a cut from the sales. As a result, you will always pay more with them.
5) What would you say is the best thing to buy in the souks, and why?
The best things in the market are the rugs. Of course, they are the most expensive thing, but that’s because it is considered a very old tradition in Morocco, especially in mountain areas. We value them a lot ourselves.
6) Is it true that tourists shouldn’t ask about the price of something if they have no intention of buying it or going into a haggle?
This is not entirely true because people ask about the price and often don’t buy anything. It’s part of our every day life.
7) Do you give smiley, friendly customers a better price?
Yeees! Of course! This happens so much because we feel like they deserve it more. I remember my favourite clients, we are like a family now!
8) Do you think the souks are safe for women travelling alone?
Yes! The souk is really really safe for women travelling alone. It’s worth noting that, although you may not like it, the culture is still very different here. A lot of men will still take showing a lot of skin as an invitation for attention. If you want less of it, the best way to avoid it is to cover up.
I’d like to finish this post by saying a HUGE thanks to my friend Omar, not only for answering the questions, but for also giving me permission to use his beautiful photos in this post.
Did you find Omar’s information helpful? Do you have any of your own to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.
Really interesting post! So refreshing to hear a locals view of things.
Thank you! I think it’s important to get see how we come across as tourists sometimes 🙂
Wow, I would be overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices, even before considering price! Sometimes it’s hard for someone on the outside to understand the value of something; we don’t know all the years of skill and all the work that goes into creating it. This definitely makes me want a Moroccan rug though! Morocco is high on my list, so thank you for these tips!
Thanks for the lovely comment! You’re so right … I did a car boot sale the other day, and the number of people haggling with me for daft prices was insulting (and that was only for a day!)
This is a cool perspective to write a blog post from — like an insiders view 🙂 headed to Morocco this week as part of our world tour so doing my research now 🙂
OH amazing – where are you headed? We also went to Essaouira, which we discovered a lot of people preferred to Marrakech as it wasn’t as pushy. x