Picture your first day in Marrakesh: You stroll through Jamaa El-Fnaa, try a fresh glass of orange juice, snack on a few figs and weave your way into the medina. As you walk past vendors selling spices, carpets, lanterns and fresh fruit, you stumble upon the stall of an elderly shoemaker. You immediately spot the perfect pair and enquire after the price. You are, of course, quoted an extravagantly inflated number, and that’s when you realize—as your stomach drops and your chest tightens—that you’re going to have to bargain in Morocco to secure your prize.
Why bother with shopping at a mall when you can wander the stalls of Marrakech or Fez (You can view our Fez travel guide like a local? Souks—the outdoor bazaars found in Morocco’s cities that are packed with spices, rugs, clothing, handmade soaps and other goods—do not allow vehicle traffic, so the only distractions are other people and the occasional donkey. These stalls display their wares from the ground up just as they did in ancient times.
If you know what you want to purchase you can do so right away or you can just walk through the souk until you get a feel for the way business is performed. Large souks can be very confusing and people have gotten turned around so it may be a good idea to hire a local guide to escort you. The smaller souks are more easily navigated; this may be a good place for people new to the environment to begin. (more…)