I recently took a three night trip over to Marrakesh, the city was so beautiful than ever. We did a lot of day activities I also did a day tour on Atlas Mountain; it is indeed a gorgeous mountain. Being on the mountain, I got the whole experience of what Marrakesh is all about. Not limited to that, I visited the Koutobia Mosque, shopped at the souks and spice market, stayed in Riad with friends. However, to follow this up, it seemed proper to tell you some important things to expect before you visit this spectacular city. I had never been to Marrakesh before this journey, so I did not know what to expect, but sometimes it is excellent arriving without expectations beyond a couple of basic tips. In general, Marrakesh is becoming an even more well-liked destination this year, and it will inevitably get crowded with tourists in coming years. So it seemed proper for me to share what I felt, heard and seen with you.
Here are my unforgettable experiences and top tips for those people who are planning to visit this paradise on earth!
- YOU WILL GET HASSLED
The simplest way to put that in plain words is to say that you will be walking dollar bills to many of the shop owners in the souks; everyone is keen to get you to buy goods from their stores. Whether it is Moroccan carpets, slippers, shoes, tea, spices, or exotic animals they will be determined to flog it all to you. After the first visit to the souks you would have got the hang of the polite to ignore, but sometimes it is fun to go along with it and learn about the products they are offering. Be cautious, though, shop owners become a little bit hostile if you change your mind on purchasing an item. Walking through the souks open to slight exploration, expect to be frazzled but be firm with declining if you have no interest in what they are selling. Do not be discouraged by the locals from this. However, most of them are exceedingly friendly, welcoming and willing to help wherever they can!
As I said earlier, you will be mostly walking money so the price will increase when you ask. Just say no and go in with a meager amount that you are planned to budge up a little if they say no and have a maximum that you will walk away from if they do not agree to it. The walking away method works well because as soon as they see that you are leaving, they will immediately agree to your offer. The chance is that they are getting a significant profit on the item anyway so do not be concerned if you think you are rude, it is all part of the experience expected by the salesmen.
- TAXI FARES
We didn’t use taxis a lot only for airport travel and the trip to Atlas Mountain, but the tip that was very useful to my stay in Marrakesh was to agree with your cab driver the amount you will be paying before the expedition starts. In addition to that, if you are staying in a hotel ensure you ask the amount they advise a cab journey to be and then say it to the cab driver when you get in, often they gladly agree to it after sometimes trying to bargain a little. Do not get into cabs that are lined up outside tourist sight and a great example of that is the Majorelle Gardens.
- STAY AT A RIAD
There are many riads across the Medina and these are very beautiful and colorful, and they are the perfect place to stay to have a true Marrakesh experience. You can come across many on Airbnb hotels such as El Fenn or La Sultana, these are hotels built from many converted riads, maintaining a genuine feel while also providing a comfortable stay. Besides, more swanky hotels are in this dazzling city, just in case you want to be in the heart of the town with your little asylum away from the craziness then a riad is indeed an excellent choice.
- CONSTRUCTIVE PHRASES AND WORDS
It is quite always useful and helpful to have a little knowledge of some keywords when visiting a city like Marrakesh which has two main languages which are Arabic and French, but people also speak a little English as well. So here are the three Arabic words that will be helpful and useful for your journey. If you know a little French, it will also be a plus.
“Hello” = “Salaam Alaikum,” means ‘peace be with you’ and is used as a greeting.
Thank you= “La Choukran” & “Choukran”=“No Thank you,” pronounced “Shokran.”
“Where is…? “= “Feen … ?” Pronounced “fin.”
Try to convert in Marrakesh as the exchange rate was way better. It is almost double! Also, it is quite advisable to convert as much as necessary money in the airport and bring some extra of your currency (AUD, USD, GBP, etc.) to change at bureaus in the metropolis center. That is because I found it quite challenging to find cash points that in fact worked without walking in the complete opposite direction and there was also fees with using an ATM and the rate was not same as using a bureau. There are a few Exchange Bureaus when you arrive at Marrakesh Menara airport or convert some before you embark on the trip. Try not to carry all your money around with you for safety reasons but you will get a lot for your money with the Moroccan Dirham, and in case you are eating out at restaurants in the city the food is affordable so try not to carry around more than necessary!
- WATER AND FOOD
For your well being, it is advisable to drink bottled water when you are in this city to avoid any contamination. Always go for hot and freshly cooked food. You can also eat local cuisine; it is the freshest items on the menu. Give the food at the night market a shot and also at the cafes ignoring the main square, they are all yummy, tasty and much cheaper than eating at the more upmarket restaurants that mainly located in the city. In addition to that, don’t forget the mint tea. Try it. It is deliciously sugary! Also don’t forget the Juice bar, best thing since slice bread.
Don’t take pictures of the locals without permission. Also, don’t take pictures of monkeys/snake charmers in the main square. The first warning is for cultural reasons; in this city, her people believe that pictures capture their soul and so unless you have permission try to avoid capturing of local people in Marrakesh. On top of that, do not take photos of the snakes being charmed in the main square or the monkeys on chains unless you are willing to pay a substantial sum for the freedom. In addition to that, be careful of capturing explicit photos of the stores as they may try and make you buy something for doing so.
I will definitely visit again maybe in 2 years time, as they have a lot or beautiful and colorful ornaments for home decor, I believe there is still a lot more to see in Marrakesh.