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While those unfamiliar streets, dubious characters, and haggling shopkeepers can be daunting, Morocco's souks and medinas are wonderful places to shop and explore. Check out these tip
The medina is the old historic part of town with high stone walls (like you'll see in Marrakesh and Fes) and is divided into Quartiers. Each
Souks are the traditional marketplaces and are often divided into sections for the various trades. You'll see herbalists, spice sellers, metal workers, tanners, and food markets congregated on trade-specific streets.
Souks are a maze of alleys and narrow streets, and it's easy to get lost. Look out for landmarks, like a flight of steps or an arch, so if you need to return after dark they can easily be picked out.
It's not a good idea to walk around on your own after dark in Casablanca or Tangier. Marrakesh, Rabat
The biggest hazard in the souks are the mopeds that hurtle around at high speed. This, coupled with mule carts and wagons, can make walking here a challenge.
The unwritten rule in Morocco - but not Fes (see below) - is to walk on the right side of the street. Keep this in mind when you see an oncoming moped - stick to the right and avoid sudden movements. Take your earphones out, and pass on the audio tour, as you won't hear anything or anyone approaching you from behind.
In the Fes medina, people walk more on the left, if they follow any rule at all. Busy Fes medina intersections are chaos because everyone just pushes their way through. A note on earphones, though, I found them surprisingly effective as a way to ward off touts! Usually worn without sound, for safety reasons, but shopkeepers wouldn't bother me beyond making a little dancing motion and pointing at my ears when wearing them. - Johanna from TravelEater.
It's highly likely you'll be approached by a "guide" in the souk or medina, who will want to take you on a tour, usually to a relative's carpet shop.
Be polite but firm and just say, "No thank you" and continue to ignore them.
Don't ask them anything, don't let them show you the best places to take photos, or advise you on what to buy in a shop - because once you do, you have actively engaged them, and they will demand money.
Most cities have licensed guides who will provide a comprehensive tour of the historic areas around the medina and souk for a reasonable rate, and many have built up relationships with the local community which helps visitors engage with the locals. These guides will take you to specific shops, and will often have good advice on what to buy. There is no obligation for you to make a purchase, but know, that if you do, your guide will be getting a cut.
Being photographed is not something the community likes, particularly women. It's best to ask beforehand to avoid having your camera damaged, or offending the locals.
Tipping is expected for offering a service in Morocco, so if someone guides you, or helps you, they will expect some coins in return.
It's tradition to haggle for goods in shops, and it's considered best not to ask the price unless you definitely want to buy.
Walking away from a deal halfway through is one tactic for getting a stalled haggle moving in your favor, but only if you really intend to buy. But if you start a deal, walking away is considered rude and is likely to cause upset. Agree on a price and shake hands, and above all treat it as an experience and not a battle.
Some travelers have reported that vendors in popular tourist souks are starting at astronomical prices, expecting you to haggle your way down to a price that is still way over the odds.
Be aware that much of the silver used in jewelry is now imported, as vendors try to keep up with tourist demand.
Do your research, and try to determine a fair price for what you want to buy. Official government artisan shops, and even department
Getting lost in the souk is not ideal. And if you haven't got an official guide, you could be taken somewhere you don't want to be.
If you are lost, walk into a shop or restaurant and ask for directions, the owner will be more than happy to help.
Google Maps works quite effectively, even in the labyrinth of the Fès
Most hotels have maps of the souks, and it helps to get the staff to mark and write the location for you
Watch out in crowded areas, as pick-pocketing and petty theft is very common. Don't wear expensive jewelry, keep your valuables out of sight and a firm grip on your bag (with zippers fastened).
Violent or serious crime is still rare in Morocco, however, there have been a few cases of robberies at knife-point. If you are mugged, don't be brave, hand over whatever is demanded and live to tour another day.
Attitude is all-important, if you go into a medina or souk with low expectations, you'll probably have a negative experience. Aim to enjoy it; walk with a sense of purpose, with a positive attitude, and you really will get more out of the event. Most locals are friendly and aren't out to get you.
Morocco is a very conservative country so dressing conservatively (covering shoulders to knees and everything in between; long shirt covering your butt, shirt not too tight) helps minimize unwanted attention and the locals will appreciate it. If you feel you’re getting lots of attention, pop a scarf over your hair and you’ll be treated more like a local woman, i.e ignored or respected.
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How to avoid the most common scams in Morocco, henna tattoos and fossils to drugs and dodgy guides, this is what you must know.
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