sooo if you’re following me on instagram or have read my TEN THINGS TO DO IN MARRAKECH, MOROCCO post, you probably know that while i fell insanely in love with morocco’s so red city, my trip to morocco was super chaotic and a lot of things didn’t go as planned. i know i promised you a v-log storytime about that, but i didn’t have the time to film it yet. it’s coming soon though – i promise!
for now i want to give you a heads up on a few things i wish i had known before visiting morocco:
1. don’t pay for anything in advance
what I had to learn the hard way is that you should never ever pay anything in advance in morocco – doesn’t matter if its your riad, a daytrip or anything else. just make sure to always have cash on you (not too much though – see #5) and pay everything right when you need it. there’s lots of atms in marrakech where you can get cash easily. also it’s super important to always give taxi drivers, vendors etc. exact change because most of the time they won’t give you any money back.
2. the streets are super crowded
while i loved the fact that there’s always something going on in marrakech, the non-stop hustle and bustle can also be quite chaotic if you’re not prepared. walking inside the old Medina can be a bit overwhelming at first – the streets are super narrow, there’s thousands of people and to top that off there’s even people driving their motorcycles, cars and busses (!!!) through those narrow streets.
3. haggle, haggle, haggle
if you only remember one thing you read here it should be this: when shopping in morocco you need to haggle! at first i was felt really uncomfortable about the thought o haggling but here’s what i learned about it in morocco: you should never act too interested in something, even if you really like that certain item. also don’t accept the first price given, even if you do want something really bad offer a lower price. best is to start haggling at half of the original price.
4. all the stray cats will break your heart
usually cats are sacred in islam, but in marrakech it it didn’t seem like they were revered at all. so be prepared to see lots and lots of innocent little cats struggling for survival on the city streets anywhere you go in marrakech. also it’s not just cats struggling to survive but also cats that lost the fight already and now lay on the streets, getting their bodies eaten by other stray cats trying not to starve. so yes – it really is not a nice thing to see! it really broke my heart seeing all those poor cats and not being able to adopt them all!
5. be aware of the pickpockets
as i said the streets in marrakech are really narrow and always super crowded, so if you’re wearing a backpack chances are you won’t notice if anybody takes anything out of your backpack. so what you should do is try to only have the things on you that you’ll really need for the day (like your phone, a little cash, and so on) and keep it in the front pockets of your pants or a fanny pack.
6. don’t take pictures of people
while marrakech as a whole is one big photo opportunity, you better not take pictures of locals (without asking). while shop owners usually don’t mind if you take a picture of their shop, taking pictures of all the story-tellers, performers, snake-charmers, fortune-tellers and so on (especially on the JEMÂA EL-FNA) will always cost you money! they can also get really aggressive if you don’t give them money after taking picture of them.
7. try to ignore the vendors
this is something our riad host told us and it seriously worked so so so well! when you wander the streets (and especially SOUKS) of Marrakech there’ll be vendors coming up to you trying to sell something to you all the time. up until now i’d always tell them “no thank you” or “i’m not interested” but they’d still keep chasing me. so what our riad host told us was to just ignore the vendors because as soon as they have your attention they won’t let you alone and it worked so well! i felt really rude at first not even saying “no thanks” and it also earned us a few rude comments from the vendors but all in all it really worked out great for us!
8. don’t stay in the old town
while i usually like to be right in the middle of everything while traveling, staying in the old town wasn’t really the best decision ever. eventhough riads are super authentic and also really really pretty (plus i reeeeally loved our riad hosts!), the old town is 24/7 noise and craziness. i feel like it’s t’s better to book a hotel in the new town and just go to the old town during the day. especially since there are no street lights in the narrow streets of the medina which makes walking back toyour riad at night a litte creepy.
9. don’t accept direction from strangers
lots of people who tell you the roads ahead of you are closed or want to take you for a shortcut. again just ignore them and walk away. again they will charge you money after helping you. just use offline maps (like citymaps2go or herewego) which will get you through all the crazy little streets in the medina without getting lost.
10. watch the dress code
always keep in mind that morocco is a muslim country. so although there are no official guidelines for tourists on how they have to be dressed, you should dress a bit conservative out of respect. just cover yourself from knees to shoulders and you’ll be fine. also i had a feeling that locals are friendlier when tourists are dressed appropriately.
marrakech is an overload of new experiences, amazing foods, new smells and hectic streets. and unlike any other city i’ve ever been to. i’m sure you’ll have a great time though if you keep those 10 things in mind!
if you’ve ever been to marrakech (or morocco in general) – what’s something you wish you’d have known before visiting? let me know in the comments ↓