WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

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.

Photo 21.02.18, 6 46 25 PM

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.

Photo 21.02.18, 10 24 05 AM

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.

Photo 22.02.18, 12 14 38 PM.jpg


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

XX LISA

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24 thoughts on “WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

  1. Ruth says:

    I would love to visit Morocco one day but, based on your descriptions, it reminds me of Egypt and Turkey. I do not enjoy the haggling and many calls from vendors. I guess you have to be ready to deal with that. So sad to hear about the cats (or their conditions). I recently visited the Balkans an there are several cities full of cats. The only thing is that they are well cared in there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WanderMum says:

    Really helpful tips. It has been a while since I visited Marrakesh but I did love it there. You do get pestered a lot and a lot of tourists shell out at the first price given on the markets. I don’t remember the stray cats. Poor things. 😢#farawayfiles

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oregongirlaroundtheworld says:

    We have Morocco on our family wish list, but may limit our time in Marrakech – I can only process so much hectic. Great tips and love the idea of the riad outside of the center to get a bit of a break. I would love for my kids to experience all of this – even the crazy haggling and labyrinthine markets! Saving for later – thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    Like

  4. Thoroughly Modern Grandma says:

    I did enjoy visiting Marrakech but it is very full on and i did get bored of haggling and I didn’t feel I could stop and browse as the vendors were always hassling for a sale. Having said that, it is definitely worth experiencing. ‘ citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mary {The World Is A Book} says:

    Morocco has been on my travel wish list for a long time. These are wonderful and sensible tips. Those poor cats are heartbreaking. I have always thought of Morocco as the first trip I would do with a tour group to feel comfortable but I will definitely keep these in mind when we finally go.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rhonda Albom says:

    I loved my visit to Morocco although Fes was my favourite city. I always stayed in medina riads when possible but they were down an alley or out of the central area. Jemaa el-Fnaa is a must see although my walk back to the other side of the medina at night was through dark streets (I was not alone so no worries). Good advice on pickpockets and only taking what you need. Also be aware when using ATMs that unscrupulous types can be watching and may target you (almost happened in Fes).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Clare Thomson says:

    Marrakesh is such a massive assault on the senses, isn’t it? It’s part of the joy of it but it’s well worth being prepared for that. We’ve stayed in both riads in the centre and larger hotels on the outskirts and enjoyed both. I too really struggled with haggling for everything but it’s expected in Morocco. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Niche Travel Design says:

    Such great advice on so many issues. Question, should we not pay in advance for a tour guide then? I love taking pictures of locals and markets, etc. so its good to know the local custom of asking beforehand and paying. What is a typical price to take a photo?

    Thanks for the tips. #farawayfiles

    Like

    • Lisa Marie says:

      Thank you! :-)
      What I would do is don’t book any tours online and wait until you’re in Marrakech and then talk to the people at the reception of your hotel or riad and ask for recommended tours. Usually they work together with certain tour operators so if something goes wrong your hotel/riad will be able to help you call them, get your money back, get a discount, etc.
      Uhm if I would say you should be prepared to pay something between 10 – 20 Dirhams for a picture. That’ll be like 2,50€ – 5€.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Sarah says:

    Loving all your Marrakech posts that bring me back to when I was there last year! It’s such a special place :) All the stray kitties broke my heart too :( I have to say I really enjoyed staying in the Old Town though! However I think a large part of that was because I was with my boyfriend and unfortunately I do feel safer if there is, well, a tall man with me. If I’d been traveling solo or even with another woman I probably would want to stay in the New Town, or plan to basically not be out after sunset.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. pigeonpairandme says:

    I went to Marrakech about ten years ago and you’re right, it’s incredible – but so hectic! We stayed in the old town, which turned out ok, although I did have a bad experience where a man rode past me on a scooter and patteed my behind. Still, I do love the place. I’d be interested to see what it’s like there with kids. #citytripping.

    Like

  11. Christine | The Journey of Christine says:

    This is a great post! So informative! How can buying things in advance is bad there? Do they rip you off? Just curious :) The last time I was in LA, I took a picture of Hollywood Blvd. and this drummer asked me for money cause he was in the picture. I wasn’t taking a picture of him per se, just the street and environment. I told him no and he was said “People with expensive cameras are always cheap.” I was in shock! So I told him “Then don’t play for free on the street”. lol

    Like

    • Lisa Marie says:

      I’ll get more into that on my V-LOG (once I finally find time to film it) but basically we booked & paid for Riad in advance and when we arrived there it turned out they double booked our room and we didn’t have a place to stay but still haven’t gotten our money back so far. We also bookes & paid for a daytrip to the Atlas Mountains in advance and got picked up multiple hours late which means our full day trip was actually a half day trip while we paid for the full day and again – didn’t get any money back.

      Ha- what a fun story! :-D

      Like

    • Lisa Marie says:

      yess, that’s a really difficult thing. I love being in the city center too and also Riads are so authentic and beautiful. But Marrakech itself is just such a sensory-overload it’s nice to get out in the evening and enjoy the calmer side of the city.

      Like

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