8 Travel Tips To Know When Visiting Marrakech
Fresh out of university and with the little money I was earning from my first job, I decided to visit Marrakech with my friend. This was partly because flights to Morrocco are inexpensive also, it was easy to get to from London yet far enough to experience an exotic new land. I was unsure of what to expect and was happily surprised by the warmth and friendliness of the people, the chaotic and vibrant Djemaa el-Fna and beautiful architecture of the buildings.
Marrakech is fast becoming a popular tourist destination. I’ll be sharing eight important travel tips that are sure to make your visit to Marrakech much better.
Here are my 8 Travel tips to know when visiting Marrakech!
Avoid Fake Guides
Fake guides are everywhere. They’ll linger outside your hotel or within the medina and offer to show you a new market or tourist attractions. My suggestion would be to book tours and guides ahead before arriving. If you would like a guided tour, hire a licensed guide; one with an official tourist badge. This is for your own safety.
We had a licensed tour guide and it was worth the money, as most of the tourist sites did not have a lot of information in English, so it was good to have someone telling us about the culture and history of Morocco. You’ll definitely learn more about Marrakech and Morocco in general by using a licensed tour guide.
Take Cash with you
Convert enough cash before you arrive in Marrakech or at the Exchange Bureaus in Marrakech’s Menara airport. This will save you the hassle of trying to find a cash point in the medina.
Many restaurants surrounding the square parameter also accept credit cards. But, within the Souks, cash is king and the only way to pay is with cash, using the Moroccan currency (Dirham).
Marrakech is a chaotic place and there will be cars, motorbikes, donkeys, horse carriages, bicycles to watch out for. You’ll not only find them on the streets and roads but also whizzing through the narrow alleyways, forcing you to press yourself against the lining walls in an attempt not to be ran over.
Ask permission before taking photos of, or with any animals (monkey or snake) in the square. If you don’t mind paying, then ask about the price upfront.
I’m a Jamaican so I love haggling. It’s something we do in the Caribbean, and in the Souks, haggling is also a tradition. So you’ll need to keep your wits about you, stand your ground and haggle till the cows come home. If the price is still too high after haggling, walk. Often, this works and gets the seller to lower their price.
Stalls also tend to sell similar items so you can always walk to the next stall. But don’t start haggling with a seller if you have no intentions of buying. That’s disrespectful.
Morocco is a Muslim country and while Marrakech isn’t as conservative as many other Arab cities, you should still dress appropriately.
Women are to cover their shoulders and wear skirts that are at least knee-length. Men are advised to wear T-shirts rather than tank tops.
As with any country, it's important to do your research and be respectful of the culture.
Useful words and phrases
When travelling to a new country, it's good to know at least a few phrases, such as a “please” and “thank you”. The official language of Morocco is Arabic, but French is used as the unofficial second language. These are the four Arabic phrases that I found particularly useful on my trip:
'Thank you' – ‘Shukran’ and thank you very much ‘Shukran bezzef’
‘Hello’ – ‘Salaam-Alaikum’, It means ‘peace be with you’ and is use as a general greeting.
‘No thank you’ – ‘la shukraan’
‘How much is this?’ – ‘Kam howa thamanoh?’
Stay at a Riad
Hands down the best place to stay for a true Moroccan experience is a Riad. A Riad is a traditional Moroccan house in the medina built with rooms off an internal courtyard. They can range from basic to luxurious (1-5 stars), but it is best to aim for 3 stars and above. The rooms usually have ensuite bathrooms and include breakfast in the rates. A friend recommended where we stayed- The Riad Nesma- and it turned out to be lovely and just within walking distance of the medina.
What are your travel tips for visiting Marrakech?