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Marrakech’s Magic Medina

Souk Shop - Till You Drop.


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A swirling maze of sounds and colours shimmering under the North African sun, shopping in Marrakech is an adventure, so prepare for your senses to be dazzled.

The amazing things you encounter here will enchant your soul – and frazzle your nerves slightly from time to time. So if you’re up for a real dose of Moroccan lifestyle, then take some time and head to the medina. Medina is the Arabic word for old town and this UNESCO-listed quarter is Marrakech’s show-stopping sight to see – a never-ending labyrinth of winding and shaded alley­ways jam-packed with crowded souks (markets). The medina souks are basically a giant shopping mall, but laid out in a jumbling medieval maze. One of the most exciting and authentic cultural activities you can do here is shopping in the souk. Sheep carcasses swing from hooks, donkey carts lurch through alleys, and everywhere you look, you see and hear locals chattering loudly with family, friends and merchants. There is a sound to everything here and the smells are amazing. Each seller has a specialty – leather, scarves, jewellery, spices, oils, etc. – and the goods cover every inch of the tightly packed stalls.

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Shopping is an art form in Morocco – well, actually it’s more accurate to say that haggling is the art form. And whether you want to spice up your kitchen with North African flavours or buy a carpet to add some Moroccan style to your home – the price must be negotiated. For people who are accustomed to walking into a store and seeing clearly displayed fixed prices – this can get a bit stressful at times.

Shop owners tend to set their initial price ridiculously high. So don’t panic, this is all part of the game. Make a counter-offer that is no more than half of that amount. The aim is to remain consistent, because bargaining ambitiously is an integral part of Moroccan culture and is expected. Don’t be discouraged by the dealer’s theatrical dismay about your own price proposal – stay stubborn and try to get your price, because that’s also part of the game!

  • Marrakech’s main attraction is its 11th-century medina surrounded by 16km of ramparts with 12 gates.
  • The medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main market streets are Souk Semmarine and Souk el-Kebir.
  • Don’t go shopping on your first day. It can be a bit overwhelming. The old city's frenetic pulse is best sampled in small sips.
  • Take your time. Get an overview of the goods and prices before you start negotiating.

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