Marrakech had been on my bucket list for such a long time and I finally got to visit back in May this year.
It is such a beautiful city, full of warm and welcoming people. Having done a bit of reading online I found that a lot of people had concerns about the safety of Marrakech before traveling.
Those that visit Morocco thinking its like any other European country will be in for a culture shock. Familiarise yourself with where you’re going so that you know what to expect and you’ll be absolutely fine. As always, travel with an open mind.
What to wear in Marrakech
In Marrakech I saw people dressed in all different types of clothes, from mini skirts to top-to-bottom covered outfits. You could technically wear whatver you want – there’s no dress code and women aren’t required to wear scarves. Obviously wearing revealing outfits will attract the wrong attention, as it would anywhere in the world. Even though the locals may not say anything, they will think it and they will look.
Purely judging from my own experience – compared to other countries I’ve been to, such as Turkey, Moroccan people are not as aggressive in their approach to women. I didn’t feel threatened in Marrakech, which was surprising to me considering what I had heard. This is not to say that its ok to wear revealing clothes. Out of respect and for your own safety you should be more conservative. I found that showing shoulders was acceptable. Just use your judgement, what do you think is appropriate?
If you’ve not visited the souks then you’ve technically not seen Marrakech. Its buzzing, colourful and fun but also very tiring. The souk isn’t a place you drop by quickly. Its a day long activity so make sure you pack comfortable shoes! You will probably get lost and who knows on which side of Marrakech you will exit.
Throughout the souk you will find that most people sell exactly the same thing, so don’t rush into buying.
Walk around and negotiate, then go for the best price. You will be surprised how low the prices go. Start lower than what you’re willing to pay and work your way up. The vendors prey on gullible looking tourists that like to browse around. The aggressiveness comes out of the vendors when it comes to business and you will be ripped off if not careful. Be firm and walk around like you know your business.
Haggle for taxis just like how you’d haggle for your favourite handbag! The worst thing you can do is to just get in a taxi, expecting “the meter” to run – negotiate the price before you get in the taxi. Ask a trusted local from your hotel, shops and restaurants what the amount should be and stick to that price. You will find that a lot of drivers will quote you up to triple the price and accept your offer as soon as you start walking. Apparently we owe them for parking too, according to a driver who had been waiting outside of a restaurant for one hour for a customer. Don’t fall for it. You can normally get anywhere in Marrakech for under 50 dh. Either way, they are very affordable compared to London but its the principle!
Where to stay in Marrakech
Let me tell you where not to stay – near the main square Jma El Feena. It gets very hectic and tiring, a few hours in the square or souk will drain your energy. Make sure you stay somewhere that’s quieter and away from the main action of the Medina. That way you get to enjoy the best of both worlds. Otherwise you will get stuck in 24/7 noise and won’t feel so relaxed after the holiday. Furthermore, the nighttime around the square gets overcrowded, aggressive and slightly dodgy. We stayed in the new town where felt completely safe, why not try AirBnB or the classic Riads?
Shop ‘til you drop
The Moroccan Dirham is a closed currency. By law you are not allowed to change Dirhams back to your own currency when you leave Morroco if its over 1000 dh. Currency purchased during a visit to Morocco should be converted back before departing the country. Exchange less to start with and spend as you see fit. There are cashpoints around and most major tourist spots do accept cards. If you want to get an idea of the average prices around Marrakesh, see the link here.
My top 3 city recommendations
* Watch the main square Jemaa El Fna come alive from a rooftop restaurant.
* Visit Yves Saint Laurent’s beautiful Jardin De Majorelle.
* Visit Les Baines De Marrakesh for a luxurious Hammam experience.
Unfortunately I am not able to give any amazing food recommendations as I don’t think we were lucky in this aspect and weren’t able to find quality authentic Moroccan cuisine. My mom and I stayed for 3 nights, which I think is the perfect duration unless you venture outside of Marrakech. Feel free to drop me a message on the comment section below if you have any questions.