What You Should Know Before Visiting Marrakech

Exploring a new city is always exciting but I’ve never felt more unprepared than I was when we arrived in Marrakech. The chaos is unique in is own right and it truly was as eclectic as all the images and stories promised. For those who are thinking of heading over and immersing yourself in Moroccan culture then here are some things you need to know before visiting Marrakech. 

What You Should Know Before Visiting Marrakech

 

  1. Avoid the Friendly Street Guide

Probably my least favourite aspect of Marrakech is the abundance of supposed good Samaritans who offer to escort you to your destination but in reality they are just opportunists looking to make quick money. They are pushy, aggressive and can get surprisingly menacing when you don’t pay them enough dirhams.

 

  1. Dress Conservatively

Wear something you would deem appropriate to meet your boyfriends parents for the first time. Women should wear t-shirts and bottoms should be at least knee length. If you don’t, you may be on the receiving end of some angry comments from outraged local men.

 

Marrakech Guide

  1. Be Confident with Taxi Drivers

Just like anywhere else in the world, taxi drivers are devilish fiends and will definitely overcharge you if you come across as being either lost or unsure of where you are. Any rides within the Medina shouldn’t cost more than 40 dirhams so if a driver quotes something ludicrous like 200 dirhams – say no thank you and walk away. If it’s something more reasonable then there’s no reason not to haggle the price down because a lot of the time your destination is just down the road.

 

  1. Always Carry Cash & Don’t Over-Withdraw

Save yourself from the grief of dealing with the ‘I don’t have change’ excuse and carry small bills when wandering through the souks. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the Dirham is a closed currency meaning that you won’t be able to exchange this back to common currency anywhere. Estimate how much you need a day for food and a little shopping and you can top up at ATMs as you need around the Jemaa el-Fna square.

 

  1. Stay Clear of Snake Charmers, Men with Monkeys & Henna Artists

Firstly, its cruel to see monkeys condemned to running around chained and forced to entertain ignorant tourists. Secondly, if you’re not careful you’ll find yourself being extorted by pushy men who wrap a snake around your neck and refuse to remove it without payment.

We heard a story from another traveller that a lady grabbed her hand and started drawing henna without having been asked to and demanded payment despite the abysmal job. I’ve found the best course of action is to not make eye contact or even give them a glimpse of your curiosity of what they have to offer. If anyone is wondering, the water puddles under the baskets are there to keep the snakes from overheating – sound unpleasant? It sure is.

 

Riad BE Marrakech

 

  1. Never Pay the Price You’re Quoted

Owners won’t be surprised or offended if you do so as it’s part of the culture so have some fun with it. Test out your poker face and walk away nonchalantly if the owner doesn’t agree to your proposed price and you’ll find they’ll be more than willing to sell you what you want.

Rule of Thumb: My general rule on finding what the owners threshold is that if the owner engages in a back and forth match of the price is right then you haven’t found their tipping point. If they immediately decline and walk away then you know you’ve gone too low.

 

  1. Stay at Riads Located Inside the Medina

Having experienced both five star hotels and local converted riads within the Medina, I can safely say that the local experience is a lot more authentic and offers much respite from the craziness of the city. We stayed at BE Marrakech, which was truly such a nice experience, and the staff there were just incredibly helpful and hospitable. It was like our sanctuary after drearily wandering through the souks in 40-degree heat.

 

Marrakech Guide, Zagora Desert Tour

 

  1. Choose Merzouga over Zagora

If you’re time poor then Zagora is the only tour you can get done in 2 days but if you do have the time to spare then opt for Merzouga (3 days). Zagora can’t really be classified as desert as it is barren land with lots and lots of hard rocks. Whilst we still had fun sleeping under the stars we wished we had gone with the longer tour to Merzouga.

Many thanks to Destination Morocco Tours for looking after us throughout our stay and Abdul for being such a great guide and to Nicole’s wonderful team at BE Marrakech for their gracious hospitality.

Happy travels guys! Keep an eye out for my Colours of Marrakech post to come or check out the Colours of Hong Kong post here

 

Does anybody have any good stories from Marrakech?

 

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Helen

Helen Chik is a Sydney based fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle digital content creator and influencer sharing everything from unique style to her adventures around the world through her rainbow tinted lenses.

  • Enn Franco

    I really want to visit this place! It inspires me soooo much!

    http://www.ennfrancosays.com

  • OH my it looks like such a beautiful place to visit.

    Candice Beauty Candy Loves

  • OH my… I’d love to visit Marrakech next year 🙂
    This post is amazing and so raw an honest and I truly appreciate that!
    It definitely looks like a unique place, but very different than this side of the world, so it’s good to be aware on what to expect!
    Love your photos by the way. I’m definitely saving this post for future reference 😉
    XO
    Aimara
    http://www.waysofstyle.com

  • I’ve never been but have been wanting to go to Marrakech! Thank you for these tips! It’s always fun to hear about people’s experiences in new cities and what they found as good dos and don’ts to share with us. =o)

    https://dreamofadventures.com/

  • Christine

    This is definitely one of those countries I want to visit but was always hesitant bc I don’t know the culture or tips to get around. This guide is so helpful and perfect for anyone traveling to Marrakech. I would feel much more comfortable knowing all of these inside tips and tricks. It looks like such an amazing trip and lots of wonderful experiences especially if you know what you’re doing. Xoxo, Christine
    http://dailykongfidence.com/

  • Britta Dobriner

    Oh Helen your always travel to the most amazing places!
    I have always wanted to visit Marrakech but I have hesitated due to some of the points you have listed above!
    The pushy people are not something that i need while traveling and it reminds me of a trip I had to Egypt once! The locals were so rude and demanding.
    It looks beautiful though! And I bet your stay in the dessert was dreamy!😍

  • So fun! I love your Stay away from men with monkeys tip hahahahaha. It’s such an interesting culture. I love how you’re supposed to haggle with vendors for prices. Sounds like you really have to stay on your toes or you’ll get taken advantage of! Would love to visit Marrakech one day! Thanks for the guide!
    XO
    http://www.lehoarder.com/

  • Jill Wright

    Awesome tips! I have always wanted to visit so glad I read your list of advice before venturing to Marrakech. Sounds like you had some fun haggling with the vendors though! Can’t wait to see what you bought! Thanks for sharing!! J x

  • It’s so peculiar, because I’ve recently booked my trip to Morocco for December. So your post is very useful for me. I’ve heard a lot of controversial things about the clothing and those guides. And you’re right. Thanks for sharing all these very useful tips. Now I know exactly how to act and what to avoid. And your pictures are absolutely stunning. I hope you had a great time exploring Morocco!

    Cheers, Eliza | http://www.fashion-confession.com

  • Wow girl love your travel series! And your tips are fantastic! Tip 5 is brilliant cuz I’ve heard “horror” stories of them from others too… Hope I get to visit exotic places like Marrakech soon 😉

    xoxo, Aldora | Aldora Muses – A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

  • Lana Luu

    So many great advises, thank you for this post, it is very helpful.
    I’m planning to visit Morocco one day, this county is incredibly beautiful and unique. I will save your tips and will follow them, for sure!
    http://lanaluu.com

  • Jessie Li (4evajessie)

    Such a detailed and fun list of things to visit for Marrakech. It has been 3 whole years since I last visited and I could totally visit there again. I went during Ramadan, so many shops and places weren’t open during the day. Restaurants were also limited. I could totally go there again tagging along with my Africa trip next year. Saving your list of things for next time!

    xx, Jessie
    http://4evajessie.com/be-myself-be-mycalvins/

  • A perfect guide and tips to visit Marrakech! I would love to go to, it’s under my top ten places to visit. Your images are so amazing, very well taken. And I love to know a little bit of this place through your lens. Now I know the things I have to avoid to enjoy my trip like to avoid the friendly street guide. That’s a smart tip!
    Thanks for sharing…
    Vanessa

    http://thefashionstatement.net

  • Hey Darling,
    Hows you?
    This Travel Guide and Tips are Fantastic Darling, Definitely will save if I go to Marrakech:)
    The Photos are so Beautiful and just makes me Visit every single place what you showed:)
    Loved sooo much:) You are the Best:)
    Wish you Happy Week
    Love Open Kloset By Karina

  • This guide is so perfect! You covered everything and your enthusiasm about Marrakeh makes me want to go visit. It sure sounds like a great place. Once I plan my visit, I will definitely come back to your post for a refresher 🙂

    xx, Maryam
    http://www.glamandposh.com

  • It looks like you had the best time in Marrakech Helen- your photos are so gorgeous! I’ve always wanted to travel here and I’ll definitely re-visit this post when I do. People on the street are always so scary! As for the monkeys- that’s super cruel and there really is no need. Camel riding in the desert must have been incredible 🙂

    Rachel xx
    http://www.thedailyluxe.net

  • Love this post! Your take on a trip to Marrakesh is defenitly informative and loving the shots you have to go with this post! Looks stunning! Need to book a trip myself .. soon!

    Theluxeedition.com

  • Wow! I’ve been in Marrakech 3 weeks ago! And I was staying in riad BE too! Love your tips! Will use them next time Im in the area!

  • Marcy Yu

    Thanks for sharing all these tips babe this destination have always been on my bucket list!!! Have seen so many greta pictures of this destination but I always wondered what exactly you need to know to travel there. Great to know about the cash thing and the dress code!!

    xoxo
    Marcy

  • Tandya

    I love all of these tips! Thank you for sharing! I have always wanted to go to Marrakech! I like your number 1 rule! I experienced the same thing in Mexico. The taxi drivers were very pushy and offered us excursions for more money, and we were scammed! It’s so crazy that people will also use the animals to con you as well. Thank you for the heads up!

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