Bargain like a pro at the Moroccan souks

Moroccan Souks, Essaouira

 

Fancy a neat rug for your floor (that turns other floors green with envy), 5 bottles of lush organic Argan oil, a pinch of saffron and an authentic Moroccan drum – all for less than £50? Then we suggest you head to Morocco and hit up the Arab souks in the medina.

The Moroccan souks, which were traditionally known for their spices and perfumes, are now overflowing with awesome things you can buy for a fraction of what you’d pay in other places. The goods we’ve seen and bought were really authentic too – and, honestly, we now wish we had bought more (running dangerously low on saffron). Shopping at the souks also taught us a thing or two on how to make the most of the shopping experience. So read on – and bargain like a pro!

 

Moroccan Souks, Essaouira
Adam explores the souks of Essaouira, Morocco, before the crowds arrive.

Get there early

The souks are best to be visited in the morning, so if you’re planning on spending some of your MADs on a few Moroccan goodies, skip the lie-in and be there early. From our experience, sellers will be more likely to reduce the price for you when fewer customers are around. They’ll also want to make their first sale as early as possible into the day, which is a bonus for you as they’ll be more flexible with their prices. Finally, it will be a nicer experience – pushing through crowds of tourists and locals with not much personal space can be quite stressful – and fewer humans means you’ll get to actually see more of the beautiful things sold at the souks.

 

Tagine pot, colourful bowl, Morrocan Souks
If you are after a traditional tagine pot or colourful bowl to remind you of your travels, the souks are the place to be.

 

Been given a price? Half it!

Sounds MAD (get it?), but do it. Most sellers will ask for double or more of the price that they would expect you to pay, just to see whether they can sell it to you for that much, and because they know very well that you will try and haggle. Once you half the price, they’ll push it up, and you can offer less again – and after playing the haggling game for a little while, you’ll be able to reduce the price considerably.

 

Moroccan souks - Adam walks away
If you don’t like the price or haven’t found exactly what you want, keep exploring.

Walk off

Yes, you heard me. If you’re still not happy with the price you are asked to pay, don’t be afraid to tell them you’re going to look around for better options, and then start walking off. A lot of the time the seller will offer an ever lower price to stop you from leaving their shop. And if they don’t and you really want to purchase whatever it is that you had your eye on, you can always come back (or find something even better elsewhere – there is a lot of choice!).

 

Moroccan souks bargain
Don’t try to pay for an item costing 20 MAD with a 200 MAD note, if you can help it. Save your big notes for cafes or restaurants where you are more likely to get your change back.

Have plenty of change

Notes of 100 or 200 MAD won’t be of much use if, after 15 minutes of haggling, you have managed to reduce the cost down to 20 dirham. The seller won’t always have the right change, particularly if you are there early in the morning, which means that you’ll need to wait forever for them to get it from somewhere. A common trick they might try is to upsell instead of giving you the change. This can create an uncomfortable situation – we once waited for about 15 minutes to get our change from a seller who really wasn’t keen on giving it back to us, and kept engaging in conversations with other customers. Best to have plenty of smaller notes or coins in your pockets.

 

Ema in a Moroccan cafe overlooking the Moroccan Souks
Ema resting her feet at Café Des Épices, one of the best people watching spots in Marrakech.

 

Shop around before you buy

If you see something that you like, our advice is – don’t just buy it at the first place you see. Chances are, you’ll see something better, as there really is a lot to choose from. Do ask how much it costs so you can compare the prices and see whether you could get cheaper elsewhere.

 

Moroccan souk spices, Marrakech
You can get your hands on all sorts of wonderful spices in the souks of Marrakech, but if the price isn’t right, just say ‘no’.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’

There will be times when you will have no interest in what they are selling. The sellers will ask you questions like ‘Do you know what this is?’ or will try and get you to try their product. They can be really pushy at times, trying to make you come into their shop, which can be difficult to leave empty-handed. We were once shown the whole collection of jewellery we had zero interest in – just because we were too polite to say ‘no’ and walk off in the first place. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. Best to say it early if you’re not interested, to avoid wasting time looking at things or buying things you don’t want just because you feel guilty that they’d spent ages showing them to you.

 

Moroccan souks, sunset, Jemaa el-Fnaa
After a long day, head to a cafe roof terrace and watch the sunset over Jemaa el-Fnaa

 

Do you have any other top tips for our readers? Share them with us in comments below! If you have any questions about Morocco, or simply want some tips or recommendations, we’d love to hear from you. Simply head over to out contact page and fill in the contact form.

 

Live well,

Borrowed roads x