On your next vacation, we would like to welcome you to Marrakesh’s souks. The infamous markets of Marrakesh. You find the streets loaded with many interesting local characters and shops. Located within the souk are local tanneries, street artists, and vendors. Small animals are part of the culture of the Marrakesh souks. Pay attention, or you could find yourself with a new monkey or snake friend on your person.
We found that Marrakesh’s souks can be overwhelming at first. This is a natural first impression for every visitor. But they are the perfect combination of color, energy, and zeal. We encourage you to explore, as there is nothing that isn’t sold at the souks.
The thought of plunging into this world of color and chaos intimidates you, fear not. Do you have your Bruised passport genies at hand? Our ultimate guide to the Marrakesh souks is here to ensure you have fun exploring our streets and shops. It takes 5 easy steps:
Absorb the Chaos of The Marrakesh Souks
Do you know that old English saying, “Keep Calm and Carry On”? We are pretty sure this saying came from the Marrakesh souks, because it is a challenge to “Keep Calm” in the souks.
When you get to the Djemaa El Fnaa (The Central Square), we warn you not to walk to the Marrakesh souks. Instead, spend at least one morning familiarizing yourself with the unique rhythms. Enjoy the day to day lives of the people here. Go to the street-side cafe on the Djemaa El Fnaa, have a Moroccan mint tea, and people watch. From the vantage point of the cafe, you will be able to observe artists and magicians. One interesting sight to watch for would be to see the dentists performing dental care. All the work in the middle of the square.
Once you have acclimatized yourself, you will be ready to explore. You will be ready to enter the Marrakesh souks.
Learn To Say No To Everyone
Moroccan vendors can be very persuasive and persistent. Once you enter the souk, you are going to be inundated by shopkeepers, but a firm no is all that you need. You take time to devise the perfect no. Make sure it treads a fine line between a polite and firm “no”.
If you are anything like Laurel, then you will need someone else to say no to the shopkeepers. Smiles and giggles will not do the job.
Get Lost In the Marrakesh Souks and Find Yourself
The hard part is over–you have gained confidence in your surroundings. You now feel confident as you stroll through Marrakesh’s bamboo covered souks. This is where we recommend you have fun and begin to explore the offbeat paths. Allow yourself to explore wherever your senses take you.
If you are a photographer, this is definitely the place for you. If you are not a photographer, take your camera anyway. Walk to the olive souk or to the potters’ souk, both of which always filled with wares. At every corner, there is a surprise waiting. You’ll find glassware, sheesha pipes, spices, embellished kaftans, handcrafted bags, and much more.
It is very easy to get lost in the Marrakesh souks, but do not allow that to frighten or deter you. No matter how far you go, it is easy to find your way back–either ask for locals to point you in the right direction. No Luck! Walk towards the dome of the Koutoubia Mosque.
Visit A Tannery At A Risk
The first things you will spot in Marrakesh’s souks are always dyed leather on the pavement. You will actually be able to smell the tanneries a long time before you see them. The pungent smell comes from undiluted bird poop used to soften the leather. As you walk towards the tannery, local “guides”, will want to negotiate for you. We caution that you should have a firm price set before you enter.
Never fear though, once you enter the tannery, you will get a sprig of mint to help cut the smell. When we toured the tannery, we learned that animal hide processing takes 3 stages. First: dipped in the milk of lime for 7 days to remove the hair. Second: Placed in bird poop to soften for 25 days. Third: The leather is whitened with cornstarch, trimmed, left to dry in the sun, and finally dyed.
This experience is not for the faint-hearted, as it is a laborious and eye-opening process, but it is well worth it.
Bargain For Everything In the Souks
Once you have had your fill of touring various shops. You are familiar with the Marrakesh souk, the next thing to do is to go back to the Djemaa El Fnaa. Once there, it’s time to shop. We urge you to bargain, as this is a part of the process in the souk. The process of bantering is also a great way to meet and get to know the locals on a much more personal level.
The Marrakesh souks were unlike anything we had ever seen. The streets, the people, the wares were all an assault to the senses in the best possible way. While this can be overwhelming for some, we loved it. Come to the Marrakesh souk and we promise you that you will not regret it.
We would recommend Earth Hostel for the best bargain. It was very friendly and comfortable and located in a small and quiet community. We recommend visiting the Marrakesh souks as soon as you can!
After Marrakesh Souks, where to next?
Check out Packing For A Morocco Trip