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Morocco is probably one of my favorite countries. But even though it is so close to Europe, it has a completely different culture. That's why there are a lot of things I wish I knew before I came to Marrakesh.

Marrakesh has an old center (the medina) and a new center. The people in the new center are very much like western people. The medina however is like an entirely different country. That's why these things mostly apply to the medina.


Everything has a price

Marrakech is probably the most touristic city in Morocco. The locals in the medina depend on the tourism. Some people are willing to go very far for money! I had people calling me bad names for not wanting to eat at their tent at Djemaa el Fna (the big square). 

Don't walk with anybody who offers to show you the way. Don't walk with anybody who decided to give you a tour. People seem very kind, but they will make you pay. We usually asked people who were working inside shops or cafés for directions. They will tell you which way to go without following you around. 

Also be careful at Djemaa el Fna. Ladies will take your arm and start putting henna on it without consent. This is in most cases black henna which could cause allergic reactions. And when the henna tattoo is finished and you did not bargain a price they will make you pay a lot.


Don't put money on a Banque Populaire card

We were told that we wouldn't find an ATM inside the medina. So we decided to get plenty of dirhams at the airport. At the currency exchange office at the airport they told us that they could only give us a small amount in cash. The rest of the money had to be put on a Banque Populaire global card. We paid € 30,- for this card while there were almost no shops or restaurants accepting it. We had to go to an ATM to withdraw the money. And yes there was an ATM in the medina, close to the big square. So get some dirhams to pay for your taxi and get the rest later. People in the medina are also very fond of euros so you will not die.


Bargain

You will notice when. You ask for a price and the man replies with: "What would you pay for it?" And so it starts. These people are very good at bargaining. Some are even agressive at it; pretending to be offended or get mad when you offer a price. They will even try to make you feel quilty. After 15-30 minutes you will probably end up paying too much anyway. Their patience goes on forever.


Maps are useless

The medina is like a maze, street names are rarely displayed and walking around with a map will attract Moroccans like bees. I remember trying to find my hostel and passing the same souk 5 times.


Prepare to see animal cruelty

People packing donkeys like they can't break their bones, cats missing an eye or a tail, parts of dead animals for sale at the souks.


















Please also realize that when you want to book a camel ride, those camels are not there voluntarily and are not having fun. They are often covered in scars, some of them are branded or have rings through their noses. I did book a night in the sahara and ended up on a camel because there was no way I could talk my friend out of it. In the middle of the night I woke up from the sound of whippings and screaming camels. 


Dress appropriately

Out of respect for the culture and to draw less attention. In the new part of Marrakech you often see girls wearing short dresses. In the medina however 99% of the people are covered. We noticed that the more revealing you dress, the more they will treat you like a tourist. We ended up wearing hijabs to have some peace.


Travel outside of Ramadan

My friend and I did not even think about it, so we booked our trip to Marrakech in the month of Ramadan. During Ramadan the locals have a different schedule than you, if you are a non Islamic tourist. Many museums and shops have different opening times for instance. It is also not very nice to be drinking from your cold bottle of water in the middle of a hot day when the locals did not drink anything since daylight. 

On the last evening of our trip, some locals invited us for Iftar.

The new center is great

We figured that we didn't need to see the new part of Marrakech but we were wrong. This part of the city is completely different from the medina. It is a lot like western cities but not the same. It has its own charm which is why you need to see it too. The new part of the city has a great nightlife and the people are very nice! In our experience it was very refreshing to go to this part of Marrakech.


Visit the Henna Café

If you are tired of eating the same thing everyday due to the tourist menu's, if you want to get a henna tattoo, if you love art or if you want to support a good cause. The Henna Café is a voluntary project that offers free education to the locals. In order to raise money for this, they make beautiful henna tattoos (of safe and natural henna) and serve amazing, healthy food. 


Lots of beauty for little money

A plane ticket from Europe to Morocco can be super cheap (Ryan Air). Outside of the main season it will cost you about € 70,- for a return ticket from The Netherlands.

Especially in the medina you can stay in a beautiful typically Moroccan riad for not a lot of money. My friend and I stayed in two different ones because we couldn't choose! Book your accomodation by internet to make sure you have the most beautiful one for the best price.













Train tickets in Morocco are also not expensive. For less than € 10,- you can travel from one city to another. So grab your bags and explore the rest of this beautiful country!


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Morocco is probably one of my favorite countries. But even though it is so close to Europe, it ...

3 comments:

  1. This post is so informative, anyone who has a trip to Marrakech on the horizon will no doubt be very grateful! The Henna Café sounds like seems like a wonderful voluntary project and I had no idea it was so cheap to fly there!

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  2. goede tips! Het staat zeker op mijn travel list en deze tips komen dan goed van pas!

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  3. Wow...its a very informative and insightful post...loved reading it babe...xoxo, Neha

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