the art of Haggling
the art of Haggling Marrakech Reviews
Markets in Marra!! Jul 07, 2011
I have recently returned from one of the most delightful places in the world! At 50 degrees it was definitely a testing and new experience! Arriving off of the plane the heat hits you like a double decker bus (June time)! We stayed in the old town at a beautiful Riad (hotel) which was about a 5 minute walk from the main square (home to the largest traditional market in Morocco and one of the busiest squares in the World!) The square bustles with acrobats, story-tellers, water sellers, dancers and musicians. By night food stalls open in the square turning it into a huge busy open-air restaurant. What you have to remember about haggling at the markets is that a good deal is one that both parties are happy with.
Shopping in Marrakech is an experience like no other: The billowing silk scarves and hand woven shawls, shiny brass lamps in shimmering gold and silver metals, fragrant mint and exotic spices such as cinnamon and cumin, handmade Berber rugs with geometric designs and silky smooth tadelakt bowls in intense sky blues, ox blood reds and jet blacks.
There are thousands of stallholders-mostly charming and welcoming, a few can be grumpy or plain rude, and some are tricky or dishonest. All, however are master salesmen and are highly motivated to sell to you generally at the highest price possible.
I think it is always important to remember that you are a guest in someone else’s country (even if the stall holder may forget that sometimes!) and to behave politely and respectfully even if the haggling starts to get a bit heated.
If you buy from the stalls on the main tourist street you should generally expect to pay about 20-30% higher than further away. If you venture into the old parts and side derbs or the side alleys off side derbs then you may save 50-80%.
Always haggle in Dirhams if you can so that you do not end up losing money when the seller converts the Euros or pounds at an unfavorable rate into Dhirrams.
If you are offered mint tea and spend a long time deciding on your purchase only to decide not to buy in the end some stall holders will try to make you feel guilty for taking up their time and try to charge you (sometimes a ridiculous amount) for the time you have ‘taken’! Other stall holders are charming whether or not you want to buy and put you under no pressure.
Marrakech has a tourist police department and if any tourist is unhappy with the way they have been treated there are serious consequences for the stall holders. Many of these plain clothed police officers wander around to prevent tourists from being hassled, you just need to shout for help and I suspect that several officers would appear to offer assistance to you and chastise the stall holder. Most stall holders are polite, warm and witty so do not let the devious few ruin your experience in Marrakech
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