5 ways to not waste money in Marrakech
Marrakech is billed as one of the best cities in Morocco to visit and I believe this to be true. However, Marrakech isn’t without its traps and pitfalls, so it’s best to stay vigilant and make the best use of your time and money without getting scammed. While it’s true that there are scams all over the world and in every country, Marrakech is a hunting ground for locals wanting to make a quick and easy living from sun-stroked tourists that are otherwise unaware. Here are my 5 top tips for holding onto your money when enjoying Marrakech.
1. Don’t follow ‘helpful’ people
You might think that young man is being mighty friendly offering to show you how to get to the tanneries, but alas he is not. “Oh hello! Where are you going?”, he’ll say. If you tell him where you’re going he’ll take you the longest possible way to nowheresville and charge you to help find your way out.
Whatever you do, don’t stop or it’ll become more difficult to leave, instead just politely explain that you’re just out for a walk and head off. Be warned that these young men are persistent and can become angry if you refuse them, so be as friendly as you can when you decline their ‘generous’ offers.
2. Don’t be persuaded by the ‘aggressive sell’
If you’re not fond of bartering and aren’t filthy rich then you probably won’t like the markets. In the markets of Marrakech, or ‘souks’ in the local tongue, are hundreds of empty-bellied, money-hungry salesmen waiting to help you part with your cash. If you’re not vigilant and don’t stand your ground it’s more likely that you’ll be taken advantage of.
“Come inside, come inside!” or, “No charge for looking!” they’ll say. But be warned, once you’re inside a shop it’s extremely difficult to get out without experiencing the owner’s aggressive sales manner. Once I was almost hassled to death and despite being polite the owner thanked me by saying something inaudible and spitting at me.
3. Don’t buy the drugs
If you buy drugs in Morocco you’ve got to be a little bit crazy. One of the oldest scams in the book involves drugs and it goes a little something like this – Man 1 tries to sell you drugs. You say yes. Man 1 gives you the drugs. Man 2 (a police officer), will then arrest you and tell you that you owe him (insert obscene amount of money here) or you’ll be taken to prison.
Just don’t do it.
4. If someone says something is free, it probably isn’t
Speaking from experience in the souks I had items forced into my hands on several occasions being told that they were free, and when leaving told that I had to pay or they would call the police. Don’t be threatened by this, it’s just the way in which things appear to be done. Again, politely refuse any free offers (including a cup of mint tea) and walk away if you have no intention of buying.
5. Don’t get into a taxi without agreeing a price
Don’t get into a taxi without agreeing a price. You will be ripped off if you don’t negotiate terms or make the driver turn on his meter. You’ll probably hear “Sorry the meter is broken”, so negotiate a price before you even enter the vehicle.
Despite some pretty stark advice it’s not all doom and gloom in Marrakech. It’s a fascinating city with many cultural heritage sites to be in awe of and as long as you’re up for the challenge there is much enjoyment to be had.