Shopping in Morocco’s Souks
May 25, 2013
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souk-morocco

Souks, or markets, have become an integral part of the cultural landscape of Morocco. One can easily lose their way amongst the tiny stalls buzzing with activity, the tantalizing scents of saffron and cardamom wafting through the air, and the snakes rising sinuously to the charmer’s tune. It’s a sensory feast on the highest level.

For the uninitiated, the cacophonous noises, lack of set prices, and overall chaos may be overwhelming. Before you walk out of your Morocco group vacation rental and embark through the souks, learn to navigate and negotiate your way around like a pro.

Research in advance
Try to find out in beforehand roughly how much a variety of goods will cost. Consult trusted locals, such as a rental manager or friend. Then you can walk around, confident in having an estimate of what the negotiated price should be on certain items.

Tourist trap
Always keep in mind that the most popular markets for foreigners will have the highest prices. It’s just a fact of life.

Keep Watch
Take note of how much other shoppers are handing over for the same or similar items.

Choosing a seller
Often times, many vendors are selling the same items. Which one should you buy from? Go to each one and ask them the price for a specific item. Although the price will be initially inflated, choose the one with the lowest price or who is not overly aggressive. Then commence bargaining.

Be Polite
Be courteous and greet the seller. If you’re merely browsing, say so as to not waste the seller’s time. Don’t angrily balk at the seller’s first offer; politely respond with an amount half of what was suggested and go from there. At the end of the day, always remember that both parties should leave happy.

No rush
Price will remain high if you appear desperate or in a hurry for an item. Casually bargain and unless it’s one-of-a-kind, feel free to return at another time for the item. This also helps with impulsive buying.

Don’t give into guilt
Not even after hearing a sob story or the seller has spent a considerable amount of time showing you various goods. No is always an option.

In the clutch
If you believe the price is not fair, simply responding with silence or leaving the stall are the best tactics. Often merchants will call out to you with a counter-offer. Only use this technique if you’re truly willing to walk away.

You got gypped
Maybe you see the same item cheaper a few stalls later or are feeling shopper’s remorse. Don’t worry, It happens to all of us. Just chalk it up to an experience and lesson learned.