Marrakech is one of those great places that you can quickly escape to in the middle of the winter and experience gorgeous sunshine. Flights are fairly cheap last less than 3 hours which makes it quite a popular destination amongst UK and European tourist. Also its uniqueness, great food and even better service adds to the list of reasons why you should plan your holiday here at some point. However, like with most of non-western courtiers there are a few things that you should bear in mind when visiting Marrakech.
I’ve created a selection of my top 5 suggestions and things to bear in mind if you find yourself in Marrakech.
Stay slightly outside Marrakech or in Riads
Marrakech is a very busy place with traffic over pouring from all sides. There are so many people all over the place and if you are looking for a peaceful holiday, I can tell you that you probably won’t get it in the centre of Marrakech. However, staying in a riad can provide you with a peace that is required in a rather hectic place. Riads are usually an oasis of calm with great service and an Instagram worthy setting so I definitely recommend you research a few. Riad Yasmine seems quite popular with bloggers. Otherwise stay outside Marrakech, in Palmeraie for example. La Palmeraie is approx. 20 mins drive from the city center and a perfect place to base your stay. We stayed at Dar Zemora and it was the most beautiful villa complex with outstanding service. I can also say that despite the hectic vibe, people of Marrakech are quite friendly and relaxed so don’t be alarmed if they offer you things such as camels :). All you have to do is memorise the word “la shukraan” which means no thanks in Arabic. But I’m sure you will after one hour as you will have a chance to use it quite a lot.
Money and Currency Exchange
This is quite important as you will need to bring quite a bit of cash with you. Marrakech is fairly expensive especially if you like to stay and visit nice places like me but totally worth it as you will be treated like a queen. I don’t recommend you change your funds in the UK as when I checked the exchange rate prior to our trip, you could only get 10 Dirhams for a Pound, however, if you exchange a few quid at the Menara airport you will already get 11 Dirhams for £1 and keep the rest for the Exchange Bureaus that can be found in the city centre as they offer over 12 Dirhams per £1. Once you exchange your money don’t carry it all around with you for obvious reason. Instead, familiarize yourself with food and drink prices as well as sightseeing fees so you can carry just about enough. There are a few cash points near the main square although they are quite difficult to find and the exchange rate will not be as good as at the Exchange Bureaus. Also, make sure to only exchange at the Exchange Bureaus that offer over 12 Dirhams for a £1 or similar for other currencies such as Euros and USD.
If you decide to head into Souks at the beginning of your trip be prepared to spend some money. Look out for words such as sister, friend or anything affectionate as these are good clues that you are just about to get ripped off even if you haggle. People that work at souks are quite nice so it’s easier for them to take your money, in fact they are really skillful when it comes to this. They will expect you to haggle so the initial price will be three times bigger that the original, if not even more. The fact is if when you leave with the purchase product, the seller is happy rest assured that you just made their day by paying more. We paid £50 for two pots of tea and I’m sure that if we tried harder we could get them both for £20, however they were so nice to us in the shop that we were perfect people to take advantage off. You are essentially a walking $$ so to speak so be prepared to protect you money. Another one to bear in mind is the taxi, you need to haggle here too even if the meter is on. The best thing to do here is to agree a fare fee before you start the journey or to have your hotel book you a driver. We had our own driver who would drop us off and pick us up at the time that suits so we didn’t have to get a normal taxi too often however, if you do try and avoid the lined up cabs outside big sites such as Majorelle Gardens.
Food, Water, and Wine
Drink bottled water by all means anywhere you go. Our hotel had a free supply of bottled water and all the food that we consumed was fresh and washed in filtered water. Their normal water is contaminated so bear this in mind and feel free to ask how your food is prepared. Nomad and Café Arabe were pretty good so we didn’t feel unsafe with their food at all. Also, Moroccan wine is extremely delicious and didn’t give me hangover at all. I don’t usually drink and if I do 2 glasses of wine set me back for 2 days at least, however, I was absolutely fine the next day after drinking a bottle of Moroccan wine. Rumor has it the wine making process was adapted after the Australian method and the wine is actually a really high quality. The best thing is to opt both for local food and wine as they have high import taxes and it will cost you much more to order anything from Europe.
Allow 2 hours or more for your departure
Now I have traveled to a lot of places but I can safely say that Menara airport was the most unorganized with the highest level of security checks I have ever experienced ever. We arrived just under 2 hours before our flight and it was pretty much the most stressful 2 hours of our holiday. We had to run from one place to another in order to make it to our flight in time and we just barely did. They have 3 security checks all with massive queues and you will need time to get through, the security is also gender separated and don’t be alarmed when they thoroughly search you.
All in all, we had such a great time and with a little prep, Marrakech is a gorgeous place to holiday.
Have you ever been or do you plan to go in the New Year?
PS. The first photo is taken my Blog_Kudoybook and not myself