Morocco is a fantastic place to shop – the souks are full of amazing gifts and souvenirs. In today’s blog I am going to introduce you to the best things to buy in Morocco. I’ve haggled in many souks in Morocco and I am also going to offer you some advice on bartering and how to check for high quality goods.
Best Places to Shop in Morocco
- Souks of Marrakech
- Souk El Had d’Agadir
- Centre d’art Le Real Mogador in Essouira
- Le Souk in Esosuira
- Fez Souk
- Morocco Mall Casablanca
Learning how to Barter in Morocco
There are no fixed prices in Morocco! You will be expected to barter for the best price in the souks and local markets. Don’t be afraid to bargain hard – even as low as 10% of the original offered price! As long as you meet in the middle at a realistic price, the shop keeper will be happy. Remember – the first price is never the last price! Usually, the malls such as Morocco Mall in Casablanca are the only places where you will find fixed prices.
What are the Best things to buy in Morocco
Lot’s of people ask me ‘What are the Best things to buy in Morocco?’ In my experience, it’s a great place to buy carpets, jewellery, Henna and spices.
Carpets and Rugs
Morocco is a great place to buy woven rugs and carpets. Traditional Moroccan carpets are hand woven by Berber communities that have been weaving in their families for many years. They come in a variety of colours but terracotta, red and sand colours are very popular. You will need to bargain hard to buy one for the right price, and don’t head into a rug shop if you don’t intend to buy – it could be a long lasting ordeal! As rugs are so heavy and sometimes too heavy to go on the plane, there is often the problem of needing to ship them home. Make sure that you are using a trustworthy shipping service. The last thing you want is to spend hundreds on a gorgeous Moroccan rug to never see it again.
Morocco is a great place to buy cheap Henna hair dye. It usually comes in blocks that you break up and mix with water. As a hair dye, Henna is semi-permanent, but still quite strong. People also buy tubes of henna for doing hand pattern designs on the skin. Pay no more than $5 for a block of Henna or for a Henna Design to be done on your hand.
Moroccan spices are a popular thing to buy, especially in the spice souk of Marrakech. Saffron is a popular choice, as well as the four main spices used in Moroccan cooking – cumin, black pepper, ginger and turmeric. If you are unsure of what to buy, you can ask for the ‘head of the shop’ or ‘best of the shop’ – the salesman will put together a selection of between 15-30 spices for you to take home.
If you are shopping for spices to take home to cook with, then I would recommend that you go to a Moroccan cooking class. You will learn how to make a Moroccan Tagine and other recipes. Most Moroccan cooking classes start with a trip to the local market where you can learn what spices to buy to make the dish.
Jewellery is a popular thing to shop for in Morocco – particularly silver. Many pieces incorporate traditional Berber designs and there are three main things to look out for in Moroccan jewellery:
- Mdama – The Mdama is a traditional belt used to hold caftans and takchitas (traditional Moroccan Clothing) in place. There are also necklaces, bangles and small trinket boxes made in a similar style. Traditionally, this kind of jewellery was used as a ‘dowry’ offering for a wedding.
- Khalkhal – The Khalkhal is a traditional ankle bracelet inspired by Ottoman and Arabic influence. They are often made out of silver, gold or a combination of both.
- Khamsa – The Khamsa is the ‘eye of Fatima’ or the ‘hand of Fatima’. It is a symbol of Moroccan-Jewish descent that represents a hand with the power of warding off evil. It is said to protect the wearer from negative energy.
I bought a gorgeous silver ring when I was shopping in Marrakech. Bangles and silver bracelets are also popular. Take a magnet with you to test it as real silver will not stick. Essouira has an excellent silver souk. Tafraoute, Tiznit, and Inezgane are excellent places to shop for antique Moroccan jewellery.
Remember that in the souks of Marrakech and Fez, if you show interest they will expect you to buy, and this could result in the shop keeper following you around until he makes a sale! To read more about Moroccan jewellery visit www.moroccopedia.com.
I love to bring back Argan oil and Argan oil products from Morocco. Actual Argan oil I use on my hair for calming it down and repairing split ends. I also like to get Argan Oil Shampoo which is good for the scalp. You can still pick up a small bottle for between $10-20 and you can even find a 1 litre bottle of quality Argan oil for $40. Proper Argan oil should have a ‘nutty’ scent that disappears quite quickly and a silky texture to it that means it will easily dissolve into the skin on your hand.
Whenever I am in Morocco I always enjoy looking at the beautiful ceramics. Moroccan Pottery is usually made in earthy tones such as terracotta and mustard, but there are also some beautiful blues and greens, with geometric patterns. One of the best places I found to shop for ceramics was Essouira – in the art exhibitions and inside the Medina. Be careful to transport
Mint Tea Sets
It’s part of Moroccan hospitality to greet guests with a mint tea pouring ceremony. The mint tea is made in front of the guest and poured from a height to welcome them. Quite often tourists like to take a mint tea set home which consists of the tea pot, glasses, metal tray and a sample of the mint tea.
Traditional Moroccan slippers are a lovely thing to buy – they are often made from cow or camel leather and are heelless and open backed. They are known as ‘Cherbil’ and are extremely comfortable. Quite often Moroccan slippers are beautifully embroidered or decorated with sequins making them a very unique and special gift.
Due to the high quality of leather in Morocco, leather sandals are also an excellent option. The leather souk of Marrakech is a great place to buy them, but barter hard!
A Tagine Pot is an excellent piece of pottery to take home – learn to cook a tagine and recreate this in your own home! You can pick up a small and basic tagine pot for around 60-100 Dirhams (around £6-7). The downside to buying a Tagine pot is that they are quite heavy and difficult to transport. I would recommend that you have it well wrapped and take it as hand luggage.
Tips on Shopping in Morocco
- Look out for fakes and rip offs – many people will try to sell you fakes such as Louis Vuitton or Gucci – if it seems to good to be true it probably is.
- In the silver souls make sure that you know how to look for REAL silver over fake. Silver is a non-magnetic metal so if you take a strong magnet with you this will help you to tell. If the metal sticks to the magnet you know that it is likely to be nickel or another metal.
- When you go into the souks of Fez and Marrakech be prepared to get lost! Avoid asking boys or men on the street which way to go – they will always expect something in return – usually money but sometimes a bum pinch or a kiss!
- Remember to barter hard – they won’t be offended if you offer substantially less as long as it is a realistic meet in the middle. It’s also a good idea to find out from locals beforehand what you should be paying for the things that you want to buy.
- Wearing a headscarf (women) and sunglasses can minimise unwanted attention in the souks.
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