Whilst exploring most towns and cities in Morocco, you will likely want to browse Moroccan wares in the various souks. From bargaining for silver teapots, to admiring brightly coloured Moroccan lamps, there are so many traditional and beautiful souvenirs to be bought at souks.
But if you get the haggling wrong, you could be severely out of pocket, or end up offending someone. Sadly, many Moroccan merchants do try to get more money for their wares than what they are actually worth (particularly if they can see that you’re a tourist).
So, to master the art of haggling at the souks of Morocco, consider these tips:
Tip #1: Carry small denominations of notes and coins
If a merchant can see that you have notes of a high value of Moroccan Dirham, then they will likely try to charge you more. When carrying small denominations (such as 20, 50 or 100 dh), this gives you the upper hand to categorically state: “This is all I have.” They may try to barter with you, but all you need to do is start walking away and 9 times out of 10, they will take what you can give.
Tip #2: Remember the rules of quarters and thirds
If the souk you’re buying from displays prices on the items, remember that these are over-inflated prices. Start haggling at 1 quarter of the price displayed, and never pay more than a third of the given price. For instance, if an item shows as 1000 dh, start with 250 dh and do not pay more than about 333 dh. This should also work when discussing prices verbally.
Tip #3: Only accept mint tea if you’re serious about buying
If a merchant offers you some mint tea whilst you’re browsing their merchandise, then only accept this if you’re serious about buying. Otherwise, you will seriously offend the merchant if you try to leave after drinking the tea only. Mint tea is more often served to those looking at higher value items, and it’s a sign that the merchant is going to try a hard sell with you. This is when you will really need to up your negotiation tactics.
Tip #4: Read up on negotiation tactics
Buying in souks is all about the negotiation unless you want to be ripped off. One tactic you can use is to state that a certain note is all you have and start to walk away. But for higher value items, such as original Moroccan rugs, you will need to really up your game. I love this Morocco: how to haggle guide from Insight Guides for help with negotiating at souks.
Tip #5: Avoid items that are sold by most merchants
If you spot merchant after merchant selling the same products, then your best bet is to avoid these. These items will be most likely imported from China or similar, and of poor quality. This is fine if you’re just after a cheap souvenir or if you particularly like something. But if you’re after a proper traditional Moroccan item, then you will need to seek out the more unique finds.
Tip #6: Stay away from cruel animal handlers like the plague
Throughout souks and most tourist areas in Morocco, you will likely find people offering the opportunity to have your photo taken with a snake or monkey, or a snake charmer showing off. Avoid these like the plague as most of the animals are mistreated. The snakes are caught illegally and only last a few days because their mouths are sewn shut. Without food or water, they don’t last very long at all and then the merchants are off to catch more snakes. You may find yourself thrown into a situation of them just plonking the monkey or snake on your shoulders – just remember that it is more than okay to just walk away. If this happens enough, then maybe we can stop this cruelty to animals once and for all.
Right, that’s it from me! I hope these tips help you get an amazing Moroccan treasure for the correct price for you.
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