Shopping in the souks in Morocco can be best described as sensory overload. After meandering around the small winding streets you find yourself surrounded by a sea of colors, exquisite details and the intense aroma of spices. All the while dodging motorbikes and selfie-stick holding tourists, and being yelled at “You come look in my shop? I make you good price!”.
I had heard some horror stories before coming to Morocco about salesmen being so pushy they will literally grab you and drag you into their shop! I was fortunate to have a fairly “calm” experience in the souks. The salesmen are pushy and will first quote you a ridiculously high price, but this is part of the fun in shopping in this part of the world!! I enjoy haggling and try and have fun with the merchants.
My advice: stay strong on your price! I often start to feel bad and will give in to a higher price, but then I remind myself: Haggling is like gambling at a Vegas casino, the casino will always win!!! They know what these products are worth and they will never go low enough to not cut a profit! Stick to the price you are comfortable paying, and if they won’t budge walk away. Literally, walk away, 90% of the time they will call you back and then the prices really start to drop 🙂
Originally I was told to start haggling at half the price they ask, but even half of what the merchants were quoting was ridiculous! I was buying a fez hat souvenir for my brother and he originally asked for 20 euro!! This little paper hat isn’t worth more than a few dollars! I ended up paying $2, so decide on the price you are comfortable paying and stick with it!
Where you shop in Morocco will also make a big difference in the price! I did all of my shopping in Marrakech, where they will probably quote your prices the highest. I am a seasoned haggler after living in Vietnam, so I felt comfortable haggling them down by a lot. In Fez they will give you more reasonable original asking prices. The souks are also more authentic feeling and much smaller than in Marrakech. Chefchauoen is the worst place for shopping, just because they won’t budge much when it comes to price!
My best pieces of advice for getting the best deal are:
- Never seem too interested
- If you ask the price, they will assume you want it
- If you take the tea, they are going to expect you to buy!
- Ask a local about what they would pay for a certain product. I made a list with pictures of what I wanted to buy and showed the man working in the riad I stayed at and he told me what everything should cost.
- I found that the salesmen were more relaxed and in a better mood in the morning, by night time they are all riled up and get more aggressive.
- If you buy multiple, you can always get a better deal!
Here are some of the most popular products sold at the souks and what you should expect to pay for them
Leather Pouf: As with any leather products sold in Morocco, there are vastly different qualities. They have poufs made in goat leather and cow leather, I found the cow leather to feel thicker and stronger. I paid $60 for two good quality large leather poufs. There are some shiny metallic ones that you can get for less, also they have smaller ones available.
Rugs: Morocco is famous for it’s beautiful rugs and they are sold EVERYWHERE, even on the side of the roads! I did not buy one, but I have heard many different prices on what they should cost. I have heard the best place to buy a rug is in fez. Depending on the size and quality, I would be comfortable paying anywhere from $100-$300. It’s a shame I don’t have a permanent address or I would have bought one of these rugs in a heartbeat!
Leather Shoes: You will see these fabulous leather flats everywhere in the souks. They come in every color and design you can think of. This was the first thing I bought, and the first pair I got was definitely of a lower leather quality. Shop around and feel the products before buying! I paid 10 dollars for my first pair, which definitely was a bit too high. He originally quoted by $70!! I got a nicer leather pair the next day for $6.
Fez Hat: Little souvenirs laid out on rugs sold by ladies in the square are usually not the best quality. I bought a little paper fez for $2, but the bags and trinkets they sold didn’t look like amazing craftsmanship, but maybe it means you can pick it up for cheaper!
Argan Oil: They sell bottles of it every where, I was quoted anywhere from 3-7 dollars. Not all of these are real, it is safer to pay a bit more and buy at the pharmacy
Mirrors: The souks have gorgeous house decor, one of my favorite being decorative mirrors! I didn’t pick one up because I did not have room in my suitcase, but it would be a great souvenir. I was quoted 20 Euro for a medium sized mirror that closed to look like a mosque door Chefchaouen, where shopping is the most expensive. You could probably get it for $10 or less in Fez or Marrakech.
Woven Baskets/Totes: They have woven baskets with pom-poms around everywhere and they are so cute!! Sam hated them and my bag was already full so I didn’t pick any up but I already regret it! When haggling just for fun I got them to $10 for a medium sized pom pom tote, you can probably get it lower.
Tea Sets: Moroccan mint tea is the perfect pick me up on a hot day, it is so good you may want to bring your own set home! They sell little silver tea pots and glass sets all around the souks. After talking to a couple who are well traveled and seemed good at negotiation, I found out that they paid 16 euro for a “real’ silver tea set. I am never sure about how real the silver actually is at the markets!