Saturday, February 14, 2015

5 useful tips in order not to get ripped off at the Marrakech Market Place

Blogpost about my trip to Marrakech!  It was my first time in Africa and it became such an incredible experience including all the bad memories during the trip such as getting ripped off at dinner, getting ripped off at a henna tattoo place........ and  many other rip-offs ............BUT of course I had many more good experiences than the the bad ones! So let me start with the biggest market place in the city center of Marrakech.  It's a must place to go in Marrakech but there are some things you should be careful of as a tourist. So on this blogpost I have some tips for those who have a plan to travel there and don't wanna have some bad experiences like I did.

Jamaa el Fna( the biggest market place  in Marrakech)
There is no way to leave Marrakech without visiting this huge local market. It's full of EVERYTHING. And when I say everything I literally mean everything  such as hand made jewelries, authentic leather bags, shoes, any kind of apparel products, beautiful Moroccan carpets, Moroccan hand made plates, Moroccan oils, thousands of different kind of spices, fresh fruits, vegetables or any kind of food and also there are a lot of street artists such as street bands, painters, jugglers, guys with snakes and also the market square is filled with  female henna tattoo artists, which is where a lot of female tourists get ripped off and sadly I was one of them. The first price this henna tattoo lady offered me was €15(about 150 Moroccan Dirhams) and as soon as I decided to walk away because I felt it's overpriced we both agreed to do it for €7. After she's done I took my €10 out of my wallet expecting to have my €3 back, which never happened because she kept claiming that she has no change at all. I was even more upset because the henna tattoo she gave me on my left hand was such  a terrible job and it didn't last even a day although she told me it's gonna last for about 2 weeks. And even more sadly, I later found out that what local people pay for a henna tattoo is only around €1-€3.  Something like this so is called "rip off" happens everywhere in the market or other street shops everywhere in the city and this is what tourists must be very careful of.

 So here are some smart ways of shopping you probably wanna keep in mind  in the Marrakech market place. 

0. You should first note  as a tourist  that the first prices the vendors offer you could sometimes be 10 times more than the original price or the prices that the local people pay and of course you wanna go as cheap as possible .  In a lot of shops in the market they don't tell you the price until you have the product in your hand and start considering buying it. If you ask them "How much is this?" pointing  at the item you're interesting in they'd ask you to come inside the shop instead of giving you the exact price.  Prices are never fixed in the market so you have to be very careful.  They ask you to come inside the shop because they wanna have more time to think which price they should give you and this could differ depending on the shop, the day and time and even which country where you're from. I'm pretty sure a lot of Japanese tourists got ripped off at the market because Japanese usually don't know how to say "No". 

1. Never walk inside the shop if you're not sure

There are a lot of shops with beautiful hand made bags in the market and these shops are where I spent the most of my time time in the market. There are many shops with similar or same exact design of items so you probably want to spend time on comparing shops. However it's pretty hard to leave once you get inside of the shop because these vendors(mostly men) are pretty tough and they don't wanna let you go until you go until you finally decide to buy something. So what I wanna tell you here is that it's better to stay away from the shop if you don't really see anything cool looking from outside the shop because you don't wanna waste your time on negotiating the price of something you don't really wanna buy that much.

2. Don't carry big bills

Always try to carry smaller bills or coins especially when you wanna get a henna tattoo( you already know what I'm talking about). What I did was  that I bought a small coin case in the market and always tried to keep small amount of money in there beside my actual wallet. You wanna avoid taking money from your wallet full of credit cards and big bills every time you purchase something in the market. 

3. "I paid less than this in other shop"

This is one of the most useful phrases in the market because this is a  quick way to get  close to the price you want.  As I already mentioned there're many shops with similar kinds of products but prices totally differ depending on which one you go. The key to win in the market is to show the vendors that you're not one dumb tourist who doesn't know anything about the prices in the market. If they find out you're new there they'll definitely give you a way-higher-than-the-original price. Usually telling them that you or your friend paid a cheaper price on the similar product in other shop makes the price negotiation easier. 

4. Leave the shop to win the best price. 

The vendors offer you the lowest price when you finally decide to leave the shop. If the final price they give you still seems pricy, pretend that you're leaving the store and eventually they'll stop you and give you a good price. I actually couldn't do this tip much because when I really wanted something I just stayed in the shop and kept negotiating and negotiating, which took a lot of time and effort. What is more, the more they find out that you're interested in the item the harder the price negotiation gets because they think that you'd buy it anyway no matter how much.  So just leave the shop and see how much lower they can do. 

5. Choose before you eat. 

There are many places to eat in the market as well but there is something you should be aware of when going there. One night my friends and I decided to eat at one of the stalls in the center of market but we couldn't choose what to eat from the menu right away so this waiter suggested to do the  "little of everything" thing or whatever it's called. Literally he kept bringing each of  us small plates of different food every 3 mins. The food was good but we couldn't even finish the half of it because he  just kept bringing and bringing.  The waiter came back with the bill.  How much do you think it was?  It was €68 total!!!! Of course it was way more than what we expected to pay. The average price I paid per meal at proper restaurants, which are also located in the same area is about €10 and considering this what we had to pay at this dirty-looking stall was beyond too much. Well what I can tell you from what I learned is never to start eating without picking a meal from the menu.  

I hope these tips could be helpful for those who're traveling there! On the next blog post I'll list up all the places I visited in Marrakech such as , Hammam (Moroccan spa), public museums, gardens, palace and also will upload  2 outfits from the trip . Stay tuned! xx