What to Buy in Morocco – How to Haggle For the Best Prices
If you love to shop, then I’ve found your perfect travel destination! Morocco is the place for you to go on your next big trip.
There are so many reasons why I adore Morocco, the shopping being one of them. The shopping options are endless here. There are so many great deals to be had in this beautiful country, deals that you often times have to struggle and fight for, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, they are yours for the taking. The best part is how little money you will spend when you shop. Morocco prices are very low compared to American prices, and if you practice a bit on your haggling skills, you are bound to walk away with your arms full of great finds for very little. Nothing makes me happier than finding treasures that I adore for extremely low prices!
If you’re planning a trip to Morocco and need some help knowing what’s best to buy, I’ve got you covered! I’ve listed some of my favorite things to purchase in Morocco, things that are not to be missed when you visit. I also am sharing some haggling tips that I’ve learned along the way to help you snag those great deals in a smooth and easy way.
Shopping in the Moroccan Medinas
The Medinas! If you haven’t visited a medina in Morocco, you’re in for a treat.
One of my favorite things to do in Morocco is to wander and get lost in the medinas. Almost every city in Morocco has a medina, and one medina is not like the next. They couldn’t be more different from each other. The medinas are where all the shopping happens – produce, food, clothing, shoes, just to name a few. Shop after shop, you never know what you’re going to come across. Wandering through the medina is an adventure in itself and often times leaves you jaw dropped. I’m constantly in awe of the things that I discover as I explore. So much shopping, so much fun. And all of the things are handmade with so much passion and love making them even more special to buy. Watch out in the medinas for donkeys walking through the narrow pathways carrying large loads on their backs, and don’t get hit by a moped that is speeding past you!
The medina in Marrakesh is definitely the most lively. The people can be a bit aggressive and will do whatever it takes for you to make a deal with them. I had people chasing me down the road informing me that they have changed their mind and are willing to give me a better price in hopes that I would change my mind and buy their stuff. The prices in Marrakesh start off as ridiculous before the haggling process begins. They really try hard to rip you off and take advantage of tourists. One guy in Marrakesh lured us into his scarf shop. We entered fully knowing that we weren’t interested in purchasing anything. He took so much time with us explaining about how the scarves were made and how they were hand dyed with natural colorants. It was really fascinating and we thanked him for his kindness. It all was friendly until we told him we weren’t interested in buying anything. He wouldn’t let us leave and kept pressuring us and guilt tripping us into a purchase because he spent so much time with us. It ended with us basically running out of there as quickly as we could with him flipping us off and screaming at us as we left. It was a bit scary and I was so glad to get out of there for good! So when you’re in Marrakesh, be careful of the aggressive salesmen. There are a lot of them!
Fez is the next craziest with the largest square footage wise medina in all of Morocco. It is huge and so authentic. We got lost in it, wandering through all the windy roads, but that’s part of the experience. The aggression is hit or miss in Fez, but nothing like in Marrakesh. If you say no to a price in Fez, they leave you alone instead of chasing you down the road to change your mind. It was a little calmer, still people eager to make a deal with you, but in a more polite way. That being said, we thought Marrakesh had better things to purchase than Fez.
The Chefchaouen medina was like a breath of fresh air compared to Marrakesh and Fez. Also, it was much much smaller and easily seen in one day. The people here were easy going and relaxed. I didn’t feel pressured one bit to make a deal but was able to take my time. They are more fair in Chefchaouen, starting the haggling process at a much lower price point, which I appreciated. It was not as much work in the end to get to the price that you actually were serious about paying.
Tétouan was even more laid back than Chefchaouen and was the cheapest of them all. It was apparent to us that they don’t do as much haggling with tourists as the other more popular travel cities in Morocco. The prices were very cheap in Tétouan compared to other Moroccan cities and the shop keepers were much more willing to bargain with you for a lower price. If you want the best deals of them all and the most authentic medina experience that is practically untouched by tourists, Tétouan is your place. Most times, we felt like we were the only tourists around which made for such fun travel experiences.
Moulay Idriss Medina-
This little town hidden in the mountains acted like they barely had ever seen tourists before. They didn’t even know what to do with us. We actually had people giving us produce here and there because we were such an anomaly. You should have seen the looks on peoples’ faces when we drove into the city in our rental car. We stuck out so badly. Just thirteen years ago, non-Muslim tourists weren’t allowed in Moulay Idriss, so literally, they don’t have much practice with us. Because this town is so small, there isn’t much of a medina, and the shopping is more sporadic. You don’t go to Moulay Idriss for the shopping, but that’s not to say that you can’t find some.
What To Buy in Morocco
Any other moms struggle with the whole diaper bag / purse issue? It is so hard as a mom to find a bag that is fashionable and cute but is also big enough and adequate for carrying around all of your stuff plus all of your child’s stuff. A lot of diaper bags on the market, in my opinion, are not that cute, and scream, “Diaper Bag!!!!” I was ready to move on from the ugly diaper bag phase of my life and back into the cute purse phase, but didn’t exactly know what to buy or how to do it. I knew when we were in Morocco that I wanted to purchase some type of handmade leather purse or backpack, and was hoping that it could be a good substitution for the dreaded diaper bag.
Morocco has the best leather products. You can’t find better quality leather items for as cheap of a price as you can in Morocco. If you are going to buy one thing during your trip to Morocco, make sure it is a leather product of some kind whether that is a bag, backpack, shoes, belt, or something else. Morocco gives you top quality leather goods for the cheapest prices around. And, everything is made right in front of you from handicraftsmen who have been working with leather for years. The problem is deciding what to buy because there is so much variety. So many styles, so many colors, so many sizes, zippers vs. buckles - the choices are endless. Back in 2012 when Nate and I first visited Morocco, Nate purchased a brown leather satchel for about $15.00. He used it as his computer / book bag in law school, and even to this day, still uses it to carry things to and from work. It is still in top notch condition, just as good as the day that he bought it! Now that’s great quality leather!
After days of searching and keeping my eyes out, I found my perfect backpack, right in the heart of Chefchaouen, Morocco. Nate and Jimmy were taking a nap in the hotel one afternoon, so I decided to venture out by myself and do some shopping. One man’s shop caught my eye. He had the most gorgeous bags and backpacks that I had seen yet. On top of that, he was so friendly and kind. I’ll never forget his welcoming smile. What impressed me the most was that he was literally making bags right there in front of me as we spoke. Such talent, and no question in my mind if they were handmade. When I saw my backpack, I knew that I needed it! It was basically love at first sight, if that’s a thing for accessories. I haggled him down a bit and got it for 200 Dirham, which is approximately $20. I thought that was a little high for Morocco, but after trying to get him down a little farther, it seemed that $20 was as low as he would go. After checking around at prices of similar bags at the nearby shops, I thought his price was fair for the quality and size of bag that I was getting, so I bought it! $20 for that type of bag is such a steal compared to American prices. In America, I would of easily paid $250+ for a handmade real leather backpack of that quality.
Since purchasing it, I still get comments from friends and strangers alike saying, “I love your bag! Where did you get it?” There is so much disspointment on their face when I tell them, “Thanks. I got it in Morocco.” Their hopes of ordering the same bag for themselves are killed. But if they plan a trip to Morocco, they can buy a bag like mine, as well as many others! So worth it.
Besides leather products, another thing I recommend are the handwoven Moroccan rugs. You can find the most gorgeous rugs while wandering through the medinas in Morocco. Most of these rugs are not made in the big cities in Morocco like other products are. These rugs have a much deeper story than that. A lot of these rugs are handmade by women who live deep in the Atlas Mountains in tiny, unvisited, Moroccan villages. These women devote their whole soul and time into creating these masterpieces, some rugs taking up to a year to complete. The rugs are never perfect which is how they are supposed to be. Because they are handmade, there are often errors or crooked lines. To me, this adds character and charm to it. If the rug was made by a machine then you’d expect perfection, but these rugs are made by hand, tired Moroccan women hands. Other Moroccans go into these remote villages and buy these rugs from these women. They pay very little for them. Then, they bring them into the more touristy cities like Fez and Marrakesh, and sell them in their shops to all the tourists for a higher price.
We were in Tétouan, Morocco and taking a tour with a friend of a friend who was from there. He spoke very little English but was very kind to show us around his city and help us see it through the eyes of a local. He took us to a place that made Moroccan hair oil, and then later led us down into the basement of that shop. The basement is where they store all of their rugs. There were so many rugs! The room was huge and there were piles and piles of them all the way up to the ceiling. We came to Morocco not thinking that we were going to purchase any rugs because it kind of feels like a huge commitment and we were shortly moving to NYC to an unknown apartment. We didn’t know what sizes or colors would fit best. But because of the situation, and the fact that we were already there, we felt like we kind of had to purchase something. I guess you could say that we got set up slightly.
Planning to buy only one rug, eventually led to purchasing four rugs! Yes four! Totally not what we expected, but we felt like they were giving us a fair price, and so we went for it! It was quite the experience. We would have easily paid four times as much money if we bought these same rugs in the states at Pottery Barn or a similar store. We saw so many rugs that day. Saying we were overwhelmed was an understatement. The people were so nice and gave us Moroccan mint tea to sip while we decided. They told us not to rush. They promised us we would get a good price, which they fulfilled in the end. We walked out of there with three matching black and white rugs, all different sizes, to put in the living room areas, and then one blue and yellow rug for Jimmy’s room. Michigan colors. Go blue!
How did we get it home you ask? Well, we purposely packed light this trip and had room in our suitcase to bring them home with us! It was a tight fit but we made it work. When traveling to Morocco and you’re planning on doing a lot of shopping, pack light, and/ or bring an extra suitcase with you if you can. You’ll be so glad that you did! A lot of places will also ship things for you, at a hefty cost of course.
Shoes, Shoes, and More Shoes!
Make sure to buy some shoes when you’re in Morocco. You won’t find cheaper shoes anywhere, and these shoes are anything but garbage. The shoes in Morocco are well built, great quality, and will last. We aren’t talking Payless quality here. Shoes in Morocco are made right and have so much love and detail put into each pair.
When Nate and I visited in 2012, I bought a pair of sandals in Marrakesh that I absolutely loved. My one regret of that trip was that I didn’t buy more pairs of shoes! They were my favorite sandals, and I wore them all the time. They were a light brown snake skin and were so comfortable. I wore them so much over the years that I even paid to repair them at a shoe cobbler, not once but twice, when they wore out. They were that cute. I was amazed at how well they held up though over the years!
This last trip that we took to Morocco, I bought a pair of shoes in Chefchaouen. This man was so nice and had an adorable little shop. If you planned ahead enough and were there for a least a few days, then you could actually have your shoes custom made by this man. You can go into his shop and he will measure your foot, and together, you can design a pair of shoes that you’re looking for that will fit perfectly on your feet! I found this guy on the last day of our trip, so unfortunately I missed that custom made shoe opportunity, but I still found some sandals that I loved. The shoes that he is holding up in this picture are the ones that I purchased from him. He makes them completely from scratch and even dyes the leather himself. Such an art. So fun to display his art on my feet.
Hand Knitted Hats
These hats caught our eye for Jimmy. Hand knitted hats aren’t typically sold in Morocco, what I’ve seen at least, but in Chefchaouen, Morocco, there they were! For only about $2.00 - $3.00 a hat, you really can’t go wrong. We bought Jimmy a hunter green one that he wore throughout the whole winter here in NYC. They were all so cute, part of me wonders what we didn’t buy more! I love buying things from other countries that I will actually use and wear because so many times they are great conversation starters. “Where’d you get Jimmy’s hat?” People are always surprised when the answer is, “Morocco.”
Moroccan Ceramics and Handicrafts
These types of treasures, ceramics and handicrafts, are something that Morocco is very well known for and are very proud of. Moroccans put so much focus on their handicrafts because it is their lifestyle and the way that they support themselves and their families. They learn this trade from a very young age. When we were in Tétouan, we took a tour that gave us a run through of all the Moroccan handicrafts and how they are made from start to finish. We also toured the Moroccan School of Ceramics and Handicrafts. It was fascinating to watch and see the detail and steps that go into making just one single item. We were worried about them breaking, but we did buy a small salt and pepper holder in a beautiful hand painted blue and white tagine dish style. We use in it our apartment here in NYC. Daily, when I’m cooking in my kitchen, I am reminded about Morocco and all of our lovely time that we spent there.
Tips For Haggling in Morocco
Now that you want to go to Morocco and buy everything there, let’s learn how to haggle!
*When you begin haggling, start by asking the shop owner how much something is. The first price that they tell you likely will be very high, and they know it. It’s the price that they wish you’d give them, but they know it is ridiculous. If it seems high, tell them, “No,” firmly, and then offer a price to them that is low, a little lower than what you think might be fair. That allows you to have some wiggle room to negotiate the price, going back and forth with the person. Eventually, you meet in the middle somewhere where you both are comfortable and agree to a final price.
*Feel free to walk away if they don’t give you the price that you want. Often times they will chase you down the road after you walk away and finally bargain down a little lower. I’ve had it happen many times. Moroccans really want to finish the sale with you. This is their livelihood. If they don’t call after you, it might be a sign that their deal wasn’t so unreasonable after all. However, all haggling encounters are different depending on the person you are haggling with and the city of Morocco that you are in.
*Don’t be timid. Ask for what you want and don’t give in. Be confident and bold so you don’t look like a weak target to rip off from the start. When they see Americans, they automatically think we are made of money, so you have to be stern.
*If you buy more than one item, you can often times get a deal from them. For example, instead of buying one shirt for $5, ask if you can have two shirts for $7. This usually works pretty well and helps you get a larger quantity of stuff for cheaper. This might be helpful when shopping for souvenirs for family back home!
*Don’t be disappointed if you don’t end up getting something that you really wanted because you walked away from a too high of price. Likely, there will be another booth selling a practically identical item just down the road. You’ll get a second chance I’m sure, to get the souvenirs that you’re wanting. People in Morocco aren’t really that unique when it comes to their shop items. It seems like they all make similar items, maybe with just less or more quality.
*Always have cash on you. Carry different sizes of bills to help guarantee that they give you the correct change. Always make sure to count back your money to make sure the change is correct.
Have fun shopping in Morocco! I'd love to know what you bought when you visit and what kinds of deals that you got. Leave me a comment below. Happy traveling and happy shopping!