Published by Johnny Ward on May 08, 2013
Morocco has long been one of the world’s best-kept traveler secrets. Located as conveniently as it is to Europe, it is easy to reach by flight or ferry, but as soon as you arrive you’ll realize that you’re in a totally new world. Morocco’s unique blend of African and Middle Eastern culture, with a little bit of French and Spanish flair thrown in, makes for a magical experience. Historical sites in ancient cities full of rich traditions, amazing natural parks in the desert, coastline, and mountains, and endless shopping opportunities for traditional textiles, metalworks, jewelry, and more are some of the factors that conspire to make it such a great destination. What’s even better is how inexpensive it can be to experience the country. Budget lodging, street food, and local transportation are all very inexpensive throughout the country. Entry to historical and cultural sites is universally low, and often lower if you have a student ID card (even if it’s expired, this is a nice thing to hold onto for some discounts).
Wandering through the bazaars of any Moroccan city is a somewhat magical trip, as they are so full of people and goods that are exotic and unfamiliar. In general, you’ll pay far less here for things than you would back home, so bringing home souvenirs and gifts is always a good plan. It’s best to approach the bartering process lightheartedly, and without a lot of attachment. If you see something you like, casually enquire about how much it and some other things cost, without giving too much of an indication of your interest. The first quoted price is likely to be twice as high (or sometimes more!) than what you can actually get the item for, so make a low counteroffer and you’ll gradually negotiate your way to a middle point. Don’t offer to pay a sum and then rescind it—if a shopkeeper agrees to a price you have quoted, it is disrespectful to try to force him lower. Unless that happens, though, you shouldn’t feel obligated to buy anything even if you spend time haggling. Start to move away and the shopkeeper may lower the price one last time, or you might find a similar item elsewhere in the market for cheaper. At the end of the day, it’s important that you get something you like and feel good about the price, not that you get the absolute lowest price possible.
Finding a small local tour operator, rather than a corporate, international one, can save you a lot of money and greatly enhance the experience. One such company is Marrocos, check out their website ’Travel Guide to Morocco‘, which a small company run by a Portuguese brother and sister that offer high quality multiday tours for small groups. Whether you hope to experience the ancient cities of Fez, Marrakech, Rabat and more, do a camel trek through the Sahara, or walk through the Saghro Mountains, you can find the perfect option for a group of four or so traveling together. The convenience and insider knowledge provided by a tour like this is invaluable.
Whatever you do in the country, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable experience. Morocco is a wonderful place to try new things on a budget. Have fun!