The Best Guide to Successful Haggling in Morocco

The Best Guide to Successful Haggling in Morocco

Morocco is a fabulous destination for shopping. There is a huge selection of wares, antiques, trinkets, fashion items and souvenirs to buy. I don’t travel just for shopping but Morocco is a great place to be tempted, at least it’s one reason to go. Thanks to a strong artisan tradition, Morocco places great value on crafting unique wares, and it’s easy to pick up some great souvenirs. However, haggling is an essential part of shopping and this is the best guide to successful haggling in Morocco!

My best tips for haggling in Morocco to enjoy your shopping experience

Photo Thierry Mignon

Do Your Research

If you are serious about shopping and haggling in Morocco (and who wouldn’t be?), I recommend you do some research beforehand. Some of the markets can be quite overwhelming, and it’s easy to lose your head and buy useless trinkets. With its long artisan tradition, Morocco has a great mix of “market level” production and finer designer goods. Whether you are into ceramics, leather or antiques, it’s certainly worth doing a bit of research ahead of your trip.

Over the years, I have found that if I don’t know what I want or what would fit in my house or personal style, I end up buying things I don’t need. And I really don’t like buyers’ regret! It makes feel terribly guilty… I have a comprehensive shopping guide for Morocco to help you select what you need to look out for.

Haggling in Morocco is a fun experience

Also, you need to check the quality of the items you are buying. Whilst Morocco has a strong handmade industry, it’s not immune to cheap imports from China… The quality of garments or wares in the medina can be poor. So, while you are browsing and trying to look disinterested, pay attention to the quality of what you’re buying. I much prefer to buy something that will last the distance… And of course, some items have bigger markups than others. Rugs, lighting fixtures, mirrors and authentic jewellery have fairly high markups, while baskets, clothing and leather items tend to have lower ones.

Women taking a break after a day haggling in Morocco markets

Photo Thierry Mignon

Visit Fixed Price Stores

If you are visiting Marrakech, I can also recommend visiting the “Ensemble Artisanal”, a state-owned centre with fixed prices. The wares on sale are exactly the same as the ones in the medina, but the fixed prices give you a fair idea of what you should pay when you haggle in the medina. I found that it was helpful when getting ready to do some haggling in Morocco.

Ait Benhaddou is a place where you need to do some haggling in Morocco

It’s a Game

Haggling is probably one of the most daunting things for travellers visiting Morocco, along with driving along beautiful and sometimes dangerous roads. If haggling or price negotiating is not part of your culture, you might find the exercise very awkward. In Morocco, however, everyone does it. All day, every day, and about everything. Haggling is certainly not limited to tourist areas, however less travelled places like Tangier or Chefchaouen or even Tetouan might easier to navigate in that respect. Also, it’s a game. Although the purpose of haggling is serious, buying goods at the best price, the exercise plays like a game. The seller starts high, the buyer starts low and you go backwards and forwards a few times before reaching a price suitable for both parties… If you see it as a game, you will have fun so don’t be afraid of giving it a go!

Colourful rugs will require some serious haggling in Morocco

Don’t Act Too Interested

When haggling in Morocco, your demeanour is very important. One important trick is to act cool and slightly disinterested… If your desire for an object is too obvious, the seller will take advantage of it. Getting the price down will be more difficult. Even if you have your eye on something specific, I would recommend browsing for a little while and taking your time. And if you can, avoid leaving the store only to come back later. That one is quite obvious to sellers, they will know instantly that something caught your eye.

Chefchaouen and its blue walls will also give you an opportunity to do some haggling in Morocco

Take Your Time

Time is valued in Morocco. People can be a little formal in their greetings and small talk, so it’s important to take your time if you want to haggle successfully. Because haggling is a game, you have to follow certain rules and time is one of them. Having said that, quick negotiations can happen for small items. If you are aiming to buy large and expensive items like antiques or rugs, I would recommend having plenty of time and progressing slowly in the negotiation…

Behind this Essaouira wall lies a market where to do some haggling in Morocco

Group Items

In the medina, sellers will often encourage you to buy more or to buy several copies of the same item. I find that a little annoying at times because I always try to pace myself and not buy things that will end up at the back of the closet… However, this tactic can be useful. If you find a stall that sells a good selection of items, it can be worth your while. The haggling will be about a selection of things, and while the price increases, it will also increase the value of the trade.

Read my tips on haggling for ceramics in Morocco

Smile, always…

One of the things to know about Morocco is that people are quite friendly and hospitable. They are proud of their heritage and expect visitors to be respectful of their custom. When haggling, it’s very important to always be humorous and polite. Moroccans love a bit of small talk and will love to hear your travel stories, where you’re from and where you’re travelling to. This is useful in the haggling process, in setting a friendly tone. Showing any kind of annoyance or impatience is counterproductive. Sometimes it’s not easy because the pressure to buy can be overwhelming. But I would recommend haggling when you are at your best, enjoying your travels and having fun. If it’s a down day, maybe leave it to later.

Haggling in Morocco is a great opportunity to get to know the locals

Photo Thierry Mignon

Pay Cash and Carry Small Denominations

The vast majority of transactions in the medina are in cash. If you carry small denominations, it will be easier to claim you have small means! Paying cash will also give you an advantage in the transaction. Also, don’t show your money until the price is firmly agreed.

You won't have to do too much haggling in Morocco when buying a small bag of peanuts

Only Start Haggling if You Are Serious About Buying

As haggling is reasonably strictly coded, the understanding goes that, if you start the process, you intend to finish. Sellers can be quite offended if you ask for a price, start to haggle, only to say that you don’t really intend to buy. Don’t forget, it’s just as easier for the sellers to give you a price and expect you to pay it. So, if they’re investing the time to negotiate with you, it means they are serious about the transaction. On that point, it is common practice for sellers to offer you a glass of mint tea. You don’t have to accept but if you do, it means you are serious about buying.

Southern women haggling over fruit in Morocco

Photo Thierry Mignon

Be Firm When You Reach the Right Price

It often happens that sellers will try and sell you more quantities or more things that you want or need. I find this pressure a little overwhelming sometimes and I’ve had firm discussions with sellers, telling them not to push me too hard. If they sense that you are offended by their manner, most of them will pull back, and even apologise. If you play the game of haggling, you should expect the sellers to respect you. So, when you reach a price you deem fair, be firm, and you will win.

This shopkeeper will tell you that haggling in Morocco is a way of life

Photo Thierry Mignon

Be Prepared to Walk Away

If the negotiation doesn’t yield the good price you want, you can certainly walk away. I even use this as a technique to get the price I want. For example, I take my shoes off to try the slippers on, and when the guy doesn’t want to drop his price, I put them back on. It’s a little more drastic and you do take the risk of missing out altogether, but the people in the medina don’t like to miss out on a sale. They will easily chase you down the alley and agree to your final price!

Haggling in Morocco can be done on the street

Photo Thierry Mignon

The Rule of Thirds

Haggling is pretty freeform, but if you want to follow some rules, you can pay attention to the thirds and quarters. When the seller gives you a price, quarter it and use that as your starting point. They will laugh at you, it’s part of the game, and the haggling begins. And the price to pay would be a third or a half of the initial price… That’s a rough guide but it’s pretty flexible. When it comes to haggling, the right price is the one you are happy to pay.

Haggling in Morocco can be quite precise for this couple and their child

Photo Thierry Mignon

Compare Prices in Your Own Currency

Haggling is not necessarily about beating the price down to the lowest possible level. Bear in mind that most of the sellers you will meet are working hard to make ends meet and not necessarily making a lot of money out of the transaction. I always try and compare prices in my own currency and assess whether it’s worth a tough haggle. Sometimes I’m happy to pay a price close to what the seller wants, especially for the small things.

Everything and anything is open to haggling in Morocco

Photo Thierry Mignon

The Deal is Done!

Once the deal is done, you are welcome to continue the conversation for a little while. If both you and the seller are happy with the transaction, it will be a very nice travel experience! Shopkeepers are usually very keen on good customer service and will make sure your item is wrapped properly and handed to you with a smile.

Even for goods sold under a tent you will need to do some haggling in Morocco

Photo Thierry Mignon

Shipping

Some items are too big to carry and some shopkeepers have shipping solutions. However, this can be quite expensive. If you have the option to carry your shopping home in your luggage, it’s probably the best way. You can also buy additional luggage in the medina to fit all your purchases. As an alternative, you can ship through FedEx or DHL, or even the Moroccan post. One thing to remember is to leave your items unpacked before you ship them, so they can be viewed by the customs officer. There will be someone to wrap and seal your items for a small fee. Also, there are options for cheaper and slower sea shipping.

Babouches are my favourite thing to haggle for in Morocco

I hope you enjoy your shopping and haggling experience in Morocco. Please tell me about your best wins in the comments below! If you are looking for more inspiration on Morocco, don’t forget to check out my Pinterest board.

And if shopping is not your thing and you are keen on the beaten track, I recommend visiting the Spanish Enclaves or discovering the Controversial Spanish Islands.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

 

Travel | Morocco | Morocco Travel | Haggling | Travel Shopping | Marrakech | Travel Tips | Successful Haggling 
#travel #morocco #traveltips #haggling

15 Comments

  1. josypheen

    March 3, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    This is a really helpful guide, but I haaaaate haggling. I find it so awkward and stressful. 🙁

    1. Delphine

      March 3, 2018 at 6:28 pm

      Hi Joy, not everyone enjoys haggling, I agree. Even I find it annoying sometimes… But if I’m in the right mindset, it can be fun. Hopefully, these tips will work for you next time!

      1. josypheen

        March 4, 2018 at 10:36 am

        Yeah, I used to quite like it when I was younger.

        I had a few bad experiences in Morocco that really put me off. But I’ll try again if I go to a haggley country! 🙂

        1. Delphine

          March 4, 2018 at 12:48 pm

          Hi Josy, I agree with you that a bad experience can be very off-putting… And some sellers in Morocco can be very pushy… but if you keep calm and stand your ground, you can move away from the transaction. I recommend starting with small transactions in order to get your confidence back. And after a while, you get into the swing of it!

          1. josypheen

            March 4, 2018 at 2:16 pm

            Thanks! I’ll give it a go at some point!

  2. Michelle Joy (@harborsnhavens)

    March 3, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    These sound like some great tips! I’m the haggler in our family so this was fun to read!

    1. Delphine

      March 3, 2018 at 6:27 pm

      Hi Michelle, thank you for dropping by. Not everyone finds haggling pleasant… I enjoy doing it for the small stuff when the sums involved are not too high!

  3. Emma | Luxurybackpacking

    March 3, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    This is such a useful guide, I’m awful at haggling and will just give in to any price! Will definitely be using this guide when I go back to Asia and Egypt, thanks!

    1. Delphine

      March 4, 2018 at 7:43 am

      Dear Emma, haggling is a bit of fun, nothing too serious for me. I enjoy doing it for the small things… But you are right, these guidelines will work for Asia and Egypt, the basics are pretty universal!

  4. Viola

    March 4, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    These are great tips! I am the worst at haggling. Perhaps with some of your advice, I will be more confident next time. I plan to go to Morocco this year so I will be saving this handy little guide 😉

    1. Delphine

      March 4, 2018 at 4:09 pm

      Hi Viola, don’t worry about being good at haggling or not. It’s very much a cultural thing and if you’re not used to it, it’s a bit daunting at the beginning. I always start with small purchases so it doesn’t matter too much if I don’t do well. As you get used to it, you see the fun of it. But don’t forget to have a look at fixed prices before you start shopping, to get an idea of fair prices!

  5. Joan

    March 20, 2018 at 4:40 am

    Great ideas Delphine. You mentioned going into a fixed prices stores first. Is there a fixed price store in Casablanca you can recommend to get price ideas first? We are not in Marrekech until last 3 days of trip. Do you need to negotiate prices for small items, like babouche slippers as well?

    1. Delphine

      March 20, 2018 at 6:58 am

      Hi Joan, I looked for an “Ensemble Artisanal” in Casablanca but couldn’t find one. The other ones I know are in Chefchaouen and Rabat. In Casablanca, the Habbous market has similar market stalls to Marrakech but on a smaller scale. It’s less touristy so you should be able to negotiate better. I usually save my shopping for Marrakech, as there is so much choice. And remember that everything is negotiable, including (and especially) the small items… I have a passion for babouche slippers and I always get a pair!

  6. Jen

    August 27, 2018 at 12:01 am

    Hi There, I am wanting to purchase some brass ware, in particular the large round wall trays.. Can you advise where I would go and approx how much I could expect to pay.. Is there somewhere you could recommend I write to that I might get them sent to me or would that not be a good idea.. What is the currency over there? Thanks for such an informative page.. Really appreciate. Do you do one on Shopping in India as well?

    1. Delphine

      August 30, 2018 at 9:01 pm

      Hi Jen, brassware is a really good idea, there is a lot to choose from. My favourite shopping place is Marrakech because there is so much choice, but you may get a better deal in other, less touristy cities. If you are buying a brass tray, you should check that it weighs a bit. Something too light would be a cheap version. Also pay attention to the designs, the best ones are slightly worn down and not too overwhelming. When shopping in Morocco, it’s always better to negotiate yourself. You can probably buy remotely but I would trust a proper importer than a local merchant. As for India, I only went once a long time ago but I don’t have any content on it… Hope you get to go to Morocco!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.