Monday 25 July 2016

Travel Advice & Money Saving Tips for Marrakech, Morroco

travel tips money saving budget morroco marrakesh

My interrail travel advice post continues to be my most viewed - turns out you guys like some travel tips! My latest trip was to Morroco, mostly in Marrakech but with a road trip aaalll around the mountains to the desert and back (Read about my trip here!). I'll focus on Marrakech for this post!

I'll break down my spendings so you can get an idea of how much I spent on what. Remember, this is for two people sharing, like the rooms and some meals we shared. We travelled during early June which is just before peak season but I don't think, other than flight costs (which I think you could still get reasonably priced later in the year) it would be much more expensive/cheaper during other months. I have a post about how I get cheap flights and hotels which could be useful to read.

Flights - £80pp
Luggage- £0 (pack light and save yourself £40-50 by taking hand luggage only)
Room for 5 Nights - £94 (definitely available cheaper)
Airport Transfer - 140MAD / £11 / £5.50pp
Everything else* - £250 (big overestimation - I think more likely £215 max)
TOTAL (not excluding our 3 day excursion to the desert) - £515 for two people / approx £260pp

*This includes all our meals, snacks, water, souvenirs (I bought A LOT!), tips - we didn't generally scrimp on anything we wanted, we just try to be sensible.

What & where we ate.
  • As you can imagine, to spend this amount we weren't exactly eating at swanky restaurants every day. We made budget friendly choices and if we decided to go a bit fancy for one meal, we kept the cost down for the next.
  •  We generally ate breakfast in the riad for free, or a cheap one elsewhere (discussed later!). This should be the cheapest meal of the day!
  • A nice budget lunch (when you get tired of tagines!) is pizza in the rooftop restaurant. You get a great view of the square for people watching, and the pizza is cheap and very nice! There are also loads of lunch time 3 course deals with traditional tagines and salads for around 80MAD (£6). Another day we bought a loaf of traditional bread, some fruit and yoghurt and had a little picnic that cost no more than £2.
  • Dinner is where you are spoilt for choice - in the square at night, lots of little restaurants pop up. They were a great experience - unbeliveably cheap, authentic and tasty food! I had a fish tagine, a Berber salad, olives and a can of pop for less than a fiver.
  • We had one fancy meal in an incredible restaurant - Dejuner. It was lovely to get dressed up and eat at a restaurant with a table cloth and flowers etc. We had the most amazing dinner with the best dessert I have ever eaten and a mocktail each for £30. Wow!
  • A quick side note - Martin and I didn't drink. That saves us a lot of money on holidays, generally. In a predominantly Muslim country alcohol isn't easy to come by and I recommend just enjoying the culture and passing on the booze. 

 Before you go.
  • When booking somewhere to stay, consider a riad over a conventional hotel or resort. You'll get a more authentic experience, even in the budget ones. There are riads for ALL budgets!
  • 100% make sure you print off a map from Jmaa el Fna (the main market square) to your riad - you will get lost, but that's half the fun! A map will just help you get less lost. The bus will drop you off outside the square, and if you map on some landmarks/street names you should be able to find your way without being hussled.
  • Don't book excursions before you go. It may sound risky but all the trips I had considered before we got there, including the one we booked online, were available in the souks to, shop around, book and barter for a much better price.
  • Don't book airport transfers. Trust me! I'll explain why shortly...
  • Don't take out money in the airport/post office etc. I discussed how this saved me money in my interrail travel post (make sure you read that for some general travel tips!). Maybe take £20 for water, the bus and a bit of cash for safety, but no more is needed.
  • Do some research and get the vaccinations you need. You can get them free at the doctors, but as Martin and I booked the trip last minute he ended up paying for his injections as the waiting list was too long. It is recommended that you vaccinate against Hep A and Typhoid as a minimun with Rabies, Tetanus and Hep B to consider, too. I wish we had got the Rabies injection as there are a HUGE number of stray cats and men with monkeys keen to put them on you. We were so on edge the whole time.

Once you arrive
  •  Like I said - don't book transfers. They're almost guaranteed to be a rip off. There is a number 19 bus that goes from the front of the airport to the outskirts of Jma el Fna. It takes about 10 minutes and costs 30MAD (about £2 when I travelled). Make sure you get off the bus when you see a KFC to your left. Walk towards the street lined with horses, up the street and you will arrive at Jma el Fna.
  • If you want to visit the new town (which I really don't recommend at all), don't let taxi drivers convince you it's too far to walk. It's not! It's about 40 minutes away, and you can walk via some beautiful gardens. Don't bother getting a bus or a taxi, it's just a waste of money. Unless of course you are unable to walk, then a bus is probably your cheapest option.
  • I personally recommend taking money out at cash points as you go - you get a much better exchange rate. It also means you can keep track of what you're spending, budget better and you're not carrying around a lot of money.
  • I was warned that the men would talk to Martin rather than addressing me, especially as we are not married. I was also warned that I would face a lot of harrassment as a woman. I decided to wear a "wedding ring" to prevent this, but honestly I don't know if it made a difference. However - like I said I was travelling with Martin but if you are a single woman travelling alone, a wedding ring could be something to consider.
  • Most riads serve a traditional Morrocan breakfast, but it wasn't for me. If you feel the same go to Cafe du France (a very touristy cafe in the market square) and grab a croissant and glass of OJ for £1.
  • Make sure you get an orange juice from the dozens of orange juice stalls in the market - it is absolutely fantastic. Our favourite was 52 as the lovely guy running it let me go into the stall and have a go juicing the oranges! The OJ is 4MAD (around 30-40p) well spent!
  • Please be vigilant - most people there are extremely nice, but as with all places, there are some bad eggs. Those bad eggs like to target tourists because let's be honest, white tourists don't have the best rep of being savvy! We got followed and harrassed by a group of young lads when we got lost in the medina looking for our riad and I felt extremely uncomfortable. A woman selling henna tattoos tattooed me even after I said no several times and tried to charge me £40.  So have your wits about you and if you have a bad feeling about something, it could be wise to trust your gut.
  • I'm going to write a whole post about my experiences as a woman in Marrakech and my thoughts on what to wear but basically - where what you want. I worried so much about it, but the people didn't bat an eyelid at my shorts. 
I hope this super comprehensive guide has given you some tips and prepared you for your trip to Marrakech! If you have any other questions that I've skipped over please leave me a comment and I'll try and help. Have a great time!

Teri-May xx



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