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Travel to Marrakesh

  • morocco travelBicycle bags : there are several nice shops in the souq which specialises in cyclebags (50 Dh) made from recycled plastic from trucks, you can find them very close to Jemaa El Fna square, enter the souq opposite Hotel Ali (part of the souq close to the Koutoubia mosque).
  • Public transport from Marrakesh: there are Supratours and CTM buses from Marrakech to Dakhla (1 daily) and Laayoune (3 daily). Supratours buses leave next to the train station and CTM has an office near to the main bus station. The main bus station of Marrakesh has no buses to the Western Sahara.

  • Driving your own car in Marrakesh: Of the four main cities of Morocco (others are Rabat, Casablanca and Fez), the city centre (and above all the medina) of Marrakesh is the worst to drive in with your own car, especially inside the medina walls after dark. Motorbikes are hanging like flies around your car, driving to all sides at high speed. There are a lot less of these dangerous motorbikes in the north of Morocco.
  • Budget hotels and accommodation in Marrakech: Marrakesh is probably the most popular place for tourists in Morocco and it is recommended to book even budget hotels a few days in advance if you don't like being send from one full hotel to another.
    • Hotel Ali: Right next to Jemaa el Fna, this hotel has full facilities for budget travellers and trekking groups. It also a very good place to meet a guide if you would like to book a walking tour in the High Atlas from Marrakesh; [email protected], telephone 044-444979
    • Hotel Essaouira: probably the best one of the low budget hotels in Marrakech medina.
    • Hotel Central Palace: off the main modern shopping street which ends on Jemaa el Fna, the inner courtyard is very spacious and refreshing. Rooms are rather basic, maybe a bit more spacious than the low budget hotels, but I'm not sure if they are worth paying double for it. A double without bathroom costs 155 dirham, with shower 205 dirham and with bath room 305 dirham. The roof terrace is big, but has no especially nice view.
    • Derb Sidi Bouloukat: this small and winding street in the medina (it starts at Jemaa el Fna, the alley just right of the Café Glacier) has about 20 low budget hotels, all with about the same prices (100 - 150 dirham for a double). They all have about the same small rooms around a patio and a roof terrace. The main difference, certainly during the very hot summer, will be the amount of windows facing the street. If you have room windows facing the inner court and the street, you will have a nice and refrishing air circulation (like in Hotel Cecil), rooms with only windows towards the courtyard can become unbearably hot at night.
    • Hotel CTM: has probably the nicest roof terrace of all hotels, with panoramic views over Jemaa El Fna square.
  • Breakfast: If you stay at one of the low budget hotels hidden in the medina, you could have a very standard breakfast at their roof terrace, but are probably better of having a nice breakfast of pancake and croissant on the Jemaa El Fna square. If you look a bit around you will easily find some places which offer a nice breakfast menu of fruit juice, coffee or tea, pancake and croissant for 15 dirham. The roof terrraces offer of course better views of Jemaa El Fna, but you pay more or less double.
  • Tanneries: Even the during my third visit to Marrakesh I again did not succeed in finding the tanneries. Most shop owners in the souq don't know where they are, just point in any direction and after two hours walking you end up again on Jemaa El Fna, where you started. Fortunately in Fez there are now well indicated routes through the medina, so finding the tanneries of Fez has become easy. For Marrakesh, I think you're better off taking a taxi to Bab Debbah and start searching from there.
  • Riads in Marrakesh : A riad is a traditional Moroccan palace which has been restored into luxury accommodation or bed and breakfast. Following is a list of addresses of bed and breakfasts and luxurious riads in the medina of Marrakesh. Prices are mostly around 1000 - 1500 dirham per room.
  • Jemaa el Fna square:
    • The main square at the border of the souqs, is calm and hot during the day and is then filled with stalls selling fresh orange juice. Oranges are very cheap in Morocco, so in the whole country you will find those kind of fresh juice sellers. A glass costs everywhere 3 dirham. On Jemaa el Fna there is a lot of competition so some sellers ask only 2 dirham. But keep in mind that you then probably will get some juice with a lot of water and sugar added. With prices so low you would actually better take one which is willing to squeeze some fresh oranges for you instead of pouring some premaid juice out of a bottle as most of them do.
    • After dark the square transforms into a huge snackbar surrounded by African drummers, Berber musiscians storytellers and snake charmers. There is a lot of competition between the 100 or so snack stalls, which all offer about exactly the same stuff, so if you are on a low budget, there is some room for bargaining on their "fixed" prices (about 25 dirham for meat or fish, and 5 for a salad, frites or tapa-like starter).
    • Entertainers: you can watch them in a relaxed way and give a dirham or so in the end, but be aware that if you take a picture they will immediately stand in front of you to charge 20 to 50 dirham. Even the belly danceress stopped her performance and was asking for her dirhams before if had my camera down. It seems to be an established way for them of earning a bit extra on tourists, so don't worry about taking pictures, they like it, as long as you pay for it afterwards. Don't let yourself end up paying what they ask. If you made a nice picture (also during the day) of those beautifully dressed up water sellers, they should be happy with 5 - 10 dirham depending on the amount of pictures you took. Asking 50 dirham is a bit much I think. Just pay, thank them, don't worry about their requests for more and walk away. You will see that they will be very friendly when you meet them back the next day, which means you gave the right price.
  • Public transport in Marrakech:
    • grand taxi (mercedes) from the Airport to Jemaa El Fna: fixed prices are indicated at the exit of the airport building and should be 50 dirham, on the taxi stand itself there is a board with says it is 60 dirham to Jemaa el Fna square. Note that you always have to bargain a bit with the grand taxis as they have no meter, but they are practical if you have a lot of luggage.
    • petit taxi (Fiat) from Marrakech train station to Jemaa El Fna square costs 20 dirham or less depending of how much you can bargain off the starting price of 40 dirham. With the meter on it would probably cost 10 dirham, but unfortunately in Marrakesh a lot of petit taxi's refuse to use the meter, especially when you have luggage with you. So, compared to Rabat and Casablanca, where they all use a meter, in Marrakech you have to use your bargain skills.