Ooh, now what shall I pack for Marrakech? October 03 2016
Ooh, now what shall I pack for Marrakesh?
A common question for a female who has just booked a trip to Marrakech, is what what you should wear, what should you pack? Some will say shorts and vest tops, other will say cover your shoulders and knees. Well, having just got back from a fabulous trip to Marrakech, I recommend that you dress modestly and wear sleeved tops and trousers or skirts that fall below the knee.
Although there were tourists wearing shorts and vest tops, I personally wouldn't have felt comfortable wearing such attire as Morocco is a Muslim country and being female, I didn't want to attract unwanted attention, in fact, I didn't want attract any kind of attention... I just wanted to blend in with the locals as much as I could.
As I was carrying hand luggage only on the plane, I was going to be limited as to how much I could pack. I didn't want to pack too much but equally, I didn't want to pack too little! As Morocco is hot, I packed lightweight silks and cottons as made from natural fibre they are breathable in a dry, hot climate.
I packed a maxi dress, maxi skirts, a pair of harem pants, a couple of t-shirts with short sleeves, silk billowy tops with 3/4 length sleeves and a scarf. And oh, a sun hat!
A scarf can be used for multi-purposes, it can be used to cover your head (if you don't have a hat), to cover your shoulders if you are wearing a vest top or wrap around your neck if you are wearing a low cut top.
If you do decide to pack vest tops, it would be good idea to pack a kimono to wear over the top.
If you are staying at a Riad or resort that has a pool, it's absolutely fine to wear a bikini or swimming costume to sunbathe in but pack a tunic that you can throw on if you need to...
For footwear, I packed a pair of comfy leather sandals and a pair of flip-flops. I also took a lungi/sarong instead of a beach towel, a soft rucksack, a fabric shoulder bag although I think a crossover body bag would be better and a flesh coloured money belt.
As a female traveller, I packed a rape alarm. Not that I expected to get attacked but to err on the side of caution, if I felt threatened in anyway, I would not hesitate to use it.
If you are on foot and get lost or are unsure of the way to somewhere, then get a cab or a tok-tok (a motorised tricycle). You will get locals offering to show you the way but they will always expect money at the end of it or they will just direct you the wrong way!
My friend George and I were very lucky to find a tok-tok on our first night who we hired to take us places and pick us up for the rest of our trip. I did ask the tok-tok man his name but either my French was rubbish and he didn't understand what I was asking him or he didn't hear what I was asking so ashamedly we never did get to know his name. Always agree the price before going anywhere that way, there are no nasty surprises when it comes to paying.
If you don't speak Arabic or French, try to learn some basic phrases to get you by. Luckily, I was able to use my basic French from school albeit just scrapping by!
In the main square Jemaa el Fna, I bought a traditional dress with the "Hand of Fatima" printed on. I've been told the "Hand of Fatima" gives you devine protection. I bought the dress in the evening and thought it was a black coloured dress when it in fact it was dark brown! But it kept me cool, it was comfortable and it cost 30 MAD which is about £2.50! These dresses are everywhere and can vary from 30-200 MAD depending on if you buy in a souk or one of the stalls in the main square and your haggling skills..!
There were pashminas galore sold between 40-100 MAD. There were beautiful handmade Moroccan slippers all in different colours with different designs cut from the softest of leathers. There were lovely leather goods in belts, bags and sandals gracefully swinging from stalls everywhere. I thought leather goods would be cheap in Marrakech but they are not as cheap as everyone seems to think.
So if you a woman and in a bit of a quandary as to what to pack for Marrakech, don't despair too much, just remember to cover your shoulders and cover your knees, it shows respect to the locals and that goes for men too. Also, you can pick up some nice bits in the market like a traditional dress and pashmina scarf for a very good price... And blend in like a local!