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Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

Cumbria
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Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

Hi

We are going to Marrakech at the beginning of Jan 2014. We want a proper experience and not just what a tour/package operator would give you (if that makes sense)

We've never done anything like this before

We have been looking at package deals but are thinking of just booking flights and going with the flow.

How easy is it to find hotel rooms (Riads?) by just turning up?

Would anyone advise it?

We were told not to take suitcases but pack some backpacks so as not to look over touristy

I can understand a bit of French (day to day stuff and menu stuff) would that be enough for getting a room/something to eat.

I have been told to do an All Inclusive package so I know what we're eating

I know we need to dress respectfully - not a problem as we aren't skimpy shorts and hanky size tops people

The other thing is transport from the airport to where accommodation is.

Are taxis available in abundance at the hotel?

How far is it into the main part of Marrakech and what should we expect to pay for a taxi?

Should we pre-book one to return to the airport for coming home or are they widely available and reliable?

Am I worrying for nothing?

Having only every been to Spain and France (and Kenya 20yrs ago) we aren't experienced travellers (but are in the over 40's age group) so any help or advice gratefully accepted

Thanks in advance.

Cardiff, United...
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1. Re: Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

The first time we went to Marrakech we did the tour package thing, ever since we have just booked our flights and hotels/riads separately.

Personally I would always advise you book your riad before leaving the UK, when you get to Marrakech things tend to go a bit "mad" for a couple of days. If you book before leaving the UK, then you can compare riads and choose one that suits you. You could even book a two city stay, split your time between Marrakech and Essaouira (a coastal town that is a total contrast to Marrakech).

Forget about the all inclusive, there are plenty of places to eat in the Old Medina area, you can try new places everyday.

Don't worry about the airport transfer, some riads offer a free transfer, whilst other riads will arrange the transfer and charge you, there are plenty of taxis available outside the airport but the chances they will know where you riad is are very slim, they will drop you off at the entrance to the Medina and you will then have "nightmare" trying to find you riad.

I always take a suitcase with me, the locals will know you are a tourist whether you have a suitcase or backpack with you.

Plan as much as you can, the more you research your holiday to Morocco, the more fun you will have.

Marrakech, Morocco
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2. Re: Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

I echo the advice above, you dont need a package and neither should you go All Inclusive as there are great places to eat in Marrakech, however you should book your hotel/riad in advance (just book bed and breakfast) - check the 'Hotels' tab at the top of the page for recommendations.

Read the 'Top Questions' section on the right hand side of the page for info about taxis etc and do some more reading of the threads in this forum as you will get a lot of valuable advice to help you plan your trip.

Also buy yourself a Marrakech guide book, the more you know the less you need to worry!

Edited: 25 November 2013, 02:31
Athens, Greece
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3. Re: Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

Agree with the above advice. Buy a good guidebook and a map, to understand vast distances in Morocco.

Do not plan much beforehand, except your accommodation in Marrakech, go with the flow and you will have a great experience.

You will manage even with your English, do not worry.

The petit taxis have a meter, which you should follow, if they try overcharge you, just hand over the correct fee and depart.

Cumbria
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4. Re: Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

Thank you. Very reassuring information and a great help :0)

Cumbria
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5. Re: Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

Thank you. We spent last night looking at all the hotels and b&bs on here and found some nice ones I have already got a guide book coming and we are reading everything we can before going

Thanks you for your advice - much appreciated :0))

SW Scoland
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6. Re: Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

About the taxis, I know this is covered in Top Questions but what harm is there in taking a minute to answer here as well. A transfer organised by your Riad will be the best solution, but of course they could charge a lot for it. Hopefully the info here will help you decide whether this is the right option for you.

There is an abundance of taxis at the airport, if it looks like there's only a few waiting don't be fooled, there's plenty more on standby in the car park where the drivers have a little hangout area with food & a TV etc.

We arrived at approx 7.30pm and armed with info from this forum we approached the taxi rank with a map and name & address of our Riad, which was in the Medina really close to Djemaa El Fna, so not accessible by car. We were met by a taxi co-ordinator who told us it would be 150dh but we said we knew it should be 70dh for locals. The co-ordinator said not at night, which is fair enough, but we argued it should not be double at night. He asked for 120dh and we pointed out the bus which was sitting just behind the taxis and said "100 or we take the bus" which was accepted.

Whilst waiting to be allocated a taxi we spoke to another traveller who was going half the distance but was also quoted 150dh. We later met another couple who paid 250dh. Ask for your price upfront and stand your ground.

When we arrived at the Medina a man with a cart on wheels approached the driver and asked him where we were going. He started to unload our luggage into his cart and asked for 50dh to take us to the Riad. We refused and headed there ourselves, only to be offered 40dh by someone else a few yards later, then 30 by someone else. There's no shortage of people trying to help you if you're lost, but of course they'll want money. It is very hard to find your way about as street signs are limited or none existent, but it can be done with good preparation.

For the way back to the airport, during the day, we were again asked for 150dh for a taxi, but using the same approach we were taken there for 80.

Your basic French will be ideal by the way. Most people who interact with tourists in Marrakech speak good English, or basic at least. If you go off the beaten track, French is more important, but mine is extremely limited and I didn't have any troubles.

Have a great time!

Marrakech, Morocco
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7. Re: Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

Where did this myth about riads overpricing airport transfers come from? "they could charge a lot for it" and "a princely sum" for example. Riads offer this service to their guests as a) it saves on any hassle and negotiating prices at the airport and b) riads use the same driver(s) who actually know where the property is (unlike many other drivers). You pay a fixed price for peace of mind and transfer directly to your riad and is often cheaper than the airport taxis.

SW Scoland
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8. Re: Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

Personal experience Pilobolus.

Marrakech: 100dh on way in, 80dh on way out. Could have paid a local 'guide' 20dh on foot if I wanted to. Riad quote - €20 each way. (roughly 220dh)

Imlil: Riad quoted €40 each way (Roughly 440dh) We hired a car for our time there but another couple at our Riad had got a taxi from Marrakech for 350dh, and returned from Imlil to Marrakech for 250dh.

Of course going through the Riad gives much valued piece of mind, but for me these price differences were significant enough to go it alone.

Edited: 25 November 2013, 13:16
Marseille, France
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9. Re: Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

When I go on vacation the whole idea is peace of mind. Book through the hotel or riad. I mean, seriously? Morocco is also a great country to get ripped off in when it comes to transport "on the fly." Peace of mind and transport direct to/from the hotel is well worth the extra money to me. But, I guess we are all different. You have to decide for yourself.

Cumbria
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10. Re: Jan visit - Package or flights and take a chance?

Thanks everyone

I have looked at the airport transfer bus as well.

It's looking like we'll be arriving early evening too so I think the bus may have stopped going then

I don't mind paying for a taxi - after all they charge us £10 here at home for a 4 mile trip to the train station!!

Also, just seen that Trip Advisor do another app with info on different cities so have downloaded that to have a look at

Edited: 25 November 2013, 18:03