Top 5 Must Do's in Marrakesh

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It's easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle that makes up Marrakesh. The streets are narrow and maze-like, especially at night, and filled with people, animals and goods. All is brightly colored and noisy. If you manage to extract yourself from the crowds, here are five places that shouldn't be missed.

Djemma el Fna

The main square of Marrakesh is located in the old city. During the day it's a hodge-podge of activity. You can roam amongst snake charmers, monkey handlers, healers, fortunetellers, acrobats and more. Feel free to take photographs, but keep in mind that the vendor will expect a tip for the privilege. And don't venture too close as a common ploy is to drop snakes or monkeys on tourists and demand large amounts of money before they're removed. Once night descends the square is transformed into a nighttime eatery. Walk around the different stalls and sample local delicacies. Remember that if you stop to listen to any of the storytellers or musicians they will expect a tip-and will follow you until it's given. This World Heritage Sight is a definite must-see and if the hustle is too bothersome, watch the action from a nearby roof-top.

Suuq of Marrakesh

Located between Djemma el Fna and Medersa Ben Yousef is the maze of the Marrakesh souks. The primary street to start from is Rue Souk Smarine, where you will find all manner of clothing and fabrics. The souks are an old tradition that has remained largely unchanged. Wandering the streets you can find spices, slippers, silks, cottons, pashminas, carpets, metals, books, candles, animals, food, medicines and anything else you may need or want. If you're short on time or have a specific item in mind to buy it may be worth hiring a guide to take you to the correct shops or streets.

Hammam Ziani

You can't visit Marrakesh without visiting the Arabian baths. Hammam Ziani is lesser known than the tourist-oriented Bains de Marrakesh, and a much better value as well. You start off with a shower and a soaping up followed by a very thorough scrub to remove all dead skin from your person. Afterward you'll be massaged before being wrapped in seaweed and plastic wrap and left to relax. It's a marvelously decadent experience. You can find the Hammam Ziani on the Rue Riad Zitoune Jdid, near the Bahia Palace.

Bahia Palace

As it happens, Bahia Palace is another place you won't want to miss. Dating from the 19th century, the palace is a stunning work of courtyards, fountains, gardens and nearly 150 rooms. Some of the areas are off-limits, as the royal family still resides here. But it's definitely worth wandering around to admire the artwork and woodwork.

La Maison Arabe Cooking Workshop

Located in a private club with excellent facilities and top-end kitchens, you can spend a morning learning how to cook amazing Moroccan dishes at La Maison Arabe. The chefs speak English or provide a translator, the food is superb and the atmosphere is brilliant. When you leave you'll be able to take a bit of Morocco with you.

August 10, 2009 new by tiffanymparker

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