Souks are fascinating places but if you don’t know what you’re doing they can be a fairly intimidating and chaotic places. However, arm yourself with just a little knowledge and these can be wonderful labyrinths.
Stay on the right
If you have ever been cut up by a moped or donkey cart in the souk the perceived lack of safety awareness may have unnerved you. Souks have rules of engagement and one of the first things to learn is the need to walk on the right hand side. This means that the priority traffic of camels, goats, mopeds, carts and veiled women out shopping can avoid you and go on their way. You are not the priority here and need to observe the rules of the souk.
Attitude is king
When visiting the souk it’s important to have a positive attitude and think good things. If you go thinking everyone will rip you off, there will be hassle and the whole experience will be a nightmare, chances are it will be exactly that. If you stay positive and look as though you know where you are going you are more likely to blend in.
Souks, by their nature are confusing and it is really easy to get lost. Look out for landmarks that you can remember if you do take a wrong turning. Remember that if you are going out in the evening chances are the stall will have packed up by the time you return in the dark so choose something fixed like an arch to remember. If you do get lost and need to ask directions then go into a shop rather than ask someone in the street. The shopkeeper will not be able to leave his store whilst someone on the street may lead you to yet another carpet dealer.
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Finally, do make sure you keep any belongings and valuables close to you and hidden. Most people in the souks are honourable and very honest but a minority (like everywhere in the world) sometimes take advantage of a situation.