I just wanted to post a quick message after our great trip to Marrakech in December. I had posted some questions and received useful responses, so figured my comments after our trip may be helpful.
- Though we only had 4 days, we did end up taking a 2-day-1-night trip to the desert in Zagora. I think it was worth it, though travelers really should note that it takes ~8 hours each way. Our driver stopped plenty of times for bathroom breaks, photo ops and lunch break, so pure driving is really only ~6 hours. We stayed in a tent and rode camels to and fro the tents. Overall, I thought it was an experience worth remembering, but may not be for everyone given the long travel time. We booked it at a local travel agency we found in our guidebook, but I think most riads offer ability to book as well. Prices varied according to where you booked it...we paid on the higher end.
- We stayed in a riad, which was a great experience, even though we were essentially gone the whole day (and night, when we were in the desert). It was a beautiful riad and the people were friendly.
- We did not have unpleasant experiences with cab drivers. On the contrary, we were actually quite fortunate, with one cab driver even going out of his way to help us find the travel agency, asking a random person on the street, calling the agency from his cell phone twice, and staying with us until they came out. We always took the mini-cabs and negotiated the price beforehand. After 8pm, fares x2. I think we may have overpaid a bit for cabs in general, but either way it was not very expensive.
- We did get hassled a bit by children/men on the street, but nothing that truly bothered us and people were generally friendly. Beware of children/teenager "guides" at night in the medina who try to make you pay to take you somewhere. Just say 'no' politely, and that usually worked.
- In terms of dress, we did see some tourists walking around with sleeveless shirts and shorter skirts, but we felt more comfortable in pants or skirts with stockings (despite the heat).
- We ate in restaurants, sometimes more tourist-like, and paid ~220 DH for 3 people typically.
Overall, we had a great first-time visit to Marrakech!