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“Spectacular, indescribable”
Review of Fes el-Bali

Fes el-Bali
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Private Guided Full-Day Tour of Fez
Ranked #4 of 82 things to do in Fes
Certificate of Excellence
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Reviewed February 18, 2014

First, you'll need a guide unless you're sure you know what you're doing. Second, you'll be transported back in time. Having a camera handy is a must, you'll never remember everything you see without it. It's impossible to be fully prepared, you'll be astounded.

2  Thank canuckshutterbug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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192 - 196 of 607 reviews

Reviewed January 14, 2014

I don't understand reviewers who so completely overlook the cultural system of barter, trade and haggling that has existed in countries like Morocco for hundreds of years. Rather than view it as being 'ripped off' know in advance that this is how it has always worked and the inflated prices they start with apply to everyone based on assumed level of wealth and status including the locals. Have a price in your head that you're willing to pay and barter for it in the knowledge that you are truly immersing yourself in to the spirit and traditional trading systems of this ancient country. You can get fixed price at home where you're always paying double the products worth anyway for something knocked off a factory conveyor belt! At least in Fes the bartering is authentic and usually for something handmade by an individual who really needs the money to feed his family. You can always walk away. Avoid the young pretenders out in the streets saying they are 'students' offering you guided trips or carpets and head in to the medina souks of this amazing place and haggle with the old pros, who are generally warm, friendly and happy to spend some time with you over a few free glasses of mint tea. To remove the hassle and haggle is to remove the true experience of Fes. Get stuck in and have fun with it and remember that a smile and sense of humour goes a long way. We didn't feel ripped of once....great fun.

9  Thank Leza H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2013

The experience of seeing the largest medina is a draw card , no doubt. But overall the problems involved do not make it worthwhile. Trying to separate a tourist from his money occurs world wide, here though, it reaches a new level. I have traveled extensively and have never seen this blatant disregard for tourists. You certainly do need a guide in the medina, not for directions or to showcase highlights so much, but for some level of protection. Otherwise you are on your own and open to the network that operates within the medina to primarily mis lead you with the intent of ripping you off as much as possible. Even the official guides are part of the network, I had a nice enough man, at the start I said no shops please. In the day he still took me to 5 shops. No pressure of course.
They openly liie and mislead you, and when you are onto them and refuse them, they get upset.
I have never been to a place where there is such a callous disregard for people other than their own. They despise tourists, we are walking cash and deserve to be treated as such. A smile and politeness here are seen as a major weakness, yet when you are firm, you have a "cold heart".
Now for the sights, yes it's huge, the alley ways are interesting but absolutely filthy, not just dirty. The mendersa's are good to see. The mosques, well non Muslims can't enter, so there goes that. The various gates are ok, but nothing special compared to the one at Meknes. The best sight is not in the medina, but outside. Take the panoramic shot from the view point.
We enjoyed Meknes and Chefchaouen but Fes is a major disappointment.
Finally, the arrogance the locals, young or old, display to tourists is out of balance in what Fes has to offer as a whole. Simply it is not that good compared to other parts of Morocco. Many tourists go, just to tick that box. Well its not worth the tick.
Oh, and I haven't got to the insults my wife had to endure in the Fes medina, and that was with the guide!
You have been warned.

17  Thank cdmm58
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2013

At first I found all the hustlers completely off-putting. I dreaded walking outside my Riad and being accosted with "My friend, my friend! What are you looking for? Would you like to see some carpets?" It was relentless, especially as I was by myself. All the guidebooks advise you not to engage them. But I got lost on my first outing, and wouldn't have found my way back if it wasn't for these guys. So on day 2, I just went with it. Someone asked what I was looking for, and they happily took me there. And that way I met some interesting people. I was taken to the main attractions, and I got invited into someone's home to have tea on their terrace. And one night when I wanted to try a hammam (which I recommend to absolutely everyone as A MUST DO while in Fes), I worried about how to find it, and what the procedures are, etc. I stepped outside my Riad and when the first guy came up to me ("my friend, my friend, where are you going?") I said I was looking for a hammam. Well he not only took me through about half a mile of meandering deserted streets (it was Friday night) right to a hammam, but he also introduced me to the owner, set me up with a massage guy, and watched my stuff and waited for me until I was done and walked me back to my Riad. I gave him a nice tip -- made his time worthwhile and also gave me a fantastic experience. So my advice is not to avoid these guys, just be friendly. I wish I'd done so from my first moment. Lastly, a note about bargaining -- pick a figure in your mind of what you're willing to pay and stick to it. And if it doesn't work out, walk away. I wanted a djellaba, but had no idea of the going price. At first I was quoted a sum in the hundreds of $, way beyond my means, so I politely said that I was sorry and it wasn't what I had in mind, and prepared to leave. Turned out they took that as a bargaining technique on my part, and wouldn't let me go. After about 20 minutes we agreed on a price that was only a little more than I'd planned. And p.s. DO NOT say you want to look at carpets unless you really want to look at carpets -- the carpet spiel is a good 30 minutes at least.

16  Thank peterjnyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 22, 2013

I wanted to love Fes, because after all, my trip to Fes was due to articles and reviews I have read about the mystique of this old city. But I am sad to say I was rather disappointed.

But let me first tell you what i loved - I loved that it is a place of history, that it is a UNESCO heritage site and that most of the structures in the medina goes back hundreds of years. I loved seeing the tannery and the mosque albeit just from outside.

However, apart from the tannery and the maze that Fes is (tourists are strongly and I mean STRONGLY recommended to get a guide to navigate this place), the moment of awe and wonder never came to me. Maybe I built it up to much in my head, or maybe it was the rain that dampened my spirits? I truly wanted to love everything about Fes but in the end I wished I went to Essouira or Chefchouen instead.

6  Thank Roushel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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