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Make Morocco top of your 2013 travel list

From the souks selling slippers in Marrakesh to the spices of Istanbul, a visit to the market is a mesmerising cultural experience, perfect for the first trip of the year. 

Wander the maze-like streets of Morocco's medinas and take in the lively atmosphere of the many market stands heaving with excitable tourists and locals hawking their hand-made crafts. Test your haggling skills when contemplating the purchase of carpets and leather goods or take in the powerful aroma of herbs and scented candles.

The word souk means a 'big mess', and this is often very much the case. But the electric energy of a Moroccan market makes the experience all the more atmospheric. From the sound of a snake charmer's flute to the dancing musicians in the main square, discover the markets of Fez, Tiznit and Marrakesh located in the north of Africa.

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In the cool shade of Morocco, away from the bustling souks and messy mayhem, enjoy a moment of peace and quiet far from the scorching hot sun and vendors hawking their crafted goods 

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Tourists love buying carpets on their holidays to Marrakesh and are always insistent on transporting back as many as is humanly possible, from floral patterns to geometric motifs or even the brightly coloured carpets in the region of Tazenakht. You can also purchase 'kilim', which are woven carpets, much thinner and easier to transport / © Xoan-Sampaiño 

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It's amazing how many food stalls, spices, handicrafts, carpets, lamps or clothes that can be found in the neverending winding streets of the souk / © Tourism of Morocco 

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The labyrinth souks of Marrakech are filled with stall upon stall packed with Moroccan spices and unique herbs/ © Tourism of Morocco 

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Over the centuries, spices have been integrated into the country's gastronomy, seasoning many Moroccan dishes. Cinnamon, coriander and saffron are fundamental to add a little flavour to local specialties and synonymous with Moroccan cuisine / © Mark Zion 

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Exploring the souks is always a highlight in Morocco but when contemplating a purchase, whether it be spices or slippers, be sure to test your best haggling skills as it is always expected and adds to the experience / © Tourism of Turkey 

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In the midst of the many perfume stands hundreds of fragrances, known as henna, as well as jasmine and orange blossom, are lined one by one ready for tourists to purchase. You can also find natural cosmetics such as shampoos known as tfal and the famous khol used for eye liner / © Tourism of Morocco 

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Just like in Morocco, the souks in Egypt are a fundamental aspect of the culture and an everyday occurrence for those living there / Tourism Egypt 

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The hundreds of colourful slippers displayed on every corner in every shade are synonymous with souks. Many have hand sewn patterns on the front and are the perfect souvenir to bring home after a trip to Morocco 

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