The Maldives is stunningly beautiful and expensive. But with proper planning and pre-travel research, you can enjoy this paradise destination on a budget. To know more, read on this Maldives budget travel guide in a nutshell.
Visa – The free visa on arrival facility is given to almost all nationalities. Return tickets and sometimes hotel vouchers are required to be presented to the immigration officers upon demand.
Getting In – A lot of airlines fly into Male and the island nation is well connected with the rest of the world. Maldives Airlines is the national carrier of the country and a brand new Flyme caters to the domestic routes. Sri Lankan Airlines, Spicejet, Air Asia, Tiger Airways etc offer flights to Male at attractive prices and Emirates, Qatar, Lufthansa etc provide excellent international connections.
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Getting Around – Transportation around the islands can be done with regular ferries (cheap and super slow), speed boats (regular, hard to find and resort provided), domestic flights and seaplane transfers. Planning, scheduling and coordinating with resorts/guesthouses about the transfers beforehand saves headaches, money and helps you enjoy your Maldives vacation hassle-free. For seaplane transfers, luggage is usually carried by boat and is delivered to the customer’s villa after 6 or 7 hours of arrival. Carrying essentials in a small bag for seaplane transfer guests make sense and it tides over the wait for the luggage. Similarly, while returning, luggage is nearly always transferred the night before.
Language – Dhivehi is the national language and English is widely spoken.
Currency – Rufiya is the name of Maldivian currency and the conversion rate is 1 Usd=15.3800 Rufiya.
Cultural Etiquette – Maldives is a strict Islamic nation and alcohol, pork, pornographic materials, dogs and observing non-Islamic practices in inhabited islands are strictly forbidden and are punishable offences. Resorts, however, are exempted from these regulations and tourists can drink, sunbathe and generally have a very good time.
Travel Tips – While ocean cottages or water bungalows of the resorts sound romantic, the reality sometimes is not quite so rosy. These bungalows, being built on stilts or platforms on water, usually a long walk to the beach or main resort area. While this doesn’t seem too bad, doing the walk a couple of times every day on an uncovered platform in blinding sun can actually turn out to be a pain. Moreover, online reviews of the water resorts point out that, room service to the water bungalows are not that great owing to the distance and most of them can be quite noisy. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the Maldives has some of the best resorts in the world and excellent underwater dining options. The mega-expensive Anantara Villas is a fabulous property and the Kihaad resort on the Marine Protected Area Biosphere Reserve offers one of the best snorkelling in the world. It has a house reef where whale sharks and manta rays are occasionally spotted. Nowadays live board options are also available and they usually take guests for 10-14 days islands cruise.
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Travel Caution – In the Maldives, all-inclusive resorts and holiday packages are aplenty and easily available. However, do cross check with what’s included and what’s not, as most of these packages do not include water and beverages. Being confined to the limitations of the resort, these items cost a bomb and Maldives charges 10% service charge on everything purchased by tourists in resorts and guesthouses. Since alcohol is permitted only in resorts, drinking in the Maldives proves to be quite expensive. Tipping is expected on top of the applicable service charge and in the end, quite a hefty bit of money goes into extras being paid out at the resorts. Most islands and guesthouses/resorts have good Internet and telephone facilities but do check the rates before using. In spite of the Maldives being considered as a destination for travellers, drug abuse among the young generations is on the rise and tourists are advised to be extra cautious in Male after dark. Please refrain from trashing the islands and buying of dead/alive marine life is punishable by law.
Things to carry – Standard European 3 pin plug adapter, small flashlight, insect repellent, sunscreen and after sun lotions, beach sandals and swimming costumes.
Best time to Visit – Winters are the best time to visit the Maldives and you need to book early to get the best deals. Avoid monsoons when rain lashes the islands nonstop and there is nothing much to do other than being holed up in your room.
Mentioned below are independent travel costs of Maldives on a budget. Please note that these prices have been incurred in 2013.
1 USD airport ferry ride
2 USD taxi ride from Male ferry terminal to the city centre
7 USD lunch at hotaa (local restaurant) in Male
1 USD 2 litres water bottle
125 USD Skai lodge for 2 nights in Male
35 USD Fenfushi Inn per night double room rate
167 USD Flyme ticket to Fenfushi Island (one way)
2 USD for 2 litres water bottles at Fenfushi island
100 USD pathetic Coral Hotel in Male for 1 night
10 USD local mobile phone connection
30 USD disgusting dinner at L’BAN restaurant in Male
100 USD return flight tickets by Spice jet from Mumbai-Male via Kochi
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