The Ultimate Travel Guide To Maldives On Budget

Hello readers, sorry for delaying this post since requested in September.  Now is ready here my ultimate travel guide to Maldives: the budget-friendly way. I have received a lot of questions regarding my Maldives trip and how it is possible to travel Maldives with budget? It’s possible and all the things you need to know will be summarised in this post. 

This is going to be one lengthy post. I've cut out a lot of blah blah, so bear with me.


Maafushi Island, Maldives

ABOUT MALDIVES

Maldives is a strictly Muslim nation and obeying local laws and traditions are a requirement. That means Alcohol is prohibited everywhere except resort hotels, and the beverages cannot be taken off resort property. Forget about buying a bottle of airport duty free whisky on your way to Maldives too.

Dress modestly when around locals, women should wear knee-length clothing with sleeves to avoid unwanted attention, tight fitting clothing should be avoided out of respect for the culture when in towns/villages. You’re only allowed to wear bikini or revealing clothes on ‘bikini beaches’ and resorts. Tips: bring scarfs to cover up when wearing shorts.

Maafushi_Sailing

GETTING THERE

Travelling time from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) to Malé International Airport (MLE) is about 4h 25m and the cheapest way you can get to Maldives is flying with Air Asia. I bought my flight ticket last year for RM730 round trip, but if you’re lucky enough you could get flight ticket as cheap as RM497 round trip.

Nicole Cynnie | Sand Bank, Maldives 4

WHEN TO VISIT

The best way to save yourself some money is to visit Maldives during the off season, that is between the months of May to October. During that period, prices of flight and accommodation are lower and the availability is much better. Try to avoid traveling in June as the monsoon hit its peak. Also avoid visiting during the month of Ramadan, tourists are expected to respect Muslim traditions; this can include avoiding food, drink, and smoking during the day hours.

Nicole Cynnie | Parasailing @ Maafushi Island 2

VISA

Citizens of Malaysia can obtain a Visa-On-Arrival in Maldives for a stay of up to 30 days, which can be extended in Maldives. Applicants must show evidence of return transportation and either confirmed hotel accommodations or proof of sufficient funds in the amount of minimum USD100 + USD50 per day. (source)

Nicole Cynnie | Sand Bank, Maldives 1

ON ARRIVAL

There are three things that you need to do upon arrival and that is to exchange local currency (MVR), buy a SIM card and get a boat ticket to Malé city or other destination.

IMG_5249

CURRENCY, MONEY & BANK

The Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR) is the currency of Maldives which is non-convertible and cannot be purchased beforehand. The only international currency acceptable for exchange in Maldives are USD, EURO & British Pound.  But USD is the only currency acknowledged as a legal tender throughout Maldives (meaning, you can use USD to buy things) but its more worth-taking to use MVR as there will be no exact/equal change of any trade transaction.  You can do money exchange at the Bank of Maldives Foreign Exchange counter located at the arrival hall. It is advisable to exchange currency at the airport to avoid lengthy bank queues in Malé city. Do remember to keep your exchange receipt as you will need to present it upon departures at the exchange counter if you wish to change MVR to other foreign currency. Though, most of the resort and restaurant accepts USD, it is better to have MVR cash for boats ride and light shopping at the groceries store.

The other option of getting MVR is to withdraw cash from ATM machine at the airport, withdrawal charges may be applied from your bank so do contact you bank beforehand.

Maafushi_D2

GETTING A SIM CARD

There is no Wi-Fi at the airport, but most resorts, guesthouses and restaurants are offering it for free! For me, getting a mobile/cell data is going to be a waste as most of my time in Maldives are going to spend on traveling between islands, playing water sports, mesmerizing the sunset over beautiful beaches. 

If you really do want to stay connected with your social media, worry not, getting a mobile/cell data is simple and inexpensive. There are two cell companies in Maldives —Dhiraagu and Ooredoo. I recommend getting it from Dhiraagu because my Maldivian friend, Iuthi said so. A 2GB cellular data cost MVR199 and is valid for 30 days from the date of activation. More details can be found on their website here

But trust me, you really do not need one.

Nicole Cynnie | Surfing @ Turtle Reef, Maldives 2

GETTING AROUND

To/from Male City from/to Airport
The airport is located on an island isolated from the city, you’ll need to get a boat ride to reach your destination.

The Malé Aiport ferry runs-
Every 10 minutes from 6:00AM to 2:30AM
Every 30 minutes from 2:30AM to 4:00AM
Every 15 minutes from 4:00AM to 6:00AM

On Fridays ferries operate every 10 minutes from 6:00AM to 12:00AM

The ticket cost MVR10 per person and it takes 10 minutes of boat ride to reach the city.

Within Malé City
A taxi rides to any destination within the city cost only MVR25, additional charge of MVR5 for luggage.

Between Islands
There are four options to travel between islands: public ferry, scheduled speedboat, private speedboat and seaplane.

Public ferry is the cheapest way to travel between islands and it usually runs everyday except Friday. If you happen to travel on Friday, the cheapest option is to take scheduled speedboat to your destination.

I took scheduled speedboat to travel between Malé City and Maafushi Island during my stay in Maldives. The ticket cost around USD20, could contact iComTours Facebook Page for more information.

Read: Travel Diary Maldives Day 01: Malé - Maafushi Island

I also visited Hulhumalé during my stay and I took premium public ferry to travel from Malé City to Hulhumalé Island, the ticket cost MVR20. For more info, checkout www.mtcc.com.mv

Read: Travel Diary Maldives Day 04: Visiting Hulhumalé, Kaafu Atoll, Maldives

Masaaree Boutique Hotel, Maldives 2

ACCOMODATION

Go local! Staying on a local-inhabited island is perhaps the best advice I can give to anyone hoping to experience the Maldives without doing too much damage to their wallet. Simple guesthouses/hotels with affordable nightly rates (USD40 - USD100 for a double room) have been springing up on the islands of Maafushi, Hulhumale, Guraidhoo, and Fulidhoo.

We visited Maldives during the Eid Al-Adha holiday period, most of the cheaper accommodation were fully booked resulting our accommodation cost was on the more expensive end of the budget range. We stayed at the Masaaree Boutique Hotel, Maafushi Island and paid nightly rates of USD115 for double room while you could get USD44 only during off season. That’s 60% cheaper.

Citron by Lemongrass, Male, Maldives

FOOD & BEVERAGE

Surprisingly, having seafood buffet (USD6) is cheaper than having a pizza (USD7). An ala carte chicken burger cost USD7 at the airport. If you’re allergic to seafood, don’t worry, they have non seafood meal on the buffet menu.

It’s cheaper to have coconut juice than having alcohol in Maldives. As Maldives is a strict Muslim country, there’s no alcohol on local island but if you really want to have some, alcohol can be found only on resorts. I came across a blog saying that Martini cost a bomb and it taste like medicine. Drink wisely.

Maafushi Island, Maldives 1
TIPPING

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