Budget Travel Guide to the Maldives
Tranquil, unspoiled lands, blue skies, and fresh air. A tropical paradise with a population of fewer than 400,000 people. An archipelagic nation with 1,190 islands, where seaplanes are the default mode of transportation. These are just some of the things that make the Maldives the perfect retreat for weary souls or travelers looking for fresher adventures. Check out our handy Maldives travel tips for planning and preparation.
The Maldives’ tourism did not flourish until the early months of 1972, after the first resort opened in the country. Maldives’ fairly recent involvement in the tourism industry makes the country some of the lesser-known tourist destinations in the world.
However, the Maldives’ tourism continues to blossom yearly, making up an average of 30% of the country’s GDP.
Today, the Maldives is starting to be recognized for having some of the best beaches, diving, and snorkeling spots worldwide.
Only 185 of its islands are inhabited; most uninhabited islands are dedicated to tourism (hotels, restaurants) and agriculture.
Each island is unique, and there’s much to explore in the Maldives. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, read on. This is the travel guide for you.
Maldives Visa Requirements
Filipino Passport holders are not required to secure a tourist visa to visit the Maldives. Philippine passport holders can travel to the Maldives completely visa-free for 30 days.
Immigration officers will ask you to present your passport, valid for at least 6 months, return flight tickets, and confirmed hotel reservations upon arrival in the Maldives.
Best Time to Visit Maldives
As a tropical country, It’s hot, sunny, and humid all year round in Maldives, with average temperatures of 23ºC-31ºC.
The best time to visit the Maldives is between November and April; these are the months with less precipitation.
The peak season falls between December and March. If you want to maximize your vacation, avoid visiting the Maldives during the monsoon season from May to October.
How to get there
Cebu Pacific and AirAsia are two local carriers offering Manila (MNL) Philippines to Malé (MLE), Maldives’ capital. Cebu Pacific’s Malé flights stopover at Singapore (SIN), while AirAsia’s Malé flights stopover at Kuala Lumpur (KUL).
Both carriers land at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, Velana International Airport, or Malé International Airport.
Malé International Airport is an island in itself. Getting to the neighboring urban island, the center of Malé requires riding either a boat, a ferry, or a seaplane. Seaplanes can take you to almost any island. They are the equivalent of taxis.
Riding a seaplane is the preferred method of traveling between islands and atolls in the Maldives. Riding a ferry is less expensive; however, ferries travel less frequently.
Speedboats are similarly a less preferred mode of transportation, as they can become expensive despite their convenience.
Where to eat
Thila Restaurant in Vihamanafushi
Thila Restaurant is perhaps the most famous fine-dining restaurant in the Maldives. Aside from having a menu that ranges from classic Maldivian dishes to European cuisines, Thila also offers its guests a breathtaking view of the ocean.
There’s nothing better than enjoying a full-course meal of classic local cuisines while staring at the best sight the Maldives offers. Thila is located in Vihamanafushi of the Kaafu Atoll, just north of Malé International Airport island.
Just Veg by Atmosphere on Kanifushi Island
You can probably already tell from its name alone that Just Veg by Atmosphere is a vegetarian restaurant.
Much like most restaurants in Maldives, this one has an excellent location, facing the sea on the secluded edge of Kanifushi Island of the Lhaviyani Atoll.
If you’re not a vegan and are wary of pure vegetable meals, Just Veg by Atmosphere is a good place to try some vegan dishes.
Family Room Cafe in Hulhumale
If you’re craving some pastries or a cup of coffee, Family Room Café in Hulhumale, Kaafu Atoll, should be your first stop. Known as serving the best cup of coffee around, this café is perfect for families and a large group of friends.
However, if you simply want to enjoy some time to relax alone, Family Room Café is open for you, and its fast Wi-Fi will surely come in handy.
Sea Fire Salt on Dhigufinolhu Island
Sea Fire Salt Restaurant is perfect for romantic dinners. It’s a seaside restaurant that specializes in seafood and several Mediterranean cuisines.
You can order a bottle of wine if it gets a little chilly during the nighttime. Sea Fire Salt is one of the few restaurants that serve alcohol.
Things to do and see in Maldives
Walk around. A walking tour is one of the best ways to enjoy the Maldives. The islands in the country are relatively small and are suitable for such activity. The capital city Malé is a great place to walk around.
Go to the National Museum, and scurry over to the bustling Republic Square, which is less than a kilometer away.
Try out local food
Venture out from what’s served in classy restaurants and visit small-time food joints. Maldivian meals use many coconuts, fish, and starch in their food, so going food-stall hopping wouldn’t be too heavy on your tummy! Masroshi is a classic savory snack that you should try.
The Maldives is mostly Muslim, and their religion is a huge part of their culture. The coralline Old Friday Mosque in Malé is the oldest in the Maldives and is one of the most visited.
Sunbathe and unwind
You’re in the Maldives, a tropical paradise. Not going to a beach will mean missing out on a lot! Veligandu Beach is one beach that shouldn’t be missed.
Explore Maldivian marine life
There are plenty of things to enjoy underwater as well. Prodivers Maldives in Kuredu and Maldives Passions in Maafushi Island are two of the most recommended diving schools. Providers offer nighttime diving.
Where to stay
Mirihi Island Resort
Address: Mirihi Island Resort, Maldives
(check rates and book online)
Just a 30-minute-ride on a seaplane from the capital Malé, Mirihi Island Resort is located on the small Mirihi Island of the Southern Ari Atoll. This resort offers water villas with talc-white sands and clear water: overwater bungalows that protrude from Mirihi Island’s shores. Get an unobstructed view of the horizon on your villa’s balcony, and breathe in plenty of this beach paradise’s air.
Velaa Private Island
Address: Republic of Maldives, Maldives
Telephone: +960 656-5000
(check rates and book online)
With 18 overwater private villas and an exclusive, Romantic Villa, Velaa Private Island has a relaxing ambiance. This resort has a spa house, babysitting services, and even an outdoor pool. It also offers airport transport and complimentary breakfast meals for certain packages.
Nothing beats a holiday by spending an hour or two in a spa house or some time alone in a hot tub by the ocean. Getting to Baros Maldives is just a 30-minute boat ride from Malé. If you arranged to be picked up, the hotel could transport you for a shorter 20-minute ride.
If you don’t feel like pampering yourself in a spa house, it’s okay to hang out on your beachfront balcony. The waters are so clear that there’s no need to snorkel your way to see the teeming marine life.
Address: Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, Maguhdhuvaa Island, Maldives
Telephone: +960 684-4444
(check rates and book online)
Each villa in AYADA Maldives in the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll has its own outdoor pool and butler services. With six restaurants and bars, guests can indulge in its wide range of cuisines.
Staying in a spa, chilling out on the deck, and swinging peacefully on a hammock by the sea are just some things you can do here in this secluded island resort.
Shopping in the Maldives
There aren’t many big malls in the Maldives like the ones you can see in Manila. However, plenty of small souvenir shops on each island sell various souvenirs, ranging from Maldivian woven mats to t-shirts.
The small Rasdhoo Island, for instance, has five souvenir shops. There are also plenty of hawkers around where you can haggle for prices. Island Bazaar in Malé is a European-style shop that might also interest you.
Local fish markets also abound and are present on each inhabited island. Although you can’t bring home a fish for a souvenir, seeing the bustling Maldivian markets firsthand is a souvenir in your memory that will go a long way.
Shopping last-minute in Duty-Free in the Malé International Airport before leaving can also be an option.
Is it Expensive to Visit Maldives?
In most cases, the answer is Yes. A vacation in the Maldives can be cheap, and it can be expensive too.
It depends on the accommodation you book, the food you eat, and the activities you prefer on this island paradise.
Maldives Travel Tips
- The Maldives is predominantly Muslim; therefore, you must observe its customs. Specifically: observe the dress code in public areas. Women and men should cover their thighs, and women should cover their shoulders. This should be strictly observed when you plan to visit mosques. On the other hand, most resorts allow any kind of clothing. Make sure to always consult with your accommodation about this.
- Don’t schedule flights that arrive on a Friday. Friday and Saturday are weekends in the Maldives. Most modes of transportation and local establishments close these days to observe customs. Make sure to consult with your travel agency so that you arrive on a weekday morning.
- Riding a ferry is the cheapest mode of transportation and is more culture-immersive. Seaplanes are generally for tourists. The downside of ferries is that they infrequently travel per island and stop operating completely on the weekends. However, if you chance upon one, it will give you the best Maldivian experience.
- The Maldives is a tropical country, so expect March to be the hottest month and January the coldest. August and September are generally rainy, and there will be fewer crowds. If you plan well enough, you might chance upon nice, rainy weather on the weekend and enjoy the seclusion of one of the resort islands as if you own it.
- There are relatively few ATMs in the country, so make sure to bring ample money. If you plan on staying in a resort during your entire stay, then money won’t be a problem. However, if you plan to explore more of the country (i.e., walking tours, budget apartments), make sure to have enough to cover you up. Most local, small-time shops won’t accept dollars.
Things to Avoid in Maldives
- Avoid Public display of affection
- Importing Alcohol To Maldives Is Prohibited
- Wearing Bikinis Is prohibited outside the boat, and resorts
- Avoid Drinking Tap Water
- Do Not Wear Shoes On The Beach
- Avoid Littering
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For more Maldives Travel Tips, you may also read:
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- The Ultimate Travel Guide to Ha Long Bay
- Balabac Budget Travel Guide
- Koh Samui Travel Guide
- Jomalig Island Travel Guide
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