Budget Travel Guide to Maldives
Table of Contents
Tranquil, unspoiled lands, blue skies, and fresh air. A tropical paradise with a population of less 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 Maldives—the eighth smallest country in the world—the perfect retreat for wary souls, or for travelers looking for fresher adventures.
Tourism in the Maldives 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 in the world. Only 185 of its islands are inhabited; majority of the uninhabited islands are dedicated for tourism (hotels, restaurants) and agriculture. Each island is unique, and there’s so much to explore and do 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 Maldives. Philippine passport holders are eligible to travel to Maldives completely visa-free for a maximum of 30 days. Immigration officers will ask you to present your passport which is valid for at least 6 months, return flight ticket, and confirmed hotel reservation upon arrival in Maldives.
Best Time to Visit Maldives
As a tropical country, the Maldives are hot, sunny and humid all year round, 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 monsoon season from May to October.
How to get there
Cebu Pacific and AirAsia are two of the local carriers that offer flights from 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 on Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, which is alternatively called Velana International Airport or simply Malé International Airport.
Malé International Airport is an island in itself, and getting to the neighboring urban island, which is 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 generally preferred method of travelling 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 really expensive despite the convenience they offer.
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 that the Maldives has to offer. Thila is located in Vihamanafushi of the Kaafu Atoll, just north of Malé International Airport island.
[Click here to search for Luxury Hotels and Resorts in Maldives]
Just Veg by Atmosphere in Kanifushi Island
From its name alone, you can probably already tell that Just Veg by Atmosphere is a vegetarian restaurant. Much like most restaurants in Maldives, this one has an excellent location, facing the sea in a secluded edge of Kanifushi Island of the Lhaviyani Atoll. If you’re not a vegan and you’re wary of pure vegetable meals, Just Veg by Atmosphere is a good place to try some vegan dishes out.
Family Room Cafe in Hulhumale
If you’re craving for 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 as well—and its fast Wi-Fi will surely come in handy.
Sea Fire Salt in Dhigufinolhu Island
Sea Fire Salt Restaurant is perfect for romantic dinners. It’s a seaside restaurant that specializes in seafood and several Mediterranean cuisines. If it gets a little chilly during the nighttime, you can order a bottle of wine. Sea Fire Salt is one of the few restaurants that serve alcohol.
Things to do and see in Maldives
Walk around. Having 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. 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 just less than a kilometer away.
Try out local food
Venture out from what’s served in classy restaurants and visit smalltime food joints. Maldivian meals use a lot of 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 a mostly Muslim country, and their religion is a huge part of their culture. The coralline Old Friday Mosque in Malé is the oldest mosque in the Maldives, and is one of the most visited as well.
Sunbathe and unwind
You’re in Maldives, a tropical paradise. Not going to a beach will mean missing out 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 capital Malé, Mirihi Island Resort is located on the small Mirihi Island of the Southern Ari Atoll. With talc-white sands and clear water, this resort offers water villas: overwater bungalows that protrude from Mirihi Island’s shores. Get an unobstructed view of the horizon on your villa’s balcony, and get 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 its own 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 can 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 in 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 of the 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, there are plenty of small souvenir shops in each island that sell a variety of souvenirs, ranging from Maldivian woven mats to t-shirts. The small Rasdhoo Island, for instance, has five souvenir shops. There also plenty of hawkers around where you can haggle for prices. Island Bazaar in Malé is a European-style shop that might interest you as well.
Local fish markets also abound and are present in 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.
Maldives Travel Tips
- The Maldives is a predominantly Muslim country, therefore you have to make sure to 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 during these days to observe custom. 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 the tourists. The downside of ferries is that they travel infrequently 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 that March will be the hottest month and January the coldest. August and September are generally the rainy months, and there will be lesser crowds. If you plan well enough, you might chance upon a nice, rainy weather on a 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), then make sure to have enough to cover you up. Most local, small-time shops won’t accept dollars.
[Click here to search for Discounted Hotels and Resorts in the Maldives]
For more Maldives Travel Tips, you may also read:
Other Travel Guides:
- The Ultimate Travel Guide to Ha Long Bay
- Balabac Budget Travel Guide
- Koh Samui Travel Guide
- Jomalig Island Travel Guide
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