10 Things you should know if you are travelling to the Maldives on a budget

With the advent of local island guesthouses and low cost flight carriers there has never been a more affordable time to travel to the Maldives. At Male International airport it is becoming a far more common sight to see guests arriving with backpacks and not matching Louis Vuitton luggage. These travellers are here to experience a destination previously perceived to be only for those seeking luxury. So may be it’s time you considered putting the Maldives on your travel map!

Whilst budget travel in the Maldives is a growing sector of the tourism industry there still remains limited information available for would be travellers and backpackers. So the team at Secret Paradise put our heads together to provide what we feel are the Top 10 tips every budget traveller should be aware of.

Q

  1. Clearing Immigration and security

To enter the Maldives no pre-arrival visa is required, a thirty day free visa is issued on arrival to all nationalities, provided the following conditions are met:

  • Be holding a valid passport ( requires to be valid for 6 months from date of arrival) and have a valid ticket to continue your journey out of the Maldives
  • Confirmation of a reservation in a tourist resort or a hotel either in the form of a hotel voucher or online reservation and have enough funds to cover the expenses for the duration of your stay (US$100 + $50 dollars per day)

The right to refuse entry lies at the discretion of the Immigration official, so make it easier for yourself and organise your accommodation prior to your arrival. Online sites such as Booking.Com, Airbnb and Trip Advisor are a great place to start or if you are looking for more of an experience and not just accommodation contact Secret Paradise.

Once you have cleared immigration, collect your luggage and enter the arrivals hall where a representative of the guesthouse or resort should be waiting for you. Importing goods such as alcohol, pork items, pornography, idols of worship and narcotics into the Maldives is strictly forbidden. To make life easier declare the Buddha that you have purchased in Sri Lanka and the bottle of vodka picked up in duty free, the authorities will hold any items declared or undeclared for you to collect as you depart at the end of your stay.

2. Currency Exchange

The Maldives has a non-convertible currency – Maldivian Rufiyaa – this cannot be purchased beforehand. One Rufiyaa is 100 Laari and is available in 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 Rufiyaa notes. The US Dollar is accepted as legal tender throughout the Maldives. Should you arrive with no USD$ then other major international currencies can be exchanged at the Bank of Maldives Foreign Exchange counter located in the arrival hall. In Hulhumale, foreign currency can also be exchanged at the Currency Exchange counter at Newtown Inn. It is advised not to exchange currency in Male where bank queues are common and waiting time lengthy.

Only major foreign currency will be exchanged for local currency MVR. Hold on to your exchange receipt as you will need to present this upon departure at the exchange counter if you wish to change local currency back to foreign currency.

3. Paying in USD$

One US Dollar is equivalent to 15.42 Rufiyaa. However, the exchange rate offered on US$1 and US$5 notes by local businesses may be lower.This is because there is a 3% handling charge made by the bank on the deposit of US$ notes of US$5 or less.

The banks in the Maldives are very particular about the condition of bank notes and will refuse deposits of old style US$, even though still an active currency, damaged notes, badly creased, well-worn, or defaced notes will also be rejected. Therefore, if presenting such a note as form of payment you may be requested to change to a note of better condition. Please do not take offence, it is purely that the note will have no worth to the individual to whom you are paying.

Generally, any change given on a purchase made in US$ will be given in local currency MVR.

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4. ATMs and Credit Cards

Most banks represented in Malé provide ATM services. The Bank of Maldives has several branches in Male as well as other major population hubs such as the Male International Airport, Hulhumale and Gan. Several other regional banks also operate in Male and Hulhumale, including the State Bank of India, Bank of Ceylon, and MCB. There are no banks on resort islands nor on many local islands. However, there are now a greater number of local guesthouse islands with an ATM, these include Maafuishi and Thulusdhoo. Only local currency MVR will be dispensed from ATMs. There is an ATM at the Male and airport branch of the Bank of Maldives dispensing US$, however, it only dispenses to Bank of Maldives cardholders.

All major credit and debit cards can be used at resorts, hotels and many shops and restaurants in Male as well as on local islands. Note however, that a credit card payment fee may be applied to the total value of your bill. This charge can fluctuate dependent on the credit card payment processing company and may be up to the value of an additional 5%.

5. Local Tax

All services directly related to guests will incur 10% service charge and 12% T-GST (Tourism Goods and Service Tax). The 10% service charge is applied to the total value and 12% T-GST applied to the total value + service charge.

On local islands GST (Goods and Service Tax) is imposed on the value of goods and services supplied by a registered business such as a local cafe, local restaurant or local shop.

Environmental ‘Green’ tax will be applied to all stays in accommodation registered as a hotel, resort or liveaboard from 1st November 2015. This adds a further US$6 per person per night and is not subject to T-GST/GST.

From October 2016 $3 will be charged per person per night for guests staying on local islands in guesthouses.

Always check the small print online or ask if it is not clear to ensure that all appropriate local tax is included. What at first appears to be a great deal may not turn out to be.

6. Tourist Information

Unlike most destinations, don’t expect to find a tourist information centre that will provide answers to all your questions. There is an Information Desk within the arrival area of the airport who are happy to point you in the right direction, assist you if you need to contact your accommodation provider and provide you an information booklet. They are not there, however, to organise accommodation, excursions or transfers. Once you arrive at your hotel, guesthouse or resort they will be able to offer advice on excursions and activities or check out Trip Advisor for local operators providing these services.

ferry

7. Transferring from the airport

If you have booked with a tour company such as Secret Paradise or with a hotel, guesthouse or resort it is likely that you will have provided them with your flight arrival details. If this is the case then it is usual for them to send a representative to meet with you at the arrival gate. They will then take care of your onward transfer meaning less hassle for you!

The opening of the Sinamale Bridge at the end of August 2018, linking Male with Hulhule Island and Hulhumale, has brought about a number of changes to transfer choices to and from the airport.  It is now possible to take a private taxi to Hulhumale or Male from the taxi rank directly outside the arrival area. Note that vehicles are currently not allowed to wait but from our experience there appears to be a steady stream of vehicles so you should not have to wait long. The current charge is 65MVR to reach Hulhumale or Male, which also entails crossing the bridge!

To reach Male independently you can also take the airport public ferry, charge MRF10 or US$1 per person one way, leaving every 15 minutes. The ferry leaves from the new water front jetty, beneath the waterfront food court and opposite the domestic terminal. When you arrive in Male, after just a 10 minute public ferry ride, you will be able to hail a taxi from the ferry terminal to your destination, guesthouse or hotel. A one stop drop regardless of distance is 25MVR plus an additional 5MVR per item of luggage.

To reach Hulhumale independently you can either enquire as to if a guesthouse vehicle has room on their return journey, the charge would usually be around US$10 one way or take the public bus or a taxi as detailed above. The airport bus departs every 30 minutes from the airport and Hulhumale on a 24 hour timetable. On the hour and on the half hour except on Fridays during Friday Prayer when there are no buses between the hours of 11:30 and 13:30. The charge is 20MVR per person one way and it is a journey of 15 minutes. Luggage is accepted and stored in the luggage compartment. At the airport the bus stop is located in front of the domestic terminal, which is to the right hand side of the  International arrival area as you face the ocean. In Hulhumale the bus stop is at the T Junction of Nirolhumagu and Huvandhumaa Higun.

Due to the location of the airport terminal it is currently not possible to walk to Hulhumale, although this will change with the final development of the airport area.

If you are transferring on to an island outside of the immediate capital area it is likely that transfer arrangements offered will include speedboat or for islands further afield a domestic flight. These methods will add a minimum of $25 per person one way dependent on distance and if the service is scheduled. Note the Maldives covers a distance of over 800KM north to south. If you have done your homework it is possible to take a local ferry to many central atoll islands. These local ferries depart from one of a number of jetties in the capital Male so ensure you have allowed time to cross to the capital and locate the correct jetty.

8. Business Hours

It is important to know that the Maldives follows a business week from Sunday to Thursday.  Most places are closed on a Friday until after Friday prayer. No public ferries operate on a Friday with the exception of those operating in the capital area between Male, Hulhumale and Villingili. These ferries also stop operation between 11:30 and 13:30 for Friday prayer.

The shops in the Maldives open at different times in the morning but usually before 09:00. Most shops close for prayer times for an interval of 15 minutes. The latest time for the shops to close business is 22:00 and cafes and restaurants 23:00.

9. The Maldives is a Muslim country

The Maldives is a 100% Muslim country and care needs to be taken in relation to the dress code on local islands. Whilst it is acceptable for men to wear T Shirts and shorts or swim shorts; females should avoid causing offence by maintaining a more conservative approach to clothes by wearing T Shirts, loose shorts or sarongs and avoid wearing bikinis and swimwear unless on an uninhabited island, picnic island, sandbank, dive boat or resort island. Whilst the law restricts the wearing of bikinis on local islands, many guesthouses now provide dedicated tourist beaches or private gardens and sunbathing terraces.

Most hotels and guesthouses can arrange visits to nearby resorts where bikinis can be worn freely and alcoholic beverages are available. Note that resorts charge an entrance fee and access is subject to availability.

sunburn

10. Don’t be afraid to travel in low season

With a tropical climate, plenty of sunshine and temperatures around 30°C throughout the year, there is never a bad time to visit the Maldives. There are however two distinct seasons; dry season (northeast monsoon) and wet season (southwest monsoon), with the former extending from January to March when rates will be at their highest and the latter from mid-May to November. The rare thunderstorm in the Maldives (especially around the southwest monsoon months) can be a welcome respite from the sun.
There can be heavy rain showers pretty much any time of year, but they tend to be short and cannot be accurately predicted seasonally (in other words – don’t worry too much about them – you will quite possibly experience some rain showers, but the majority of the weather should be great, and you will be unlucky to get several consecutive days of heavy rain).

Diving is good all year-round, although a basic rule is that reef life is more varied and visibility is better on the western side of any atoll from May to November and on the eastern side of any atoll from December to April.

As the Maldives is situated so close to the equator it is possible to burn even on a cloudy day and sun screen should be applied as a matter of course.

For those travelers who are looking for a helping hand to arrange a budget trip to the Maldives, require advice on which island or guesthouse to choose or want to experience more of the cultural elements of the Maldives the Secret Paradise team are just an email or phone call away!

Let your Maldives adventure begin!

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secretparadise

Since 2012 Secret Paradise has been at the forefront of the Maldives local island tourism industry, promoting and supporting guesthouses, dive centres and activity operators based on locally inhabited islands throughout the Maldives archipelago. Secret Paradise tours are designed to allow guests to engage with local people and experience the best from a paradise generally known as a luxury resort destination. The basis of our tours has always been to allow guests to learn about the Maldives, its culture, beliefs, and traditions and what better way to do this than to see the country through the eyes of a local. Travel with a local, island hop by public ferry, stay on a local island, share breakfast with a family in their home, exchange stories, relax with a coffee in a local café and immerse yourself in daily life.

65 thoughts on “10 Things you should know if you are travelling to the Maldives on a budget”

  1. fyi, not ALL currencies are accepted at the Bank you stated at the airport to be exchanged to Rufiya. they only accept certain (higher ends) currency e.g. USD, Euro, UK Pound, SGD etc.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I have re-worded the text to ensure this point is clearer, however, one of the reasons we included the BML link was to ensure readers could double check current exchange rates and currency accepted. 🙂

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    1. Hi Craig,
      As a local island specialist we are unable to comment on Finolhu Resort as it is not one we have visited, we very rarely visit resorts 🙂
      This resort review site may be able to assist https://sevenholidays.com/
      However, I can confirm that on all private resort islands bikinis and beachwear can be worn and alcohol is fully available. It is only locally inhabited island where you will find restrictions.
      Thanks,
      Ruth

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  2. hi,

    i am a Indian tourist will be travelling to GAN via Colombo in Srilankan Airlines as i have booking with a resort near Gan, will i be giving VISA at Gan Airport or should i go to Male for the visa.

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  3. Can you please confirm if local beaches prohibit women wearing swimming costume or sunbathing? if yes what about this beach in this area (Twilight/K.Maafushi/Maldives
    00960 Maafushi, Maldives). Much Appreciated
    Jazmine

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    1. Hi Jazmine
      That is correct swimsuits and bikinis can not be worn on local public beaches. However on most local islands there are now private tourist bikini beaches where this rule does not apply. This includes Maafushi where they have a tourist beach.
      Have a great holiday.
      Kind Regards
      Ruth

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    1. Hi Ysh, as you do not state if you are referring to a transfer to a local island or a resort. If my answer below does not respond fully to your query please do get in contact again!

      As resorts are individual private islands it is usual for the property to arrange your return domestic transfer to and from the airport in line with your arrival and departure flight times wherever possible.
      If you have booked with a travel agent or operator the transfer should be part of your package.
      If you have booked online you most likely will have been requested to provide your arrival flight details. Providing the resort has this information your transfer will be aranged and payment will be made direct to the resort upon your arrival.
      We often receive requests for speedboat transfer rates to and from a resort. In all honesty it is very rare that a private transfer by a local operator to and from the airport/resort will be less than the rate provided by the resort. The reason for this is that the resort will be operating group transfers throughout the day for arriving and departing guests. Whereas for a local provider not only will you need to cover the cost of the journey from the resort with you on board, you will need to cover the cost of the return journey without you. So effectively for a return transfer you will be charged one way x 4 per person. You would also need to gain authorization from the resort for the local operator to be able to use their private jetty. Without this authorization some resorts will not allow non resort boats to moor.
      Note that if no flight information has been received by the resort your transfer Is unlikely to be arranged prior to your arrival and you should be prepared for a delay. in the event of no seats being available particularly on board domestic flights and seaplanes during high season you may well have to spend a night in the capital at your own expense.

      For local island transfers your guesthouse should provide a competitive rate and will also be able to advise if there are possibilities to share the cost of transfer with other guests.

      Have a great trip!
      Ruth

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  4. Hi Ruth,
    Hope you are doing good!

    1. Myself & my partner travelling from India to Gan international Airport. Will I be dropped in Gan Island or Male? little confused.
    2. How much of USD should be carrying for a 4 days trip?
    3. How expensive is Maldives for an Indian?
    Any other heads up for me?

    Thanks in advance!
    Cheers
    -Anand

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    1. Good Morning Anand,
      Great to hear you are planning a visit to the Maldives.
      Without seeing your flight ticket I can not be sure but if the destination airport on your international ticket states Gan, then you will not pass through Male.
      How much cash to carry will depend on the inclusions within the package you have booked, ie meals, activities, transfers and if you are planning to stay local for the duration of your stay or visit a resort island. Likewise the Maldives can be as budget friendly or as expensive as you wish to make it.
      For a range of information on planning a trip to the Maldives and what to expect in terms of weather, thinks to pack, money etc take a look at our Travel Information: https://secretparadise.mv/traveling-to-the-maldives-information/
      Have a great trip!
      Kind Regards,
      Ruth

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      1. Thank you Ruth. Lemme go through the site.
        Yes my Flight ticket says “GAN” I hope i’ll land in Gan airport directly?
        I’m going to be there for 3 nights in Addu Atoll. Just want to try few water sports activities.
        My resort includes breakfast for the days. So my lunch and dinner will be the expenses. And local shopping on last day.
        $400 is sufficient for 2 people?

        Thanks,
        Anand

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      2. Hi Anand,
        If it is an international flight carrier then it sounds like you will fly direct to Gan, there is an international airport there.
        If you are staying in a resort, so that is a private island property then $400 will probably not be sufficient. However, if it is accommodation on a local island then a 4 day stay for food and beverages and watersport activities could be achieved on this budget if you spend wisely.
        Kind Regards,
        Ruth

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  5. hi i am planning to travel maldives in may 2018…
    is the weather appropriate this month?

    i wanted to know the cheapest possible mode of transportation from male airport to private resort.. maybe Bandos Maldives island..(not fix yet) if its ferry than how much price and how many transfer will i need? from airport to resort..
    and if speedboat how much for that?
    approx price with any tax

    also if you can suggest any water villa resort for $150-200 approx per night for 3N/4D

    thank you

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    1. Dear Nirav,

      Thanks for your message. Please find my responses below.

      Like many places in the world today, the climate and weather pattern is changing and historical data is less reliable as an indication of what to expect. With a tropical climate, plenty of sunshine and temperatures around 30°C throughout the year, there is never a bad time to visit the Maldives. The Maldives has two distinct seasons; dry season (northeast monsoon) from January to March and the wet season (southwest monsoon) from mid-May to November.

      The rare thunderstorm in the Maldives (especially around the southwest monsoon months) can be a welcome respite from the sun. Cloudy skies and slate grey seas, and crashing thunder makes for lovely reading weather. The warm temperatures will allow you to go for a walk in the rain, a thoroughly enjoyable experience. For extra exhilaration, take a swim in the rain – the sea will be extra warm.
      There can be heavy rain showers pretty much any time of year, but they tend to be short and cannot be accurately predicted seasonally (in other words – don’t worry too much about them – you will quite possibly experience some rain showers, but the majority of the weather should be great, and you will be unlucky to get several consecutive days of heavy rain).

      Public ferries do not operate between resorts and the capital or airport. As resorts are individual private islands it is usual for the property to arrange your return domestic transfer to and from the airport in line with your arrival and departure flight times wherever possible.
      If you have booked with a travel agent or operator the transfer should be part of your package.
      If you have booked online you most likely will have been requested to provide your arrival flight details. Providing the resort has this information your transfer will be aranged and payment will be made direct to the resort upon your arrival.
      We often receive requests for speedboat transfer rates to and from a resort. In all honesty it is very rare that a private transfer by a local operator to and from the airport/resort will be less than the rate provided by the resort. The reason for this is that the resort will be operating group transfers throughout the day for arriving and departing guests. Whereas for a local provider not only will you need to cover the cost of the journey from the resort with you on board, you will need to cover the cost of the return journey without you. So effectively for a return transfer you will be charged one way x 4 per person.
      A speedboat transfer provided by a local operator must be authorised by the resort in order to allow the operator to moor at the resort’s private jetty. Not all resorts allow independent transfers.

      With regard to your resort enquiry for a water villa, despite the period of time you are looking to travel being in low season you can expect to still pay in the region of USD$400+per night in a water villa given that this is a premium room category. If you would like to receive personal quotation please contact is at sales@secretparadise.mv.

      Kind Regards,
      Ruth

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  6. Hi Ruth!

    Hope you doing well.

    I’m planning a 5 days trip to Male and i’m little confused about the money to be shown there. Just wanted to know, do we need to show cash on the immigration counters or credit or debit cards will do?

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    1. Hi Rana,
      Providing you have proof of accommodation and a return flight ticket, it is very rare for immigration to request a monetary check but a credit card I understand is acceptable.
      Have a great holiday!
      Kind Regards,
      Ruth

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    1. Dear Karthik,
      Great to hear you are planning to visit the Maldives.
      1. To my knowledge there would be no problem in using your HDFC credit card for payments in the Maldives. My understanding however, is that before using it internationally you may need to activate your card for International Usage and set its limit for the international usage.
      2. Yes INR can be exchanged at the airport to local currency MVR only. However, if you are only visiting a resort you will not require local currency. As with all countries if you wish to exchange to USD it is likely you will get a better rate of exchange at a currency exchange/bank at home.
      3. If the transfer is to a resort and has been arranged by the resort which is usual practise then yes it can be paid for on your credit card to the resort, usually at time of arrival. Transfers however between local islands are generally payable in cash.
      Hope that helps and enjoy your stay!
      Kind Regards,
      Ruth

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  7. Hello,
    This is Nithya from India. We are planning to visit the Maldives in the month of December and planning to stay in Paradise Resorts. We are practically planning to stay 4 nights & 5 days. I have a couple of questions:
    1. Is it the best time to visit in December during Christmas?
    2. I have done my own research on the list of places to visit. Like Banana reef, Alimatha Island, Maafushi Island, HP Reef, Biyadhoo Island, Veligandu Island and Uthemeenu Island. Is it practically possible to travel from the resort to all these places and visit?
    3. Few of the Islands are more than 20km’s to visit. Would we get a private boat to visit? How are we supposed to plan?
    4. Considering the list of places I shared and a few other water sports in mind. How much of dollars do we approximately have to carry? Considering Accommodation, Breakfast and dinner are already paid for.
    Thank for your help as your website was very helpful.
    Nithya

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    1. Hi Nithya, Good Morning from the Maldives!
      Great to learn you will be holidaying in the Maldives and thanks for your feedback, great to hear you found our website useful:-)

      So to answer your questions:
      1. Many people visit during the festive period and yes it’s a great way to celebrate in the sun! The last few years we have seen mixed weather conditions over this period and as with many places in the world weather patterns are changing, so whilst I am sure you will enjoy plenty of sunshine you may encounter the odd tropical storm which will come and go quickly. The one point however to consider when travelling at this time of year is price as it is peak season and generally when rates will be at their highest.
      2. It is not common for guests to travel off the resort to other islands unless taking a resort day tour. This is due to a number of reasons such as many resorts do not allow guests to use the services of local operators given that each private resort offers their own range of tours and day excursions. Also the geography of the Maldives spread north to south over 850km means that distances between islands are limiting to what can be covered by speedboat at an affordable rate. As an imported product fuel is costly to purchase. Whilst at Secret Paradise Maldives we do offer our services to guests staying on a resort, we do require the guest to gain permission from the resort that we can moor at their private jetty for collection and return.
      In regard to the specific locations you have listed, Banana reef: the resort will probably offer on their snorkeling tours, Alimatha Island: this would require a private speedboat transfer, expect to pay approx $1000 for a private return transfer, Maafushi Island: can be reached easily and we offer a day tour, HP Reef: may be offered as a snorkeling tour but is far better known as SCUBA dive site , Biyadhoo Island and Veligandu Island would require a private speedboat transfer or transfer to Male and then onto the resort using their transfer service. Visit’s would also be subject to the resort offering day visits and would require booking a day ahead. Note that not all resorts offer day visit’s especially during peak season when occupancy of in house guests will be at their highest. Uthemeenu Island: a historically interesting island to visit but located in the far north would require a domestic flight so I would suggest is not a practical option.
      3. You could choose to hire a boat from the resort, however, this will come with a price tag. Again to rent a boat from a local operator will require authorisation from the resort
      4. For resort stays taking into account a meal, drinks and a daily excursion I would suggest a budget of USD$100-$150 per person.

      Once you arrive you will find plenty to keep you occupied at the resort and I think you will find that your desire to explore further afield diminishes!

      Have a great holiday.

      Kind Regards,
      Ruth

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  8. Hey Ruth,

    We (me and my husband) will be travelling to Maldives in March (4th to 8th) and staying at Hotel H78. We have heard that there’s nothing much in Maldives to do except for chilling on beach.. is there anything you would suggest to see around H78 – any beach, local sightseeing etc. Also our stay at H78 includes breakfast and dinner alongwith transport both ways from/to male airport.. also how much money and which currency do we carry for 4N/5D trip. Can u suggest if any specialities of male that we can shop and take back as memories.

    Thanks,
    Swati

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    1. Hi Swati,
      Thanks for contacting us. Great to hear you will be holidaying in the Maldives. There is certainly so much more to do than just chilling on the beach – although that is certainly a popular activity! There is far too much information for me to provide here in order to answer your questions fully, can I ask you to drop me an email at sales@secretparadise.mv.
      Look forward to hearing from you.
      Kind Regards,
      Ruth

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  9. In which form I’ve to show the fund covering my expenses.
    Given that I’m travelling from India and have a hotel reservation.
    A bank e-statement would suffice or I’ve to take bank’s stamp?

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    1. Hi Doris,
      To be honest from feedback I have had from guests it is not generally a common request, particularly if you have your accommodation voucher and return flight ticket. Being able to show cash or a credit or debit card will usually suffice.
      Kind Regards,
      Ruth

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  10. Hi Ruth,
    Appreciate your work!

    My husband and I are planning on visiting Mahibadhoo island, staying at Liberty Guest House in December. I have 2 questions.

    1. I see that the guest house has a beachfront. Are there other beaches in the island other than the one in front of the guest house? Can we walk around the island and be able to laze about in other places by the waters?

    2. Is cash(USD) accepted as form of payment in cafes/shops in the island?

    Thanks
    Sharon

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    1. Hi Sharon,
      Great to hear you will be holidaying in the Maldives.
      Mahibadhoo does not currently have a tourist beach where bikinis can be worn. To my understanding there is a designated area confirmed but this has not been finalised and established as a tourist beach. There are public beaches which you are welcome to use however in these areas you will need to be dressed respectfully and therefore bikini’s can not be worn.
      USD is accepted throughout the Maldives however, it is usual for local currency MVR to be given in change. It is therefore advisable to exchange some currency at the airport in order that you have an exchange receipt and can revert any unused MVR before your departure.
      Kind Regards,
      Ruth

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  11. Hi,

    Aravind from India.
    I am planning for a trip with my wife during the new year for a 5-6 day vacation to Maldives. I am looking for decent budget accommodation options and not willing to spend much for speedboats.
    1) Which are the best islands for me to stay as a budget traveler?
    2) Is it better to convert my INR to USD back here in India or Is it actually better to convert INR to MVR in Male Airport?
    3) If I have an accommodation pre-booked and already paid in full prior to arriving in Maldives, should I still have to pay an extra taxes or service charges during check-out?
    4) If I would want to explore larger inhabited islands, can I walk around the island or its prohibited?
    5) Most accommodations seem to be offering only breakfast inclusive of the booking, How expensive are the lunch and dinner approximately in INR or MVR?

    Your website has already offered me few key insights. Thanks.
    It would be really helpful for me to plan well if you could respond to my questions

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    1. Dear Aravind,
      Pleased to hear our website has provided useful, please find my responses to your questions below.
      1. All local islands offer far more affordable Maldives stays than resorts, however, those closer to Male will always offer ease of transportation at lower rates. Like resorts all local islands are different and your selection should be based on the style of holiday you are looking for. If you have not already I would suggest reading our series of 3 blogs which provides overviews of our a number of islands and the style of holiday each will offer.
      https://secretparadisemaldives.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/which-local-islands-to-visit-in-the-maldives-part-3/

      2. If you convert currency at the airport exchange counter to MVR then you will be provided an exchange receipt which will allow you to convert back to the original currency before departure. As MVR is a closed currency it will have no worth to you following departure and therefore having the ability to exchange back provides you flexibility should you noT spend all your funds.

      3. If you book with a travel agent or a local tour company such as Secret Paradise, then it is usual for all tax to be included. If you book online different sites include tax and others do not and this would need to be paid locally. Check the small print when booking if you are unsure or for peace of mind book with a local island specialist company.

      4. Islands with guesthouses are all inhabited islands and you can explore as much as you wish. To explore islands other than the one you are staying on an excursion booked with an activity provider or your guesthouse will allow you to visit islands close by.

      5. Online most accommodation is only bookable as BB, however, some will offer HB and FB. Booking through an agent or tour company will provide you the option to book HB or FB. At a guesthouse or hotel expect to pay between $15-$20 for a meal per person and at a local cafe between $5-$10 per person.

      Have a great trip!
      Kind Regards,
      Ruth

      Like

  12. Hi Ruth,
    Really very help full your website,I have come to know so many-things,first i want say thanks and appreciate.

    I have book the Hotel Season Holidays
    Lot 10349, Hirundhu Magu, Hulhumale’ – 23000

    I have book package airport transfers and Hotel , if i want to go some other island where i have book boat ? could you please guide me.

    Like

    1. Hi Kotti
      Thank you for your feedback, great to know you have found our website and blog useful.
      Regarding booking boats to go to other islands the following applies:

      Day tours returning to Hulhumale:
      Book with a tour or excursion provider such as Secret Paradise Maldives

      Transfer to a local island where you will stay over night:
      There are both ferry and speedboat transfer options to islands within the central atolls, these can be booked directly with the guesthouse on the local island where you will stay.

      Transfer to resort islands
      It is far more cost effective to book the transfer directly with the resort as they operate scheduled transfer services for their guests.

      Please do nor hesitate to contact me on sales@secretparadise.mv if I can offer further assistance.

      Have a great holiday!

      Kind Regards,
      Ruth

      Like

  13. Hi Ruth, I have planned a 5 day vacation in Thulusdhoo Island.
    I’m a bit confused, is swimwear and bikinis are allowed on that area or any certain area on the island.

    Also do Canadian dollar can be exchanged at cash counter and do Canadian dollar get accepted mostly around the places?

    Like

    1. Hi Rahul,
      Glad to hear you are headed to the Maldives. Thulusdhoo has a nice vibe. Make sure you explore more than jut the each area!
      As Thulusdhoo is a locally inhabited island swimwear and bikinis can only be worn on designated tourist bikini beaches. Your hotel will be able to pint you in the right direction. Otherwise on other beaches or when walking around the island it is advised to dress more modestly.
      Canadian dollars will not be accepted as general currency on islands, local MVR and USD are widely accepted and occasionally Euro’s may be taken but this is not the norm. You should however, be able to exchange your Candian dollars at the currency exchange at the airport, you can check the Bank of Maldives website for their current exchange rate and decide if the better option is to exchange for USD back home and then convert to MVR upon arrival.
      Have a great trip!
      Kind Regards
      Ruth

      Like

    1. Hi Rahul
      Alcohol is not available on any inhabited island and laws prohibit it being brought through customs or drunk on local islands. This can be easily overcome by a day or evening visit to a resort and from a few islands it is also possible to visit a boat allowing access to your favorite tipple. Should you stay within the capital area then a trip to the bar of the Hulhule Island hotel (the airport island) is only a short bus journey away!
      Kind Regards
      Ruth

      Like

  14. Hi.

    Iam Dinesh ..

    Iam planning to visit Maldives. On June or July with my girl friend from India

    I have few doubts

    Iam unmarried so can I book resort fr 3-4 days or will I not be allowed

    If allowed Please suggest me few better resorts with affordable cost

    Like

    1. Hi Dinesh
      There are no laws or regulations preventing unmarried tourists visiting and staying in the Maldives.
      I would suggest you look at the following resorts Barefoot Eco Hotel and Embudu Village which offer value for money stays. If you require further resort information please reach out to me at sales@secretparadise.mv and I will be happy to connect you with a recommended travel agent.
      Kind Regards
      Ruth

      Like

  15. Hi Ruth,

    Could you please let me know good cafes on maafushi island where I can have my lunch & dinner on a budget?

    I would be visiting maldives during 23 May – 28 May. Do you have idea where i can surely get to see “See of Stars” on Vadhoo island or any other island during this period?

    Thanks,
    Hardik

    Like

    1. Dear Hardik
      There are many cafes and restaurants on Maafushi to choose from and our guiding team provide recommendations when travelling with us or as part of your trip itinerary if travelling unguided. Personally, as I am a local girl at heart I will if not dining with friends at their home take evening tea at Harbour Cafe and treat myself to coffee and cake at Suzy’s Bakery.
      The so called ‘sea of stars’ is a natural phenomenon and cannot be guaranteed.
      This phenomenon is caused by a natural chemical reaction known as bioluminescence, which occurs when a microorganism in the water is disturbed by oxygen. These microorganisms or marine microbes are called phytoplankton and there are a variety of its species that create bioluminescence seen in different parts of the world.
      The images depicted on the internet, which is where most clients have come across it, are of Vaadhoo Island in Raa Atoll, but it can happen anywhere throughout the country’s 26 atolls.
      Visitors to the Indian Ocean archipelago say they have had the most luck seeing the blue glow from about July to February, especially during a new moon since the darkness of the sky helps intensify the light.
      My advice would be not to plan your holiday around encountering.
      Kind Regards
      Ruth

      Like

    1. Hi Vallabh
      Euros will be accepted by private island resorts and for exchange purposes at the bank or exchange counters. However, they are not widely accepted for payment as it is not standard tender. Where they are accepted you are likely to find exchange rates far higher than at the currency exchange counter at the airport. I would recommend exchanging to USD prior to arrival or to MVR when in country at the airport.
      Kind Regards
      Ruth

      Like

  16. I am planning to visit the island on my transit journey from Qatar, for 4-6 hours during this week. what are the quick activities I can have in the Island? As I have a return ticket from the Maldives to Cochin the same day evening I hope there won’t be any issues at the immigration. Are the Qatari Riyals accepted in the Island?

    Like

    1. Hi Yoosaf
      A Male City walking tour is perfect for guests in transit. Tour companies such as Secret Paradise will meet and return you to the airport and offer private tours to meet your timing requirements. If you don’t mind getting wet and showering and changing into dry clothes at the airport there is no reason why you can’t take a snorkelling tour during transit time.
      We often assist transit guests with tours and there has been no issue with immigration, guests have shown their tour voucher and onward flight ticket.
      I am afraid however that Qatari Riyals are not accepted as standard currency and would advise if you wish to use cash to have USD on your person prior to arrival or withdraw local currency from the airport ATM.
      For further information please do not hesitate to reach out by email sales@secretparadise.mv
      Kind Regards
      Ruth

      Like

  17. If you are going to Maldives for first time and in a budget, then there are things which you need to keep in mind as you need to clear all government formalities like passport and visa which can make you comfortable to visit moreover you also need to exchange your currency in USD which you can do it from any currency exchange shop.

    Like

    1. Hi Liam,
      Absolutely, which is why both points are discussed in 1 and 2 of our recommendations. Note however USD is widely accepted, but it is useful to have local currency MVR and an exchange receipt, allowing excess money to be reinstated to your original currency 🙂
      Kind Regards
      Ruth

      Like

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