Maldives in a Budget : Possible ? Sure !
Maldives is known as one of the luxurious vacation destination on earth, so how come can i write this off the beaten path title ,that its possible to experience Maldives even in a tight budget ?
The answer is , i have been there three times , two times as a budget minded traveler, and in my last visit , we managed to save a lot ,compared to our previous journeys.
My last visit in Maldives was from 25 June 2014 until 3 July 2014, then we continued to Colombo, Sri Lanka for several days.
On this trip we experienced 5 point to point Flights with 4 different airline operator, 1 airport ferry ride,1 inter island ferry boat ride and numerous rides of speedboats during our stay.
Stayed at 7 hotels in total , 1 in Singapore ,1 in Kuala Lumpur , 4 in Maldives ,1 in Colombo, during our 2 weeks vacation
Planned this journey since 1 year ago, because we knew that it would be expensive , learned based on our previous experience ,latest reviews ,tips and reading blogs from people who have been done the trip before.
Here's several points that we considered in our planning stage :
1.When to visit :
The least expensive months to visit , are during the wet season, from May to November.
Maldives is basically dominated by monsoons.The islands get rainfall from July to August due to southwest monsoon and from November to March due to northeast monsoons.
Weather on these months , its obviously a gamble , you could experience clear skies with no rain , or rain all day long ,or occasional burst of rain followed by cloudy or clear sky , or even a heavy thunderstorms.
We are a bit concerned about the weather ,but thankfully ,6 out of 9 days in Maldives the weather was nice ,but we experienced nearly 2 days of non stop rain ,when we stayed at the Fihalhohi Island Resort, quite sad though.
The southern part of Maldives , tends to get more rain than its counterpart , the northern Atolls.
Accommodations in Maldives are the least expensive on the rainy months and raised noticeably about 2-4 times more expensive during the high season.High season is from December to April.
2. Which Flight ? :
Flight fare would affect travel budget significantly. Keep the cost down , but do not compromise any of your safety by using a lousy and unsafe airliner.
I stayed at Bandung city ,Indonesia , which has only 2 international flights to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur ,from 3 airliner , Silk Air ,Air Asia , and TigerAir Singapore.No direct flight to Male' or nearby it, even from our capital , Jakarta.
When we booked the airline tickets, we found that several airlines based in Singapore, like Singapore Airlines have a direct flight to Male' ,but its very expensive.Another logical option was the TigerAir who announced their direct flight to Male', not long ago.
From Kuala Lumpur ,there are 2 options ,Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia X. We noticed that AirAsia X flies to Male' with amazingly cheap promo , and acceptable time table .So we booked the Air Asia X for 3 people for RM 1122 return trip ,its about $ 354.Booked 29 Oct 2013
From Bangkok ,we also noticed that Bangkok Airways ,flew direct from Suvarnabhumi, but , again , Bangkok Air was not a cheap airlines ,and we have to go to Bangkok first ,it would raise our flight budget significantly.
Sadly , AirAsia X ceased their operation to or from Male' with an illogical excuse, in our point of view as a customer.
Email from AirAsia X :
Dear Valued Guest,
First and foremost, we sincerely regret to inform you that effective from 1st March 2014, AirAsia X will be suspending our flights to/from Maldives.
The withdrawal of Maldives from our route network is due to the challenging business conditions which include the depreciation of Asian currencies against the US dollar and the chronic lack of hotel room supply in Maldives, resulting in cancellation of thousands of bookings by travel operators.
This has affected the viability of sustaining our renowned low fares.
We will be sending individual notifications to all guests affected by this move, in stages, based on your respective flight dates, via email and SMS.
The email notices will also outline the various service recovery options offered as follows:
i. cancel your reservation and opt for Full Refund/Credit Shell; or
ii. re-route to any other AirAsia X destination, without any additional cost; or
iii. transfer to an alternative airline subject to availability, without any additional cost.
In order to avoid undue congestion and delays in replying to your queries, we request that you contact us in relation to any queries you may have, only after you have received your individual notice.
For further explanation on the reasons for our flight suspensions, please refer to our Press Release at http://airasiax.listedcompany.com/newsroom_press_releases.html
We would like to again apologise for the inconvenience caused due to the cancellation and hope that you are able to give us another opportunity to better serve you next time around.
Eventually , AirAsia X left us only with option no 1, in their 2nd email ,20 minutes after this first one.
This suspension by Air Asia X ruined our plan,because we booked 2 flights ,Kuala Lumpur to Male' and Male' to Colombo. We have to start from the beginning,rearranging plans.Then we opted Malaysian Airways and TigerAir .
The airfare of the Malaysian Airlines at that time was expensive so we picked TigerAir Singapore , we have to divert to SIngapore ,leaving our AirAsia regular ticket from Bandung to Kuala Lumpur unused.We tried to get refund from AirAsia for this ticket, but they simply ignored the request.
Booked TigerAir from Bandung to Singapore for about $ 95 in total for 3 person , from Singapore to Male' for SGD 624 about $ 526 for 3 people.
It should have been very cheap if we booked a Singapore to Male' return flight by TigerAir ,as low as $ 174 return trip per person.
But since we want to visit Srilanka , from Male' we flew to Colombo, by Sri Lankan airlines about $ 117 per person , later after several days we go back to KL with Airasia X for 13047 LKR or $ 114 per person.Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bandung ,is $ 292 for 3 person.
This flight tip would apply especially for South East Asian travelers, but this would be a good example of how you could save a lot of money from your flight/flights.Just watch out for promo tickets !
3.Which Island ? Resort ?
Long ago ,Maldives was really an upscale luxury destination.But in the past years , 3 years or so , Maldivian people can run a hotel or guesthouse on local islands.
1190 are the total of the counted Maldives islands, 200 are inhabitant, 100 + are resort islands, several islands are local island , where budget accommodations could be found.
Maafushi , Thulusdoo, Gulhi, Guraidhoo, Hulhumale ,Vilingili,are some of it.
Pros on staying on a local island :
- To reach these local islands ,you can ride a public ferry ,many of this ride are as low as $ 2 to $ 4 , or about Rf 22 to 44. Travel time would be around 1 to 4 hours ,depends on the distance from Male' ferry port to the local island.
You could also reach these local islands , by sharing a speedboat.Usually would cost about $180 to
200 per ride one way ,divided by 7 persons, for islands as far as Maafushi.
- Accommodation prices in local islands, are cheap ,you could choose from a 2 - 4 stars rated hotels or inns.One night could be as low as $ 39 to 148 ,bed and breakfast basis , 2 people shared a room.
- Living cost on a local island are reasonable , a main course with drinks (soft drink or fruit juice) is as low as $ 8 per person ( Yellow Rehendi restaurant ,The Blu Lagoon Restaurant ,Maafushi island).
- Choices of where to eat are abundant , you can find and compare many restaurants in a local island.
- Shopping for souvenirs and daily necessities are easy , usually local islands like Gulhi ,Vilingili ,Maafushi has a lot of shops and stores, with reasonable prices.
- You could always experience excursions to Picnic Island or Sand Bank , big game fishing , snorkeling ,diving trip, Dolphin watching ,and Resort visit. The quality of service and the experience ,would almost be the same with excursion from higher ranked resorts ,but in a fraction of their price.
- Pros and cons circling around the Resort Excursion, or Day Trip Excursion to high end resorts.
I would just review this matter from a certain point of view ,that when you stayed at a high end resort , you cannot possibly experiencing visiting another resort, they simply do not arrange this kind of excursion.
On the contrary, when you stay at a local island , there's always a chance to experience the higher ranked resorts just by simply visiting it.
There's several resorts you could visit ,for example ,if you stay at Maafushi , Gulhi or Guraidhoo, you can visit Olhuveli, Fihalhohi, Holiday Inn Kandooma, Fun Island ,Biyadhoo, and Rihiveli.
You must ask your local island hotel to arrange for a day trip usually 1 day prior to your visit.
Sometimes those resorts do not accept daytrippers , due to unknown reason ,they might be afraid if their in house guests would be disturbed by daytrippers (some nationalities do not have the proper manner and very noisy) , or they might be fully booked or just a certain number of daytrippers could visit at one time.
- Budget Travel
Avoid Carrying local currency
There are two things in maldives one can expect in the maldives
1. Its easier to find a Dollar in Maldives than anywhere else in the world
2. Donot expect free drinking water anywhere in the Maldives
All resots prefer USD, Euro or Plastics, even all local shops on the local islands would prefer to deal in USD, If you convert to local currency you would loose in the exchange rate conversions
All Inclusive is not All Inclusive
Many People take tha all inclusive package to enjoy alcohol drinks, at some resorts the all inclusive package would allow you to have selected brands, at times water and soft drinks are not covered in the all Inclusive package
Male, the capital of Maldives
The Capital of Maldives, Male, is a small island that lies in the North-Male-Atoll.
In the year 1900, the city had 2000 inhabitants, but now, 75000 people live here.
The architecture of the city is modern and the beautiful buildings are visible far over the sea.
The island is shared into four districts: Henveiru, Maafannu, Galohu, and Machchangolhi.
The new Islamic Centre with its golden dome and its slim Minaret is a very important edifice in the city.
A very known and valuable building of Male is the old Mosque.
The old cemetery with its important graves and commemorative plaques is an interesting objective in Male.
The fish market, the fruit market, the Sultan Park, the Palace of the president, and many other important edifices are to be seeing in the city.
We walked on the Male’s streets, and we admired the beauty and the charm of the Asiatic metropolis in a summer evening, waiting the boat to the airport.
We are overjoyed and happy to visit this city.Related to:
- Historical Travel
NO PLACE TO GO
Officially the Maldives has no such place as off the beaten path. You would just fall into the ocean and be carried away by the tide. Get back on that sunlounger and get a beer now! You are not going anywhere for a week or two. It's the law - of nature.
Click on the picture, 5 great views of the islands!Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Luxury Travel
- Spa and Resort
BIOT (Sailors meeting point)
In theory you need permission to get to the Chagos archipelago, composed by 65 atolls, either by USA or British military authorities,
However, you will not be allowed to visit Diego Garcia atoll, in the Chagos archipelago, because of the US military base, the greatest base outside USA, with over 4000 soldiers (it is expected that Chago people, the Chagossiens, will go back soon to their original home from Mauritius), but to call in Solomon, Peros Banhos and Egmont atolls and stay there for some time, is tolerated. Those places have become today a sailors meeting point for the yachts crossing the Indian Ocean. The English Army will visit you to your sailing boat to charge you 80 US Dollars as “tax”.
No regular transport service exists yet to Chagos, but you can arrange a private transport there from Male, in Maldives Islands.
BIOT means British Indian Ocean TerritoryRelated to:
- Sailing and Boating
Discovering local animals
As already said, Velidhu island is small, but it has a very rich flora and fauna. Just enter the vegetation bushes and approach the luxuriant mangroves: if you pay attention, you'll discover a little universe of animals, such as the big lizard of the photo (sorry, I don't know its scientific name). Other animals you may encounter are for example jeckos, herons and enormous diurnal bats.Related to:
One of the great things about the Maldives is how brave the sealife creatures are. If you just stand on one of the jettys and peer into the water, especially in the evening time. You will see a vast array of creatures from all different varieties of fish, reef sharks, and rays. I found the best place to view these were on the Water Bungalows of the islandRelated to:
- Luxury Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
While probably not much of a suprise. You will find that one of the best activities is just walking down the beaches. You can walk around the whole of sun Island in maybe an hour. Don't worry about finding it all too 'samey'...The beaches atround Sun Island are so varied, with one side being all secluded, quiet, and corally waters, with the other side being more busier, sun umbrellas etc.
You'll be sure to capture loads of fantastic photos on this walk, so be sure to take your camera!Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
In Maldives, there is this very popular activity call crab race. I have read other review posted from other resort so I suppose is common in Maldives.
Is actually nothing much except that they caught the crab which is abundant everywhere in Maldives. I saw alot crawling around tress at the resort. They are found on land. I do not know if they are hermit crab.
Anyway they caught this abundant creature, put them in a cut mineral water bottle with number written on the shell. The bartender will go around asking customer to buy a crab for the race. Is at USD5 per crab. Most customer will buy 1 just for fun, but there are also others who bought more then 1.
At night they put these crab on a circular board and whichever crab crawl out of it first will be the winner. And the price for the winner will a bottle of wine (probably around USD40). There are altogether 3 prizes, 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
Is actually nothing but if you do your calcuation, which I did later, was a shocking finding. There are altogether 80 crabs. Therefore total buying will be USD400 by customers however the cost of the prizes given will cost them only USD100 or even less and they do not have to pay a single cent for the crab (they are everywhere around the island), and the race last only about half an hour.
I will not buy anymore crab if I ever go Maldives again.
I particularly like the picture paint in Maldivian style. Found 3 very nice picture that they hung on the wall of the main restaurant. I always felt happier seeing the picture. I am a very sentimental person. A picture tells you alot of the country.
From our resort, they offered a chance to go to an island that was not a resort,, but was where a lot of the indigenous islanders lived. It was very intersting and informative.
At the resort, you barely got to speak to anyone who was an actual islander. I dont know if that was resort policy or not.
To actually meet with people who lived there all year round and had done for generations was achance too good to miss.
The houses were very practical and for the most part easil rebuilt incase of flood or storms, and as The Maldives are sometimes only centimetres above sea level, this is probably a good thing. They all seemed to be fishermen, which was not surprising.
It is a Muslim country so it was had to talk to the women as a man.I had to be content to speak with the blokes. Most of them seemed to have a fair grasp of English
If you can doo this during your vacation, it is well woth the experience.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
One of the great things about this island is the freedom to snorkel whenever you feel like it. Snorkelling around the house reef can reveal some breath-taking fish (and perhaps the odd baby shark - which are harmless[!]). Excursions are organised + may be part of inclusive package for snorkelling and Manta Ray (depending on season).Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Diving and Snorkeling
It doesn't matter where you are i the maldives... sunsets are always to die for. And every night they are differnt - significantly different. sometimes they are mostly orange and gold, other times the sky turns red like blood, and some more times you can see the whole palette of colours - from yellow to black - with orange, red and blue thrown in.
He is a nice guy from Sri Lanka. I felt a bit guilty that I could not remember his name. We lived on the other side of the island. But he kindly let me get in the empty house above the water... which is much more expensive than our room :) That's why I could take the pic below ;) Thanks him and I will remember his nice smile forever...
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