Maldives on budget – Why not?
Maldives may be on the bucket list of many people because of its pristine and breath-taking beaches along with various choices of luxury resorts. As a result, Maldives is often associated with “unaffordable vacations” or “place for tycoons”. However, in facts, it is not true. I and my best friend took 10-day vacation to Maldives in Feb 2018 with total spending of 700 USD included airfare from Vietnam to Maldives. How is it possible? I would love to share you guys our stories.
First of all, I will give you some basic information:
The airfares vary depending on where you depart. You can search for cheap/ promo flights on airline’s websites or cheap flights seeking tools like Skyscanner, Traveloka, and Expedia… For a round ticket from Vietnam to Maldives (transit in Singapore) with Scoot air is just around 320 USD. I booked tickets 6 months in advance. 😀
Maldives is not only about 5-star resorts. There are many guesthouses and hotels from which are very comfortable and close to beaches. Prices range from 30 USD to 50 USD. You should not pay more than that. Some also give free daily excursion tours and snorkeling equipment for guests. You should check it as well to make sure you do not miss any offers.
Two common transportation means are ferry and speedboat. Local ferries are very cheap but slow, and they have strict schedule. For example, from Male (capital city) to Maafushi island (popular tourist place), there is only one ferry which leaves at 3pm every day. Speedboat is much faster and departure time is more flexible.
You can check ferry schedule on this website: https://www.atolltransfer.com/
Ferries cost around 2-10 USD one way depending on the distance. And you will expect to pay at least 20 USD for speedboat. I went from Male to Maafushi by ferry with 3 USD, and went back by speedboat of 25 USD.
In Male, you can also take taxi. For every route, it costs around 2 USD.
There is no free Wi-Fi in Maldives, even in some cafés or restaurants. I suggest you buy local SIM card for calling and data. It is quite expensive though. I bought 7-day SIM of 25 USD.
- Food and other stuff
Most things in Maldives are imported, so they are quite expensive. A small tomato may cost you around 1-2 USD.
You do not have many choices for food. You can either eat at your guesthouses or restaurants which are very few in small islands
- Dress code
Maldives is a Muslim country. However, tourist can dress comfortably, but not too much.
- You should exchange USD into local currency Rufiya although all shops do accept USD. Just go to the banks. 1 USD was 15.42 Rufiya at the time I visited.
- Better prepare yourself sun cream and sunburn lotion =))) LOL . It is hard to find here
- English is widely spoken
Maldives comprises of many atolls, and each atoll includes many islands. Hence, for me one of the most interesting things is exploring different islands. You are expected to keep moving from island to island. For 10 days, we visited Hulhumalé, Malé, Vilingili, Maafushi, Himmafushi, and Fulidhoo. I would love to make it to Huraa and Thulusdhoo, but we were kind of tired, and promised to come back next time ^^ If you do not have much time, and prefer to stay in 1 or 2 islands only, I suggest to come to Fulidhoo and Thulusdhoo. Beaches here are very gorgeous and remain pristine compared with Maafushi- a popular touristic island in Maldives. If you want to go to far-off islands located in other atolls, you have to take flights, which is costly.
Joining water sports cannot be missed as well. You have a bunch of choices. Outstanding activities could be parasailing, snorkeling, diving, and sandbank. These activities cost you about 100-300 USD. They often sell in package. You should check online to choose the best agent or simply contact your guesthouses.
Let have a look at our 10- day journey.
To save accommodation cost, I use Couchsurfing. This is a wonderful application to connect those who share travel interest around the world. Locals will offer you free accommodation and useful information for your trip.
Day 1: Hulhumale
I arrived at the airport at 10pm. Then took the bus – 20 Rufiya to Hulhumale Central Park to see our host. We spent the next morning to explore the city and enjoyed the nearby beach.
Day 2: Male
In the afternoon, we took the bus to Hulhumale ferry terminal to go to Male. We stayed here for 1 night. Our host took us around the city by his motorbike. We checked out local restaurant and Vilingili Island
Day 3: Himmafushi
From Male, we took speedboat which costs 7 USD one way to Himmafushi. This is a small and nice island. We stayed at Bito’s guesthouse. The staff is very helpful and friendly. They also offered snorkeling tour of 10 USD. It was such a nice experience. If you want to grab some souvenirs, this island is a good place. The price is much lower than others.
Day 4: Maafushi
There is no ferry going straight to Maafushi from Himmafushi. So we took speedboat back to Male, and then took the ferry at 3pm to Maafushi. The fare is around 2-3 USD.
Maafushi is a touristic place, so you can find here many restaurant, convenient stores, and souvenir shops. Water sport activities are also various. Parasailing for 2 persons is 150 USD, 1 person is 120 USD for 15 minutes.
Day 5-6: Fulidhoo
From Maafushi, we took 2- hour ferry (3 USD) to Fulidhoo. The beaches here will take your breath away. The water is very clear and blue. We stayed here for 2 nights at Island Beak hotel. The owner and his friend were super fun and friendly. We went snorkeling and catching fish together. We enjoyed talking to them and sharing our stories.
Day 7-8: Back to Maafushi
Because of the promise with my host, we went back to Maafushi. We stayed for 2 nights. We cycled around the island, watched movie, and played cards. Travelling is not only about exploring landscapes but also experiencing local life and making new friends.
Day 9-10: Back to Male
Because of moving quite much, we got tired and would like to rest and enjoy the last two days in the capital city before going back to Vietnam.
After this trip, we got thousands of nice pictures, and many new interesting friends.
To wrap up, you do not need to be rich to enjoy Maldives. Let make your wish come true!!!