12 Hacks to Save Money in Maldives
Looking for the ways to spend cheap holidays in Maldives? Don’t know how to save money? This list of 12 hacks will definitely help you! Here you can read more about cheap holidays in Maldives.
1. Advantages of buying a package tour
Some travel agencies deal only with guest houses. They sell package tours at quite favourable prices (I checked and compared some of their prices myself). “OK, what for do I need to go to an agency, if I can contact a guest house directly?” Yes, that’s a good question, taking into account that we are going to travel to Maldives on a budget, without the help of agents. Sometimes booking a holiday through a travel agency can turn out to be much cheaper than doing it directly with a guest house. All in all, we need to compare everything.
A package tour usually comprises accommodation, meals, guided tours, transfer, and, what’s the most important, taxes (12% – TGST and 10% – the service fee). By far not every guest house can offer package tours, but if they are available, it’s better to make use of them.
2. Benefits of contacting a guest house directly
If guest house’s owners are competent and react quickly to your requests, you can easily get a discount. The average discount is equal to the sum of taxes (22%), but it may be bigger or smaller. On their websites they must not show the prices, which are lower, than those available on Booking (according to the terms and conditions of the contract with the latter).
And they don’t care that you don’t know English. Use Google Translate! Sometimes to confirm a booking you’re expected to make a deposit (about 10% off the amount). By doing this, owners try to make themselves safe. Tourists tend not to appear in a guest house.
All in all, you can get from the airport to the ferry or to the jetty for a speedboat on your own. Guest houses are not always able to help you (although now they send their representatives to the airport more often). Still you should remember: you’re travelling to Maldives on a budget, so don’t expect something extraordinary from them!
3. Buying ferry/speedboat tickets
Buy ferry or speedboat tickets in advance! It’s particularly true to the peak season, because a speedboat or a ferry can be overcrowded.
How to do that? A piece of cake, if we speak of speedboats. You just need to inform the guest house manager, and he/she will do that for you. You’re just to pay for it in the guest house.
But what concerns ferry tickets, it’s not that easy to buy them. You’d better come in advance and just buy a ticket (they sell tickets for the following day too).
P.S. Last year I also found myself in the same situation.
4. Low season
An average low season in Maldives lasts from April till November. But in fact, the weather during the period from April till June is dry. In July it rains heavily, in August the weather is normalizing. September can also be rainy, but then quieter weather settles in. But on every atoll the weather is different!
For example, on April, 17-21, 2016 it rained every day in Male, but on Mathiveri the sun was shining, and the weather was hot.
You see, everything is relative. Prices in guest houses are falling by half (on average), so why not to seize the moment?
5. The best airplane seats
One can’t describe those magnificent views, which you can see during your flight over Maldives. You got to see this! And if you don’t want to miss out anything, reserve a seat by the illuminator. I can tell you from my own experience that if your seat is on the left (from the perspective if we stand in front of the airplane nose), you’ll be able to see more atolls and islands. Moreover, you can see the sunrise!
6. Travelling between islands by ferry
The ferry is going between inhabited islands within an atoll. You can travel to the neighboring island in the morning and get back in the evening. If you are planning not only to visit Maldives, but also to travel to different islands and to feel the difference, then this kind of transfer is definitely for you!
On average, the ferry covers the distance between two neighboring islands in an hour’s time. A ticket costs $1-2. You can buy it right on the ferry; there is a ticket inspector there. Remember, the inspector deals shortly with passengers travelling without tickets: he/she just throws them overboard…
I’m joking 🙂
It’s up to you to decide whether to travel to other islands or not (I’d recommend to visit at least 2 islands or a resort + a local island). Some people like it, others are just too lazy to go there, and there are also people, who even don’t know about it. Anyway, you get to choose.
– If you’re going to snorkel for a long time or just to be in the sun, put on a T-shirt. A sunscreen does not help, even 50+. The sun is really hot and relentless.
– If you buy tickets for snorkeling trips directly, guest houses give a mask, a tube and fins for free, but this equipment is not always available, if you book trips through Booking.
– If you want to prevent your mask from fogging, put a few drops of a detergent on the inside of the mask, rub them in, and rinse briefly.
8. Lunch in local cafes
It’s often cheaper to have lunch somewhere outside the guest house, but in local cafes, a menu has a limited number of dishes. So an ideal variant is to combine these two alternatives.
9. Things to do in Male
In case you’re staying in Male for a night and a half of the day, I’d recommend you to visit the neighboring island of Villingili. It’ll take you 10 minutes to get there by ferry, and the ferry heads out from Villingili terminal. The ferry runs every 10-15 minutes. There is a beach for tourists (but bikinis are not allowed), and another beach for snorkeling with wonderful reef!
It’s better not to go to some excursions alone and to look for a travel partner (in case you’re travelling alone), it’ll be much cheaper. A number of people travel alone, so it won’t be a problem to find a travel mate. And don’t worry that your English is not perfect.
11. Foreign exchange rates
The official exchange rate is $1=15,47 rufiyaa. You can exchange money at this exchange rate at banks and sometimes in shops. The things are different on local islands: $1, $5 and sometimes $10 can be exchanged at the exchange rate 1:15. Big banknotes of $20, $50 and $100 – even at the exchange rate of 1:16.
It’s often easier to exchange money at banks or at the airport (to the left of the Terminal exit).
The sum of money depends on how much you are planning to spend: if you’re going to buy little things in shops, fruit, to have lunch in cafes, then $50-70 per person will be enough.
When in cafes, it’s better to pay in rufiyaas. The exchange rate there is not profitable.
12. Bargaining in shops
Bargain for better prices, especially in gift shops, guest houses and in the market (in you’re in Male).