Each of us tends to spend as little money as possible on vacation and get as much emotion as possible. If we’re speaking about Southeast Asia (Thailand, India, Indonesia, etc), we know that it’s possible to spend holidays with so much money. Affordable accommodation and quite low entertainment prices make this area an attractive destination for tourists from around the world!
It wasn’t true to Maldives until recently. Staying on the sideline, the islands were considered to be a paradise for reach tourists. About 5 years ago the things had started to change, and today we have an opportunity to spend cheap holidays in Maldives. So called ‘Budget Maldives’ appeared.
Why relatively? It’s because the whole trip to Maldives will cost you more, than to other Asian countries, and there are a number of reasons for that. However, there are ways to save some money even on the Maldives.
Budget holidays in the Maldives includes accommodation not on the luxury resort, but in guest houses. In fact, this accommodation is a hotel, but smaller in size and cost. The cost depends on the location of both the guest house and the distance of the island from the capital.
When choosing a guest house, consider the following:
– the island, where the guest house is located. On all islands, local taxes are added to the cost – 20-22% of the original amount. Prices and taxes in the Maldives – a topic for separate post.
– reviews on Tripadvisor, Booking, Agoda. The most substantial and actual reviews can be found on Tripadvisor, and pay an attention to the negative ones,
– the date of posting the information about the guest house on Booking or Tripadvisor. New guest houses, which have no reviews and ratings, usually offer lower prices for accommodation than those that have a certain status. But in this case there is a risk to deal with an incompetent staff.
Accommodation costs vary from $35 to $150 per night. And don’t expect that accommodation costs will decrease in the near future.
There are a number of reasons for such high rate:
– electricity. It’s prodiced by a diesel-electric generator, which provides the whole island with electricity. Diesel is expensive.
– construction materials, which are needed to build a guest house.
– water. All the water that flows in each building on the islands – rainwater or from a well. It has smell abd you shouldn’t drink it. Desalination stations have already been built on some islands, so this issue will be resolved over time.
– tourism taxes. It is another expense item of the owners of guest houses, which considerably affects prices.
– competition between guest houses. It’s obviously: the more guest houses on the island, the lower prices you get. There are only 3-5 guest houses on the majority of islands, so they can establish any prices as they wish (in most cases it’s still very low). Transport network being developed, the things are changing.
It seems that the answer is obvious – on Booking, Agonda, etc. There are often discounts there, so it’s profitable to book there. That’s true, but other rules are applied to Maldivian guest houses (at least to the houses that have a high rating).
All the OTA listed above collect commission up to 20% from booking price.
We provide our guests with tours that include accommodation, meals, activities and transfer with a discount.
The lowest prices are in May-September, the highest ones – in December-March.
Along with accommodation, food is one of the main part of your expenses. The country imports almost everything, so the cost of products is quite high.
Every guest house has its own mini-restaurant offering local and continental cuisine. While booking a guest house, if you want meals to be included (lunch or dinner), it’ll cost you $10-15 per person. If you’re paying at the guest house itself, the cost will depend on the number of services you need, but it is usually higher than the cost stated above.
Children at the age of 2-12 are usually offered a discount on meals in a guest house.
There are cafes and small restaurants for the locals almost on each island, where you can try Maldivian cuisine at low prices. For example, the main course and a fresh juice will cost you $7-12. The only disadvantage is that all the dishes are really spicy.
The best way is to take half-board (breakfast and lunch or dinner) and sometimes to go to cafes. In this case you’ll be able to compare and choose the best option for you.
Everyone chooses for themselves the type of holiday they want: active or beach style. The second option is cheaper, but in this case you won’t be able to enjoy a stunning beauty of Maldives to the fullest, because it’s not only about white beach, bright sun and turquoise-colored waters.
The magnificent underwater world gives an unforgettable experience about Maldives!
In general, the list of activities is almost the same on different islands. But does it mean that, for example, diving on one island is better than on another one? Each island and its surroundings are unique, so it’s hard to choose the best one.
Let’s take a look on the main activities on the islands:
Fishing. There are several kinds of fishing: morning fishing (from $30), evening fishing (from $35), big game fishing ($150+). The prices differ also depending on what fish you’re going to catch. Evening and night fishing are the most expensive ones because your chances to catch a large fish obviously grow!
That fish can be cooked in your guest house. And that’s absolutely for free! But you need to check with your manager in advance so as to avoid any problems.
Snorkeling. It’s the simplest and the most popular activity, and you’re usually not expected to pay for it. Near every island there is a house reef, where you can go swimming. But the most interesting points are located outside house reef, and you need to go there by boat. The cost is $50+ pe rperson, it includes visiting 3 different points. The trip itself lasts about 3 hours.
On different islands, depending on the season, you can go to snorkeling with manta rays, turtles and whale sharks.
Diving. Thousands of divers from all over the world visit Maldives every year to enjoy the unique and stunning underwater life. Clear warm water makes diving open for everyone. There is at least one dive center on each island. The prices are not differ much.
If you have never experienced diving in your life you can try a beginner’s course (Discover Scuba Diver). You’ll be diving with an instructor. The price starts from $80 (depends on island). For those who have certificate, the price starts from $35 (a guide, a boat and equipment are included), group diving is cheaper.
Picnic island. There are uninhabited islands near most of local islands where Tourists can go every day, and usually for the whole day. The price starts from $30. Transfer by boat and cool drinks are included. Meals – at an additional cost. It is likely that you will be alone on the island all day long!
On some islands, they offer “Robinson Crusoe” option. The thing is that you’re taken to an uninhabited island and left there alone for a night. It costs $150 and includes transfer, dinner, tent, breakfast. The only island offer this activity is Omadhoo.
Resort visiting. Resorts are located near most of local islands. But day visit can be organized not to all of them. It’s because of some restrictions. Nevertheless, paying some amount of money (starting from $25, but usually it’s $150), you can visit this stunning place (transfer, meals and drinks, alcohol are included). At extra cost you can stay there for a night or take spa treatments.
Dolphin watching trips and romantic dinners. The cost of cruising starts from $60 (a boat and drinks included). A trip is usually organized in the evening, at sunset.
A romantic dinner can be arranged either on the beach, sandbank, picnic island, or on the guest house garden, or on an uninhabited island (if there is any nearby). The dinner will cost $90+. It’s an unforgettable experience for couples, especially to have a breakfast on sunrise or dinner on sunset on the uninhabited island.
Apart from this you can do water skiing, ride a jet ski or a kayak (a great opportunity to explore the whole island), to take a cruise on a sailing catamaran, etc. On request you’ll be sent a price list with all services.
The costs of activities vary and depending on the island and on the guest house, there are no general rules, they set their own prices. The Maldivians like to bargain, so feel free to ask for a discount!
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to the development of local tourism is the transfer between the islands. Despite the fact that it is regular, it goes not frequently. The situation is gradually changing, but it is still need time.
That’s why transfer costs depends on the type of it. Let’s check possible options.
Private or public ferry. It’s the cheapest and slowest type of transfer. It costs $3-10. The travelling time is 1,5 – 10 hours. Nowadays you can get by ferry not to every island, remote islands can be reached only by domestic airlines. More info is below.
Another advantage of this transport is the fact that within one atoll you can go to the neighboring local islands in the morning and get back in the evening.
Speedboat. It runs between the islands according to the fixed timetable. Nowadays, there are a lot of itineraries between Male and local islands. The cost of ticket is $25-80 depending on the island. The traveling time is up to 3 hours. Notes: you should book your seat in advance, otherwise there is a high chance the boat will be full.
Seaplane. It’s fast, but not cheap transfer. It’s usually offered to those tourists, who’re planning their trips to resorts. The cost starts from $250 per person, besides there are some luggage limits. The travelling time is 20-40 minutes. Another advantage is stunning view of the Maldivian islands at a low height! This type of transfer is available on request, the flights are available only in daylight hours.
Domestic airlines. Today there are 11 airports in Maldives (7 local and 4 international). There are a number of connecting flights between them. You can travel to some remote islands (for example, Gan or Hanimaadhoo) only by domestic airlines. The cost of transfer depends on where you’re booking your ticket. If you’re doing it through your guest house, it’ll be cheaper, because they have contract with airline. In this case a return ticket will cost $160-400
Private speedboat. On request every guest house can provide you with a speedboat. The cost of transfer starts from $250 for a the boat. This type of transfer is profitable, if you have a group and you don’t want to wait for a ferry. Actually, nowadays you can get to almost every Maldivian island by one or several transfer. It’s all about money.
Also remember that on Fridays public ferries are not available. Speedboats are availble, but not to all islands. But it’s better to avoid to come or depart from Maldives on Fridays.
Here we’ll talk about souvenirs, groceries, mobile services and Internet.
If you choose a souvenir shop in Male or on local islands, it is better to the second one. On each local island there are several such places. There are very different souvenirs, mainly from wood, coconut with elements of fish bones and shark teeth. A simple magnet will cost $ 1-2. Many souvenirs shop owners make their own.
Groceries and other staff. There are usually several grocery and hardware shops on the islands. In grocery shop you can buy fruit, juices, sweets, etc. The prices there are quite good. The product range is also a welcome surprise, and don’t be confused by a bit messy arrangement of goods, it’s normal for them.
You can pay in rufiyaas or USD. The exchange rate is $1=15 rufiyaas.
Mobile services and Internet. In most cases, Internet on the territory of guest houses is free, speed can be enough to watch movies online. As an alternative, you can buy a SIM-card from one of the two Maldivian operators. 2 Gb of Internet cost $20.
You’d better deal with this issue on arrival, because Internet and mobile operators can be found not on every island.
So, from all that has been said we can make a conclusion:
– If possible, buy a tour (accommodation, meals, excursions, transfer, taxes), it will be cheaper. We offer similar tours at a discount.
– The cheapest accommodation is in low season (May-September).
– Combine meal in guest house and caffes.
– The cheapest and slowest transfer between islands is by ferry. But there is always a chance that it will be canceled, so speedboat is more reliable transfer.
– It’s better to buy souvenirs on local islands, not in Male. You can get a discount.
– The total cost of budget holidays in Maldives starts from $1000 for two persons, 7 nights without ticket rate.