Who has not been dreaming about a trip to Maldives? Those Instagram photos showing luxury resorts and the most perfect beaches really make you think that you can’t afford a trip here, right? But in this blog post, we will tell you how to visit Maldives on a budget. You will read things to do in Maldives, where to stay in Maldives and how to find cheap hotels in Maldives.
Maldives is a very beautiful country and it’s such a perfect honeymoon and travel destination. Since we both haven’t visited Maldives before, we decided that for this beautiful country and in this blog post, we will share all our helpful tips – where to go, where to sleep to in a budget, and more.
After reading this post, we hope that you will be ready enough to visit Maldives on a budget so you can finally tick this country off your bucket list. Actually, the reason why I haven’t visited this trip during my old backpacker years was because I always thought a trip here was a little bit outside my budget. Now, I’ve proven myself wrong and am here to tell you that there’s a way to travel Maldives on a budget.
Read here luxury resorts Vs local islands in Maldives!
The first thing that we need to break to you is that should forget about Southeast Asian prices when visiting Maldives. You will not find a nice hammock or a bed in a dorm for $5 USD or even a nice room for $10 USD. The rates depend heavily on the season and can reach around $30-40 USD for a guesthouse. No need to get discouraged, though! A great tip to visiting the Maldives is to travel as a couple or a small group so you can have someone to split the expenses with.
Read here our review of Kuramathi Island Resort!
How to get to Maldives
Male International Airport is connected with Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Bangkok. If you are traveling around Southeast Asia, it is easy to find good deals to Maldives. We flew with Air Asia and a one-way ticket from Bangkok to Male cost us $120 USD each.
Visa and Currency
Maldives is Visa-friendly. You will get 30 days free visa when landing in Maldives. You just get a stamp and you’re good to go! The official currency in the country is the Maldivian Rufiyaa and the exchange rate is around $1=15.4 Rufiyaas. Click here to know the exact exchange rate before you visit.
Weather: Best time to visit Maldives
As a beach destination, you should make sure to visit Maldives on its sunniest months. The dry season begins in December and lasts until April, so this would be the best time to visit Maldives. This is the peak season for tourists and lands on important holidays like Christmas, New Year and Easter. If you visit on May to August, you can experience Maldives’ monsoon season. The country may not be at its best but can still be enjoyed, especially if you’d like to get discounts in hotels for as much as 40% as this is Maldives’ low season.
This predictable weather makes Maldives a year-round destination for families, couples and solo travelers.
Click here to know when is the best time to visit Maldives!
Where to Stay in Maldives on a Budget
There are cheap hotels in Maldives starting from $30-50 USD depending on the season. Most of them included breakfast so take advantage of that freebie. You can also use AirBnb; just click here to get $30 USD of your first booking with AirBnB. Or an even better choice for your budget is Couchsurfing, one of the many ways to sleep for free with locals.
How do we get to Maldives’ towns from the airport?
-From the airport To Male
A local ferry costs 10 RFY (.60 USD) and the ride lasts for ten minutes. On the other hand, a speedboat costs around 25 RFY (1.5 USD).
– From the airport To Hulhumale
You can go to Hulhumale via bus from the airport for 10-15 minutes. The ride only costs 20 RFY.
– From the airport To Thulusdhoo
A speedboat to Thulusdhoo costs 30 RFY and lasts 30 minutes.
– From Male to Maafushi
A local ferry costs 22 RFY for a 1.5-hour boat ride. The boat departs at 10 AM and 3 PM. If you’re leaving Maafushi and heading back to Male, the boat leaves at 7:30 AM. A speedboat will cost around 25 RFY and lasts for 25-30 minutes.
– From Male to Thulusdhoo
The trip costs around 25 RFY and lasts an hour and a half. Departures from Male are at 3 PM and while boats coming from Thulusdhoo leaves at 7:30 AM. except for Fridays when the boats depart at 3 PM.
You are not allowed to bring alcohol to the islands but you can buy them in the private resorts. You can also have alcohol in the boats near the island. A bottle of beer costs somewhere between $6-9 USD.
Maldives is a paradise, but if you are working online like us, it isn’t the best place to do so. We had a few problems with internet connection during our stay in all the hotels and guesthouses. Internet was very intermittent! However, this is perfect for those who need a detox on technology and social media.
Quick Facts about Maldives
Is the island of Maldives so beautiful as seen in pictures? Yes, it most definitely is! You guys have to visit! We were surprised by the beauty of the beaches and the colors of the water. Honestly, we liked the beaches here even more than the ones we visited in Thailand and even one of our favorite places in the Philippines: Palawan.
Maldives is located southwest of India and Sri Lanka. A huge number of their population are Muslims. That’s why alcohol isn’t allowed in local spots in the islands, and can only be drank in luxury resorts.
Read here if you plan surfing in the Maldives!
Things To Do In Maldives
This local island is popular for surfers. It´s very small, quiet, and beautiful. It´s full of guesthouses where you can sleep from $30-100 USD, with some hotels including meals. Here’s a tip: When walking around areas outside the beach, it is respectful to wear proper clothing over bikinis because the culture doesn’t allow too much skin exposure especially among women.
You can surf, rent a kayak, snorkel, and go on a day trip to the sandbar in Thulusdhoo. Most of the guesthouses and hotels offer food and there are a couple of places to eat in the island. There’s Contagious Pizza where prices are around $10 USD a meal. There is also a local restaurant in the ferry port where prices start from $2-3 USD for a simple, local meal.
The island is perfect for walking around, swimming, taking pictures, relaxing, flying a drone, and of course, enjoying gorgeous sunsets.
Where to Stay in Maldives: Cheap Hotels in Maldives and Mid-Budget Hotels in Maldives
We stayed in a few places and we recommend all of them for different budgets. We didn’t go to any of the luxury villas in Maldives at this time. We focused, instead, on the cheap hotels in Maldives and some of the mid-budget hotels in Maldives.
Mid Budget hotels in Maldives
This is the biggest hotel in the island with an amazing rooftop pool. The beach near the hotel isnt a Bikini Beach so you have to be careful and respect the locals. It´s just a couple of minutes walking to get to the Bikini Beach, though. Season Paradise sells guests tickets for the speedboat going to the airport.
The food was really delicious. We tried Maldivian dishes and some Western choices as well. The room was big, has a balcony and provided all the comfort we needed, from toiletries, tea, and coffee in our room. The views of the beach were amazing, too!
Season Paradise is very close to the ferry port, just 2-3 minutes walking distance. Click here if you want to book a room in the hotel.
This place is really nice because it’s next to the beach, has hammocks and tables, and a very welcoming vibe. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Their rooms are clean, spacious, and have stunning views of the beach, too.
The food was great! There were tasty pizzas and pasta dishes in the hotel resto. All the dishes are Western and we loved their house coffee so much!
Canopus Retreat is located 5-minute away on foot from the ferry port.
However, we had a small problem when we rented a kayak from the resort since the one they had was broken at the time. We went to Chicken Island on the kayak but on our way back, the waves were a little strong and the kayak capsized with very bad consequences. For one thing, we lost all our travel gear during that incident.
Ismail, the owner of Canopus Retreat, informed us that the kayak has been replaced. We were happy to hear that because what happened to us apparently happened to other people a week before our trip. So, when you’re traveling to any island, you better be careful with those kayaks!
If you want to enjoy the wonderful ambiance and delicious food of Canopus Retreat, click here.
Cheap hotels in Maldives
It´s a very quiet place that has a nice playground. Here, you can have delicious meals and healthy juice drinks and just relax. This is a great option if for those visiting Maldives on a budget.
The rooms in Casadana are big enough and come with a private bathroom, TV and air conditioning. It´s just one minute of walking from the beach and 5 minutes from the port. If you want to stay here, click the link to book your a room at Casadana.
We really enjoyed our time in Thulusdhoo. The place is quiet, beautiful and it offers different activities to try. You can click here, to check other wonderful yet affordable places to stay in the island.
A few shots walking around Thulusdhoo:
Thulusdhoo is very serene place in Maldives. One of our favorite things to do in Thulusdhoo was meeting locals, watching sunsets, flying the drone and looking for local places to dine in near the port.
Maafushi is one of the most popular destinations to visit Maldives on a budget. The place is really beautiful and most of the people hang around the bikini beach.
There are many day trips for snorkeling, diving and watching sharks in Maafushi. There are also several restaurants where you can have a meal starting at around $3-5 USD.
Alcohol is also not allowed in Maafushi but there is a boat here where you can drink alcohol.
If you want to book places to sleep in Maafushi, click here to get the best deals with Booking.com.
We stayed with our friend Ayoub, a local we met through Couchsurfing. As always, the experience was amazing. We enjoyed a lot of time with him and we learned many new things about Maldives and about his hometown in Lebanon. He was kind enough to take us to his plans in the islands. We did taekwondo with him and we met a few people while doing the activity.
This is another place to visit on a budget, where you can come by bus from the airport or by local ferry from Male. It’s just a 20-minute boat ride for just 5 RFY (0.33 USD).
The beach has a mix of locals and foreigners. We really loved the sunrise in Hulhumale. There are few places to eat local food on a budget and restaurants that offer other kinds of food. Hulhumale is really nice place to stroll around and explore.
You can rent boats to take you snorkeling or to try other water activities. The ocean was very calm and the beach was full of life!
Where to Sleep in Hulhumale
We stayed at Planktons Beach,in a nice room with a view from the balcony to the beach. It’s a great place to sleep on a budget and it includes a wonderful breakfast on the beach. The staff was helpful and gave us good recommendations to move around Hulhumale and Male.
Prices of Maldives food were on a budget and very affordable compared with the prices in many countries.
You can get snacks for 2-3 RFY ($1=15.4 RFY). It´s very common for locals have tea with these snacks. You can have rice with fish curry for 25 RFY where they will give you a kind of chips for free, perfect for sharing the food. Most of the dishes have fish and curry but you can also find chicken here A bottle of water costs10 RFY while cookies and small snacks go for 5-10 RFY. Ice cream can be bought when the summer gets too hot at 20-25 RFY each. Foreigners’ meals cost $7-10. It’s mostly just pizza and pasta, though. There is also Chinese food for around $5-6 USD per dish.
Tours in Maldives
There are many different tours in Maldives and the activities start from $15-50 USD depending on the duration. For $15, USD you can have a half-day trip with snorkeling and visiting a sandbar. For $30-50 USD, you can enjoy diving, watching sharks, dolphins, manta rays, and spending the day island hopping with lunch included.
Visiting Luxury Resorts?
Visiting luxury resorts on a budget? I think that is kind of impossible in Maldives. It´s not cheap but there are tours for $100 USD where you can spend the day in a resort if that´s your dream. If you followed all our tips going on a budget in Maldives, why not give yourself a luxury treatment for a day or two, right?
Festivals in Maldives
The festivities in Maldives are heavily influenced by Islamic traditions and are also centered on nationalistic events. For example, the country’s National Day is celebrated on the first day of the third month of the Islamic calendar. Independence Day is a different celebration held every July 26 and celebrates the country’s liberation from the United Kingdom. There are parades, performances and parties dyuring these holidays that you can enjoy if you visit during these months.
Let us know in the comments if we forgot any nice place to visit Maldives on a budget and if you have questions for your next trip to Maldives.