The Maldives islands are an immaculate paradise with spectacular beaches, pristine blue lagoons, and extensive reefs which ensure these tropical islands are one of the most sought after travel destinations in the world. With so many promising adventures on offer, this is truly an enchanting place to experience, which despite its reputation for being an expensive location, is still an option for those wanting to enjoy the Maldivian sun without breaking the bank. With that said, here are some tips for traveling to the Maldives on a budget and how I managed to plan a 5 days and 4 nights trip to the Maldives for USD 600 per person. I include my Maldives trip cost breakdown as well in the post so make sure to read until the end.
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Travel to the Maldives on a Budget
Checking out Flight Deals
I always thought flights to the Maldives were expensive, however it is not totally true. It can be done cheap as there are so many flight deals nowadays. I managed to get a round trip flight ticket from Kuala Lumpur to the Maldives during the peak period for around USD 142 with Air Asia during the promotion. Everyone was shocked whenever I told them how much the flight ticket to the Maldives costed. It is unbelievably cheap.
For those who come from other continents of the world which are far away from the Maldives, I recommend flying to the Maldives from Kuala Lumpur (like I do) or Sri Lanka, which is just a 1-hour flight away in order to get a better deal and you may take the chance to explore the country as well at the same time to make it worth it.
Staying on Local Islands
There are so many islands in the Maldives and they are categorized in two types: private islands and local islands. Accommodation on Private Islands consists of those luxury resorts with beautiful over-water villas or bungalows. If you are travelling to the Maldives on a budget, avoid staying on the Private islands and stay on Local islands instead because accommodation on private islands are obviously not a great choice for your pocket.
Local islands are where you will usually find local people live and there are a lot of affordable accommodations on the local islands such as hotels and guest houses. You may not be able to experience staying in an overwater villa but you can still enjoy the beauty of the Maldives.
During my trip to the Maldives, we chose to stay on Maafushi Island. It was one of the most popular local islands in the Maldives. Stay tuned for my next post about my Maafushi Island guide. Other popular local islands you may want to take a look at are Thulusdhoo, Thoddoo, Mahibadhoo. Guraidhoo, Dhigurah, Hulhumale, Huraa and Himafushi.
Choose Affordable Airport Transport to the Resort
The Maldives offer two types of transfers: Seaplane and Ferry / speedboat ride. If you are travelling on a budget, forget about seaplanes because they are expensive. You may check with your accommodation whether any pickup arrangement service is provided with a reasonable rate or otherwise you can consider taking a public ferry if they are accessible to the island you are staying on and match to your arrival schedule as well.
Alternatively, you can also check for excursion options with independent companies like Icom Tours that will base the price on the number of passengers, meaning you can join other travelers, and receive a much lower price for the tour. I used Icom Tours for a round trip transfer from Male and Maafushi because there was no available public ferry operated at the time I arrived.
Stay in Hotels or Guest Houses instead of Over-water Villas
Contrary to popular belief, a trip to the Maldives is not all about luxury water bungalows or expensive private islands. No, it is actually possible to find fantastic hotels or even cheaper guesthouses which offer spacious accommodation with quality amenities and decent internet on local islands. You can also get accommodation in private guesthouses for as low as USD 40, and many of these options are within walking distance of the beautiful beaches – your small piece of paradise.
I stayed at the Water Breeze Guesthouse as it was recommended by other bloggers and I had a wonderful four night’s stay with them for USD 245. You might think that with the price, the room will be awful but that was not true. it might be small but it gave everything I look for in accommodation: strategic location, cleanliness and comfort.
Affordably Wide Range of Cuisine
Aside from transport and lodging, one of the most important things to consider while traveling to the Maldives on a budget is finding reasonable affordable good food and places to eat. It is very easy to score local delicacies outside of the hotels and even Asian restaurants or international buffets of the highest standard in Maafushi Island. We usually paid around USD 13 for food for two persons and we also had a buffet at Arena beach, which offers local dishes including seafood such as fresh tuna steaks for approximately USD 32.
- Don’t forget to try Tuna Kottu Roshi from Nika Cafe. It is one of my favorite foods in the Maldives.
- The Maldives have 10% Tax & 12% GST
Tours and Highlights of a trip to the Maldives on a budget
To keep costs down, you can also book a tour from your hotel or through a local tour company. I suggest to check out some other hotel tour activities packages as well because sometimes they offer better value. We mostly bought activities tours from Crystal Sand Beach Hotel in Maafushi island because they offered cheaper rates compare to others and overall, we have no complaints with their service. Here are some of the best activities to do around the Maldives Islands:
- Dolphin Cruise with Snorkeling Tour
Immerse yourself in this epic snorkeling adventure for as low as USD 35 per person while witnessing pods of dolphins, colorful marine life, and some of the most breathtaking reefs in the Maldives including Turtle Reef, Banana Reef, Maafushi Corner, and Biyadhoo Reef.
- Sandbank Trip
Relaxing on a sandbank trip is often a highlight of a Maldives trip and you are certain to return with the most iconic and mesmerizing photographs which could easily find their way on to the front cover of most travel magazines. Note that you cannot go to a sandbank during high tide so plan your day accordingly.
- Luxury Resort on organized tours
While choosing to pay less will often require lower expectations, just because you are traveling on a budget, it does not mean you will miss out on everything it has to offer. Yes, you still can visit luxury resorts with beautiful over-water villas on private islands even when you do not stay there, with a minimal fee. The package also includes buffet lunch with unlimited drinks (including alcohol) at the resort. Visiting resorts on private islands is certainly a great experience because you can fully enjoy the island without the crowds.
Maldives Cost Breakdown
How did I managed to spend less than USD 600 (each) for 5 days and 4 nights trip in Maldives? Here is the summary of the cost for my trip to the Maldives (per person).
USD 1 = RM 4.43 at my travel time
|Round trip flight ticket (Kuala Lumpur – Male) + 20 kg of baggage allowance
|Airport Transfer with iCom Tours
|Airport to Maafushi Island
|Maafushi Island to Airport
|4 Nights at Water Breeze – USD245 / RM 1085.48 (Divided by 2 persons)
|Food for 5 days (Average per meal USD 5 -7) – 112.57 (Divided by 2 persons)
|Snorkeling Tour + Dolphin Cruise + Sand Bank (Include: Lunch)
|Private resort day trip Include: Entrance fee + Unlimited drinks (Alcohol & non-alcohol) + Swimming pools + Buffet lunch + Shark Feeding time
|Beach Slippers + Sunblock + Keychains + Snacks
|550.78 = 551
|2442.96 = 2443
Total budget per person for 5 Days 4 Nights trip in the Maldives: USD 551 / RM 2443
As you can see, your trip to paradise does not have to be hugely expensive as visiting the Maldives on a budget is always possible. So get ready to enjoy, relax, and immerse yourself in the serenity of the Indian Ocean, for the Maldives is calling and at such an affordable rate, it would be rude not to answer.
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