How Much Would It Cost For You To Holiday In The Maldives?

You can make your dream holiday destination a reality.

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It used to be that Maldives seemed like an unattainable holiday destination with a backpacker's budget. Things have changed and although budget travel is relatively new to Maldives, it can be done.

One of the luxurious overwater bungalows in Maldives.

Image via The Ultimate Travel Company

When you think of Maldives, you think of luxury resorts with overwater bungalows that come with a very hefty price tag. Although that is still true, the new regulations set by the Maldivian government has allowed guesthouses to open their doors to outsiders, thus providing travellers an affordable way to explore the beauty of the country.

Malé, the capital of Maldives.

Image via

Tourism in general is relatively new to the Maldives. The first resort opened in 1973 and for thirty years, the only way to visit as a tourist was via these expensive island resorts.

Five years ago, however, the government changed its regulations to allow guesthouses to open on the local islands.

Before we talk about financing your trip to the Maldives, here are some pertinent things to take note of before you set off on an independent travel there:

Information on Maldives is scarce. You'll need to stalk blogs, travel agencies, etc. for all the info you can get, otherwise planning can get tricky!

I’ve never visited a country where independent travel is so new, and it certainly made planning a little tricky.

Searching for detailed information was just as tricky. Most of the islands had a paragraph on Wikipedia mentioning their size and population, and that was mostly it. I couldn’t find any travel blog posts, I couldn’t find any online travel guides. The best I could find were a few TripAdvisor reviews of guesthouses that briefly mentioned what the islands were like.

Maldives is a strict Muslim country and everyone, including tourists, are to comply with the sharia law unless you are in a designated tourist resort

Locals walking near the local market in the capital, Male.

Image via Haveeru Online

The Maldives is an Islamic state operating under sharia law, and requires all of its citizens to be Muslim. Upon entering the country, you have to sign a declaration stating that you are not bringing into the country “materials deemed contrary to Islam including ‘idols for worship’ and bibles, pork and pork products, and alcohol.”
Image via Globotreks

Staying on a local island vs. a resort is not without its differences. For one, the Maldives is a Muslim country, therefore bikinis are a no-no on the local islands. This is not a huge deal as most of the excursions take place in the middle of the ocean or on bikini beaches where it’s perfectly fine to don a bikini.

The best time to travel is when it's off-season, between the period of May to October

Image via Globotreks

Go in the off season. Even though the weather stays good in the Maldives all year, it’s the increased traffic from more northern countries with cold winters that makes November to April the pricier season. Try booking at the beginning or end of that period or outside it all together.

Now with all this information at hand, here's a breakdown on the things you will be spending your money on:

1. Flight tickets. There's no other way to get to Maldives than to fly, which will cost approximately RM169 for one way.

The only way to get to the Maldives is by flying to Malé, the capital. Now, this is usually quite expensive, especially if you fly from Europe or the Americas. On the other hand, if you’re in Asia, jumping to the Maldives will prove to be much cheaper, and in some cases, very very cheap.

Flying to Maldives shouldn't break the bank, especially with deals on flights out there. With AirAsia's latest route launch, you can afford to fly to Maldives from as low as RM169 for one-way all-inclusive, from Kuala Lumpur straight to Malé, the capital of Maldives. You can book your tickets here.

2. Accommodation. Guesthouses or budget hotels will run you anywhere from RM95 per night and onwards.

There are hotel deals available on AirAsiaGo from RM179/night onwards. You can also find a selection of affordable hotels from other hotel providers.

There is also the option of using Airbnb, where you can find even cheaper options to stay not only in Hulhumale and Male, but also in several islands in the Maldives. Expect the typical budget price to not be under $25 [RM95] a night; but if you’re two, you can split that! If you’re going to islands that are far from Male Atoll, there is the possibility to find even cheaper accommodation.

3. Transport. The best option for travelling between islands within budget is by ferries and one ride can be as low as RM1.37!

In the Maldives, you can reach any inhabited island with a ferry, or a few ferries. They have a really good and reliable ferry system, and it is cheap. The ferry between Male and Hulhumale costs MVR 5.50 (about $0.36) [RM1.37] and takes only 20 minutes. The ferries to farther islands range from $3 to $20 [RM11 - RM76] each way and can take up to several hours. With the exception of prayer times, which happens five times a day, ferries are always running and mostly on schedule.

4. Food. Immerse yourself in the local cuisine of fresh seafood, delicious curry, warm flat bread and more, with meal options at RM13 and onwards.

Red snapper cooked with water, dried chili, onion & curry leaves.

Image via CC Food Travel

If you go for local food, which is mostly made out of seafood, you will have no trouble finding a local restaurant in the city. This is the cheapest option and a meal will cost you around MVR 50 (about $3.50) [RM13.30]. Other than grilled fish, typical Maldivian cuisine includes tuna with onion and lime juice, sweet and thick milk tea, and flat bread called roshi – similar to Indian roti.

If you’re not into seafood, like me, you can still find decent meals with curry, chicken, or other meats that will be just a few more dollars more expensive (ranging between $5 to $10) [RM19 - RM38].

Traditional Maldivian breakfast

Image via Never Ending Footsteps

If you're lucky, the guesthouse you're staying at might provide you with breakfast. That's one meal all settled!

5. Excursions. You can go frolicking in the sun in your bathing suit and revel in five-star luxury by going on day trips to other island resorts.

Luxury Resort Ayada, Maldives Island

Image via The Jet Life

If you want to experience the five-star luxury the Maldives is known for, you can take a day trip to the Anantara resort just 15 minutes away from Maafushi. Swimming in the turquoise lagoon around the overwater bungalows in Anantara Veli – one of the three islands that make up the resort – feels like being in giant but oh-so-pretty aquarium.

It may be a bit expensive at US$75 [RM285] for the boat ride and entrance fee plus a mandatory consumption of US$118 [RM449], but it seems worthwhile considering it costs around US$500 [RM1,901] a night to stay here.
Image via Kuramathi

One advantage of doing it this way is that you get to see several picture-perfect island resorts for a fraction of the cost. These resort day trips typically last until 6pm, but during the low season resorts usually allow day-trippers to stay for dinner. And while these trips and excursions are likely to be offered by your guesthouse (see this list for example), you can shop around to compare rates or look for independent travel and tour shops that are more open to negotiations.

So, how much will an independent trip for 5 days, 4 nights to Maldives cost?

Taking the 5 factors mentioned above into account, here's a rough summary of budget for a 5D4N trip to the Maldives.

1. Flight: RM506 and onwards
AirAsia offers a one-way all-inclusive flight from KL to Malé at RM169, while the return fare is RM337. Don't miss out on this promotional fare, available from 21st - 26th July 2015. Get your tickets here.

2. Accommodation: RM380 - RM716
With AirAsiaGo deals, you can get deals for RM179 per night. There is a range of guesthouses available in the many islands in Maldives, some as low as RM95 per night.

3. Transport: RM3 - RM152
Considering the frequency and distance you travel between the islands in Maldives, the cost of transport will vary. One ferry ride can as low as RM1.37, and if you're travelling further, it can be anywhere from RM11 to RM76.

4. Food: RM200 - RM570
This is taking into account of a total 3 meals a day, for 5 days, with decent meals of seafood, meats, curry, flat bread and more.

5. Excursions: RM190 and onwards (optional)
Going for excursions is completely optional and up to personal preference. They can take up a big chunk of your budget, so look out and compare prices offered at different guesthouses. Don't be afraid to shop around for the best bargain on excursions!

TOTAL: RM1,089 and onwards
(this sum is not including the cost of excursions)

In summary, you can easily go for a trip to the Maldives in under RM2,000, debunking the myth that Maldives is a luxury holiday destination. With a little bit of saving up, you can have a comfortable trip to the beautiful islands of Maldives and get the benefit of immersing yourselves in the local culture. You also don't have to miss out on the full experience of the beauty of this paradise, that many only dream of going.

Before you jet off on your travels, make sure you have these handy apps at hand!

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