Sunday, October 2, 2016

Maldives: A Quick Travel Guide Summary for Pinoy and Foreigners

More than two years ago, I believe, a friend of mine, out of the blue, reconnected with me. He said he's up to something, and he wants me to join the group. I was curious, but I do have my reservations. I went with him in a so called "meet-up" and was introduced to a bunch of crazy beautiful people. Meet-ups were followed by more incidences of get-together. Until so much have been shared and I was educated and learned a lot. There's one thing in that group that has lead me, somehow, to realize this dream. I was affirmed that "I can".
Yes, one of the important lessons I've learned is that if I would truly believe in something, ask of it, as if it's already received, it shall become a reality. Sounds like a bible verse right? And yes, it's true, whether you heard it from me first time, from the bible or from someone else, I am telling you it's true. 

So, this is the story of our Maldives dream come true.

I have noticed Maldives as a great destination, I did try looking into the details of it, but seems very impossible at that time. Financially and geographically. I've never been that far, I told myself then. But because I wanted to go there, when my friend told me to write those things I wanted, I did include it. I didn't have any idea how it's going to happen, or whether it's possible or not. I just wrote it.

Then I started noticing friends of mine going to Maldives, I saw their pictures, and I said, to myself, I will go there, one day. Still, didn't have any idea how. But I did say, I will go there. Months passed, I asked around, and got the same answers, it's almost impossible for me to get there. Then there was this trip to one of the great islands here in the Philippines called Sohoton. I met Sir Tony, he's been to Maldives, and unlike the rest of the answers I've previously received, his was enthusiastically geared towards convincing me I can. So I asked more questions, and he eagerly answered as if with the presumption of possibility. I was taking mental notes, and soon as I get back home from Sohoton I secretly searched for Maldives again, flights, trips, resorts and hotels/inns/guesthouses. I almost every week check online cheaper flights going there, and yes, in one of those occasions I was able to book a flight going there. 

Now let's get to how to get there:

Our route was from PH to Singapore then Singapore to Maldives. Return will be Maldives to Singapore then Singapore to PH. 

I recently wrote about our Singapore trip with my family, and yes, this was connected, when Mom and my youngest sis went home, we headed to Maldives.

1) I booked a ticket from Davao PH to Singapore via Cebu Pacific (one way). This was back in March.
2) I booked a ticket from Singapore to Maldives via Tiger Air (roundtrip). This was back in April.
3) I booked a ticket from Singapore to Davao PH via Cebu Pacific (one way). This was back in April. 

If you noticed, I have already booked months ahead. This is because I always take chances on booking for cheaper flights. Although there were some issues with my Tiger Air flight, which cost me I believe more than what it should be. But it's alright. At least, I've already booked it. 

So it wasn't that hard after all. Easy route. I did hear that some people from other countries and places are not going to SG for Maldives, some are going through Sri Lanka then Sri Lanka to Maldives. Since, I have not searched about Sri Lanka, and haven't been there (although I want to be there, again, one day) I did not search Sri Lankan airfare, I only searched SG details.

Since I already have the tickets to go there, the next question is, how much? This is where Sir Tony's knowledge were very helpful, yes, extremely helpful. I have retrieved those mental notes, and searched again over the internet some places to stay. I did use AirBnb for our Male' stay. Then I booked in hotels of each island where we stayed. Before we get to the costs, let me just give you some preview.

1) Your landing in Maldives will be at the Airport, near Male'. I believe 10  minutes to 15 minutes ferry ride. If you're traveling on a Friday, please check with your host/hotel if there is a ferry from the airport to the capital, i.e. Male'.   

This is the beach in Male, where you can see, locals and tourists are diving in. They just love the water! So refreshing. Take note, this is in Male' City. The infrastructure you would see in this picture is the bridge that Maldivian government and China is collaborating on building, in it is a sign that says "China Maldives Everlasting Friendship". (May FOREVER).
2) There's a good surf beach in Male', but as of the moment, it's closed since they are building the "bridge" from Airport to Male. So, there's not much to see in Male, but if you do want to roam around the following might be helpful. (Details given by Nazmee our host, credits to him).
  • Hukuru Miskiiy (Old Friday Mosque) - you can go inside the mosque and see the beauty, the ideal time to visit is morning 09:30 am to 11:15 am before the mid prayer. It was built in the 1400 centuries. Nearby there is a cemetery of Sultans. It is opposite of the President's residence (Mulee Aage).
  • Male' Fish Market - is a nice way to see how the locals live. This is even more so for an Island nation like the Maldives. But it is important to go early. Like most fish market, most catches are gone by eleven or so. There are also other markets nearby so you won't waste your time. It is not just fish!
  • Grad Friday Mosque - a visit to Male' can not be complete without a visit to grand mosque. Next to the sultan Park. Very huge and wonderful to see. Very clean and silent place.
  • National Museum - the museum covers how Maldivians live, the evolution of their writing system, weapons, coins and bank notes, and more.
  • Male' Local Market - you can see the local life of Male' in this market. It is located near the fish market and beach. You will find different vegetables from Male' and other countries. Lots of people visit this place. Fresh vegetables can be seen. Dry fish market also attached to the Male' Local Market.
  • Mulee Aage - this is one of the landmark sights in Male'. It is a well kept very nice square with a gigantic flagpole with the Maldivian Flag. It is in the centre of the city close to the Islamic centre, the fish market and the Main Jetty. 
  • Sultan Park - this was the King's (Sultan) palace when Maldives was a sultanate. It is a nice park in a little area of the city where space is limited. The park was not so special but it is nice to visit, sit and relax.  Most of the tourist attractions are in the same area where souvenir shops are located. 
  • NOTE: Ask the driver to drop you to that area. Because all the places are in walking distance. Won't take even five minutes to go from one place to another. It will be a waste of money if you hire a taxi to do all those above. 
3) The Maldives is an archipelago, several islands across the country. And there are island resorts nearby Male', the capital. In one of my searches, even on a facebook post, Gulhi is one good place, then Maafushi, then there's Fulidhoo, there's Fihalhohi and other islands. You can choose to stay in just one island for the entire duration of your stay, or you can go one island form the other for the entire duration of your Maldives trip. We did go to different islands.

Summary of our Maldives Trip is as follows:

1) Male' - one day - we arrived late in the evening so we had to relax, and I have to do some work, since Friday is payday for one of my clients. So, I had to do some payroll. But yeah, we still manage to capture some beautiful spots, like the photo below. Then we went to the islands the following day.

2) Gulhi - one day.
Taken at the port/harbour of Gulhi Island. As soon as we set foot, we had this photo taken.

A snapshot of the bikini beach view in K. Gulhi.

3) Maafushi - 3 nights.

This was near the port, in front of the Sunset Cafe.

A little hut of at the front row of Maafushi.

4) Biyadhoo Island - one day.

5) Adaaran Prestige Resort - one day.

Some of you by now are maybe annoyed, you just want to check out the budget? How much does it cost to have this Maldives Trip? MAGKANO BA TALAGA SA MALDIVES? (Capslock para intense!)

Conversion Rates as of this trip:

1 MVR = 3.06 Php
1 USD = 15.42 MVR
1 USD = P47 or P48 or P46 (really depends on the days you'd be there) 


I have to tell you that you could get cheaper deals than this. But these are actual costs that we've incurred during this trip. 
  1. Flight from Davao PH to Singapore via Cebu Pacific- Php1,650.00 (2 pax)
  2. Flight from Singapore to Davao PH via Cebu Pacific - SGD 186.00 or approx Php 6,696.00
  3. Flight from Singapore to Male, Maldives and vice versa via Tiger Air  - SGD 872.91 or approx Php31,424.76
  4. Ibrahim Nassir International Airport to Male' - $15/person - Php2,760.00 (2 pax)
  5. Male' to Gulhi Island - MVR40.00 or Php122.40 or approx $2.00 (2 pax)
  6. Gulhi Island to Maafushi Island - $15/person - Php2,760.00 (2 pax)
  7. Maafushi Island to Biyadhoo Island and vice versa- $30/person - Php5,520.00 (2pax)
  8. Maafushi Island to Male' - $3/person or MVR45 or Php275.00 (2 pax)
  9. Male' to Airport - MVR15/person or Php91.08
  10. TOTAL Travel Cost: Php51,299.24 (2 pax) or Php25,649.62 per pax
Our flight from Davao PH to Singapore was a promo that's why it's way cheaper that's good for two persons. Even the Singapore to Davao PH flight was also a promo. Keep checking every time Cebu Pacific announces promo. Note too that our flights are booked separately. I believe sometimes, promo are not available if you search for two passengers, but when you book individually, promo fares appears (I could be wrong, but this is my observation).

Tiger air also have promos, a lot of promos actually, my ticket was booked months before the flight and it's more expensive than that of my girlfriend's ticket that was booked days before the flight. The SGD 872.91 is already the sum of the two tickets (roundtrip) to Maldives via Tiger air. I think this could even go down by SGD $100 if you book at the right time. Timing is key. Keep checking. If you really want it, you will find it!

If you think you can manage to meet your host at the Male' ferry port, do not arrange for $15.00 

  1. Biyadhoo Island - $48.00/pax or Php4,416.00 approx (2 pax)
  2. Adaaran Island - $100/pax or Php9,200 approx (2 pax)
  3. Sand Bar + Snorkelling - $70 for 2 pax or approx Php3,220
  4. TOTAL Entrance Fees: $148/pax or Php16,836.00 
  1. Stayed 1 Night Male' - again I use AirBnb with Nazmee and Athoa as our hosts - if you want to check out their listing it's here. You can avail of around Php1,500 upto Php2,000 per night in the city. Or even lower, depending on the demand or season. Your host would usually pick you up at the ferry port/terminal either for free or for a fee. Just ask ahead of time. There's a bit of advantage when Nazmee came to fetch us at the airport as I have already shared to him my blogsite and he is quite familiar with my face that he's recognized me as soon as he's seen me. So, in your case, you might want to arrange to just have a placard with your name on it, so you'd be able to meet easily at the airport and guide you through to your destination. 
  2. Stayed 1 Night in Gulhi - we arrived in Gulhi in the afternoon, we left the following day evening. Cost is Php2,886.00 (breakfast included) one bed room for two guests.
  3. Stayed 3 Nights in Maafushi - we arrived in the evening in Maafushi, and the cost per night is around Php2,100 for two persons a total of Php6,300.00
  4. TOTAL Accommodation Cost: Php11,186.00 for 2 pax.


This is a little bit tricky, yes, because it depends on your food taste, appetite and budget. 
  1. In Male' there's really a wide array of restaurants and you can roam around for food, but most beach front restaurant are pricey because they are for middle class working Maldivians and tourists. You can eat at around MVR90 to MVR110 per person per meal.
  2. In Gulhi food are cheaper MVR50 per person to MVR 60 per person per meal.
  3. In Maafushi food are also cheaper like Gulhi around MVR50 per person to MVR60 per person per meal.
  4. In Biyadooh Island food is included in the $48.00 (buffet lunch).
  5. In Adaaran Prestige food is included in $100 (buffet lunch).
  6. TOTAL Estimated Cost: Php4,000.00 approximately (2 pax).
NOTE: Food prices might exclude taxes, so ask your retaurant/cafe or look into the menu and check if it already include the taxes or excludes taxes. There are two taxes Local and National Taxes that would reach up to 30%.

  1. I find it more economical to just exchange money in Maldives or better yet, withdraw from your visa debit card the amount you think you would need. They accept both MVR or USD. 
  2. Note though that some establishments would charge 3.5% or 5% on top of the price for CARD Processing Fee. I still used card since withdrawing in Bank of Maldives would be higher at times, specially if the item or purchase is a small amount while bank would charge fixed $3/transaction regardless of withdrawn amount. 
  3. It's always good to bring your card along, most stores accept card, and resorts like Biyadooh and Adaaran only accept USD or card payment (yes, no MVR).
  4. There's no bank in Gulhi or ATM.
  5. Always ask if you don't know something, Maldivians are happy to help.
  6. If you go to resorts, ask if they have free snorkelling gears or not, since most of your accommodation guesthouses or hotels provides free beach towels and snorkelling gears.
  7. Decide ahead of time what you want to see or do in Maldives.
  8. Bring your high-powered camera, but iPhones do great jobs in morning photos as well.
  9. Before leaving Maldives, exchange your MVR to USD as there might be no money changer who would accept your MVR in another country. In my case, I had to keep MVR570+ as souvenir as I did not realize this one.
  10. Always be on time, if the schedule for your trip. Speed boats or public ferries usually comes and leaves on time. Unless some fortuitous event happened, they are usually right on time.
  11. If you miss your booking, you might have to pay a fortune just to get to the destination.
  12. You can also ask favor from your guesthouses say requesting which type of breakfast you would want.  
  13. Be mindful of the fact that this is a Muslim area, so PDA is not so good when in public places, and use appropriate clothes, except in bikini beaches where yeah "bikinis" are obviously, allowed. As you go out of the "bikini beach" please wear back your appropriate clothes.
  14. Read and plan your itinerary, it would save you time and money.
  15. There are no public ferries on Fridays.
  16. Check the public ferry schedule before you book your trips, so you could save on transfers. Speedboats could cost you from $180 to $200 per pax if you would have a chartered one. You can check it at their MTCC website.
  17. Screenshot it and save it in your phone: 
  18. Some resorts do have free transport but you have to arrange ahead of time, that's because if you book for an overnight stay in their resorts, it would really cost a fortune. 
  19. To cut costs, it's way cheaper to book your overnight stays in either Maafushi or Gulhi or any other inhabited islands, where locals live, as there are inns and guesthouses where you can book almost like PH prices of hotels and inns. Then go to resorts on excursions/day tours.
  20. If you want to communicate with your host, without incurring so much cost you can buy an Ooreedoo Sim for MVR30.00 and top up for MVR100 you can use internet on your smartphone by registering to their unlimited promo + unlimited call and text. Lesser cost, than with Globe's Php300/mb. 
  21. Our hosts don't use much of Whatsapp (unlike in SG), but they use usually Viber. So you can use your internet on your smartphone in communicating or you can just call or text them using your Ooreedoo sim. 

Airfare + Transfers + Travel Costs =  Php51,299.24
Entrance Fees = Php13,616.00
Accommodation Cost = Php11,186.00
Food Cost = Php4,500
Total Cost = Php83,821.24 for 2 pax or Php41,910.62 (ALL IN)

I did saw a post saying they were able to manage to stay in the Maldives for 9 days at around less than Php25,000 excluding airfare, when I looked into the details there were some tricky details you need to consider, why the cost I listed above are seeming way too high than that of theirs. BUT please be informed, I used the info they posted, it was really helpful. Here are the details you might have missed in their breakdown:

  1. There was a 3-night stay that was free of charge because of their friend.  
  2. And that their airfare was around P19,000 from SG to Maldives.
  3. Since we came from Phil, I still have to include the cost of Davao PH to SG airfare.
  4. The breakdown I wrote here is for 5 days stay in The Maldives, no-free accommodation and including airfare. Again, you might want to check other airlines, they may have some promo too. 
Check out airfares at:

But the best thing to do, is set aside a budget. Book the ticket, and compel yourselves to set-aside from your monthly income the money you need for this trip! I've written exhaustively the cost breakdown, and if I was able to make it, I really believe you can too! You already have the information, it's up to you how to use it! 

NOTE: We've only gone to Male, Gulhi, Maafushi, Biyadhoo and Adaaran Prestige Vadoo Island. Cost would be more if you go to more places. 

  1. What's in Gulhi? click here.
  2. What's in Maafushi? click here.
  3. What's in Biyadhoo? click here.
  4. What's in Adaaran? click here.

Do you still have questions in mind? Please feel free to drop your comments below and I'd be happy to answer or help. 

I'd love to know what you think of this post:

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