The Maldives is the perfect place to unwind – between the stunning water and the gorgeous beaches it’s not hard to see why this destination is a must-see. Our handy guide will give you some pointers on preparing for your trip; plus, you’ll learn some cultural background and a bit of the lingo too!
Religion: Sunni Muslim
Emergency number: 102
- The Maldives is the lowest country in the world, averaging 1.5 metres above sea level. The highest point stands at 2.3 metres.
- The Maldives is a Muslim country and as such you can’t bring alcohol into the country or consume alcohol outside resort hotels.
- It’s the smallest nation in Asia.
- In 2009, Maldives held an underwater cabinet meeting to raise awareness on climate change.
- The Maldives is creating the largest marine reserve in the world.
- Ramadan (dates vary from year to year). All Maldivians mark the month of Ramadan, but service at the resorts should remain uninterrupted.
- 26 July: Independence Day. Commemorating the Maldives’ independence from the British protectorate in 1965.
- 11 November: Republic Day. This is a day that wishes peace and prosperity for its islands inhabitants. Expect parades with an Arabian influence.
Hot spots and itineraries
The Maldives is less about choosing a destination and more about choosing a luxury resort! Malé has a bit more going for it than many people think, and it at least gives a taste of Maldivian “street” culture, plus mosques, markets and more. There are no World Heritage Sites, though the Coral Stone Mosques located on various islands are on the “tentative” list for possible inclusion.
Some itinerary ideas: There are really only two decisions to make regarding a Maldives itinerary. Either you fly into Malé and then take a ferry to one of the resorts that are located closer to the capital, or you opt for a connecting sea-plane flight to a more far-flung atoll. If you choose the latter, it will often mean you’ll require an overnight stay in Malé itself.
Staying safe and healthy
Medical facilities are limited to two hospitals on the capital island, and neither has a trauma unit. Treatment can be expensive so make sure your travel insurance is comprehensive. As with all destinations, COVID-19 rules and regulations can change, so check updated travel advice at tourism.gov.mv.
While you’re there, please don’t…
… go from beach to bar or restaurant in your bikini. Although the resorts are tolerant, you will be asked to cover up in areas other than the beach. And definitely don’t go topless – it’s illegal.
Before you go, read …
- Dhon Hiyala and Ali Fulhu by Abdullah Sadiq – a Maldivian Romeo and Juliet.
- The Strode Venturer by Hammond Innes – a 1965 thriller novel set partly in the Maldives.
- Maldives: Kingdom of a Thousand Isles by Andrew Forbes – history, culture, politics, economics: all are covered in considerable detail in this guide.
Before you go, watch …
The Island President – the story of the ousted President Nasheed and his fight for democracy and against climate change.
They said it
“On the milky white beaches, In the refreshing breezes at the seaside, To enjoy to your heart’s content, While admiring the beauty of nature, Diving spots, underwater gardens – the tourists crave, Water-sports and fishing trips, An unforgettable adventure, A country of seafarers, able bodied sailors, Start their life with the first rays of daylight.” – Ali Shareef from ‘Maldives – A Seafaring Country’
Do I need a visa?
A 30-day free visa is issued on arrival for all nationalities, provided you possess a passport with at least six months’ validity, a return ticket, and enough funds to cover the expenses for the duration of your stay in the Maldives (US$100, plus $50 dollars per day or a confirmation of reservation in a tourist resort or a hotel).
How long will it take me to get there?
4.5 hours (to Malé) from Singapore. The Maldives is 5 hours ahead of GMT (some islands are 6 hours ahead) and 3 hours behind Singapore.
What’s the money situation?
The official currency of the Maldives is the Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR). Generally, you will not need rufiyaa as everything will be billed to your room at resorts and hotels and your bill can be settled with cash, credit cards or traveller’s cheques. Most local shops will accept US dollars; tipping is acceptable in this currency. Tipping is not compulsory as there is a service charge and a goods and service tax. ATMs do not exist outside Malé.
When’s the best time to visit?
Maldives has a tropical climate and can be visited at any time, although it does have two seasons: dry (December to April), April being the hottest month and December the coolest; and wet (May to November), when temperatures remain warm but rain and storms should be expected. May and October are the wettest months.
What’s the lingo?
Dhivehi and English. Here are some phrases of Dhivehi to get you started:
- Hello: Assalaa mu alaikum
- What is your name? Kon nameh kiyanee?
- My name is __: Aharenge namakee __
- How much? Agu kihaavareh?
- Thank you: Shukuriyaa
- Yes: Aan
- No: Noon
Last but not least
Is there anything I should know about meeting the locals?
Maldivians greet each other with a smile or the raising of eyebrows.
What’s a must-try dish?
Garudhiya, a light fish soup served with steamed rice, lemon and chillies, and mas huni, shredded smoked fish with grated coconuts and onions.
What should I buy as a souvenir?
There isn’t a huge range of souvenirs but underwater photos make for a good memory of the country’s amazing snorkelling and diving. Avoid coral products.
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