An Independent and Affordable Trip to Maldives

Hey there, it's already April.  It's high time again to think of summer's searing heat, getting tanned, summer beach deals, bikinis, and yeaaa, more bikinis! I'm thinking that perhaps, this is also the perfect time to share my Maldives experience to you all, beachgoers reading this now. Who, like me, has never thought that it's possible to see Maldives ever in this life. (Because my pocket said so!)

This post will focus on pointers about independent and affordable guide to Maldives. Complete itinerary and cost will be available on my next post. I hope you stay tuned for that! To start, let me first say that Maldives is no way cheaper than our beaches in the Philippines. You can definitely afford it but do not expect to spend like it's going to be a regular beach trip in our country. Maldives is a pricey paradise.

Quick facts about travelling to Maldives

  • It’s an archipelago of 1,192 coral islands, grouped into 26 coral atolls
  • It’s a Muslim country located south-southwest of India
  • Visa on arrival is available for Filipinos (prepare to be questioned about your whereabouts in the island)
  • There are no direct flights from Manila to Male City

Tips for an independent and affordable trip to Maldives

Fly with Air Asia or Cebpac

I thought Maldives were all fancy resorts, exclusive flights and by no means possible to stay at for “normal” people. But because of low-cost airlines, the Maldives has just gotten a little closer! If you check with Skyscanner, the cheapest airfare from Manila would be around 24,000 php. If well-timed, you can get a discounted fare with Air Asia that costs half of that.

We booked an Air Asia flight originally. But due to KUL-MLE route suspension, they transferred us to a better carrier - Sri Lankan Airlines!

Avoid the seaplane tours, just get a window seat on your flight to Male

What a better way to see the beautiful atolls of Maldives than at 4,500 feet? Male Airport hosts the biggest sea plane operations in the world. Booking a photo-flight excursion has a starting price at about $120 (5,500 php) per person for a 20-minute flight. I cannot say it’s worth the money ‘cause I haven’t tried it. I can only comment on our day flight to Male. I was delighted from the moment our pilot announced the approach of our A320 to Maldives. It was my best window seat experience, yet! A complimentary glimpse to what must be the most scenic coral islands of the world...

Beautiful Maldivian islands 

More atolls and coral islands! 

Stay at a local island for a cheaper accommodation

You need not to stay in an overwater bungalow that would cost an arm and a leg. Maldives has 200 inhabited islands, some of them have booming hotel properties that cater to independent travelers.


This is the most accessible local island from Male Airport. An airport bus to Hulhumale costs $1. The island has its own beautiful local beach that you can access for free. However, there are no overwater bungalows here and swimming in bikini is strictly prohibited. In fact, the locals swim in their burqa, a sight that is exceptional. Hotels in this area costs around $65 including government-imposed charges such as $8 bed tax.

Maafushi Island (Kaafu Atoll)

It’s one of the local islands where tourism industry has taken a new turn since 2010. There are more than 40 hotels in Maafushi and it is the only local inhabited island with most number of guest houses in the country. Hotels provide various island excursions to nearby resorts, snorkeling and diving trips. Again, there are no overwater bungalows here. Swimming in bikini is allowed, but only on certain areas of “the tourist beach”. The cheapest hotel I’ve seen so far costs $35 (not included: 12 % VAT, US$ 6.00 Environmental fee per person per night, 10 % service charge).

We had our first dinner here in Maafushi Island 

Walkable white sandbar in Maafushi Island - Gratis

I’d say that Maafushi looks a lot like the local beaches of the Philippines. Cheap restaurants and souvenir shops are all around the place. But one thing’s special about this island- it has its own adjacent white sandbar during low tide. The sand is as soft and white as Boracay.

Sandbar adjacent to Maafushi 

Book a day trip to an island resort with overwater bungalows

Because Maldives is an archipelago of 1,192 islands, there is no way around than renting a speedboat. Before you get to any island resort with an overwater bungalow, you must hire a boat or a seaplane. If you cannot afford to stay in an exclusive resort for $400/night, you can book a day trip from Maafushi island to the resort of your choice.

Usually, the fee to enter a resort island is separate with the speedboat rental. On our first night in Maafushi, we hopped in between hotels to check for other tourists who’s going to the same island resort. Our hotel owner told us that we can split the cost of speedboat rental if we get 2-4 people to join us.

One of the most affordable resorts with an overwater bungalow was Fihalhohi. The following day, we went on a day trip to Kandooma which was also unique and beautiful!

Day trip to Fihalhohi (up to 5pm only):
• $53/person = Speedboat return transfer shared with 2 other people
• $48/person = Access fee to the resort, inclusive of buffet lunch
• Towels and snorkeling gears: Free from our resort

Overwater bungalows at Fihalhohi Island 
Picturesque Maldivian Island! +Fihalhohi Island Resort
Day trip to Kandooma (up to 8pm!):
• $50/person = Exclusive speedboat for 2 people
• $150/person = Access fee to resort (this was consumable for food and activities in the island, so it was a pretty good deal)

+Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives 

My momma dont like you, she likes everyone. Chos! XD 

Speedboat transfers are expensive AF, get on to the local ferry on-time!

I almost breakdown in tears when I realized that I left my brother’s iPad Mini in the resort, while I was already seated in the local ferry back to Male. I had to decide quickly, (1) should I run back to the resort to get the iPad and let the ferry leave without me; (2) forget about the iPad, it costs as much as the speedboat transfer to Male anyway. Damn it! Truth be told, I could buy a used iPad for the price of the transfer. The ferry back to Male was only $1.5 at that time, 1500% cheaper than getting on a speedboat.

You'll pass through many island resorts with overwater bungalows on your way to Maafushi 

We were in Maldives for 5 days. And if I recall it right, I only spent +/- 40,000 php (including airfare, lodging, excursions and food). You can still cut down the cost if you opt to get snorkeling trips instead of another island resort excursion, eat cheap, remove one day in Hulhumale or stay in a cheaper guest house. I hope this entry had convinced you to forget about the #1 myth about Maldives - it’s exclusively for the rich! You can make your own itineraries and travel from island to island by public ferry, stay among the local guest houses, see the famous overwater bungalows at a price that you can afford.

Ang mahal ng speedboat, pero pagkaganda ng view!!! 

Your turn, guys. Have you been to an independent trip to the Maldives? Share how you achieved it in the comments!

Checkout our itinerary here: 5 Days in Maldives for About 40,000

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Suggested Reading:
Visit Paris on a Php50,000 Budget
How to Spend 4 Days in Batanes for Php 6,000
7 Simple Ways to Travel Europe for Less


  1. Sounds good! I thought id need 100,000php to see this beautiful place! Thanks for the pointers!

    1. You're welcome! I'll post a detailed itinerary with cost for 5 days in Maldives soon. Hope you check it out!

  2. Thank you for sharing this. Maldives dream can now be a reality.

    1. Hi Foxykix, i hope you'll visit Maldives soon. it's really beautiful!!! :-)

  3. Your photos are amazing! What camera did you use here?

  4. Replies
    1. Hi Robin!!! dont tell anyone i have this site hahaha

  5. 40K for 2paxnor each? ��

    1. Hi Sharie! 40k per person, including airfare from Manila :-)

  6. Hi,
    May i know what month did you go to Maldives? is it peak season or low season?


    1. Hi Jane, we went April. i think it's peak season :-)

  7. I've been dreaming my whole life to get married there...LOL I know.Thanks for the insights!honeymoon would be closer to reality ������

    1. Pano mag-tag ng boyfriend dito? Joke!

      Hi, Levy Ann! You can definitely cut the cost from 40k to probably 30k. Maldives is a beautiful paradise.
      I hope you can visit the country very soon!

      Thanks for dropping by my blog! :)

    2. Hi! Was reading this blog entry as my fiance and i are looking for honeymoon options :) very informative site! And as for Levy... yes, you can get married in Maldives! There's a Philippine consul there! Look for His Excellency Vicente Bandillo in the consulate. He usually holds weddings for Pinoys working in Maldvies, Sri Lanka and neighboring small countries :)

    3. Thanks Neile! Enjoy Maldives! Glad to know you liked the blog :P

  8. Hi Brenda! Do you think it's still possible to get the same package as you had for this year? Maldives is the only beach that I love to visit first. Thanks. :)

    1. Hi MJ! It's possible and could even be lesser. You may opt for other, probly cheaper excursions so you can save. Also, you may want to consider checking Cebpac or Air Asia's website daily to check for discount fares if you're coming from Manila :)

      Safe travels! And thanks for visiting my blog.

      - Brenda


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