Maldivian rufiyaa, Different Banknotes and Coins

Maldives – Prepare Your Budget Using Our Experience

This post was last updated on February 1st, 2020 at 02:49 pm

Traveling in the Maldives is quite pricey if you compare it with other countries in (Southeast) Asia. Your Maldives budget will, therefore, have to be slightly larger. Everyone knows the beautiful pictures from travel guides with bungalows on clear blue water and the white beaches. It is not without reason that thousands of people travel to these small tropical islands every year.


You can determine how much you spend in theory, but do not expect that you can sleep here for $10 a night. Most tourists do not come here to spend holidays on a small budget and on average people spend around $200 to $300 a day. Fortunately, it can also be cheaper!


Budget for the Maldives

Not long ago you could only stay in resorts in the Maldives, separated from the locals. Fortunately, that has changed in recent years and more and more guesthouses and cheaper accommodations on islands such as Maafushi and Thulusdhoo are well on its way. As a result, your Maldives budget does not have to be that big at all.


TIP – Sleep on local islands such as Maafushi, Thulusdhoo, Haa Dhaalu, Fuvahmulah, Gan, and Guraidhoo. Staying overnight, eating and drinking and tours are much cheaper here.


What did we Spend on our Trip?

We stayed in 2016 for around $55 per day in the Maldives. That is $27.50 per person per day. Not expensive for such a dream destination!


Budget Examples for the Maldives


What Does it Cost to Travel in the Maldives?

Fortunately, traveling in the Maldives is no longer as expensive as it was. You don’t have to be rich to celebrate your holiday here. In 2016 we spent about US $55 per day ($27.50 per person) with 2 people, excluding excursions, including food and drinks and spending the night. The Maldives is a bit more expensive than other countries, but certainly not priceless.


Hostels with dorms were not there (yet) when we were there, but they will come soon, given the developments. Below is an overview of what we spent and what our budget for the Maldives was.


TIP – There are no ATMs on the local islands, so make sure you have enough cash or a credit card with you!


Pier over clear blue water to a resort
Be prepared to spend a bit more if you want to stay in a resort (Meeru Resort) like this!


Backside of the Meeru Resort cabins on the clear blue water
Another view of the Meeru Resort, we recommend it if your budget allows it


Cost for Accommodations in the Maldives

Maafushi is the first island to be “opened” for tourism. Here you will also find the most budget accommodations and facilities for tourism. For a budget overnight stay on Maafushi (and other local islands) you pay around $40 for a double room on the more famous islands.


The chance that you are going to the Maldives alone is quite small (it is a well-known honeymoon spot), which is why you can often share the costs. Of course you also have the luxurious resorts for which the Maldives are known. There you pay $750 or more per night. On the larger, local islands you can book a double room in a hotel for $45 to $55. Therefore, expect around $22.50 to $27.50 per person per night.


It can be cheaper if you travel out of season, but then you won’t have the best weather. Of course it can also be more expensive if you sleep in resorts.


Example of our costs;

  • Overnight stay on Maafushi $33 per night.
  • Cheapest option on Thulusdhoo $45 per night.


Cost per day

Our costs – we spent 5 nights on Maafushi at the Arora Inn hotel for $165 in total. The hotel costs $40 per night, but after some negotiation we paid $33 per night (incl. breakfast) for a private double room. That is around $33 a night. If you share the costs, you can spend the night in Maafushi for $16.50 per person per night.



Cost for Food & Drinks in the Maldives

Food and drinks can be both very cheap and very expensive. The cheapest option is to go for local food which mainly consists of fish and coconut (the food here is delicious!). On the local islands such as Maafushi and Thulusdhoo there are enough local joints. Count on around $2.50 to $5 p.p. for local food. Super cheap!


You can also eat more expensive (or something other than fish). Consider curries or Western food. You often pay more for this (also because many things have to be imported). Breakfast is often included at the hostel/hotel. For lunch, dinner and drinks you pay around $5 per person per day.


Example of our costs for food and drinks:

  • Breakfast (mashuni) $1
  • Snacks from the supermarket $2.50
  • 1 liter of water $0.50
  • Chicken dish $3.50


Western style breakfast near the water on the beahc
You can also get a luxury breakfast here, anything is possible


TIP – They do not serve alcohol on the local islands because of religion. Strangely enough, 50 meters off the coast there is a “booze boat” where they do sell alcohol.


Cost per day

Our costs – during our 5 days in Maafushi we spent on average $5 p.p. per day in food. Breakfast was included with the hotel. We mainly ate in local restaurants. We often bought a baguette with toppings for $1.10 in a supermarket that we ate on the beach. A liter of water costs $0.50 at most and dinner at a local restaurant costs $3.50 to $5.50 per person. It can also be more expensive. If you choose a more luxurious restaurant on the beach and order a western meal, it can cost $35 per person.


Cost for Transport in the Maldives

If you would like to see several islands and do not want to stay in one resort or on one island, you can easily travel between the islands by ferry. And by Asian standards, these services are reliable, good, and not unimportant; cheap. For example, a ferry between Malé (where you land) and Maafushi costs $2 per person. Your Maldives budget won’t suffer from that.


Most accommodations have their own speedboat. For example, if you arrive on Thursday evening, you must take a speedboat. Ferries only sail during the day and NOT on Friday. A speed boat costs $150 per boat. The more people in the boat, the cheaper it gets. This can make a nice hole in your Maldives budget.


Beautiful view from speedboat in Maldives
Wherever you go with the boat the view will be incredible!


TIP – If you don’t feel like spending hours in a boat, you can also book seaplanes to a resort. You pay more than $250 for this.


Check the departure times here. If you want to visit more distant islands you pay between $5 and $20, depending on the distance.


Example of our transport costs:


  • Ferry between the airport and Malé $2
  • Boat Malé to Maafushi $2
  • Boat Maafushi to Malé $2


TIP – The ferries do NOT sail on Friday (Friday is a day of resting)!


Cost per day

Our costs – we only traveled from the airport to Malé and from Malé to Maafushi and the same way back. In total it cost us $8 per person. If you only travel to a local island, the costs of transport have little influence on your Maldives budget.


If you do not want to travel with the local ferry to the local islands, you can also travel with iCom Tours for $25 per person.


Surfer on a beach in the Maldives
There are some pretty good surfing spots


Cost for Activities in the Maldives

There is plenty to do in the Maldives. As long as it has to do with water it is possible. Surfing, diving, snorkeling, dolphin watching, whale shark watching, jet skiing, kite surfing… it’s all possible here. The costs are somewhat higher than in countries such as Thailand or Indonesia.


Example of our costs for activities:


  • Day trip snorkeling to Turtle Reef $28
  • Day to one of the resorts $85
  • Kite surfing for an hour $40


Cost per day

Our costs – we have done two paid activities. The tour to a resort cost us $85, but it was more than worth it as well as the snorkeling trip. If you ignore these costs, your budget will be significantly lower.


Flight tickets to the Maldives

A plane ticket is the largest cost item in your Maldives budget. But because this island group is becoming more and more popular, the prices for an airline ticket are also starting to fall. If you search well you can find tickets below $550, which is on the same level as tickets to Bangkok. Incidentally, it is a lot more expensive during the summer holidays (June to August).


From (Southeast) Asia to the Maldives

If you want to save on your Maldives budget, go there if you are already in Asia. We were already in Asia when we flew to the Maldives and this is considerably cheaper than flying from our home country. In addition, it is a much shorter time to fly there so you get more out of your trip. For our round trip Kuala Lumpur – Malé we paid around $250 per person.


White sandy beach on the Maldives
One of many beautiful white sandy beaches


Budget Traveling to the Maldives

Visiting the Maldives for a vacation or a round trip is generally a fairly large investment. Unfortunately, there are few flights to the Maldives and that often makes it an expensive destination but that is changing rapidly. There are enough organizations nowadays who want to use the possibilities of the Maldives. They often offer the possibility to make a budget trip to the Maldives as the conclusion of your holiday or tour in another country, for example Sri Lanka, India or Malaysia.


Total Cost for 5 days in the Maldives

In total we have stayed in Maafushi for 5 days. We have done a number of activities here. There is not much else to do on the island either. Below is an overview of what we have spent in the Maldives.


  • Accommodation $33 per night (incl. breakfast) = $165
  • Food and drinks $10 per day = $50
  • Day trips
    • Snorkel tour = $30 p.p.
    • Resort = $90 p.p.


  • Transportation
    • Speedboat Malé – Maafushi = $150
    • Ferry Maafushi – Malé = $2 p.p.


In total we were in Maafushi for 5 days (excl. flight ticket) and spent around $619 with 2 people. If you can/want to share the costs, it comes down to $309.50 p.p. for 5 days in the Maldives. For our flight from Kuala Lumpur to Malé we paid $250 per person.


TIP – Total (incl. flight from Kuala Lumpur) costs for 5 days on Maafushi is $559.50 per person.


Maldives Currency

The currency in the Maldives is the Rufiyaa (Rf). Notes come in 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2 although the latter two are hardly used.


US Dollars

You can also pay with US Dollars in the Maldives. This is (when we were there) used more than the local currency. It is also a lot easier for tourists to take dollars with them than to pin Rufiyaa. If you go to the Maldives, we recommend that you bring enough dollars in cash.


Using ATMs

There are enough ATMs on Malé, the main island, but not even one on the other islands. If you want Rufiyaa you will have to pin it at Malé or at the airport.


Using a Credit Card

We recommend taking a credit card. With a credit card you can pay for your hotel or tickets anywhere abroad. If you no longer have cash or your debit card does not work, a credit card is often a lifesaver.


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