Planning For Maldives

So we went to Maldives, and you all want to know how we did it. Even while we were lounging in the sand under the heat of the Maldivian sun, friends were already messaging us on how we did this trip. We could only sigh for a moment and sip from our glasses of champagnes. We wanted to write immediately but Maldives is one country we can’t ignore. Getting our macbooks out and typing away is a serious crime in a paradise like this (as learned by our friend Jou who wanted to work, hello WORK?!?, while on vacation). So excuse us if we cannot reply to your questions immediately. Maldives is what a true holiday is. 

But now that we’re back in Riyadh, I have time to write. Haha! So… where do I begin?

The truth is, Maldives is one country that’s easy to go to. Filipinos don’t need a visa prior to visiting the country. We can stay up to 30 days, if your budget is up for it. The difficult part is finding the right resort for your budget and finding the right time. But look, who needs a right time for vacation?! I say when you’re stressed, go for it! Haha! We looked at so many travel and resort websites and we ended up with a migraine. Hello, indecisive, people! Welcome to our world. Eyecandy and I were joined by 4 of our wacky and beautiful friends in this trip.

Maldives has always been known as the honeymoon paradise. We get that. But what about us who are single and very much fabulous unattached? Can’t we go too? Oh yes, we can!!! The friends and I were joking that we are setting a new singlehood trend. For us, let’s just travel and get marry merry!

Goodbye for now, Riyadh!
Okay, this Maldives trip is not something that magically happened overnight where pieces just fell into its places naturally. To employed folks like us who have money and schedule to consider, we started planning and saving as early as March and April 2013. It was a toss up between Morocco and Maldives. The latter won because of the beach and I have swimmer friends. Haha! The “when” is almost a given… during the Eid holiday, after Ramadan, where we get a week off from work.

So, I (being the OC, research-loving person of the group) decided to make a list of things we require for our trip and got into the planning stage.

1. How To Get There (Airlines, Air Fare, etc.)
The most important aspect is, of course, how to get there. Well there’s no other way than fly.

The Middle East’s major airlines are servicing Riyadh to Male. There’s Emirates, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, etc. but we decided to go for the low-cost airline because the resort package already took most of our travel money. Fly Dubai offers the most affordable flight rates. But they don’t fly to Male, the capital of Maldives, every day so we have to adjust the dates of our travel. Good thing, our Eid holiday is quite long (a week).

Fly Dubai is not that bad of an airline too (unlike Fly… *cough*). It’s like our Cebu Pacific in the Philippines, only better. Three months before, the roundtrip fare from Riyadh to Male was around SR2,000. We dilly dallied in buying our tickets so we ended up buying them at SR2,500 per person last July. We have a free 7kg hand luggage with it. We thought it would be enough for our stuff but we ended up getting 20 kgs more for SR100 per person (kami pa, we carry our houses with us! :P). You have to buy the food in the plane and the entertainment system is around 15 dirhams for the basic (tv shows and songs) and 35 dirhams for the premium (including movies).

Ready for Male!

TIP: Plan as early as possible so that you also get the lowest possible airfare rate on the airlines that you like. Fly Dubai and Srilankan offer the most affordable rates among the Middle Eastern airlines.

BUDGET for AIRFARE: Around SR2,500

2. When To Go (Dates, Weather, Schedules, etc.)
Like I said above, we only have the Eid holiday to consider for this trip. We envisioned staying the resort for 4-6 days to make the most of what it can offer. Considering that we only have 2 days for a weekend, we couldn’t possibly insert it in our usual schedule at work and be absent for a few days.

There are pros and cons in going to Maldives in August. An advantage is that it’s the lean season so rates are usually lower than the peak season (ex. December). A disadvantage would be the weather. It’s rainy season in Maldives during these times, almost like the Philippines. But we have no choice but to go for it.

At first, I had this wild idea that in Maldives, it’s always summer and it’s always sunny. Apparently, being located in the equator has its downsides too. One of our friends was hyperventilating two days before our flight because she checked the weather bulletin in Maldives and whaddya know? Clouds and rain showers dot the info page of our travel dates. I told her there’s nothing we can do but pray that the weather ease up and give us some break. Actually, it did. Maybe, the sundance Eyecandy did worked after all.

On a clear, sunny day

TIP: Visit during the times when you can spare a minimum of 5 days for this trip (Eid holiday during August and the Hajj holiday this October).

PEAK SEASON (aka the best time to visit in terms of weather, not in price): December to April
LEAN SEASON: May to November

3. What Resort to Choose
The Republic of Maldives lies in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka. (This information is for my parents who shrieked, “Nasa’n ang Maldives?!? (Where is Maldives?!?)” when I told her I’m going there. Hehe.) Maldives is an island nation consisting of a double chain of 26 atolls (ring-shaped coral reefs). Basically, every thing is reachable by boat or by sea plane. Imagine how many interesting resorts are there in Maldives. The choices are endless! When there’s too many choices, we get migraines.

Good thing, our friend Ryan Comandante (hello, bi!!!) here in Riyadh suggested we contact her cousin Janeth who is working for a travel agency in Maldives: Skorpion Travel, one of the leading and most reputable travel agencies in Maldives. Without her, we would be stuck in the limitless possibilities forever. (Thank you very much Ryan and Janeth!)

Our resort seen from above, hello Medhufushi!!!

We have our expectations and needs in this trip and it would be easier if you have the same list of preferences so that resorts would be narrowed down to your liking. Here’s what we wanted:

a. 1,000 US dollars per person package. That’s the maximum budget we can allot for the resort package which should include food and the basic amenities already.
b. A resort reachable by sea plane. Our friend Ryan suggested we travel by sea plane because it’s a great experience so that’s what we asked for. Most resorts are reachable by speed boats.
c. Over water villa. We wanted to stay in a villa that stands in water, not the ordinary villas/rooms that are located on the beach shore. We know that this choice made our package a bit more expensive but this is the first time we’ll go to Maldives and who knows when the next time is? So we opted for a one-of-a-kind accommodation that gives us access to the waters pronto!
d. 4 days, 3 nights. We wanted to stay for many days but that’s all we can afford. We figured out that 3 days/2 nights is kind of bitin (not enough) and 5 days/4 nights is way out of our budget already so there you go. Just 4 days and 3 nights.
e. 4-star or 5-star resort. With our budget, it might be laughable to dream for such resorts but Janeth and her travel agency made it possible by securing us a place in Medhufushi Island Resort. It was amazing, we tell you! (More on our resort in the next entries.) Be reminded that most of the resorts in Maldives are expensive especially if you’re looking for a great place to stay with all the perks of the islands.

What we envisioned, and what came true. (Over water villa on a low tide, yes!)

TIP: Choose the package with one-of-a-kind services and amenities which can only be found in Maldives. Don’t settle for an experience that reminds you of a resort in other places/countries. Nag-Maldives ka pa?! Sana nag-Boracay ka na lang. (No offense intended but you get what I mean.)

BUDGET for RESORT: USD 1,000 or around SR 4,000 per person

For good packages in Maldives, contact:
Janeth Mollanida
Skorpion Travel Maldives 
T: +960-3327443, +960-3320521
F: +960-3327442
E: info@skorpion-maldives.com
W: http://www.skorpion-maldives.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/SkorpionTravelMaldives/info

4. What Are Needed to Travel (Visas, documents, etc.)
Tourists do not require prior visa to arrive in Maldives. We are granted free 30 days visa upon arrival. Of course, bring your passport (valid 6 months before expiration date) with you. And as usual, for us expats in Saudi Arabia, we need our exit/re-entry visa from here.

You might also want to print every thing from your flight booking to resort accommodations so you can show it to the immigration officers if they ask for it.

Another optional thing that you might want to consider getting is a travel insurance. This is not to terrify you or anything but we learned from our former boss that it’s good to have one, especially when you’re into water sports activities. He recommended WorldNomad.com. This is where Eyecandy and I got our travel insurance for USD 36 each. Of course, it will be better not if we won’t be able to use it and be safe during our stay in Maldives and arrive safely back in Riyadh. Haha! (We did! Woot!)

TIP: Print all your travel documents from your flight booking to travel itineraries, maps, and resort info. Buy insurance if you deem it necessary. Get an exit/re-entry as early as possible especially if you’re traveling on the Eid and Hajj dates because government agencies close early and with the Nitaqat going on, it’s quite tedious to request visas in a hurry.

5. What To Bring
Seriously, my friends and I are all crammers on this trip. We were packing at the last minute! But it’s quite obvious that since we’re going to the beach, we have to bring our swim suits! *cough* We also needed to bring our confidence. Haha! Pack lightweight shirts, skirts, and dresses. Have your scarves and shawls. I am tempted to say denims and jeans are a no-no just because they’re heavy on the luggage.

Bring snacks too. Food in the resorts are expensive and with people like us na takot magutom (afraid of being hungry) on board, we had to stash chips, biscuits, and chocolates in our overweight luggages. But please don’t bring cans and cans of tuna and sausages. Hahah! Or okay fine, just 2-3 de lata.

Bring some money too for expenses that are not part of your resort package. Exchange them for dollars in the banks here in Riyadh already. Or if you can’t or don’t have enough time, the airports (in our case, the DUbai International Airport) also have currency exchange booths.

TIP: Bring sunscreen. Lots of it.

BUDGET for POCKET MONEY: USD 500 or around SR 2,000

I forgot to tell you that Maldives is a Muslim country. Yep, surprise, surprise! Pork and liquor are not allowed in the capital city of Male. Modest dressing is also a must. However, you don’t have to worry about the dress code if you’re not stepping into Male. The Ibrahim Nafir International Airport is located in its own island, 10 minutes away from Male by boat. So chances are, your speed boats and sea planes will immediately whisk you away in your resorts after you landed.

So there you go. As far as my calculations go, budget to our travel to Maldives is racking up to around SR 8,000 per person. Yes, it’s quite expensive… to think that we’re already on a so-called budget. But this was just our package preferences. You can still look for more affordable rates that is not the same as ours. For example, traveling by speed boat to a resort that doesn’t need a sea plane is cheaper. But seriously… you want to miss this?!

The perks of flying on a sea plane.

Also, you can be stingy with your pocket money and not spend too much on the island. It’s all about what you want and what you have to spend. 😉

Our Maldives story continues in our next entry. I’ll tell you why spending that much amount of money in this tropical country is sooo worth it. ~ Sundrenched

Touchdown MALDIVES!!! 

Maldives Outside KSA Travel

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Janelle
Janelle

The Editor-in-Chief speaks 7 languages: Filipino, English, Wit, Sarcasm, Truth, Creativity, and The Pink Tarha.

2 Comments

  1. Cool trip report! Thanks for posting!

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