Travel guide to Maldives

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The Maldives is comprised of some 1190 islands - all scattered across the Indian Ocean - forming 26 naturally ring-shaped coral islands. The islands unsurprisingly offer lots of sand, water and sun. But beneath this surface the islands also possess some fascinating cultural traditions as well as an ancient lineage of kings and queens.

Facts

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Local name
Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
Capital
Malé (62,973)
Size
298 square kilometres
Principal Languages
Dhivehi
Principal Religion
Islam
Inhabitants
263,189 (1997)
Government
Republic
Geography
The Maldives are situated 500 kilometres south-west of the southern part of India. The country consists of 1190 lowland coral islands of which only 200 are inhabited. Most islands are covered by tropical vegetation and palm trees. All islands are surrounded by colourful coral reefs.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

The most ideal time to visit the Maldives in relation to the weather is from December to April, when it's very sunny and mostly dry. However, there is no actual peak season and it can be packed with tourists. You can also visit the islands between May and November; it is still hot but a bit more cloudy and humidity is higher.

Literature

Lonely Planet Maldives Dive Maldives, A Guide to the Maldives Archipelago

Local conditions

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Currency

Rufiya (Rf)

Net cafes

There are internet cafés in Malé, the capital, just as it is possible to get on the net at most tourist resorts.

In case of emergency

For emergency calls in the Maldives dial: Police (119) Ambulance (102) Fire Department (118).

Tipping

Officially you do not tip - but unofficially you often will if the service is good. Some restaurants add a 10 per cent service charge to the bill.

Timezone

When it is 12 noon in the UK (summer time), it is 4 pm in the Maldives. When it is 12 noon in the UK (winter time), it is 5 pm in the Maldives.

Weight and Measures

In the Maldives they use the following weights and measure: weight: kilo Distance: metric system

Photography

There are no particular rules of photography. You have to be careful, however, if you want to photograph people or places of religious interest.

Drinking water

At the tourist resorts tap-water is usually drinkable. In other areas all water used for ice cubes, drinking and brushing your teeth should be boiled before used.

Electricity

In the Maldives they use the following power source: 220-40V, 50 Hz

Behaviour

The majority of the population is Muslim, for which reason you should dress so that all of your body is covered. This applies in particular to places of religious interest.

Business Hours

Shops are open from 8.30 am to 11 pm (Saturday - Thursday) and from 1.30 pm to 11 pm (Fridays). Office hours are from 7.30 am to 2.30 pm (Sunday-Thursday), closed Fridays and Saturdays. Banks are open from 8 am to 1.30 pm (Sunday-Thursday)

Food and drink

Rice and fish are the main ingredients in most meals in the Maldives. On certain occasions animal flesh will accompany these ingredients. There are a few local restaurants in Malé, otherwise it is international cuisine that dominates. Everything is imported except for the seafood. With regard to beverages there are many variations both with and without alcohol. Only a few local drinks are available - most are imported.

Disabled travellers

At some tourist resorts the conditions for disabled people are reasonable. It is possible to get around in a wheelchair and often the staff are ready to help. It is wise, however, to check which of the resorts have the best facilities before you go.

Holidays

New Years Day, 1 January Independence Day, 26 July Independence Day celebrations, 27 July Victory Day, 3 November Republic Day, 11 November Republic Day Celebrations, 12 November

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

There are no camping sites in the Maldives.

Hotels

There are three hotels in Malé and one on Gan. Otherwise people stay at hotels at the tourist resorts. Here you'll find everything from very luxurious hotels to moderate comfortable hotels.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

There are about 23 guesthouses on Malé, but there are no self-catering guesthouses or similar accommodation at the resorts. It is prohibited to rent a private room on the islands.

Hostels

There are no hostels on the islands.

Other Accommodation

The more than 70 tourist resorts vary from extreme luxury to common standard. Most overnight accommodation is either in huts or hotel rooms. A few islands have more than one tourist resort, but usually a resort covers a whole island.

Local transport

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Planes

Flights leave from Malé to three other islands. It is also possible to rent a helicopter or a hydroplane and fly to some of the islands in the area.

Bus

There are no buses on the islands.

Trains

There is no railway in the Maldives.

Taxi

There are a few taxis in Malé. It is easiest to order one at your hotel.

Car rental

At present there are no car rental companies in the Maldives.

Boat or Ferry

Quite a few boats sail between the islands, of which the most common boat is a dhoni, a vessel powered by a diesel engine. Many tourist resorts also offer a speedboat as a means of transportation. It is faster than a dhoni, but also somewhat more expensive.

Other Transport

The islands are so small that it usually doesn't take more than an hour to walk from one end to the other, so in reality your legs will be the most ideal means of transportation on the respective islands.

Special conditions

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You should be aware that it is not permitted to visit all islands when you go to the Maldives. Quite a few islands require a special permit, which you can apply for when you're in the country, but you are very likely to get a rejection. The government likes tourists to stay at the tourist resorts.

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