A mega-useful article for those who want to travel the Maldives on a budget. The article will not contain information about package tours, but it will have everything you need to know about independent travel to Maldives and all about the budget Maldives. After all, these paradise islands are not just for wealthy tourists, you can also fly here in an economical way, you just need to know some pitfalls.

It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Maldives without these websites

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How to have a budget vacation: general points

Our recent trip to the Maldives cost us only $1,100 for the two of us for 12 days, excluding flights. But we all know here where to save and how to save. This article is specifically for those tourists who want to visit the Maldives on a budget but don’t know where to start planning.

If you are willing to spend $5,000 or $10,000 on a vacation and want to stay in a villa on stilts with private pool, then this article is not for you :). For you, the article is available at this link: all-inclusive package tours to the Maldives.

Maldives on a budget
The sea and palm trees on all the islands in the Maldives are the same and free

Good to know:

To have a budget vacation, you need to organize independent travel to Maldives. You buy tickets yourself, choose an island and book accommodation yourself. No package tours. And then, in the article, you will find all the necessary information.

Independent travel to Maldives: what you need to know about budget vacation in the Maldives

And now let’s go: below is all the information that will help you go to the Maldives independently and on budget, the main thing is your desire.

Cheap tickets to Maldives

Flight. A direct flight is great, but often there are excellent prices for connecting flights. There are two main rules to follow in order to buy cheap tickets:

  • The earlier you buy them before the departure date, the lower the price. In package tours, there is a concept of a “last minute deal”, but in air travel, prices only go up closer to the date. You won’t find cheap tickets two days before the flight.
  • And the wider your vacation window, the easier it is to find cheap tickets.

Sometimes tourists ask me to help them find cheap tickets. When I ask when they want to fly, they say only on November 17th there and only on November 27th back. Not a day earlier, not a day later. I can’t help such tourists, and no one else can. Ideally, you should have a flight window of 2-3 months, and you can negotiate your vacation time after buying tickets.

It is important to know:

All international flights arrive in the Maldives’ capital city of Male. It doesn’t matter if you have a million-dollar package tour or an economy class ticket from a low-cost carrier.
  • The linked article provides detailed information on how to get to the Maldives, ticket prices, how to plan your route, and which cities have cheap tickets available.

Here’s an example: Wizzair (a well-known low-cost carrier) has launched a flight from Abu Dhabi (UAE) to Male. Prices start from $50. And it’s easy to get to Abu Dhabi from any city in Europe. In addition, low-cost carrier AirAsia flies to Male from Kuala Lumpur, and ticket prices are affordable. Knowing this information can save you a lot of money.

Independent travel to Maldives
On almost any local island, the water and views are like a picture-perfect postcard. And you too can have such photos.

Budget accommodation and where to go for a budget vacation in the Maldives

You got there cheaply, but that’s not all. The Maldives is an island nation consisting of over 1000 islands. There are some great islands, but they are 500 km from Male, and getting there will cost you as much as another flight from Paris, and I’m not exaggerating.

Here are the main things that will save you a lot of money:

  • Choose islands that are up to 70km from Male. You can get to these islands by ferry for $3-4.
  • Choose only local islands, not resort islands. You can find out how they differ and the best island ratings in the article: all about resorts and local islands.


You may find a local island where accommodation is cheap, but it’s, say, 400 km from Male. You will have to buy tickets for a domestic flight and then find a ferry or speedboat from the local airport. In total, you will spend another day and $300-400 on travel from Male to your island, and sometimes even $700-900 one way.

Choose islands closer to the capital!

  • Here is a list of the best local islands near Male: Ukulhas, Thoddoo, Rasdhoo, Dighura, Fulhadhoo.
  • And here is a list of the worst local islands near Male that you should avoid, even though they are cheap and close: Gulhi, Maafushi, Guraidhoo, and the entire Kaafu Atoll. Read about atolls and where the best places to stay are at this link.
budget maldives
The room rates at all budget hotels and guesthouses are quite reasonable. A standard room costs $40-50 per day. There is air conditioning and a refrigerator.

It is important to know:

Everything is cheaper on local islands: meal in restaurants, excursions, and souvenirs. And the beach, ocean, and snorkeling are free everywhere. And the pleasant thing about the Maldives is that breakfast is included in the room rate almost everywhere, even in budget hotels.

Where and how to book budget accommodation in the Maldives and what you need to know: the features of the rooms.

Tips for budget travelers that will help you save money

Above, we provided the main information about tickets and island selection, which will save you a lot of money. However, there are more tips that are not obvious and need to be known even before buying plane tickets:

  • The best is to find tickets for flights that arrive in the Maldives before noon and depart after noon. Ferries and hydroplanes do not run between the islands at night. If you arrive in Male after 4 p.m., consider yourself guaranteed an expensive overnight stay here. You cannot leave the capital before early morning. The same goes for departure: an early departure from Male means you need to sail to the capital in the evening.
    • Everything about transportation in the Maldives: how tourists can move between the islands and how much it costs. Spoiler alert: from very cheap to very expensive.
  • Friday is a day off in the Maldives. Nothing works, not even ferries between the islands. It is strongly not recommended to buy tickets for Friday, this applies to both arrivals and departures.
    • The worst-case scenario is arriving in Male on a Thursday evening flight. There is a high chance of getting stuck there until Saturday. Exception: Speedboats to Guraidhoo operate almost daily at 10 PM, costing $40 one way.
budget holidays in the maldives
In the Maldives on a budget: traveling by ferry between islands (top photo) costs a couple of bucks, while the same route by seaplane costs from $150.

These are the main points that will affect your budget. Buying the right plane tickets, choosing the right local island, and that’s 90% of the success in organizing an economical vacation.


Sometimes it is better to pay an extra $50-100 for tickets, but to have convenient flight times for the ferry to your island. Evening flights create many transportation problems, which means extra expenses and a loss of vacation days. It is better to spend an extra day on the beach than in Male.

This article only provided advice about independent travel to Maldives and on a budget, but did not include prices. However, you will find out how much the Maldives cost for two, the prices for restaurants, hotels, and other expenses in the article: how much the Maldives travel cost. There will be specific numbers and expenditure articles.

In conclusion: flying to the Maldives independently and on a budget is not as difficult as it seems. Yes, buying a ready-made tour is much easier, but it is five times more expensive than organizing everything yourself. If you want to relax in the Maldives and not spend a lot of money, then you need to spend more time planning your trip. And then the vacation will be no worse than on resort islands, and maybe even better.

Wishing you a budget vacation in the Maldives!

If you enjoyed the article and the content in this guide, you can buy me a coffee ^_^

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to the Maldives

  • Flight tickets and the best deals
  • Tour packages (from budget to luxury): Expedia
  • Hotels and guesthouses on any island:
    • Hotellook compares prices among a dozen other services and platforms and offers to choose the best one.
    • Booking – the most popular service for booking accommodation.
    • Agoda – the main competitor of Booking.
  • 12go is the largest Asian transfer service. It gathers all Maldivian carriers, even the small ones that operate between local islands.
  • Tours and excursions: Viator – a limited selection of excursions, but convenient and reliable.
  • Comprehensive insurance: EKTA
  • eSIM at the same price as in telecom office in Male.