Know Maldives

Adjusting to local conditions

It would be best to remember that this is not the west, and not to expect a rapid service when checking into hotels, ordering food, paying bills etc. Customers are advised to calculate some extra time to compensate for delays, as it would in the long term make your holiday more enjoyable. Your interaction with Maldivians will probably be limited to the resort /s you stay and at the airport, unless you decide to visit Malé – the capital. The Republic of Maldives is a moderate Islamic State. Hence, please remember that drugs, pornography and idol worshiping is not permitted. Being an Islamic state, alcohol is served only in resort islands.

Airport

It may take anything up to 90 minutes between your arrival at the airport located in the Hulhule Island, and departure to your resort by way of sea plane or speed boat. Maldives is a nation of islands where each resort is an island. Tourists are granted a 30 day visitor’s visa on arrival. An Information Counter operated by the Ministry of Tourism is available at the airport for any additional information you might wish to obtain. Please avoid having alcohol, drugs, pornography and idols of worship in your possession when arriving in the Maldives as they are strictly prohibited. It would be useful to remember to select a return flight departing before 1900 hrs as sea planes do not operate after 1800 hrs due to poor visibility. In case of a late evening departure, a half day city tour might be a good way to avoid a long wait at the airport.

Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol is permitted in resorts only and not in the capital Malé nor in islands which are not resorts. Maldives has a very strict anti-drugs policy

Arrival & Transfers

Your first glimpse of the Maldives is a stunning experience with the spectacular aerial view of the tiny islands, the lagoons with shades of turquoise colours of the sea. The word island takes its full meaning in the Maldives. Ibrahim Nasir international Airport (former: Male’ international airport) is on an island all by itself.

Upon clearing immigration, you pick up your luggage at the carousel and head towards the customs clearance where your luggage will be electronically screened.

As you walk out to the arrival point, a representative of your hotel will normally welcome you and brief you about your transfer to the resort/hotel or cruising vessel. Transfers are usually by speed boat or sea plane depending on the distance to the resort. In most cases there is immediate transfer to the destined resort. However, if your arrival is very late in the night you might have to stay in Male’ for the night.

Clothing

Please use creams, hats and sunglasses; as it is in the tropics, please drink plenty of bottled water against dehydration; remain indoors during thunderstorms. Beachwear and bikinis are acceptable in tourist resorts. However, please be sensitive to local customs and wear long, loose and light clothing when visiting the capital Malé and any remote islands. Do not attempt to wear beachwear and bikinis in the capital Malé

Communications

IDD facilities are available in all resort islands. Mobile phones do work in all resort islands. The main mobile service provider is a company named Watanya. Internet access is found in most resort hotels, though speed can be slow. The international country code is +960.

Customs & Culture

Maldivians are a very friendly and hospitable people. Nevertheless, special care needs to be taken to avoid religious offence. We recommend that you read one or more of the reputed Destination Guides available in abundance in the market and familiarise yourself of local customs and culture. Pace of life in the Maldives differ from the west and friendliness, courtesy and patience are some of the qualities appreciated by locals. This of course sometimes could result in slower pace of service delivery.

Domestic Travel

Travel within Maldives is undertaken with sea plane, speed boat and Dhoni (traditional Maldivian boat). Sea Plane is the fasted mode of transport but do not operate between 6 pm and 6 am. The two main operators are Trans Maldivian Airways and Maldivian Air Taxi. Island resorts generally have their own boats and Dhonis for excursions. Please insist on safety during your travel inside Maldives at all times.

Emergency Telephone Numbers

Fire: 118
Police: 119

Entertainment

All island resorts have their own bars, restaurants, water sports facilities, health clubs and spas. Most resort hotels arrange traditional Maldivian folk music and dance performances. A visit to the capital Malé is recommended for traditional entertainment, shopping for souvenirs and genuine local cuisine.

Entry Visa and Travel Permits

Visitors entering the Maldives to stay at any one of the island resorts are granted visa on arrival for 30 days. This Entry Visa does permit you to visit inhabited islands which are not resort islands but you must ensure that you depart before sun down. In case you wish to stay in one such island, you require an Inter-Atoll Travel Permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Maldivian government located in Malé. You will require a local sponsor (a Maldivian national or a Maldivian owned company) to guarantee for you and take responsibility for you. Maldivians living in inhabited islands are legally not permitted to accept payment for providing accommodation.

Environmental Responsibility

Due to the unique nature of the Maldives which consist of a large number of small islands, many things which are taken for granted in most other parts of the world are very dear in the Maldives. Please take care to conserve such items. Some of the most important items are listed below.

Water
Resort hotels have to operate their own desalination plants for their needs. Therefore, please be mindful of the need to conserve water and contribute to their efforts by adopting a few simple measures such as taking a shower instead of a bath, request your towels and bed room linen to be changed every second or third day instead on a daily basis

Bottled water is used for drinking purposes.

Electricity
Resort hotels are totally dependent on generator power. Therefore remember to switch off your lights, TV and air-conditioner before leaving the room

Waste Pollution
Help to keep Maldives clean by being mindful of how you dispose items such as plastic bottles, plastic bags etc.

Food & Drink

Maldivian food is a mix of Indian, Sri Lankan and Arabic flavours. Their food could be quite spicy. Fish is the most popular and Tuna is the most commonly used. If you wish to sample authentic Maldivian food, it is best done in the capital Malé where a choice of cafes is available. Resort Hotels serve a variety of western food in their daily food buffets.

Free Baggage Allowance (FBA)

Please check your FBA entitlement on your eticket and plan your purchases. Some carriers permit 30 kgs + one hand baggage in Economy Class and 40 kgs + two hand bag gages in Business Class. Others permit 20 kgs + one hand baggage in Economy Class and 30 kgs + two hand bag gages in Business Class. Additional payment could be levied in case of exceeding FBA or baggage left behind in the event of non-payment.

Health Precautions

Majority of Resort hotels have their own in-house doctor. In case of serious illness, they will assist you with assistance in obtaining medical attention. The capital Malé has the largest government hospital named Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital. The largest private hospital – ADK Hospital is also located in Malé. We recommend that customers who require a daily dose of medications should carry adequate stock to last during the entire vacation as your regular type of medications may not be available at your destination. It would also be to your advantage to take with you; sun cream / lotion, antiseptic cream, a hat, sunglasses and body-salt replenishment tablets. Some tables against diarrhoea such as Immodium or similar could become useful.

Language & Religion

Maldives is an Islamic state and are Sunni Muslims. Whilst Dhivehi is their national language, English is spoken by most Maldivians. Most resort hotels have staff who can converse in foreign languages i.e. French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese to name a few.

Location & Climate

Maldives is located 700 km south west of Sri Lanka and 400 km south west of India on the Equator and comprise of 1,190 small islands grouped into 26 atolls and spread out over an area of about 90,000 sq km. Around 1% accounts for land surface and around 99% the Indian Ocean waters. Maldives has a warm and humid tropical climate throughout the year. The temperature usually varies between 26 C and 32 C. There are two monsoons – North East monsoon from December – April with minimal rain fall and calm seas which is also the tourist season and the South West Monsoon from May – November with more rainfall and rough seas. The temperature in December is mild whereas February to April could be hot and humid.

Maldivian Representations

High Commission of the Republic of Maldives in the UK and Northern Ireland, 22 Nottingham Place,
London W1U 5NJ. Telephone: +44 207 224 2135. website: www.maldiveshighcommission.org

Money & Credit Cards

Maldivian currency consists of the Maldivian Rufiyaa and Laari. The currency abbreviation is MVR and 100 Laari is equal to one Rufiyaa.

• 1 GBP = 24.23 MVR
• 1 EUR = 20.74 MVR
• 1 US $ = 15.40 MVR

Please check on-line for the latest rates of exchange

We recommend that you en-cash your traveller’s cheques / cash into MVR on arrival from the bank available at the airport. An ATM is also available in the arrival hall at the airport as well as several more in the capital Malé. All major credit cards are accepted at resort hotels. Most resort hotels provide safety deposit box facilities and you are advised to avail yourself of one if provided

Photography

Extreme caution need to be used when taking photographs. Please avoid anything that can be considered of ‘strategic’ or military importance at all times. It is best not to attempt to photograph places of religious worship as it could easily cause offence. If necessary, please ask and seek permission before taking any photographs. It is not recommended that you pay for the right to take photographs. Also, bear in mind that a tip may be expected by locals who pause for photographs and sharing some of the photos with them would earn you goodwill with those involved.

Population

Maldives has a population of around 300,000 persons. It is one of the smallest nations in Asia. It is estimated that around 100,000 live in the capital Malé and the remaining mostly in Fuamulah and Kulhudhufushi islands in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, and in a few of the 200 other inhabited islands.

Religion

Maldives is a 100 percent moderate Islamic state. However, the resort islands are very relaxed beach wear and casual dress is the norm. When visiting the capital – Male’ or other local islands, visitors should adopt a more modest form of dress and ensure that shoulders and thighs at-least are covered.

Restricted items to import

• religious material offensive to Islam
• idols ( for worship )
• pornographic material
• narcotics and psychotropic substance & alcohol
• live pigs

are some of the items and may carry severe penalties

Security

Most hotels in the Maldives provide safety lockers for their guests and this facility is generally free of charge. We recommend that you make use of this facility and secure your money, traveller’s cheques, credit cards, passports and valuables

Time Zone

Winter time: GMT + 6.00 hrs
Summer time: GMT + 5.00 hrs

Tipping

A 10% is added to your hotel and restaurant bills at most hotels. Nevertheless, it is in order to leave a small tip for your service staff if you feel that you have been served well. Also, remember to give a small tip if you use a porter at the airport, and to the Boatman after airport transfers and excursions. A tip can range from USD 1 to USD 2 or it’s equivalent.

Voltage / Power Sockets

Voltage in the Maldives is 220 – 230 Volts. Majority of power sockets are triple round pin. European double pin plugs can be used. An adaptor will be required for British, Australian and American plugs. We recommend that you carry an universal adaptor which will prepare you for any eventuality.

Workweek

As in most Islamic countries, Maldives too follow a work week from Sunday to Thursday. Government offices work from 0730 hrs to 1430 hrs, whereas the private sector works from 0900 hrs to 1700 hrs from Sunday till Thursday. Most private sector establishments work half day on Saturdays as well. Banks operate from 0800 hrs to 1330 hrs from Sunday to Thursday.

Going through our 'Know Maldives', FAQ and Reservation Conditions pages will be advantages to you and will keep you better informed on country, hotels, reservation procedures and much more...

01 January 2012