Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Maafushi is one of the most popular public islands in Maldives where tourists can visit and enjoy the beach life. It is located in Kaafu Atoll in the Province of Medhu Uthuru. The island has a thriving local economy mostly brought about by the rise of tourism activities in the island. Here's a list of cheap places to stay in Maafushi Island.

Equator Beach Inn at Maafushi
Equator Beach Inn is by far one of the cheapest places to stay in Maafushi with an excellent rating on both Agoda and Booking.com. As a traveler, I always look at hotel ratings from other guests so I have an idea what to expect. Unfortunately, the guest house was overbooked so I was transferred to a nearby hotel which is less than 50 steps away. Check rates and availability.

Beachwood Hotel &Spa Maafushi
This is where I was transferred and I had a great time here. Not the cheapest but it is still affordable. They offer buffet breakfast and a good view of the island. They also have an indoor pool where you can have fun. Check rates and availability.

Velana Beach Maldives Maafushi
One of the most popular accommodations in the island is Velana. Good place to stay especially when you are sharing a room with a friend or family. This is closer to the nice beaches of Maafushi. Check rates and availability.

Kaani Village & Spa at Maafushi
Kaani is another popular accommodation in Maafushi Island. It is also located near the nice beaches of Maafushi and it has a pool, too. Check rates and availability.

Sun Tan Beach Hotel at Maafushi
If you want an accommodation near the ferry / speedboat terminal, then Sun Tan Beach Hotel is the perfect place for you. They are situated near the port and is close to the nice beaches of Maafushi. Check rates and availability.

See? You don't have to spend a lot to visit Maldives. You can enjoy the island while traveling on a budget. :)

This blog post is part of our comprehensive BACKPACKING IN MALDIVES TRAVEL GUIDE. This will help you explore Maldives on a budget. If you are looking for a luxurious vacation in Maldives, you can read our LUXURY HOLIDAY : MALDIVES TRAVEL GUIDE.

Here's the itinerary and expenses of our latest escapade to Maldives - the Sunny Side of Life! The trip was both backpacking and luxury travel. The first two nights were spent in the mainland and public island and the last two nights were spent in a luxurious beach resort. So, this will work for those who are looking for a budget Maldives holiday or a dream luxury vacation. 

I came all the way from Davao City, Philippines so I had to go to Manila to take a plane to Male, Maldives via Singapore. I took FlyScoot but you can also take AirAsia flights to Male from Kuala Lumpur. Other airlines also fly direct to Male, Maldives like Cathay Pacific, Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways, Saudi Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines, Qatar Airways, China Southern Airlines, Air France and a lot more.

Day 0: November 28, 2017
Depart from Davao to Manila via Cebu Pacific 
Air Ticket Cost: Php2,308.00 with 15kg baggage allowance
Lunch at Ka Tunying's: Php375.00
Bus from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1: Php20.00
Travel Tax: Php1,620.00
Air Ticket Cost: Manila to Male FlyScoot via Singapore with 20kg BA Php11,268
Dinner: Php200.00

Day 1: November 29, 2017
I arrived in Singapore at around 1am and my connecting flight to Male was at 7pm. I had a long layover so I explored Changi Ariport and also availed of the FREE Singapore Tour.
Breakfast: SGD5.00 (Php185.00)
Lunch: SGD5.50 (Php204.00)
Dinner: Php300.00
Bus from Male Airport to Hulhumale: MVR20.00 (Php65.00)
Accommodation at UI Inn booked via Agoda: USD42.00 (Php2,100)

Hulhumale Beach

Day 3: November 30, 2017
Breakfast is complimentary at the Inn
Bus from Hulhumale back to Airport: MVR20.00 (Php65.00)
Speedboat from Airport to Maafushi Island: USD25.00 (Php1,250.00)
Lunch: MVR116.00 (Php377.00)
Water: MVR3.00 (Php9.75)
Dinner: MVR83 (Php266.00)
Accommodation: Equator Beach Inn Php2,500 booked via Agoda
*Equator Beach Inn was fully booked so I was transferred to the nearby Beachwood Hotel
*If you are on a limited budget and wants a cheaper way to go to Maafushi, you can read: How to get to Maafushi.
*There was a tropical depression when I went to Maafushi so there was no island hopping and other activities.

Maafushi Public Island

Day 4: December 1, 2017
Breakfast is complimentary at the hotel
Speedboat back to Male Airport: USD25.00 (Php1,250.00)
Lunch and Snacks: Free at the Anantara Kihavah Sea Plane Lounge
Shared Seaplane: USD25.00 (Php1,250.00)
Anantara Kihavah Over Water Pool Villa USD660 divided by 3 / USD220.00 each (Php11,000.00)
Dinner: Free
*The original cost of the sea plane is USD571 and the Over Water Pool Villa is USD1,850 but we have a friend who has a friend who works at Anantara Kihavah so we got a huge discount!
*There was a low pressure area during our trip so our seaplane was cancelled and we took the domestic flight to a nearby public island and then took a speedboat to the resort. We arrived past 12 midnight in the resort instead of around 2pm so we were given complimentary dinner.
*Check rates and book at Anantara Kihavah Villas

Day 4: December 2, 2017
Anantara Kihavah Over Water Pool Villa USD660 divided by 3 / USD220.00 each (Php11,000.00)
Breakfast is complimentary at the resort
Cocktail: USD100.00 (Php5,000.00)
Dinner: Free by my friend Coco who was celebrating her birthday. She paid around USD140.00 at Salt Restaurant.
*We were so full from the breakfast so we did not take lunch. Instead, we had a cocktail at the Sea Underwater Restaurant.
*Again the Over Water Pool Villa rate is discounted from USD1,850.00 to only USD60.00

Day 5: December 3, 2017
Breakfast is complimentary at the resort
Lunch: USD30.00 (Php1,500.00)
Shared Seaplane: USD25.00 (Php1,250.00)
Dinner: Free by my friend Jetren. We ate at Sala Thai Restaurant in Male.
Plane Ticket from Male to Colombo, Sri Lanka via China Southern Airline Php8,500
*Again the shared sea plane rate is discounted from USD571.00 to USD25.00

If you are on a budget travel, I still highly suggest to spend a night or at least have a day tour at a private island resort. You will not feel the Maldives vibe if you only explore the mainland and the public islands. There are cheaper resorts you can spend a night like Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, Velassaru Maldives, Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa, Kurumba Maldies and a lot more.

Some resorts like Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa allow day tours, you can check with your hotel in Male, Hulhumale or Maafushi - they usually offer package tours to private island resorts for a little over USD100.00. iCom Tours in Maafushi Island offers a day tour to Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa for USD120.00 (Php6,000.00).

If you have a budget, I highly recommend staying at Anantara Kihavah Villas. You'll surely have a relaxing and unforgettable holiday.

This blog post is part of our comprehensive MALDIVES TRAVEL GUIDE. This will help you explore Maldives on a budget. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Perhaps, one of the world’s most beautiful countries you can explore is France. The elegance of scenery and fantastic structures you will see here including cathedrals, castles, and villages are centuries old. You will also be stunned by the views of the boulevards in Paris, Palace of Versailles, and the Eiffel Tower among others. So if you are planning to visit France next year, be sure to check out this list of the country’s top 10 tourist attractions. Make sure you plan your vacation in advance and book a luxurious villa in France for a chic and epic trip.

Eiffel Tower | Photo by : Tommie Hansen

1. Palace of Versailles. When you say France tour, what is the very first thing that comes to your mind? The Eiffel Tower? If not, I’m betting you are thinking of the Palace of Versailles. Yes, this is one of the most stunning scenery you will witness during your trip to France. The grandeur and luxurious appeal of this building is simply breathtaking. It’s like you’ve been taken to a world of fantasy where princes and princesses are found. Also, you will be amazed by the fabulous pieces of furniture, antiques, and artworks found inside.

Palace of Versailles | Photo by: Guillaume Speurt

2. Louvre Museum. In the French Kings’ old royal palace, the Louvre serves as a matchless museum that is included in the best European collections in terms of fine arts. You will find the most popular works during the Western Civilization such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as well as Veronese’s Wedding Feast at Cana. The collection is made possible through the wealth of kings that lived at Louvre. In fact, there are more than 30,000 masterpieces that you can find at the famous Louvre Museum.

Louvre Museum | Photo by: Jeremy Brooks

3. Mont Saint-Michel. Another unbeatable backdrop found in France is the ever-beautiful Mont Saint-Michel. It’s a medieval town located atop Normandy’s bouldery outcrop. It is currently one of the best tourist attractions in the country due to its remarkable Romanesque Abbey, a medieval church with historic battlements. However, if you are going to visit here, expect the challenging, steep climb experience that you will have to endure before you can reach Mont Saint-Michel.

Mont Saint-Michel | Photo by Miquel Fabre

4. Cote d’Azur. In France, Cote d’Azur is the most glamorous coastline you will ever see. In English translation, it means Coast of Blue because of the Mediterranean Sea’s attractive deep blue reflection. Locals call it the French Riviera which extends to Menton from Saint-Tropez near Italy’s borderline. Every summer season, the coastline resorts are fully booked with rich and famous people staying in their luxury villas and yachts. The Nice town offers picturesque views of the sea and the art museums.

Cote d’Azur | Photo by: Tim Chen

5. WW1 Battlefields. It may seem a somber memory of the World War 1, but these battlefields are one of the most visited tourists spots in France. The trenches you will see at the Somme and the solemn memorials and cemeteries are indeed captivating. The story being told by the WW1 Battlefields may be a sad memory by the place remains a beautiful reminder of the history that will never be forgotten.

Ulster Tower, Somme Battlefields | Photo by: Rob

6. Loire Valley Chateux. Seeing the Loire Valley will make you feel like you’re in an actual fairy tale. The enchanting views of the woodlands as well as the river valleys truly represent a magical side of France. The castles are mesmerizing with turreted towers and moats. The lush area is even popular as the Garden of France that is among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You will also witness medieval fortresses on hilltops with surrounding ramparts. However, the world-famous Loire chateaux are opulent Renaissance castles which were built and structured for entertainment. For instance, the Chateau de Chambord that was constructed for King Francis, is the greatest and most magnificent chateau you will see in Loire Valley.

Château de Chambord | Photo by: Bert Kaufmann

7. Nimes Arena. The Nimes Arena may not be a regular entry in the top tourist destinations in France, but it deserves attention from local and foreign visitors. When you look at it, you will hint a well-preserved Roman structure. The amphitheater is even better than the Colosseum of Rome. In addition, this tourist site will give you a feel of what it’s like to be a spectator just like the Romans before. The interactive audio guide as well as the detailed exhibits are truly a great experience to have in France.

Nimes Arena | Photo by: Wolfgang Staudt

8. Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Chartres. For over 8 centuries, the splendor of the Notre-Dame Cathedral remains inspiring for France. This breathtaking UNESCO-listed Chartres resembles the medieval Gothic architecture’s glory. With 2,500square meters covering the entire Chartres, the stained-glass large windows allow light inside in colorful ethereal reflections. Each window dates from 13th century reveals incredible craftsmanship that depicts biblical stories. But the most noteworthy feature you will find inside is the rose windows which are made in incredible sizes and details. Other interesting highlights are the Blue Virgin and Passion windows.

Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Chartres | Photo by: Elliott Brown

9. Pont du Gard. Sometimes, it’s easier to forget the role played by France during the Roman Empire. For instance, one can neglect the Roman heritage of France which is a major tourist attraction in the country. It’s a shame to experience this, but France is rich in picturesque Roman sites that the world has ever witnessed. Pont du Gard is only one of the best highlights of a France tour. So if you are planning to visit the country this year, don’t miss out the striking beauty of this iconic bridge built in the ancient times. The aqueduct is truly a spectacular view to see in this area.

Pont du Gard | Photo by: Paul Gagnon

10. The Eiffel Tower. It’s no secret that the symbol of the city of light, Paris, is the world renowned Eiffel Tower. And across the globe, it’s an iconic landmark that almost all people know about. With 8,000 metallic parts designed as temporary exhibit by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World Fair, it became a reputable structure that France is very much proud of. Others’ bucket list includes the Eiffel Tower and they aim to see it in person before they die. So if you luckily visit France, one of your dreams may have come true upon witnessing the unique beauty of this tower.

The Eiffel Tower | Photo by: Andrew Watson

Friday, December 1, 2017

Maafushi Island is one of the most visited public islands in Maldives. The island is known for its white sand beaches and snorkeling and diving sites. It is accessible by public ferry or speedboat  from Male or by speedboat straight from Velana International Airport  (Male Airport).

Option 1 : Airport-Male and Male Maafushi via Ferry

The cheapest way to go to Maafushi Island is by taking a public ferry from Male. From the airport, you will need to take a ferry for US$1 or by a sped boat for US$2 going to Male.Travel time is 10 minutes and 5 minutes respectively.

After arriving in Male Island, you will need to take a taxi to the jetty port for the Maafushi Ferry. The taxi ride costs around MVR25 or roughly around US$2. The travel time is approximately 10 minutes. From the port, you can take the public ferry to Maafushi island. Travel time is around 90 minutes and fare is only about US$3 per person. There is no online booking available so you must go to the ferry terminal early to secure a ticket.

Below is the ferry schedule from Male to Maafushi Island:

Monday, Wednesday & Saturday : Once a day ferry service at 3pm
Tuesday, Thursday & Sunday : Twice a day ferry service at 10am and 3pm
Friday : No Ferry trip

Ferry schedule from Maafushi Island to Male
Monday, Wednesday & Saturday : Twice a day ferry service at 7:30am and 12:30pm
Tuesday, Thursday & Sunday : Once a day ferry service at 7:30am
Friday : No Ferry trip

Option 2 : Male Airport Direct to Maafushi Island by Speedboat

The most convenient way to go to Maafushi Island is by taking a speedboat direct from Male Airport to the Maafushi Island. The travel time is only about 45 minutes and the fare is a US$25. There are multiple trips a day and you just have to ask around when you arrive at the airport. If you want to reserve a seat, you can book at www.icomtours.com. I a booked my Maafushi-Male Airport in advance because it's a Friday and I don't want to miss the earliest trip back to Male. As for my Male-Maafushi ticket, I just went to the airport and asked around.

This blog post is part of our comprehensive BACKPACKING IN MALDIVES TRAVEL GUIDE. This will help you explore Maldives on a budget. If you are looking for a luxurious vacation in Maldives, you can read our LUXURY HOLIDAY : MALDIVES TRAVEL GUIDE.

Maldives is known for its luxurious and extravagant resorts that most people think it is only for the affluent travelers. This is not entirely true. You can actually explore and enjoy Maldives on a budget. You just have to plan your travel in advance for to get a cheap ticket and affordable hotel. If you are looking into splurging in Maldives, you can refer to our LUXURY TRAVEL : MALDIVES TRAVEL GUIDE.

Getting to Maldives
Finding a cheap ticket to Maldives can be a little tricky but Fly Scoot and AirAsia have promos from time to time which offer cheap fares from Manila to Male, Maldives, transiting in Singapore and Malaysia respectively. You can also use Skyscanner to book your ticket.

From Male Airport, you can go to Hulhumale by bus for US$1.25 or to Male City by ferry for US$1.

If you are traveling with US$ currency, you only need to exchange a little amount to convert to the local Maldivian Rufiya as most establishments (except the bus service) accept US dollar.

When is the best time to Visit Maldives?
Maldives is an all-year round destination but the best time to visit is during summer season for a sunny escapade. 

ACCOMMODATION : Where to Stay in Maldives on a budget

RESTAURANTS : What and Where to Eat in Maldives
  • Must-Try Food and Restaurants in Maafushi Island
  • Where to Eat in Male?

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS : What to Do and See in 

TRAVEL ITINERARY : How to Maximize your Stay in Maldives

We hope that you find this BACKPACKING MALDIVES TRAVEL GUIDE useful! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.