Maldives

The Maldives boasts a hot tropical climate. There are two monsoons, the southwest from May to October and the northeast from November to April. Generally the southwest brings more wind and rain in June and July. The temperature rarely falls below 25°C (77°F).

Lightweight cotton and linen clothing is appropriate throughout the year. Light waterproof clothing is advised during the rainy season.

231 volts AC, 50Hz. Round-pin plugs are used, although square-pin plugs are now becoming more common.

Malé, the capital, has a few good restaurants that serve local and international food. On resort islands, there are usually between 1 - 10 restaurants depending on the resort's size. Note that all restaurants on resort islands are run by the resort - there is no access to private enterprise. Cuisine is international, with all food other than seafood imported. There are no bars, except in the resorts, where there is a good range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available, often at extremely high prices.

All bars are situated on resort islands (no alcohol is available on Malé, though it is available on the nearby airport island). Locals do not drink at all.

National specialties include seafood such as tuna, grouper, octopus, jobfish and swordfish, and kavaabu (deep-fried snacks made from rice, tuna, coconut, lentils and spices). Curries, such as chicken or beef, are widely available and curry leaves are added to a lot of Maldivian dishes. National drinks include sai (tea; a Maldivian favourite) and raa (toddy tapped from palm trees, sometimes left to ferment and thus slightly alcoholic - the closest any Maldivian gets to alcohol).

Service charges are invariably added onto all chargeable services in resorts. Extra tipping is not expected, though cash tips (USD 1 per bag) for porters is appreciated.

There are two hospitals on Malé, the Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital and the ADK private hospital. First aid facilities are available on all resort islands. A decompression chamber is accessible in Malé in case of diving emergencies. Medical treatment in the Maldives can be very expensive and comprehensive health insurance is recommended.

The national language is Dhivehi. English is widely used as a business language in government offices and the commercial sector. Other languages are also widely used within tourist areas.

The Maldives is synonymous for luxury, romance and tropical bliss; a beautiful string of low-lying coral islands in the Indian Ocean, and a paradise for water sports enthusiasts and sun seekers alike. The past two decades have seen the islands develop into a popular long-haul destination with each island surrounded by a reef enclosing a shallow lagoon. Hundreds of these islands together with other coral growth form an atoll, surrounding a lagoon. The country's 26 natural atolls offer nautical delights from night fishing trips, windsurfing and scuba diving. Many islands embrace enormous lagoons, where bright blue-green water laps gently on brilliant white sand beaches.

Time: GMT + 5
Area
298 sq km

Population
369,680 (2016)

Population Density
1,329 per sq km

Capital
Malé

There is little or no organised nightlife, although most resorts have informal discos around the bar areas, sometimes featuring live bands playing either traditional or Western music. Beach parties and barbecues are also popular. On some evenings, many resorts have cultural shows and some show films. Many different types of traditional national dancing and singing may be enjoyed across the islands.

Passports
Valid passports are required for all nationals.

Visas
Tourist visas for 30 days will be issued on arrival only and are free of charge to all visitors in possession of valid travel documents. If port health is satisfied that you have not been through any countries with serious contagion, you are can enter. After luggage retrieval, do note that there is no Green Channel. All passengers’ luggage is screened, normally electronically. Keep the keys to any luggage locks handy in case a manual inspection is called for. You may be asked whether you have any movies or CDs. Answer all questions in a straightforward manner. After Immigration and Customs proceed to arrivals. A representative of your host will normally receive you. After reception, a quick boat or seaplane will take you to your adventure in the Maldives.

Visa Note
(a) Foreign visitors who enter the Maldives must be in possession of return or onward tickets and a minimum of USD 100 and USD 50 per person per day or confirmed hotel reservation for the intended period of stay in the Maldives.
(b) Tourist visas can be extended by 90 days (including the initial 30 days granted on arrival) by applying to the immigration department.

Types of Visa and Cost
Initial visa is free; extensions are available for a fee of USD 75 per person for stays up to 3 months.

Applications
Visas are issued on arrival at the immigration desk at Malé International Airport (also called Ibrahim Nasir International Airport).

The indigenous population is entirely Sunni Muslim and the group practice of other religions is illegal.

Mix it up in the Maldives

One of the world’s most sought-after travel destinations, the Maldives boasts excellent shopping. Whether you’re hoping to purchase some traditional crafts or just spend a fun day looking around, the Maldives features many opportunities to satisfy your cravings. Shops are normally open everyday from 8.30 am to 11.00 pm, except for Friday when they open at 1.30 pm. Be mindful that stores will close five times each day for 15 minutes each — these are sacred prayer times in Muslim culture (however tourist venues may or may not subscribe to this).

Wooden & Woven Crafts
If you want something uniquely Maldivian, your best bet is to get your hands on some of their lacquer wares. Constructed in Baa Atoll, these highly detailed objects are made from native wood through a painstaking process. Tourists can find boxes, accessories, and decorative pieces made in this special style. You might also like the intricate weavings made by local women, which are often shaped to be placemats or household adornments.

In the north of Chaandanee Magu, there are a slew of shops selling souvenirs and authentic food that tastes as good as it looks. Stop by to try some local delicacies and fuel up for more shopping! Homemade foods like sweetmeat, pickles and desserts are food for the soul.

The majority of the indigenous population does not mix with the tourist visitors, with the exception of those involved with tourism in the resorts and Malé. Dress is informal, but locals who are Muslim will be offended by nudity or immodest clothing in public places, and the government rigidly enforces these standards. Bikinis and other scanty beachwear are not acceptable in Malé or on any other inhabited island; they should be restricted to resort islands only. When entering a mosque, the legs and the body, but not the neck and the face, should be covered. Handshaking is the most common form of greeting. The indigenous population not involved in the tourist trade lives in isolated island communities maintaining almost total privacy. A large number of locals smoke, but smoking and eating during Ramadan is discouraged.