Are you one of those dreaming of being in the Maldives because of you are haunted by those ‘stranded in paradise’ pictures? Adding to the appeal is the fact that this island-state could be gone from the map in a hundred years’ time. It’s the country in the world with the lowest altitude above sea level.
Well, it has been almost a year since I visited Maldives and here’s my verdict: PARANG PILIPINAS LANG! (it is just like the Philippines!) Their only advantage is that they have these super upscale resorts but when you consider natural beauty, there’s nothing about their beaches or underwater life that will wow or surprise you (okay, feel free to disagree with me on this, LOL).
Whether on honeymoon or vacation, Maldives is still worth seeing, especially if you want to experience being a well-behaved human savoring the sights of a beautiful beach WITHOUT the joys of pork sisig and extra strong Red Horse Beer 😀 😀 As a Muslim country, Maldives prohibits the consumption of pork and alcohol. Liquor is available in the high-end resorts but a high price.
The No Alcohol sign is immediately visible in Velana International Airport when one arrives in Maldives. It also means you cannot bring in liquor items….
The airport is just a small one and with a few retail shops and food outlets. I planed in from Colombo, Sri Lanka (which is less than two hours away by flight) and upon arriving, I was prepared to pay a visa upon arrival because that’s what I read on some websites.
Imagine my relief when the immigration officer just stamped my passport without any question and the stay duration was 30 days. So yes, that’s the good news: Maldives is a visa-free country for Filipino tourists.
Here are some things that might interest Pinoy travellers aside from the prohibition against pork and alcohol, your Maldives travel tips or do’s and dont’s when traveling in the Maldives:
– No dogs exist in this island-state, only cats. So it is also safe to say that you cannot bring in your pet poodle.
– Trash exists in paradise. I was quite disappointed to find this mound of trash in Hulhumale, the first island I went to which was just about a short bus ride away from the Maldives airport (about 2 kms or so).
– Maldives is a predominantly Islamic country and no signs of the Christian cross or Christianity can be found on the island. In fact, bringing in Bibles, Buddha or other religious statues and wearing large crucifixes could bring one into trouble. Most likely, these will be confiscated.
As Muslims, Maldivians observe prayer times five times a day. Shops and transportation are not available for at least 15 minutes during those times. The busiest day for worship is Friday.
My next post will deal with budget travel in Maldives (not as expensive as everyone thinks). Flying to this territory in the Indian Ocean is no longer as expensive with the rise of budget airlines. As mentioned, I flew to Maldives from Sri Lanka via Korean Air and went back to the Philippines via Scoot (transiting through Singapore).