Getting there

British Airways currently fly non-stop from London to the Maldives. There are a range of alternative airlines which include Emirates, SriLankan Airlines and Qatar Airlines connecting in Dubai, Colombo or Doha.

Flying times from UK

Direct flights from London to the Maldives take approximately 10 hours. Flights with stops en-route take from 12 to 15 hours.

Time zone

The Maldives are +5 hours ahead of GMT.

Visa requirements

British nationals can obtain a tourist visa for up to 30 days on arrival in the Maldives.

Do's and don'ts

Alcohol is available only on the resort's islands but is prohibited elsewhere. It is advisable not to buy any on the flight or at the duty free shops en route to the Maldives as it will be confiscated on arrival at customs.

If you need regular medication a valid medical prescription, issued by your registered medical practitioner, is required. Without one you may not be able to take the medication through customs.

Dress standards are generally informal but tourists should be sensitive to local dress requirements when visiting non-resort areas. A degree of modesty while sunbathing is required even on resort islands.


The Maldives' currency is the rufiyaa, which is made up of 100 larees. Notes are available in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 or 500, although the two and five-rufiyaa notes are rare. Coins are in denominations of one and two rufiyaa and 10, 25 and 50 larees. However, many visitors to the resorts will never see rufiyaa with US dollars commonly used and accepted everywhere. Cash and credit cards are accepted and, unless otherwise specified, US dollars are preferred. Some resorts which are popular among European visitors will also accept Euros.


There are no clearly-defined rules to tipping in the Maldives. A service tax of 10-12.5% is added to almost everything, from minibar drinks to snorkelling trips. In many places, this means there is no need to tip additionally but, in some cases, the people serving you personally will expect a tip. Leave a tip for room staff including the butler if there is one. Acceptable currencies for tips are US dollars, local currency and Euros. It is not usually necessary to tip bar staff or waiters as the tip is added to your bill.

Food and drink

The resorts in the Maldives usually offer a wide variety of international cuisine. Locally, fish is common and the most popular is tuna, including skipjack, tunny, yellowfin and frigate. All is caught locally and prepared in several ways including boiled, sun-dried or smoked. Tuna is also used as a filling. Another popular local delicacy is garudiya, a traditional fish soup, often with chillies, onions and curry flavourings. It is served with rice, onion, lemon and chilli. Coconuts are also used in many recipes – in particular for desserts – and rice too is popular either boiled or ground into flour. A flat bread called roshi, like an Indian chapatti, generally accompanies meals.

Holidays, festivals and celebrations

Haj and Bodu Eid is celebrated in January. The annual pilgrimage sees many Maldivians travel to Mecca and for three days after the pilgrimage there is a national holiday. National Day in March sees the celebrations commemorating the 1573 victory of Mohammed Thakurufaanu over occupying Portuguese forces whilst Independence Day on the 26th July marks the islands independence from the British in 1965. Parades and dances take place with everyone in the local community, including schools, taking part. Ramadan, when the Muslim community follows a 30 day fast takes place annually but the dates change every year.


Shopping on the Maldives is limited as the majority of visitors spend most of their time on the resort islands. Local gifts at the hotel can be bought and if visiting the main island of Male local jewellery and fabrics may be found.

Suggested Reading

The Footprint and Rough Guide offer a good general introduction to the Maldives. Some other suggestions include:

‘Maldives: The Very Best Of’ by Michael Friedel

‘A Brief Guide to the Maldives’ by Adrian Neville

‘Maldives’ by Stefania Lamberti

‘Maldives, God's Masterpiece on Earth’ by BK Adhitya


Your doctor is the best person to advise you on staying healthy whilst abroad but current recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Diphtheria. Yellow Fever is compulsory, but only if you have visited an affected Yellow Fever area within 5 days prior to your arrival. In some instances anti-malarial tablets may also be needed. For current information on health advice you may wish to visit the Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA) Web Site on The NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website ( is also a useful resource.

Travel advice

For current information on the Maldives the best resource is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office ( which is a comprehensive resource and updated regularly. We would also recommend visiting the Safer Tourism Foundation website ( before you travel and will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.