Almost everything besides fish is imported in the Maldives, and as a result this is an expensive country. There is little cheap accommodation or transport. If staying on a resort island, budget as much as you can for meals, drinks, tips, and trips—at least $100 per person per day if possible. You can minimize the shock in many resorts by choosing an all-inclusive package, in which almost everything, including beverages, wine, and beer, is pre-paid. Credit cards are accepted on all the resort islands, and to a lesser extent in Malé. It’s not advisable to change dollars, euros, UK pounds, or indeed any currency into the local currency. You won’t need it and you certainly won’t be able to change it back. US$ are accepted everywhere.
Currency and Exchange
The official local currency in the Maldives is the Maldivian rufiyaa (Rf), divided into 100 laari. However, resort islands are legally required to list the prices of all their services in US dollars and payments must be made in dollars or another major currency (or by credit card). You will only need rufiyaa if visiting Malé or one of the other locally inhabited islands. Be aware that if purchasing in a local shop that lists prices in rufiyaa and you pay in dollars, you may get a poor deal on the exchange rate. Change money beforehand at your resort. At this writing the official exchange rate was Rf 15.5 to $1.
A sales tax (VAT) of 8% is added to non-essential goods and services in the Maldives. VAT is also added to hotel room rates, along with a 10% service charge and an $8 per person per night city tax, even though the resorts are nowhere near any city. The latter is usually charged separately but VAT and service charges are included in the rate you are quoted on booking.
Tipping is not compulsory in the Maldives but has come to be expected by most of those working at the resorts. A 10% service charge is added to practically everything but rarely passed on to the wait staff. Resort employees are paid poorly and appreciate a little something for their hard work. Around $2 per day for waiters will suffice; perhaps $10 (to be shared) for a boat crew who take you on an excursion, and $10 for your room attendant at the end of your stay. Most resorts also have a box for tips for the ‘unseen’ staff who work tirelessly behind the scenes. It is a good idea to add $10-15 per week to this. There is no rule as to whether you tip daily, weekly, or leave it all until the end of your stay—this is entirely up to personal choice.