Introducing the city

£1.00 | 20.14 MVR

GBP | MVR

Gasoline £0.52 | 10.56 MVR

One-way ticket £0.27 | 5.50 MVR

Beer £2.98 | 60.00 MVR

Main Course £3.60 | 72.50 MVR

About Malé

High-rise blocks sit next to colourful houses while bustling markets trade alongside the golden domes of mosques - Malé, the Maldivian capital, is an island city with a strong sense of community.

Often bypassed by visitors who arrive in search of the famous white sand islands and luxury resorts, Malé - the capital of the Maldives - is a worthy destination in its own right. Sure, there's not much of a nighttime scene (or any alcohol for that matter) but there's still some pretty interesting sights and a strong community vibe. At only 1.7km long and 1km wide, it's somewhat incredible that around 100,000 residents live on this small island; unsurprisingly, high-rise apartment blocks are everywhere. Having said that, there's still plenty of charm - from the colourfully graffitied alleys around Malé Market to the see-and-be-seen port area.

While not a huge holiday destination, there is a small (artificial) beach area and excellent dive and surf spots - neighboring Hulhumale and Vilingili islands offer a more peaceful escape. For culture, head to the huge Islamic Centre or Sultan Park and National Museum - a mish-mash of royal paraphernalia and a quirky photograph collection.

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Weather

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When Should You Visit?

March sees fewer tourists but wonderful weather.

Malé enjoys year round sunshine and a hot tropical climate, however there is a monsoon season which runs from May to November - heavy rainfall can be expected at this time. April is the hottest month at 30 degrees Celsius, while the coldest month is September at 28 degrees Celsius. Due to its proximity to the equator, care should be taken when in the sun.

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Travioor top tips

FOOD
BOAT
Cover up

Insider Info

  • Save money by buying snacks from the market - there's plenty of choice and it offers great value for money.

  • Sleepy Hulhumale Island which has a nice beach, can be reached by boat - catch one from the dock by the airport ferries.

  • Dressing conservatively is necessary - if you can't stand the heat, take a thin shawl to wear over your shoulders.

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Food and drink

Main Course £3.60 | 72.50 MVR

3-Course Meal £17.38 | 350.00 MVR

Cappuccino £1.97 | 39.71 MVR

Beer £2.98 | 60.00 MVR

The Scene

Unsurprisingly, given its island status, much of Malé's food and drink is based around seafood. Tuna (particularly skipjack tuna) is considered the national dish, with different variations including kanneli (yellowfin tuna) and raagondi (frigate tuna) widely available. One of the most popular meals is mas riha, a fresh tuna curry made with spices and coconut milk that's usually served with boiled rice or roshi (a savoury chapati). Vegetable curries are also popular and often made with bashi (aubergine), barabō (pumpkin) or unripe bananas. Coconut is served with everything, including Maldivian breakfast (mas huni) which consists of smoked tuna, onion, coconut and chili served with flatbread.

As the capital of a Muslim country, Malé does not have a drinking culture and alcohol is only served in some of the city's hotels - in contrast most of the island resorts have their own bars. Desserts and sweet treats are popular, our favourites are banbukeyo bondibai (a baked breadfruit and coconut cream pudding) or dhonkeyo kajuru (banana cake) - wash everything with masala chai, a sweet and spicy milk tea.

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History

Malé’s Story

The first inhabitants to settle in Malé are believed to have been South Asians, including people from India and Sri Lanka - for centuries the locals practiced Buddhism. Since the 10th century, Malé has been the administrative capital of the country and home to the ruling dynasties. It converted to Islam in the 12th century. In the 17th century the city had built several large trading buildings but it still remained relatively undeveloped.

In the 1930s economic production began to pick up, with several key buildings - including hospitals, schools and banks - marking an advent of modernisation and growth. Since the 1970s (and the boom of tourism) the city has rapidly grown in stature and size - today, the government is working on developing neighboring islands to cope with the burgeoning population.

Language

Assalaamu alaikum | Hello
Shukuriyaa | Thank you

Dhivehi

The official language spoken in the Maldives is Dhivehi; Malé Dhivehi is the dialect spoken in the capital. Although you should have no problem at tourist attractions and many people speak English, not everyone will. The following basics in Dhivehi may help you get by:

  • Bye: Vakivelan
  • Please: Adhes kohfa
  • Excuse me: Ma-aafu kurey
  • Do you speak English: Ingireysin vaahaka dhakkan ingeytha?

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Need to know

+960 Dialling Code
119 | 102 Emergency Services

Get The Low-Down

  • For the fire brigade, call 118.
  • Immigration is likely to ask you where you are staying so it's a good idea to book before you arrive. 
  • Dress conservatively; men should wear t-shirts and long shorts, women should cover their shoulders and legs.
  • Alcohol is not available publicly anywhere in Malé, apart from one or two hotels. 
  • Taxis have a monopoly on the transport system, fares are pre-set. 

 

VISA INFORMATION

Find out about the visa requirements for the Maldives here.

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Travioor Recommends

1. Shopping

Haggle with hawkers or shop for local goods at bustling Malé Market to the north of the city centre.

2. Surfing

Experienced surfers can hit the waves on Malé's atolls between May and October; surf schools are also available.

3. Fish Market

Selling an astonishing array of fish and seafood, Malé's Fish Market offers a glimpse into traditional Maldivian life and attracts thousands of visitors daily.

4. Old Friday Mosque

One of Malé's only heritage sites Hukuru Miskiiy (Old Friday) Mosque is a beautiful example of 14th century stonework in the city's centre.

5. Escape

Catch a ferry to quieter Hulhumalé Island for beaches and a laid-back countryside feel; there are also several restaurants.


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