it feels like paradise once you arrive in the Maldives, and especially at your overwater bungalow resort, the location is quite remote for pretty much everyone. Spread over a huge area just southwest of India, it's many thousands of kilometers from Europe, and even quite a long way from the Middle East as well.

Fortunately, there are many flights into Malé International Airport from all over, meaning that most people will only have to change planes once along the way. The other nice thing is that since these are all long-haul flights you'll be in a proper wide-body plane, so even those in economy class will have a good-sized seat with decent legroom.

If you are planning on staying in one of the overwater bungalows in the Maldives then it's a reasonably priced and efficient flight from Europe. However, if you are coming from North America you might instead consider the overwater bungalow hotels in Bora Bora or elsewhere in the South Pacific, since they are equally nice and much easier to reach from the Americas.

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Getting to the Maldives from Europe

There are surprisingly few nonstop flights between Europe and Malé International Airport, which is the hub for all visitors into the Maldives. However, the few airlines that do provide nonstop flights offer competitive prices, so if you book early you’ll be able to avoid changing planes in the Middle East halfway there.


London to Maldives

BMI BabyBritish Airways, and SriLankan Airlines all fly nonstop, taking about 10.5 hours each way.


Frankfurt to Maldives

Condor Airlines flies nonstop, taking about 10 hours each way.


From anywhere else in Europe to the Maldives

There are some seasonal charter flights nonstop originating in Paris, Brussels, and Milan, but for the most part nearly everyone is going to be stopping to change planes in the Middle East, in Qatar, Abu Dhabi, or Dubai. More good news comes with the fact that the airlines representing each of those cities is excellent and very comfortable for long-haul flights, so there will be no anxiety of being trapped in a tiny seat and having to buy cold sandwiches as your only nutrition.

 

Flights head to Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai from nearly every major city in Europe, taking about 6 hours. The layovers are usually only an hour or two, with the onward flight to the Maldives taking about 5 more hours. Prices start at around US$1,000 for the roundtrip flight, and tend to be very competitive since there are so many airlines from which to choose. It’s best to book as early as possible since there are rarely fare sales that bring prices down much, and if the planes are filling up on your desired days the price will go up for sure.


Getting from Malé International Airport to your resort

Considering the distance and the time difference, it should be no surprise that every flight will be overnight, whether it’s a nonstop or changing planes in the Middle East. Fortunately, most flights seem to leave Europe in the late afternoon, so you change planes around midnight, or they leave Europe late in the evening, so you change planes around 6am.

 

Once you land at the Malé International Airport you’ll be greated by representives from your resort. Some of the larger ones have their own private lounge, while the smaller ones just have roving employees.

 

The closer resorts to the airport will put you on board a private speedboat for a journey that usually lasts between 20 minutes and an hour, while the more remote resorts will do the same for a sea plane (takes off and lands on the water) for an amazing flight to the hotel, which is often one of the highlights of the entire holiday. This transportation comes at an extra cost and must be arranged in advance, and the sea plane flights in particular are a bit pricey, usually running about US$400 roundtrip per person.


A note about bringing in alcohol to the Maldives

It’s true that alcohol, and most everything else, is quite expensive at resorts in the Maldives, so it’s a shame that this Muslim country is also extremely strict about allowing alcohol brought in inside luggage or duty-free containers. If you show up with any alcohol at all it will be confiscated and kept for you until you fly out, so best not to bring it at all.

 

Photo by Craig Grobler on Flickr


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9 thoughts on "Why you don’t need a travel agent for a perfect Maldives water villa holiday"

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  1. Without a travel agent you are on your own!!! a total misconception
    that agents are a lot more expensive than online. What happens if something goes wrong the computer wont help but an agent will –
    do a bit more research to the original writer and i only hope you
    never need assistance apart from a computer to get you out of a situation!!!!!

    1. Roz,

      If I was a travel agent I’m sure I’d feel the same way. But the fact is that things don’t go wrong very often and even when they do it’s usually easy to fix as long as you deal with legit companies and resorts. For someone who has an extremely low risk tolerance travel agents are probably a great idea. For everyone else, it’s probably not worth it. -Roger

  2. There is so much more to a travel agent than just booking the trip. Yesterday I spend 1/2 my day changing a client’s flights and hotel reservations because her son suddenly got sick during the trip. Last weekend I had 2 sets of clients miss their flights so I spent my time accommodating and reassuring them, while they relaxed at the airport lounge. When a traveler is on vacation, unexpected things can happen. Emergencies can arise. A travel agent can handle all of this for them, so they can focus on their sick child, or whatever the case may be. "In all fairness", you are right. They may not NEED a travel agent for the booking process, but when the unexpected arises, they will need us then! And as the others have said, pricing is almost always the same whether you book online, or with an agent. We also have access to most all the same hotels as online…. plus the extra consortia perks, as Gabrielle mentioned.

  3. I have to agree with others that this article is just not true of what Travel Professionals truly offer a client. Most Travel Professionals don’t charge planning and booking fees. They often offer a low price guarantee and price match if they need to. Many Travel Professionals who do charge a planning or booking fee often apply it towards your balance and/or the tips and money they save you are far more than any planning or booking fee they may charge.

    Booking through a website (just a computer and not a true travel professional) is not a great option. Nobody is asking you the right questions to fit you to the best resorts/flights or council you on the merits of this and that because it’s a computer…..You can’t just go by the pretty pictures on the internet. We say "The Internet is for looking and not booking"

    Each resort has a different vibe, you need to be personally matched to the best accommodations out there that will fit you both because there are so many resort/flight/room choices out there and they’re not all the same or even good. There’s much to think about and consider when picking the right destination, travel dates-weather, resorts/flights/rooms.

    The question that you should ask yourself is, "Why would you take a chance on your Travel Investment and not call a Travel Professional" One whose actually been to the destination with hands on advice? A real reputable Travel Professional wants to talk to you or at least email you and not just put a website out there for you to self-book on while they try to make money on you while they sleep with website bookings that they’re making full commission on, that’s what they don’t want to tell you.

    Trying to talk potential clients out of booking with real Travel Professionals when you’re acting as an "absent" travel agent on a website and doing very little for the client in reality is ironic.
    I feel like this website/article attacks true Travel Professionals in an underhanded way so I will speak the real truth here.

    There are many Travel Professionals who highly specialize in Over Water Bungalows throughout the world, they’ve been to many of these resorts themselves so they have value in their knowledge and have professional relationships with resort owners, management and ground operators. Travel Professionals provide a wonderful service to you and that’s what its truly all about besides offering you some of the lowest prices with price drop guarantees and a host of many other perks!

    1. Heather,

      If I was a travel agent I’m sure I’d feel the same way you do. The point of the article is that savvy travelers (not necessarily first-time travelers) CAN book a Maldives holiday online and still get the exact same VIP experience that other visitors get. Websites like Agoda also book far more resorts than any offline travel agent does, so consumers get more choice. And many resorts do in fact offer lower prices when you book online.

      Some travelers are fussy and require hand-holding and make mistakes and want to make changes. It’s great that you are there for those types of travelers. But there is also a misconception that you NEED to use an offline travel agent to book a Maldives holiday and that’s definitely not true. Thanks for your passion and for all the help you give to those who need you. -Roger

  4. Hi there,
    With respect, I find the information in this article to be largely untrue. Travel agents work with all resorts (and even some B & B’s). They also have buying power and can secure better rates than what is seen online in a lot of cases. I think there is a real misconception out there from people who have only really ever booked online but really, there is a missed value, both monetary and experiential that goes with booking online. Also, many agents are part of a consortium that for example, will provide complimentary meals, complimentary nights, etc, whereas booking online you don’t get these kinds of things. Just my 2 cents anyway!

  5. disagree most of it!, i’ve always secured better deals from travel agents in the UK. Some of them offer upgrades, lounge access which were helpful. And most importantly we need ATOL protection for our whole booking which is only provided by the UK tour operators. This protects our flights all transfers and the resort booking. In any emergency we have the ATOL protection to bail us out.
    If you are not a fussy customer who wouldn’t mind ending up in a room that don’t wish to be, then booking from any other source is fine.
    Anyways, these are my thoughts. Hope you will publish this.

    1. Ryan,

      You make some good points and I guess each person has their own risk tolerance level. These days it’s common for purchases on many Visas and Mastercards to automatically have this kind of coverage, and you can buy travel insurance to cover it as well. Still, many people prefer a traditional high-street travel agent. My main point is that you don’t NEED a travel agent to book an ideal Maldives holiday because the online booking process is now so well organized and you don’t need any hand-holding once you land. Thanks for the comments. -Roger