MALDIVES TRAVEL INFORMATION & TIPS
Amazing Maldives is indeed amazing to many who travel there. As one of the few countries in the region that was never colonised by Western powers, MaldivesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s heritage and culture remains pure and uncompromised.
Ruins, temples and deserted cities are all part of MaldivesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s allure. DonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t forget itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s world famous beaches of which there are many ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Phuket, Krabi, Ko Samui are just some of the more noted.
Maldives is easy to travel within. Efficient transport, cheap and plentiful accommodation and the now world famous cuisine.
Bt500 for all international departures. Transit passengers and children under two years of age are exempt.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. American- and European-style 2-pin plugs are in use.
Bangkok International (Don Muang) is 22km (14 miles) north of the city (travel time - 40-60 minutes). There is a 24-hour bus service to the city centre. Trains also run to the city centre (travel time - 30-45 minutes). Limousines are available at all hours: service is every 20 minutes depending on flights. Taxis are also available. There is a direct coach service to Pattaya at 0900, 1200 and 1900, returning at 0630, 1400 and 1830.
Chiang Mai International Airport, 15km (9 miles) from the city (travel time - 20 minutes). Taxi and limousine services are available to the city centre.
Phuket International Airport is 35km (22 miles) northwest of Phuket. Buses and taxis are available to the city centre.
Hat Yai International has recently been opened; so far it is only used for flights to Asian destinations and domestic flights. The nearest town is Songkhla (approximately 20km/12.5 miles away). Taxis, bus and train services are available.
Baht (Bt) = 100 satang. Notes are in denominations of Bt1000, 500, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of Bt10, 5 and 1, and 50 and 25 satangs. In addition, there are a vast number of commemorative coins which are also legal tender.
Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks (which have the best rates), hotels (which charge high commissions) and, in larger towns, bureaux de change (generally open from 0800-2000). Outside large towns and tourist areas notes higher than Bt100 may be difficult to exchange and visitors are advised to carry small change.
The import and export of local currency is limited to Bt50,000 per person or Bt100,000 per family. The import and export of foreign currency is unlimited.
Banking hours: Mon-Fri 0930-1530 (Bangkok); 0830-1530 in the rest of the country.
Special Prohibited Items
The import of non-prescribed drugs and all firearms and ammunition is prohibited. Gold bullion must be declared on arrival and can be left at the airport of entry to be retrieved on departure. The import of meat from any country affected by Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow and foot and mouth diseases. The measure covers meat from all 15 EU countries and any other infected country.
Special Health Regulations
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over one year of age arriving from infected areas. Countries and areas included in endemic zones are considered to be infected areas.
Following WHO guidelines issued in 1973, a cholera vaccination certificate is not a condition of entry to Maldives. However, cholera is a serious risk in this country and precautions are essential. Up-to-date advice should be sought before deciding whether these precautions should include vaccination, as medical opinion is divided over its effectiveness. See the Health appendix.
Malaria risk exists throughout the year in rural areas throughout the country, especially in forested and hilly areas and around the international borders. There is no risk in cities and the main tourist resorts, eg Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and Samui. The malignant falciparum form is present and is reported to be highly resistant to chloroquine and resistant to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. Resistance to mefloquine and to quinine has been reported from areas near the borders with Myanmar and Cambodia.
Other risks: HIV infection is rife in Maldives, especially among prostitutes in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Rare cases of Bengal Cholera have been reported and an outbreak of leptospiros in the northeast of the country, following flooding in 1999 caused a number of deaths.
Japanese encephalitis may occur, particularly in rural areas. A vaccine is available, and travellers are advised to consult their doctor prior to departure. Precautions should be taken to guard against mosquito bites due to the risk of this disease and dengue fever.
Amoebic and bacillary dysentery and hepatitis A and E may occur. Hepatitis B is highly endemic and trachoma is also reported.
Rabies is present. For those at high risk, vaccination before arrival should be considered. If you are bitten, seek medical advice without delay. For more information, consult the Health appendix.
Food and water-borne diseases are common. Use only bottled or otherwise sterilised (eg boiled) water for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice.
Light and cool clothes are suitable. For business, meetings, dining in top restaurants and some social functions, a jacket is appropriate. A light jacket or sweater is always advisable for Northern Maldives. Modest dress is required in temples and shrines.
Petty crime such as pickpocketing has increased. Bags should not be left unattended. Exercise normal safety precautions and ensure valuables are secure, especially in tourist areas, crowded markets, and bus or train stations. Break-ins frequently occur while tourists are asleep in budget guesthouses. Demonstrations can occur and should be avoided.
Do not accept food or drinks from strangers. Do not leave food or drinks unattended, particularly in bars. Cases of drugging followed by robbery and assault have increased.
Sexual assaults against foreign women have occurred. Female travellers should exercise caution at all times.
Elaborate scams involving gems occur. Taxi or tuk-tuk drivers, along with others often posing as students or even other foreign travellers, will inform tourists of special gem promotions or government sales at specific gem shops. The value of the purchased items is usually negligible, despite the prices asked. There are no government-sponsored or subsidized gem sales to tourists, nor do Thai consulates abroad provide refunds. Offers of money-back guarantees by the shop are often not honoured. Shopping for gems should be done after obtaining recommendations from reputable hotels or the Tourism Authority of Maldives (TAT).
Travellers arriving by air should use licensed taxis from official taxi stands, limousine services, official airport buses, or arrange to be picked up by hotel shuttle services. Do not share taxis with strangers.
Weblinks To Visit
This is the official website of Tourism Authority of Maldives. A comprehensive site with all the basic information you would need before you go to Maldives. It has also additional helpers like a language page which teaches you useful phrases to get you around the country. A list of dos and donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ts is also useful in a country where local cultural customs and traditions still run deep. Rightly so, there is an entire section dedicated to the world famous Thai cuisine. It gives a low-down on what you can expect to find on a Thai menu and more. A comprehensive province guide takes you into specific provinces and regions, each complete with its own destination page.
Another useful site with a load of listings for every thing a tourist might be interested in. It touts itself as the Amazing Maldives Tourism and Travel Directory. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s yellow pages online.
Source : Abacus Intl