Male © Shazwan
Male is the bustling capital of the Maldives, often
overlooked by tourists who head straight for the country's numerous
resort islands. However, the packed city offers a glimpse of
another side of the popular destination and is representative of
everyday life in the Maldives.
Far from the tranquillity of the five-star resorts
that pepper the islands, Male moves at a brisk pace as the centre
of government and commerce in the Maldives. Brightly-coloured
buildings, business suits, and bazaars rather than beaches are the
order of the day, and the independent travellers that do take a
holiday in Male can sample cultural attractions like markets,
mosques, and museums in lieu of jungle hikes and watersports.
The best shopping in the Maldives is undoubtedly in
Male, a city crowded with shops and markets. Most of the souvenir
shops that cater to tourists are found in the business district,
conveniently located close to the jetty where travellers arrive
from the airport ferries. Another popular shopping district in Male
is the Singapore Bazaar at the top end of Chaandhanee Magu,
so-called because many of the products are imported from
Most of the outdoor markets in Male are filled with
fruits and vegetables rather than souvenirs, but it is enjoyable to
spend a few hours browsing the colourful stalls. Though most
countries' customs agents will confiscate coconuts and papayas, it
is possible to buy some wonderful local spices, which are a popular
souvenir from the Maldives.
Getting around in Male is relatively easy due to its
small size. It is possible to walk around the entire city in about
an hour, and most of the major attractions are clustered near each
other on the north shore, about a 15-minute walk from the jetty.
There is no public transportation in Male, but taxis are plentiful
and relatively inexpensive.
A predominantly Muslim city, the bars and restaurants
in Male are largely alcohol-free. The city is far from a nightlife
hotspot. However, a holiday in Male is richly rewarding for
travellers looking to see the true face of life in the