If you are as fascinated with Seychelles the way we are, I hope this post helps you with everything you need to know about planning a Seychelles trip 🙂
We travelled to Seychelles in Dec 2016. We had a connecting flight from Seychelles to Mauritius in 2015 and we were in awe of the view that we saw at the Mahe airport. The water was all shades of blue, turquoise and green. It was our dream destination. We decided to plan a Seychelles trip soon. It is however, an expensive destination. Seychelles can be done in a budget though. Not on a shoestring or backpacking budget, but definitely on an affordable budget from India. We did a 6 night/ 8 days trip (reached early in the morning and left late in the night; so 2 nights on flight) to Mahe and Praslin in 100000 INR (~1400 EUR) excluding airfare. This included:
- 3 BHK self-catering villa for 3 nights in Mahe
- 2 BHK self-catering villa for 3 nights in Praslin
- Car hire for 6 days
- Visit to National Botanical Garden in Mahe
We wanted to do SCUBA too, but the weather was not suited for beginner dive and we missed on that experience.
Seychelles on a budget: Flights
Flight ticket is the biggest component in Seychelles budget. The only direct flight from India to Mahe is from Mumbai on Air Seychelles. However, there are connecting flights from Colombo, Abu Dhabi and Nairobi on Emirates, Etihad and Kenyan Airlines which are sometimes much cheaper. We had seen return tickets from Mumbai to Seychelles via Nairobi in 18000 INR (~250 EUR) on Kenya Airways. Unfortunately we were not decided by then and the fares shot up within 24 hrs. We also took flight from Mahe to Praslin. While many take ferry to go to Praslin and it is hardly a one hour flight, we saw that the airfare was lesser (compared to flight + ferry) if we did a multi-city trip. We paid 3000 INR (~45 EUR) per person for return ticket; while a one way ticket for an adult is approximately 47 EUR and for a child is 24 EUR. And the view from the top is breathtaking. We took a video of the landing from Praslin to Mahe which you can see on youtube:
Tips to book cheap tickets to Seychelles:
- Start well in advance: The 18K INR fare that we saw on Kenya airways was 7 months in advance of our dates of travel. Put a fare alert on hopper and kayak so you know when the fares drop.
- Be open to connecting flights: Direct flight from Mumbai may be expensive, so check fares on connecting flights from Abu Dhabi/ Colombo/ Nairobi etc. Also, find out their transit visa rules/ cost. Sometimes a direct flight may be cheaper than low fare and visa cost included.
- Travel light: Low-cost airlines charge separately for baggage. You can save cost by opting only for hand baggage.
Seychelles on a budget: Accommodation
Seychelles has a free visa on arrival for all tourists. However, you need to show a return ticket and accommodation booking at the immigration counter before you get entry. You will be asked to book an accommodation at the immigration itself if you land without one. While no one asked us to show any proof of cash, we were asked for hotel booking and return ticket.
On the island, accommodation is going to be a major expense. If you want to enjoy Seychelles on a budget, go for a self-catering villa. While you can find hotels at similar price, advantage of a self catering villa is more than just stay. You can cook your own food and wash your own clothes (remember you may be travelling with only hand baggage!). Everything in Seychelles is imported so food is very expensive. An average veg meal for 2 can cost 40 EUR without any drinks. Holiday rentals or self-catering villas are very well established in Mahe, Praslin and La Digue and many of them are close to beach. However, self catering villas need to be registered with the government. While there is no way to know if the accommodation listed on booking websites is registered, a good way to manage this is to have complete address and mobile number of the owner. If they can send a invite letter, even better. Let them know your flight details and tell the host he/she can expect a call from immigration.
We managed a very good 3 bedroom villa in Beau Vallon in 100 EUR and 2 bedroom vacation rental in Praslin in 90 EUR per night. There are smaller accommodations available at 70-80 EUR too. They would have air conditioning, kitchen and washing machine. Check out my posts La Maison Hibiscus, Beau Vallon review and review of Villa Idea in Praslin. Read this post to know more about how to book a self-catering villa in Seychelles.
Seychelles on a budget: Food
Food is an expensive affair in Seychelles. Even if you eat local cuisine, it costs 35-40 EUR for a meal of 2. And I am only talking about pizza and vegetarian food. Seafood is much more. Read my post on your food options in Seychelles. If you decide to cook, there are many supermarkets in both Mahe and Praslin that stock Indian stuff. Other than wheat flour (aata), we could see almost all groceries in a small store in Praslin. To give an idea of the costs:
- Rice: 45 SCR per kg. However, only Basmati rice is available.
- Dal (Masoor Dal): 15 SCR for 250 gm pack.
- White bread: 22 SCR per 500 gm loaf
- Cabbage: 50 SCR per kg
- Lemon: 110 SCR per kg (4 lemons in 31 SCR)
- Carrot: 80 SCR per kg
- Capsicum: 60 SCR per kg
- Tomato: 75 SCR per kg
- Milk: 21 SCR per litre
- Fruit Juice: 33 SCR per litre
- Flavoured Yogurt: 24 SCR for a 125gm box
- Plain Yogurt: 10 SCR per box
- Water: 30 SCR for 5 litres/ 15 SCR for 1 litre bottle
The prices are slightly higher in Praslin than Mahe. For eg. 5 litre water will cost 35 SCR and juice will cost 38 SCR in Praslin.
My advice would be to carry as much non-perishable items as you can. Also, holiday is not really a time to cook full meals. So carry ready to eat items; which are quick to make. A possible list could be:
Breakfast: Oats, MTR Upma, MTR Upma, Chocos, Museli. Cornflakes, Choco spread sachets, Jam sachets. Ready to eat pongal and bisi bele bath are also available from MTR.
Lunch/ Dinner: Ready to eat dal and curries. You can carry ready to eat rice too, but to keep weight low, cook rice there. Though there are many brands available now a days, we prefer Gits, Kitchens of India and MTR. We also took Chef’s Delight Pasta which was pretty good and filling. You can carry some cup noodles too!
Grocery items: Other than these, carry tea/ coffee bags, some sugar, salt, spices (if you plan to cook quick meals like Khichri etc), ketchup. I also carried a small 200 ml bottle of oil so we can bake a cake for kiddo’s birthday and make khichri, omlette etc. and carried snacks like namkeens, dry fruits, fruits. All this weighed approx 7kgs and was good for 7 meals for 3 of us.
Seychelles on a budget: Travel in Seychelles
While hiring a car is the most convenient mode of transport, please do not do that unless you are a super confident driver. The roads are narrow with a large percentage of it on winding ghat roads with no margin on the left of the road. The drivers can be rash too. We saw an accident happen to a rented tourist car while coming down one of the hilly terrains. Taxis can be expensive (we saw a taxi driver charging 100 SCR for a 3km distance, there is no fixed charge). If you want to do Seychelles in budget, get on their bus. It costs 5 SCR from anywhere to anywhere, and a day pass is available for 40 SCR. While many write about the dangerous drivers in Seychelles, I would say they know the roads and therefore drive confidently. We took a bus from Constance Lemuria hotel to Anse Kerlan and did not feel worried. Met some couples who were taking bus everywhere and they had no issues too. The frequency also seemed decent. The only issue is bus service stops after 8pm (last bus at around 7 – 7:30pm). If you plan to go to a beach for sunset which happens around 6:30 pm, you may have a trouble finding a bus back. We saw many backpackers asking for lifts though, and we did offer lift to a few of them. A good way to tackle this is to stay in an accommodation close to a beach. While it may not be the best beach in Seychelles, most of the beaches are soft white sand beaches and you can do the rest of beaches in the day time. A car hire costs ~40 EUR per day for a small car. Hire a small car because the roads are narrow. Also, check the insurance for the maximum amount you need to pay in case of any accident. The deductible can be anywhere between 500 – 2000 EUR depending on the kind of insurance.
Seychelles on a budget: Activities in Seychelles
Beaches: The best part about Seychelles is all beaches are public beaches! There is no concept of private beach. Visiting Anse Georgette in Praslin does require you to make a call to Constance Lemuria and informing them about your visit, but the process is not difficult. So the best activity in Seychelles is FREE.
Hiking: Mahe and Praslin both have a hilly terrain and that makes for a gorgeous view from the top of the mountain. There are numerous hiking trails in Mahe and few in Praslin. And all of them are again FREE.
Botanical Gardens: Apart from the beaches, there is Vallee de Mai in Praslin and National Botanical Garden in Mahe. Ticket price for Vallee de Mai is 350 SCR (~25 EUR) and for National Botanical garden is 100 SCR (~7.5 EUR). Children below 12 yrs of age are free. Vallee de Mai is known for Coco de Mer (sea coconut or double coconut, Seychelles’ national tree), black parrots and lovely trees and birds. We read that black parrots are a lucky sighting and coco de mer could be seen in botanical garden too. So we skipped Vallee de Mai and instead visited botanical garden in Mahe where we saw coco de mer tree, durian tree, giant tortoises and various other plants and trees.
Water sports: Motorized water sports is banned in Seychelles to protect the coral reefs and aquatic life. However, SCUBA and Snorkelling are popular activities. Most of the SCUBA operators require you to know swimming. We got in touch with White Tip divers and though they were okay with non-swimmers; the weather was not suited for SCUBA on any of the days we were in Praslin and we could not go for SCUBA. They also rent Snorkelling equipment but one needs to snorkel on their own. A certified diver needs to pay 50 EUR per dive while a non-certified one pays 80 EUR per dive in Praslin.
Island hopping: There are some pristine islands in Seychelles which can be done as day trip from Praslin/ La Digue. While some people also do La Digue as day trip from Praslin, there are accommodations available in La Digue and locals recommend a night stay to enjoy the island. Curieuse Island or Saint Pierre can be done as day trips from Praslin. Curieuse has a marine national park and is known for giant tortoises and coco de mer trees. Saint Pierre is close to Curieuse and has beautiful snorkelling spots. Sister Island and Coco Island can be done from both Praslin or La Digue. They are both known for beautiful marine life and snorkelling.
With all the major expenses covered, you should be all set for a wonderful trip to Seychelles without burning a big hole in the pocket 🙂
Breakup of our expenses for Seychelles trip:
|Expense Head||Total amount (in INR)|
|Flight (HYD-MUM): Return economy fare for 2 adults + 1 child||7800|
|Flight (Mumbai-Mahe-Praslin-Mahe-Mumbai) : Air Seychelles Economy for 2 + 1||111000|
|Airport transfers in India||800|
|Airport transfers in Seychelles||0|
|Local travel: Car rental for 6 days (including petrol)||18250|
10 quick tips if you are planning a Seychelles trip:
- There are no public telephone booths in Seychelles. While we love to switch off and have no connectivity, it may not be true for everyone. However, connectivity in Seychelles comes at a huge cost. There are 2 major phone operators, Cable and Wireless (C&W) and Airtel. You can buy a SIM card at 100 SCR; which will have 25 SCR voice credit. Local costs costs 4 SCR per min and international costs 10 SCR per min (as on Dec 2016 during peak hours; operator C&W). Check out the latest rates on http://www.cwseychelles.com/mobile/prepaid/packages. Data charges are 1 SCR per MB. Even if the property you book has free WiFi, chances are it will be super slow and nothing other than Whatsapp and gmail will open (BTW, people in Seychelles are still on feature phones, so don’t be surprised if most of them don’t have WhatsApp 🙂 )
- Do your homework before you travel. Unless you plan to take your own SIM card and pay exorbitant for the internet usage, hotel WiFi’s will not let you do any research. We could never open tripadvisor during our 7 days of stay…
- Always carry mosquito repellents when travelling in Seychelles. While there is no malaria in Seychelles, there are still very small mosquitoes around. Take a beach towel/ bedsheet with you when you sit on a beach.
- Carry an umbrella. It can rain anytime in Seychelles.
- You may read that EUR is the preferred currency and tourists are expected to pay EUR everywhere. While EUR is an acceptable currency, no one stops you from paying in SCR. Everyone accepts SCR too. Infact when high end restaurants present the bill, they have equivalent EUR and USD printed on it. we noticed that the EUR and USD was marked up little higher than the market conversion rate. So its not that you save anything by carrying EUR or swiping your card in EUR. Of course if you already have EUR/ USD, get them and avoid paying exchange rate during conversion.
- Don’t always trust the locals when it comes to money. Remember all beaches are public and all hiking trails are free. Do not get into the trap if someone says there is a fee and you compulsorily need a guide. If there is a fee, there will be a booth to collect it and give you receipt.
- Don’t leave valuables on the beach and go swimming. We were told that its not very safe and things can be stolen (especially during holiday season like Christmas).
- There is no tipping culture in Seychelles. Hotels and restaurants add service tax to the bill and staff does not expect a tip.
- Coconuts are free in Seychelles. You can just stop by and pluck a coconut from a tree unless its in a private property. So if someone is selling you coconuts on a beach, all they are charging is their convenience fee for getting it for you.
- Last but not the least, learn swimming before you go to Seychelles. We could not do SCUBA because the weather was not suitable for beginner dive; but if we knew swimming we could have done snorkelling on our own. We missed the marine life completely. We are definitely learning and going back again…
If you have travelled to Seychelles and have any tips for budget travellers, do share with us. If you think this post will help someone plan a trip to Seychelles, do share it.