This article on the best beaches in Southeast Asia was last updated in June 2020.
Southeast Asia is known to have the best beaches, no doubt. Millions of tourists come every year to enjoy relatively affordable travel, beautiful islands and friendly locals. While everyone knows some of the most famous beaches in Southeast Asia, like the ones in Phuket, Bali or more recently, Palawan and Coron in the Philippines, the countries that make the region have hundreds of other beaches well worth a mention.
I have been living in Singapore and traveling across Asia extensively over the last 13 years yet I have not had the chance to visit all the best beaches in Southeast so I enlisted the help of other travel bloggers to help me uncover the true hidden gems in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar and even East Timor.
If you were looking for a trip in the region and wanted to go island or beach hopping, then this list of the top beaches in Southeast Asia is a good place to start. Make sure to check the map so you can locate them and plan the ultimate Southeast Asia beach tour!
P.S. We’ve also made a list of the best overwater bungalows in Southeast Asia to spur on your wanderlust, so you can dive into the water right from your villa! There’s also articles on the best beaches in Montenegro, Albania, Malta, South Africa and Macau for more sea-and-sand wanderlust.
- Map of the best beaches in Southeast Asia
- Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in Thailand
- Best Beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in Indonesia
- Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in Vietnam
- Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in the Philippines
- Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best Beaches in Myanmar
- Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best Beaches in Malaysia
- Best Beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in East Timor
- Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in Cambodia
- Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in Singapore
- Beaches on Sentosa Island – Siloso, Palawan and Tanjong Beach
- Changi Beach
- Punggol Beach
- Singapore’s Southern Islands (St John’s, Kusu, Sisters’)
- Pulau Ubin
- The beach on East Coast Park
- Pasir Ris Beach
Map of the best beaches in Southeast Asia
Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in Thailand
Thailand is by far the most famous and popular beach destination in Southeast Asia. I have been returning to the golden beaches of Thailand ever since my first visit in 2006. In fact, I visited Phuket twice in 2018 alone. With so many things to do in Phuket, Phi Phi or Koh Samui, travelers often forget about the more hidden beaches surrounding the shores of the country.
As the majority of central and south Thailand is hugged by the ocean, there are so many pristine beaches to escape to, far beyond the full moon crowds and throngs of bars. The hidden and lesser known beaches of Phuket, for example, are immaculate with crystalline waters, soft white sand and a few of the best restaurants I have eaten at. If you only have one day in Phuket, the beach should definitely be on your itinerary.
See the roundup of the best beaches in Thailand below from hidden gems to slices of paradise.
The best area to start with when talking about the best beaches in Thailand is definitely Phuket. It is probably the most famous beach destination in Southeast Asia other than Bali and has something for everyone from backpacking hubs to more classier spots, from family-friendly stretches to party centres. So picking your best beach in Phuket will depend on your beach goal.
For those after a larger beach destination in Phuket, Kata beach offers a 2km strip of perfect white sand and blue waters, but also a range of resorts with restaurants to appease your palate. The best part of the strip for beach bums looking to go beyond the popular spots is the area in front of the Boathouse Phuket. The sands are more secluded and the snorkeling along the rocks cannot be beat. Snorkeling or SUP equipment can be rented from the Boathouse and their restaurant is also one of the best in Phuket. Their mixologist is spectacular. Check out my video of the Boathouse and Kata beach below.
The area is quieter due to it being right at the end of Kata beach and therefore farther from the main beach access point. Those looking to go for a long tail boat ride to venture to the other islands will also leave from here. Taking a Grab or cab is probably the most convenient way to get to Kata beach. However, I would recommend hiring your own car and taking a weekend road trip in Phuket if possible.
If you hop over to the next bay after Kata beach, you’ll find the more secluded and smaller Kata Noi which is about half the size of it’s big sister. If you thought you had found solace near the Boathouse, this is a level up in solitude.
While it is concealed from the tourists, don’t be fooled. There are beach huts, famous restaurant with a spectacular view at Mom Tri’s Kitchen and some of the most luxurious resorts in Phuket.
Where to stay on Kata Noi: The Shore at Katathani and Impiana Private Villas. If you’re planning a bachelor’s or bachelorette party, this is where you should come the next day to cure any hangover. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Paradise Beach in Phuket
Due to mass tourism and its effect on the environment, some beaches in Thailand have started to charge entry. While some see this as a nuisance, we love responsible tourism and feel that it is a need. Yet with the small fee, you are sure to get more seclusion and a pristine environment. Freedom Beach is one such beach in Thailand, charging a 500 Baht fee to enter.
Freedom beach is lined with hip restaurants, quaint bars, boutique stores and Djs spinning tunes, so it’s not difficult to spend an entire day on the beach and surrounding areas. They even throw full moon parties here, so be sure to watch the waxing and waning cycles. If you head out the beach and through a small pathway, there is a smaller, cosier bay to chillax in a more comfortable ambience.
You can get to Paradise beach with one of the free shuttles from Patong which takes about 15 mins. When arriving on your own, the walk down from the top is quite long, so it’s best to take a jeepney down to Paradise.
Where to stay on Patong Beach: There is also cheap backpackers accommodation on Paradise Beach run by the same people who manage the club but for more comfortable options head to Patong nearby. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Freedom Beach in Phuket
I have spoken before about the few hidden beaches in Phuket and Freedom Beach is one of them. It’s quite difficult to find if you don’t have Google Maps and locals, even taxi drivers, will not know where to go. So it’s best to take your own transportation, like a scooter. When you get to the top, there is quite a steep walk down, so it’s not suited for young children.
While it is quite out of the way and there is a 200 Baht entry fee, you will be happy that you made the journey as it really does provide respite from the otherwise chaotic parts of the island. While it is lined with huts, Freedom beach is one of the most secluded beaches in Phuket that you can find. Remember to save our Map above so that you can have offline access when you decide to go.
Mai Khao Beach
Have you ever imagined what Phuket might have looked like back in the day before the tourists invaded the sandy shores? Mai Khao in Phuket will answer that question. What it lacks in facilities, it makes up in untouched beauty.
Golden brown are lined with lush green pine trees while the tiny waves lap up on the shore. Unlike Kata, there are no rocks in the ocean and breaking further from the Phuket norm, there are no hawkers, sunbeds are missing, trash is nowhere to be seen – it is just pure, unspoilt sand to stroll along.
It’s only a 15 min drive from Phuket International Airport, so you can be here literally minutes after landing. While there are a few large resorts nearby, they have had no effect on the beach. There are some local eateries nearby which charge about 100 Baht for a meal, so take some cash and bring plenty of water with you.
Where to stay on Mai Khao: There are a few high hotels in Mai Khao you can choose from. Anantara Mai Khao is a great option about you also have the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa or the recently opened SALA Phuket Resort & Spa. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Paradise resort on Koh Wai
Moving away from Phuket and into more unchartered territory, one of the best islands in Thailand due to its seclusion and size is Koh Wai. This tiny island just off Koh Chang is everything you dream a Thai island to be – no paved roads, small bungalows along the beach to rest in, not even regular electricity.
Koh Wai is the perfect place for a digital detox and to get away from the bustling crowds of Thailand. Paradise Resort beach takes its name from the accomodation option on the island and describes perfectly what you will find here. White sand beaches, transparent calm waters and a teeming marine life.
Take a fast or slow boat from Bang Boa off Koh Chang and although there is a small local restaurant off the pier, it’s best to bring some snacks while sitting in the shade of the palm trees. Don’t come expecting luxury, but rather a place to unwind and get off the grid.
Where to stay on Koh Wai: There are very few accommodation options on Koh Wai and all of them are very affordable. One of the best is Koh Wai Beach Resort. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Lonely Beach on Koh Chang
Lonely beach is the last stop on a journey through Koh Chang and therefore less visited by eager beach goers. Yet the trek is worth it, as you’ll find a slice of solitude in an island known to have some of the busiest beaches.
Far from the high heeled, bling adorned luxe travelers of the more renowned beaches in Thailand like White Sands beach, Lonely beach is for intrepid explorers and backpackers looking to mingle with their own. There are a few restaurants that serve meals the entire day and night, so you won’t be too lonely in this secluded part of Koh Chang.
The best way to get there is by booking a ferry online before you go. You can reserve a seat from Laem Ngop Pier in Trat to Koh Chang on trusted travel booking platform Bookaway.
Where to stay on Koh Chang: A few upscale resorts have sprung up in Koh Chang recently. The best resorts are The Chill Resort & Spa, The Emerald Cove, or for a villa option, The Balinese Pool Villa. All the other accommodation options are well below the $100 nightly rate making Koh Chang a very affordable beach in Southeast Asia. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Early birds congregate for one of the most stunning sunrises in Thailand at Sunrise Rise Beach (Hat Chao Ley). After witnessing the sun rising over Koh Lipe’s azure ocean, find a spot on the sand and stay well into the afternoon for a calm, sleepy day.
As Koh Lipe is becoming an increasingly popular destination in Thailand because of its remote location and beautiful scenery, it is still relevant scant of tourists so you can be fairly alone. Beyond the beach there are relaxed beach clubs to sip a cocktail and several restaurants to satiate your palate.
Koh Lipe is a ferry ride away from Hat Yai on the mainland and due to its distance from northwest Malaysia ferries also depart from Langkawi. Sunrise beach is on the east side of Koh Lipe, an easy walk from the ferry terminal. You can actually book your bus + ferry ride online through trusted travel booking platform Bookaway.
Where to stay on Sunrise Beach: Koh Lipe has yet to see the mass tourism that fills other parts of Thailand, despite it is not an undiscovered island in Southeast Asia. While there are no 5 star hotels in Koh Lipe, you can still stay at very affordable nice beach resorts like the Idyllic Concept Resort or Akira Lipe Resort. Mali Resort Sunrise Beach is right on this beautiful Southeast Asian beach. For a villa option, Budhaya Villas are a great choice. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Ao Mai Pai Beach / Bamboo Bay
While it’s not difficult to find some of the best beaches in Thailand in Krabi, along the beautiful Andaman ocean, Koh Lanta has some of the most picturesque. One standout beach in Koh Lanta that is a must visit is Bamboo Bay (Ao Mai Pai).
While sharing a space with Bamboo Bay Resort, anyone is allowed on its hidden shores. It’s far away from the crowds of tourists and is set in a serene surrounding with palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. Hungry beach goers can head to the resort for a bit to eat or if they are in need of the bathroom.
Bamboo Bay beach is on the way to Mu Ko Lanta National Park, with a right turn before the National Park while going in a southerly direction where you can follow the signs to paradise.
Where to stay on Koh Lanta: Rawi Warin Resort & Spa and Baan KanTiang See Villa Resort. For a good mid-range hotels, Pimalai Resort & Spa and Layana Resort & Spa are good upscale option. Bamboo Bay Resort is an affordable option right on Ao Mai Pai Beach. See photos and more hotels options in Koh Lanta here and latest prices on HotelsCombined | Agoda
Families rejoice with an off-the-beaten-path beach in Thailand that is safe for the little ones at Klong Dao beach. While the kids play in the beautiful nature, parents can catch some rays and even possibly some shuteye.
The area surrounding the beach isn’t overly developed, but there are enough casual family eateries and massage huts to make it feel civilised. The beach is also at quite a gentle and expansive gradient making the waters quite shallow for the younger kids and then waters are calm and pristine. The area is also geared toward families, so kids can expect a toy with their meal. And the best part – there is free WiFi throughout the stretch.
Where to stay on Koh Lanta: Rawi Warin Resort & Spa and Baan KanTiang See Villa Resort.for a good mid-range hotels, Pimalai Resort & Spa and Layana Resort & Spa are good upscale option. See photos and more hotels options in Koh Lanta here and latest prices on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
A quick 30min boat ride from Koh Lanta is the pristine scuba haven of Koh Rok Islands in the Krabi region. The reefs are only about 100m from the shore, so it is a safe spot for the entire family to check out. The beach is beautiful and if you go on a guided tour, they will pack lunch for you. The best part is that the two islands, Koh Rok Yai and Koh Rok Noi, are managed by Mu Koh Lanta National Park, so all tour guides make sure that the beach is left spotless.
Although you can stay the night in a do-it-yourself camping style, the islands are otherwise uninhabited, but have public toilets. So it is best to stay in Koh Lanta and travel through for a day trip either on a guided tour or through private transfer.
Where to stay on Koh Lanta: Rawi Warin Resort & Spa and Baan KanTiang See Villa Resort for good mid-range hotels, Pimalai Resort & Spa and Layana Resort & Spa are good upscale options. See photos and more hotel options in Koh Lanta here and the latest prices on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Best Beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in Indonesia
When travelers think about Indonesia, Bali usually comes to mind. But what most travelers don’t know is that there are over 17,000 islands to choose from when traversing this beautiful country. This can only mean one thing – there is no shortage of beaches!
One thing that you learn about traveling is that the best places are also usually the most difficult to get to and this is no different in Indonesia. From the shores of Komodo to the white sands of Lombok, Indonesia most definitely offers offers some of the best beaches in Southeast Asia. Even I, who have traveled extensively throughout the region, even to remote islands like Sumba, have not even touched the surface of what Indonesia has to offer.
Here is a list of the best beaches in Indonesia selected by various travel bloggers. Don’t worry, there are some great options in Bali too. Check our list out below and don’t forget to save our map for offline access.
Residents and locals of Singapore all know about Bintan and Batam. Apart from Malaysia to the north, they are they quickest and easiest way to escape the city-state for a luxurious island getaway. I have been to both Bintan and Batam on several occasions and can testify to their beauty.
Bintan is a quick 1hr ferry ride from one of Singapore’s terminals like Tanah Merah or Harbourfront and then a 15-20min drive to Lagoi Bay. So you can be at work one hour and on a tropical island with gorgeous white sand beaches on the next.
The area on Bintan that is most well-known for its luxurious accommodation options is Lagoi Bay, which actually consists both of Lagoi Bay and Sebong Lagoi. While Sebong Lagoi is covered in resorts, Lagoi Bay is more tranquil as it is empty of the hotels and water sports and much larger. While the beaches are open to the public, there are no facilities beyond the hotels and resorts.
Where to stay on Lagoi Bay: Lagoi Bay is home to top end property The Sanchaya, which is not open to the public and the more tourist-friendly Grand Lagoi Hotel where you can get anything from food to drinks and snacks. If glamping is your thing, you should definitely think of staying at Natra Bintan. Sebong Lagoi is home to the upscale Banyan Tree Bintan, family-focussed Angsana Resort and the hip Cassia. Check out all the hotels in the area on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda. Or read our list of the best resorts in Bintan and Batam.
Nusa Dua is a tourist town in the south of Bali where resorts from some of the biggest names in the luxury hotel industry are condensed into. After traveling through the small and windy tree-lined roads, entering the gates into Nusa Dua feels as if you have entered a more polished version of the Land of the Gods.
Streets are paved, there is a large shopping complex and an 18-hole golf course. The area is safe and family-friendly with a host of water sports available. It’s also a nice place to have a romantic stroll or even enjoy a honeymoon.
The main Nusa Dua beach is a long stretch of silky soft sand and calm waters along some of the top hotels in the area. Across the way and after tourist spot Waterblow on Peninsula Island is less frequented Pantai Sumah beach. Both beaches are in walking distance to the Bali Collection Shopping Complex.
The vibe is very similar to Sanur, but a bit more well-kept, so it is the perfect place in Bali to have a relaxed vacation that will please the in-laws.
Where to stay on Nusa Dua: Nusa Dua is the destination for luxury hotels in Bali and you will find a few like the Sofitel Nusa Dua, The Conrad Bali, The Ritz Carlton Bali, the St Regis Bali, or the Grand Hyatt Bali among many others. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
If you’re a diver, you’ll definitely know about the Raja Ampat archipelago. It is world-renowned as one of the best diving spots as the coral reefs are untouched making the marine life thrive. Due to its remote location, Raja Ampat has some of the most untouched beaches in Indonesia. So it’s not difficult to find yourself all alone in paradise.
There are so many perfect and secluded beaches to choose from in the Raja Ampat archipelago and one pick is Gam Island. It’s not only the soft white sand and the translucent waters that will draw you to Game Island, but amazing and diverse marine life underneath the ocean’s surface. You’ll find reef sharks, turtles, stingrays, manta rays, and fish of all kinds.
To get to Gam Island you’ll have to take the ferry from Sorong to Waisai in West Papua and then a small boat to the island. While there are some homestays, there are no noticeable facilities, only you and rich biodiversity of your surroundings.
The closest island to south Bali is Nusa Penida, a quick 45min fast boat ride from Sanur. A remote cove on the eastern side of the island with steep cliffs overlooking a breathtaking view is Atuh beach. Due to the vivid turquoise ocean and cliff views to die for, Atuh has gained popularity on Instagram.
Although it isn’t swarming with holiday makers, Atuh is not a desolate location with no facilities. There are beach chairs and umbrellas for hire, local restaurants serving ice cold beer and bathroom facilities.
To get to Atuh beach, you’ll have to rent a motorbike and take the scenic journey for about an hour. The drive is traffic free and relatively safe on a well maintained road. Once you get to the beach, you will have to ascend the cliff and traverse the stairs for about 10 mins. It’s totally worth it.
Not all of the best beaches in Bali are white or gold, there are also some surprising black sand beaches that are as beautiful, and cleaner with less of a touristy feel. One such beach, just north of digital nomad haven Canggu, is Pasut beach.
There are no bars with drunk tourists and there is little infrastructure, only a long stretch of beautiful black sand to stroll along. Along with a few locals, you’ll most likely be the only person in sight. It’s about an hour from Canggu on a motorbike and there is a smaller resort nearby open to the public if you didn’t bring your own snacks. Come for sunset to witness one of the most unique things to do in Bali.
Where to stay on Pasut Beach: The best place to stay to explore Pasut Beach is Canggu, nearby. There, you will find a few accommodation options including luxury hotel Tugu Bali, newly opened COMO UMA Canggu and lots of villas you can find on Agoda. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Right next to Nusa Penida is a small island called Nusa Lembongan. It’s the most famous of the three islands that make up the Nusa Penida district due to it being the best catered for tourists. In a bay surrounded by rocky mountains you’ll find Dream Beach, which is only a quick 30min fast boat from Sanur and up a hill.
Apart from the epic views, you will find the typical white sand beaches and gorgeous azure ocean. There is a nice hotel called Dream Beach Huts above the beach too if you want to get something to eat or laze in the infinity pool overlooking the epic scenes. Stay for sunset to make use of their happy hour specials.
Where to stay on Dream Beach: As mentioned, Dream Beach is right in front of Dream Beach Huts, a resort which occupies all the beachfront space and which offers rustic chic affordable accommodation right in front of the ocean. Beware the beach is pretty popular so this is not exactly a quiet retreat but a happening beach resort. See latest prices and reviews on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Another one of the most interesting beaches in the Komodo National Park is Pink beach. When the red corals are crushed and mixed with the grainy sand, the beach becomes a pinkish red hue. Contrast this with turquoise blue waters and you have the perfect Instagram shot.
You can also do some day hikes on the rolling hills surrounding the beach and you may even bump into a Komodo dragon. As the beach is so unique, it can get quite crowded at times, so don’t come expecting serenity. The pink colour also varies, so if you arrive and the pink is not there, just enjoy the surrounding nature.
After taking the 15min boat from Loh Liang jetty, you will arrive at Pink beach. Bring plenty of water and snacks as there is only the pink sand and blue waters to keep you company.
Where to stay on Labuan Bajo: There is no accommodation on Pink Beach and the closest urban center (if we can call it that) is in Labuan Bajo. The only premium accommodation there is Plataran Resort which is a nice but a removed beach resort by the home grown brand. I very much enjoyed my stay there. You can also explore Komodo via a private luxury sailing boat or a liveaboard. All options (including a review of Plataran) on my post here. Check out the best hotels to stay in Labuan Bajo on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Photo by World in Paris
We mentioned the more popular Dream beach in Nusa Lembongan above. Yet a quieter option on the same island next to busy Bali is Jungutbatu beach. It is a truly laid back beach with gleaming white sand and azure waters.
Snap a selfie in front one of the ubiquitous boats that float camly in the distance while you take a sunset stroll. Another bonus photo opportunity is to capture the sun setting flaming red behind the mighty Gunung Agung in the distance.
There are several restaurant and hotel options near Jungutbatu beach in Nusa Lembongan, as well as diving and snorkeling equipment to rent out.
It’s quite a contrast that the best hotel in the world, 2 years running, is situation on one of the least known islands in Indonesia. Sumba Island is a paradise oasis and other than Nihi Sumba, has absolutely no tourism to speak of.
Where to stay on Sumba Island: I stayed at Nihi Sumba for my birthday in 2018 and can attest to it being one of the most beautiful resorts with some of the best beaches in Indonesia. I have written a complete review here and made a fun video showcasing the beauty of the island and activities that Nihi Sumba offer below. I’ll let the video clips do the talking… Check out other hotels to stay in Sumba on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
When people mention “the gilis”, they are usually referring to the triad of Trawangan, Air and Meno just off Lombok’s northwest coast. But not a lot of people know that “gili” actually means “small island” in the Sasak language. So there are hundreds of gilis throughout Indonesia!
But to the south of Lombok is another triplet of lesser known gilis consisting of Gili Nanggu, Gili Tangkong and Gili Sudak. Gili Naggu is our pick for one of the best beaches in Lombok. You can walk into the crystalline water all the way up to your shoulders and still see your feet.
The fluffy white sands that line the beach are so powdery that you will melt into it and there is such a thriving marine life that you may think you’re swimming in an aquarium. There are no crowds and only one accomodation option, so it is an escape for those ready to get away from people and electronics. Make your way to Tawun harbour and hire a local fisherman for the day for the short ride to Gili Nanggu.
Where to stay in Lombok: While there is no place to stay on Gili Naggu, there are a lot of options in Lombok. The closest to the access point to this beautiful Southeast Asian beach is Cocotinos Hotel Sekotong Lombok. Check out other great hotels to stay in Lombok on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Pink Beach – Tangsi Beach
A similar concept to Pink beach in Komodo, where the beach sand has a pinkish tint due to the crushed corals mixing with the crushed shells. An interesting fact is that the pink hue depends on the position of the sun.
It’s also quite refreshing to see that the locals making their best efforts at keeping the beach trash free and pristine. There are far too many once beautiful beaches that have been destroyed by mass tourism and trash.
Pink Beach is definitely off the beaten track as it is situated on the southeastern end of Lombok, so you will have to take a boat tour around the southern end of the island or take a direct scooter ride through its beautiful centre for about 2,5hrs. Once there, you can rent a kayak or snorkel, eat at one of the local warungs or just admire the beauty of your surroundings and the colour of the pink sand.
Where to stay in Lombok: Some of the better options on Lombok include Tugu Lombok, Anema Resort Gili Lombok or The Lombok Lodge. Perhaps the most luxurious of all are The Oberoi Lombok, Joglo House and the 7 Secrets Wellness Retreat. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda.
Even though Kuta is one of the busiest beaches in Bali, it is also one of the most iconic and beautiful. Sitting in front of the Beachwalk Shopping Center and throngs of shops and restaurants, Kuta is sheltered from the chaos by a long wall, so you’ll forget that you’re in slap bang in the middle of the tourist hub.
Kuta is a beach for travelers who want to be near all the major facilities that Bali has to offer, but still feel as if they are on an island vacation. So you can spend the day in the water and lapping up the sun, explore the chaotic Poppies Streets and then sip a martini at one of the fashionable bars that are dotted around the area.
Legian beach, Double Six beach and Seminyak are all along the same coastline, so if Kuta is too chaotic, you can always hop on over to the next slice of sand.
Where to stay in Kuta: There are so many hotels in Kuta and surrounding areas that the choice is unlimited. The Sheraton Bali is perhaps the most comfortable of the hotels right in front of the beach. Check out the best hotels to stay in Kuta on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda.
The more well known Gili Islands off the north coast of Lombok each have their own distinctive features. Gili Air is for backpackers looking for adventure. Gili Meno is for romantic honeymooners looking for some seclusion. Gili Trawangan is for the party goers who are looking to dance and drink the night away. No motors are allowed on any of the islands, so there is little pollution (but a lot of dust).
No matter which Gili you visit, and you’ll most likely be spending some time in each, you will find some of the best beaches in Indonesia. Gili Trawangan, or Gili T, is the busiest of the three, with parties going on until early hours of the morning. Yet you can find some respite in the Western side where you can also watch the most amazing sunset in Bali with Mount Agung as a backdrop.
Although it is quieter, you’ll possibly find queues of Instagrammers lined up to take the famous sunset shots of the swings in the ocean. Skip the swings and admire the spectacular show that nature has to offer with an ice cold Bintang beer in your hand.
Pop over to Gili Air for a laidback hippie vibe or Gili Meno for some real secluded beaches. Gili Meno is also the point where you can see the famous Bask Nest underwater sculpture or swim with the friendly turtles.
Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in Vietnam
Not many travelers heading to Vietnam will plan on going to the beach beyond Ha Long Bay. They usually opt for the beautifully terraced rice paddy fields of Sapa, the ancient architecture of Hanoi, or the many quaint towns in Central Vietnam like Hoi An, Hue and My Son.
Yet Vietnam’s east coast is filled with surprising gems and boasting some of the best beaches in Southeast Asia, particularly the islands splattered throughout the country. While many of the beaches are still yet to be explored, you are likely to find unspoilt, empty white sand beaches that have not seen many tourists like Con Dao or Phu Quoc.
After exploring the gorgeous nature and interesting culture, why not take a break at one of the best beaches in Vietnam mentioned below.
Bai Sao – Sao Beach
Lying along the southwest coast, and closer to Cambodia than Vietnam, is Phu Quoc island. There is a lot to do on the island, from hiking trails, to night markets and staying at one the many resorts. But the winner here is relaxing on the soft, powdery sands of Bai Sao Beach. This long stretch of unspoilt earth is one of the most beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia with crystal clear blue waters to swim in.
It may not be the most popular beach due to its location, but traveling the additional 30mins on a scooter from Long beach is well worth the effort. You’ll most likely not be seeing many people there. You may want to visit one of the many tourist hotspots on the island, or you can skip all that and spend the entire day on the beach. Combine it with a trip to the beaches of Sihanoukville if you’re planning a trip to Cambodia.
Where to stay in Phu Quoc: Phu Quoc Island has seen a surge in premium and upscale hotels in the last couple of years with grand opening by the JW Marriott Emerald Bay Resort & Spa, the colonial inspired Intercontinental Long Beach Resort, La Veranda, the all inclusive spa Fusion Resort and the stunning Premier Village managed by Accor. Check out the best hotel for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Dam Trau – Airport Beach
The Con Dao archipelago is probably most well known for its white sand beaches, breathtaking nature and marine life where it is a breeding ground for turtles. Con Son Island is one of the most beautiful islands in Vietnam with long stretches of sand to catch some rays.
After a quick, breezy ride on a scooter from your hotel you’ll end up at Dam Trau beach, also known as Airport beach due to its distance from where the planes land. Even though it is close to the airport, mass tourism hasn’t really caught on to this beautiful oasis to the east of Vietnam, so you might even be the only one there on its golden shores.
Sip the milk from a fresh coconut or lounge in one of the hammocks provided by the locals. When you’re done chilling on the waves, head to Six Senses Con Dao for an epic slice of luxury.
Where to stay in Con Dao: The undoubtedly most luxurious option on Con Dao is the Six Senses which I have visited twice and occupies a prime location on a long stretch of beach. The two storey villas are in the brand’s usual green, yellow and orange and driftwood. They all have their own pools and seafront location. Check out the best hotel for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
It seems that every country in Southeast has at least one Monkey beach, from Krabi in Thailand to Tioman in Malaysia. What sets this Monkey beach in Cat Ba Vietnam apart from the rest is that you can actually have a meal while laying on the beach without the fury little creatures trying to steal your food.
That’s not to say that they may not try, but unless you actually feed them, they’ll most likely keep their distance while you’re around. It really is a piece of heaven. You can even opt for a short hike with some epic viewpoints. Go for a day trip or spend the night at Monkey Island Resort, who also offer boat services from the mainland.
Those prone to seasickness can rejoice in a beautiful beach on Vietnam’s mainland. Nha Trang is a coastal resort in the south of Vietnam with a 6km beach sharing property with big names like Novotel and Sheraton. Although the area does have a resort feel with many tourists, the beach is so long that you can definitely find a spot in the sand all to yourself. Just watch out for jet skis and kite surfers.
If you get bored of the beach, you can always take the aerial cable car to neighbouring Hòn Tre Island where you can jet off to go diving among pristine coral reefs. Take a stroll along the promenade along Tran Phu Street to explore some local and international eateries like Pita GR, MIX restaurant or Louisiane Brewhouse and Restaurant and Resort.
Where to stay in Nha Trang: While there are a lot of accommodation options on Nha Trang itself, there are also some really stunning resorts a bit farther away in Ninh Van Bay such as the Six Senses or An Lam Retreats. For the ultimate spa retreat, consider Amanoi, two hours away. For options nearer the city, try the Intercontinental, the Sheraton or the Evason Ana Mandara or Vinpearl Resort & Spa Long Beach may just be a happy middle choice. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
An Bang Beach
Another one of Vietnam’s best mainland beaches can be found near the ancient town of Hoi An, An Bang Beach. In fact, An Bang beach is only a brisk 5km ride from Hoi An’s centre. So you can even hire a bicycle to work up a sweat before diving into the beautiful blue ocean. If you take a slow ride toward the coast, you’ll witness the iconic Vietnamese basket boats floating gently by.
An Bang not only offers pretty scenery and warm waters, but is a burgeoning foodie destination in its own right. So you will definitely be spoilt for choice when looking for dining options after a day in the sun. The adventurous types can also partake in one of the many oceanic activities like parasailing or jet-skiing. It’s best to come at sunset for an unforgettable experience.
Where to stay in Hoi An: Hoi An is very small so there are limited accommodation options in the city itself the best one being the Anantara Hoi An and the boutique Little Riverside Hoi An. You could do like me and stay at the Banyan Tree Lang Co which offers free shuttle service daily to Hoi An and is a great base to explore the area including My Son temple ruins, the Imperial city of Hue. Or base yourself at any of the other luxury hotels in Central Vietnam. The most premium hotel near Hoi An is The Four Seasons Nam Hai in Hoi An city followed by Vinpearl Nam Hoi An Resort & Villas Nam. Check out more hotel options on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Lang Co Beach and Canh Duong Beach
Out of season, Lang Co Beach in Hue is almost deserted. Yet if you’re visiting central Vietnam to UNESCO cities like Hue, Hoi An or Da Nang, you should definitely make a stop here to dip in the water. It’s also an extremely photogenic place with large mountains, Lap An Lagoon and the swings (which you can use for a small fee).
Drive about 25mins and you’ll reach Banyan Tree Lang Co and Canh Duong Beach that is a local haunt, particularly for locals. The crescent-shaped beach in Chan May Bay is also a great place for a sunrise jog if you’re an early bird.
While there is not much around other than a bar/restaurant serving fresh oysters on Lang Co Beach with some more restaurants along the main road, you could always pop into one of the great beach resorts mentioned below for a refined snack.
Where to stay in Lang Co: Definitely the top picks are closer to Canh Duong beach with Banyan Tree Lang Co and Angsana Lang Co. There are also some really nice properties closer to Lang Co Beach but not as luxurious. Find more properties on HotelsCombined | Booking.com
Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in the Philippines
Whenever I think of the Philippines, I imagine the friendly smiling faces of the locals, who are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. I spent quite a few years working and living in this wonderful country, so it has a special place in my heart.
When I first arrived in 2010, the best beaches in the Philippines were basically empty, devoid of any tourists. This didn’t last too long and very soon travelers started to pour into the country with a spate of luxury hotels opening up in the Philippines.
Luckily, like Indonesia, there are several thousand islands to explore in the, so there are definitely some hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Here is our list, with the help of a few bloggers, of the best beaches in the Philippines to make your island dreams come true.
Siquijor is a real off-the-beaten-path island just south of Cebu, Bohol and Negros. There is no airport, no Jolly Bee and if you want food, you’ll need to stop at one of the local markets. Due to the lack of infrastructure, the beaches are untouched and one of the most beautiful is Paliton Beach.
Lined by rows of palm trees and covered in powder white sand, Paliton is a great place to get away from it all and have a bit of a digital detox. If you go during high tide, be sure to bring a snorkel with you so that you can spot the thriving marine life. If you do want to use the facilities at the resort nearby, you’ll have to pay a small entrance fee. There are few other backpackers and resorts around the island if you want to stay the night.
Psst! The locals think that Siquijor is filled with witchcraft and magic (not necessarily the positive one) is common so beware, you have been warned!
Where to stay in Siquijor: There are not a lot of premium options to stay in Siquijor but the best ones are White Villas Resort and Kalachuchi Villas Resort. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Just south of Paliton on the sleepy island of Siquijor is equally as beautiful Tubod beach. What makes Tubod beach different is its famous marine sanctuary. The variety of marine life here is quite amazing, especially at night when all the little critters come out to play.
You can easily spend the entire day paddling around in the water, whether you’re floating on top or diving underneath. And if you’re not into finding Nemo, you can always chill on the beach, coconut in hand, watching the world go by.
Where to stay in Siquijor: There are not a lot of premium options to stay in Siquijor but the best ones are White Villas Resort and Kalachuchi Villas Resort. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
If ever there was a remote tropical paradise in Southeast Asia, this would be it. Pass Island is a small piece of land sandwiched between Culion Island and Coron in Busuanga, Palawan. As the island is so small and off the usual path, it is both clean and private.
There is not much to do on Pass Island other than lounge about, snorkel, or play some volleyball, so it’s best for travelers seeking some relaxation for a digital and activity free day. There is a small hut selling drinks of all sorts and a few bungalows for an overnight sleepover among the milky way. It’s only a one hour journey from Busuanga Island to one of the most remote and best beaches in the Philippines. Stop by if you’re in the area.
Where to stay in Coron: Coron and Palawan in general, have some of the best luxury hotels in the Philippines. Here you can expect even overwater villas like the ones in the Maldives and crystal clear waters. Two Seasons Island Resort & Spa and Bamboo Island are good ones nearby. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Staying in the Busuanga region, another golden hue sand and secluded beach in Palawan is Ocam Ocam beach, but this it’s in the north. For easy access, hire a boat from Coron town. Intrepid travelers who don’t want to put a dent in their wallet should opt for a motorcycle as the 2hr journey through Busuanga is certainly breathtaking, but it is rough and rugged.
Prepare to disconnect and escape from the stresses of daily life as you place your feet in the sand and look up at the palm trees as you doze off to the sounds of nature. Take all amenities you think you will need as there are no facilities on the beach and make sure your bike has a full tank before you leave for your journey.
Where to stay in Coron: Coron and Palawan in general, have some of the best luxury hotels in the Philippines. Here you can expect even overwater villas like the ones in the Maldives and crystal clear waters. Two Seasons Island Resort & Spa and Bamboo Island are good ones nearby. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
The most famous beach in the Philippines is probably Boracay’s White Sand beach, which really is paradisiacal in all senses of the word. While the infamous Stations 1, 2, and 3 are beautiful and have won top spots on lists of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines, it can get crowded. A less traversed beach on the same strip, just a little further south is Angol.
At Angol you’ll get the same spectacular scene as the already amazing Stations, but without the mega resorts, pubs pumping loud music and vendors pushing their product. Angol is a more laid back vibe, but is close enough to the action to join in whenever you have de-stressed yourself. Their is a small bar though called Red Pirates if you want a side of beer with your relaxation.
Beach bums who enjoy joining civilisation for their day in the sun will love Nacpan and its twin Calitang in El Nido. The 3km beach is long enough to not be condensed, but there will always be people around in season. Apart from the other tourists enjoying their stay, the vibe is mellow and quiet.
There are local vendors selling snacks of all kinds with daily fresh seafood. It’s only a 15min ride from El Nido Proper, but a less expensive way to get there is by cycling from your resort for about 15kms. Recently, a shuttle bus has been operating both ways with a round trip costing around 600PHP, with the last trip leaving at 6:30PM.
Where to stay in El Nido: El Nido Has a few of Philippine’s best luxury hotels and is a great destination for a romantic getaway. The best options are all the resorts belonging to El Nido Resorts. Check out other options on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
As mentioned above, El Nido is for travelers who love to socialise and make friends on their trip. It has a fantastic nightlife and activities abound. After meeting up and making new friends, get better acquainted by taking one of the day tours off the main island.
Day Tour C is the best one for beach bums as it stops off at one of the best beaches in Asia, Secret beach (also known as Hidden beach). The only way to get there is by boat from El Nido. The beach is mainly covered in water and is lagoon like, so leave your electronics on the boat as you wade through the translucent ocean for a few seconds to reach the small patches of sand. You do have to swim through a door like overhang, which may put some people off, but it really is only about a 5sec journey and is totally worth it.
Where to stay in El Nido: El Nido Has a few of Philippine’s best luxury hotels and is a great destination for a romantic getaway. The best options are all the resorts belonging to El Nido Resorts from where you can explore Secret Beach without day tours. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
The fine pinkish sands of Alona beach on Panglao Island in Bohol are some of the softest you will witness. There is so much to do near Alona other than lie on the beach. Choose from one of many resorts to explore and stay at, go for a dive or scuba at the House Reef, or venture into Bohol and conquer the famous Chocolate Hills.
Alona is a big tourist attraction due to its limestone cliffs and natural beauty, so don’t go expecting solitude. There are stalls of all kinds lining the beach where you can grab a bite to eat or a sun lounger, have a luxurious massage or try your hand at one of the many water activities.
Where to stay in Panglao: Hennan Resort and South Palms Resorts are both great options on Panglao and Eskaya Beach Resort and Bohol Shores are the most premium. I enjoyed Eskaya as it is located at one end of the beach so it is removed from the busyness yet just a couple of steps away from the beach shacks and the day tours. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Dimaquiat Island, to the north of Busuanga Island, is perfect for traveling families that love the beach. It is the home to Club Paradise, an eco-friendly and all-inclusive resort that offers so many activities for guests of all ages. There are even babysitting and baby massage services available, so the parents can relax for the day. And what better way to relax than the beach.
There is a choice of three main beaches, from the smaller hidden beach on the north, to the medium Sunrise beach on the east and the larger, most popular sunset on the west. No matter which beach you select, they are all very pretty. There are many activities available from scuba and diving through the rich corals, hiking courses, boat trips and island hopping or just relaxing at the Glow Spa.
Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best Beaches in Myanmar
Myanmar came late to tourism in Southeast Asia and after opening up its doors to foreign visitors around 2012 it made some strides in increasing the number of international visitors with Bagan, Inle Lake (where you can sleep over water at the Novotel Inle Lake) and Mandalay becoming overnight successes.
Yangon is also one of my favorite cities in Southeast Asia, if only because it feels less like a city and more like a living museum, at least for now. Some of Yangon’s luxury hotels are true heritage gems and belong to a list of the oldest hotels in Asia.
However, the recent Rohingya crisis has put it again on the map for the wrong reasons and tourism has dwindled.
The country does however have some of the most beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia and also the most remote and isolated. In many of them, you are sure to be the only one, so for a piece of quiet and paradise, the beaches in Myanmar take the number one spot, perhaps only followed by Timor Leste.
For more travel inspiration, check out these stunning photos of Myanmar.
Maungmagan Beach, Dawei is located in the South of Myanmar, in the part that was just recently opened for tourists and is therefore, a more remote beach and less popular with foreign visitors. But that is exactly what makes this beach so special.
You will most likely be the only non-local tourist on the beach. The water here is crystal clear and it’s just beautiful to have a little swim, and afterwards, a great nap in one of the hammocks available at the beach.
The Maungmagan Beach is located around 12 km outside of Dawei. The easiest way is to get there by Motorcycle or Taxi. You can rend motorcycles at many places in Dawei. The road between Dawei and the Maungmagan Beach is quite easy. You can find a lot of local restaurants here to have a great lunch or dinner and the beach. They mostly sell seafood which is really fresh and affordable around here. Toilets are available but usually in a really bad condition. Some of the restaurants offer hammocks to have a nap after lunch.
The most stunning beaches in Myanmar are yet to be discovered. Large parts of the country are still untouched by tourism and with a coast located just north from the Thai border you can just imagine their beaches to be as beautiful – minus the crowds.
To explore the Mergui Archipelago at this time you still need to do so by boat. Burma Boating has been sailing the waters ever since the country started to open up to tourism and offers luxury wooden sailing boat accommodation with AC and all meals plus the best scenery around.
Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best Beaches in Malaysia
Malaysia has the longest coast of any other country and is basically a long stretch of land surrounded by oceans on both sides. There are not only hundreds of beaches in Malaysia, but there are also dozens of islands, some of them large enough to have a wide selection of accommodation options.
For example, the number of luxury hotels in Langkawi rivals Koh Samui. The country is also a great diving destination and the many islands on the eastern side are well known as places to get your diving certificate. From Singapore, liveaboard boats depart every weekend carrying passengers wanting to get certified.
On the island of Borneo, diving is affordable and world class, with dive wrecks as well as shallow quieter waters and easy access to the international airport of Kota Kinabalu.
It should come as no surprise that some of the best beaches in Southeast Asia are in Malaysia. And to make things simpler, they tend to be either well connected to airports and are easy to reach by boat or car.
So let’s take a look at this selection of the best beaches in Malaysia.
Pulau Kapas is a small, off-the-beaten island in the east coast of Malaysia near Kuala Terengganu city. It’s not vastly popular yet, but already people are going as far as to call it the most beautiful island in the country. Pulau Kapas is composed of several beaches, connected via man-made stairs.
A few resorts, guesthouses and camping tents are located facing the beaches, and you can explore the length of the island in about half an hour. You can even hire a kayak and some diving equipment to do so.
There aren’t many activities available in Kapas Island. Instead, it’s suitable for locals who want a refreshing dip on weekends or backpackers who are looking for a chill, secluded beach spot with relaxing blue water. To get there from Kuala Lumpur, take a bus or fly to Kuala Terengganu. Then, take a bus or taxi to Marang jetty and off you go. If you are interested to visit make sure to check out this guide to Kapas Island on Tara Lets Anywhere.
Teluk Puah Beach
The Perhentian Islands are famous in Asia for snorkelling, but after joining a snorkelling tour around the islands, the most diverse and abundant marine life was right back where the tour started, at Teluk Puah Beach.
Located on the northwest of Perhentian Besar (the Big Island), you will meet clownfish, rays, pufferfish, all before reaching sea turtles, on just a short 500-meter swim from the shore. The beach is perfect, with soft sands, and hills of dense jungle surrounding on either side. Not to forget the silvered-leaf langurs which occasionally eat through the mango trees following the beach perimeter.
It does appear to be a private beach at first, given the main hotel on this cove is the Perhentian Islands Resort. If you are looking for the most environmentally friendly business on the Perhentian, make sure to check the map below by the Turtle Project. Keen to snorkel on the Perhentian Islands? Check out Live Less Ordinary for more details.
Where to stay in Perhentian Islands: Because Teluk Puah Beach connects to the Perhentian Islands Resort, there are facilities such as a pier, a bar and restaurant, as well a hire shop for water sports and snorkelling. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Juara Bay is a calm and beautiful beachfront on Tioman Island, framed by untouched rainforests. There are excellent snorkelling areas to discover and no harmful creatures to worry about, making it a perfect beach for families and anyone who loves ocean activities. The southernmost end is particularly beautiful; it was the most pristine and natural beach we had ever seen! But the whole bay is lovely and suitable for swimming and snorkelling.
To get to Tioman Island you can catch a flight, or take a ferry from Mersing Jetty or Tanjung Gemok Jetty on Peninsular Malaysia. From the Tekek point on Tioman Island, you can walk through the jungle for several hours to get to Juara Bay, or take an island taxi up and through the middle of the island, and down to Juara.
Juara Bay has a restaurant strip with many cafes and shacks offering food and drinks. Some resorts have their own lounges for guests, but otherwise bring your own gear. There are some hire centres for snorkelling and scuba equipment too. The beaches in Juara Bay are not busy yet relatively untouched, making it a really relaxed island paradise.
If you are keen to volunteer at the Juara turtle project read more on Small Footprints Big Adventures. Check here for an itinerary for Tioman, which is also a great place to get started planning a trip to the island.
Where to stay in Tioman Island: There are a few great accomodations all around TIoman Island with the most comfortable and accessible on the West side like the massive Berjaya, but is more accomodating for families and is by no means luxurious. For a 5-star option, try Japamala Resort by Samadhi, with Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort and Minang Cove Resort also being good choices. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Island hopping among the islands close to the coast is a popular activity in Kota Kinabalu. When you have so many islands to choose from, it is difficult to choose which one. We decided to go to the most popular one, Sapi Island, since we had a toddler with us and we didn’t want to do a whole day of getting on and off the boat.
Once you are there, you can choose from a number of water sports activities or you can choose to laze at the beach. We spent most of our time there snorkeling and the water was so clear and refreshing. There is an abundance of fish and corals at the beach. You can also choose to go sea walking or do a zipline to the nearest Gaya island.
There are no resorts on the island but you do have an option of camping, yet this needs to be informed to the authorities. Since this is part of the Tunku Rahman Abdul Park, all visitors have to pay a conservation fee to enter the island.
You can reach the island by taking a speedboat from Jesselton Jetty in Kota Kinabalu between 8AM and 4,30PM, departing every 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a boat from the Pacific Sutera resort like us. You can decide on the 1 island, 2 island, 3 island package depending on how many islands you want to hop.
There are toilet facilities and changing rooms. In addition, you can opt for a buffet lunch. You can rent snorkel equipment, go scuba diving or ziplining, sea walking etc from this island. Read about the experience on Travel, Book and Food.
Where to stay in Kota Kinabalu: There are a few great accommodation options around the area. You can choose the popular Manukan Island Resort, or the more exclusive Gaya Island Resort. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Best Beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in East Timor
Best beaches in East what? Most people have never even heard of East Timor, also known by its original name, Timor Leste due to its Portuguese colonial past.
If you can’t place East Timor on the map, don’t worry, you are not the only one. The country is one of the least visited countries in the world and mostly under the radar despite its location in Southeast Asia. Flights tend to be expensive and although the country is also one of the poorest in Asia, local prices are not low and tend to be in US dollars.
However, if you visit you will be rewarded with the stunning, and virtually empty, beaches of East Timor that you will have all to yourself. Some of them even have local beach huts serving coconuts fresh off the tree (someone actually went to climb the palm tree to get me mine) and simple grilled foods.
East Timor’s best beaches require you to rent a car as public transportation is unreliable and erratic. Fret not, the road that cuts along the beaches is easy and goes on a straight line so you can check them all out in a day’s worth of driving. Then spend a night or two at the most eastern tip and explore a couple of the prettiest beaches in Southeast Asia.
If you have more time you can also head south, but make sure to come in the right season as rains deem the roads impassable.
Not far from well-known spots such as Bali and Lombok is little East Timor – one of the least-visited destinations in Southeast Asia.
East Timor underwent 27 years of Indonesian invasion and subsequent political instability, so only a few adventurous visitors made it here. The good news is that the country is safe to visit again, and most services and transportation options are improving.
I suggest that you travel to the island’s easternmost point and visit Jaco Island, one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
There are no buildings, houses or restaurants on the beach … nothing. It’s a wild island surrounded by coral reefs, blue water and white sand. To get there, you’ll need to negotiate a boat trip from Praia Jaco, a small village on East Timor’s mainland and the main access point to Jaco Island. To get to Jaco Island, you simply have to talk to the local fishermen who will take you there for $10.
The local people are happy that tourism is growing in their country, and they’ll welcome you with the best hospitality, tastiest food and lots of smiles. Now is the best time to visit this little paradise! Jaco Island is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in East Timor and you can read more about it on Travelsauro.
Where to stay in East Timor: Timor is an expensive country so hotels, despite being of the 3 star category level, are quite expensive. The best options are the Novo Turismo Resort & Spa, Hotel Timor and the one I stayed at Hotel Esplanada. You won’t get your money’s worth at either but they are your best bet. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in Cambodia
The amount of temples in Angkor Wat is such that you could spend days exploring, yet the majority of travelers will come for two to three days and then, either head to other Southeast Asian countries or visit the capital, Phnom Penh and then end their trip by the beaches in the south.
While some parts of the coast may start to show signs of overdevelopment, there are still a few fabulous beaches in Cambodia where you can find yourself alone in the quietest, clearest waters with the fluffiest sands. The Wild East is also an under-the-radar place to go explore, albeit with less beaches and more jungles and sandbanks along the various rivers.
Less known than Thailand or the Philippines, let the country surprise you with one of these recommendations for the best beaches in Cambodia.
Half This World Away tells me that “Koh Rong is the closest we’ve ever come to a real, tropical paradise. Off the coast of Sihanoukville in Cambodia, there is a piece of heaven waiting for you where the bluest of water meets the whitest of sand. The island is powered by a generator which means there is only electricity for a few hours a day, and when we visited there were only a few guesthouses on the island. It was back to basics and without luxury, but we loved it.”
Tempted yet? Cambodia has some of the best beaches in Southeast Asia, many of which are still undiscovered, especially beyond the famous beaches of Sihanoukville. Head out to the smaller islands and you will find your own paradise in Southeast Asia.
Where to stay in Koh Rong: There is one premium resort on the main island of Koh Rong, Royal Sands Koh Rong. For the ultimate in an overwater escape, try Song Saa, located on its own private island off the coast of Koh Rong. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
If it’s bungalow style beach shacks you are after with a relaxed vibe, clear waters and beautiful sunsets, Otres Beach near Sihanoukville, West Cambodia, is the one for you. Split into two moderately developed halves, Otres 1 sits to the north and Otres 2 to the south divided by a long stretch of sandy white beach lined by casuarina trees. You will see equally as many locals taking a dip in the warm ocean waters as you will tourists. Development however, is starting to encroach so it really is a “go now” place before it’s rustic charm is taken.
The beach front at Otres 1 and Otres 2 is lined with small beach shacks and restaurants where lounge chairs, hammocks and toilets are freely available, just an expectation that you buy food/drinks from them with no hire fee. Street traders regularly pass by with everything from sunglasses to fresh prawns – and massages of course! On the beach front there are small bungalows with rooms to rent and on the road behind the beach you will find more low rise resorts and hostels, these are more likely to come with a pool and air conditioning.
If you want to get to Otres, then nearby Sihanoukville has a small international airport, or it’s about 4 hours from Phnom Penh in a private hire car. Expect the bus to take more like 6 hours to Sihanoukville, or on weekends there is a train service that current takes 7 hours. Sihanoukville to Otres can add another 15-20 minutes by tuk tuk. Find out more about Otres Beach on Our Globetrotters.
Where to stay in Sihanoukville: The two best resorts in Sihanoukville are the Independence Hotel Resort & Spa and Sokha Beach Resort. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda
Best beaches in Southeast Asia – Best beaches in Singapore
When people travel to Singapore, they don’t usually think about beaches. They would rather experience the thriving culture of the Lion City and then relax in their infinity pool at the hotel. There are so many other nearby choices like the many beach resorts in Bintan or Batam, but there are actually some really nice beaches, and even islands, in Singapore.
If you’re looking for something different to do in Singapore to escape the heat and humidity, head out to the ocean and check out some of the beaches in Singapore. Use this article on 100+ things to do in Singapore to help with all the other activities.
Beaches on Sentosa Island – Siloso, Palawan and Tanjong Beach
The man-made island of Sentosa has some of the highest priced properties on the island, along with some of the most luxurious resorts in Singapore. Universal Studios theme park and the golf course are probably the most well-known sites to explore. But there are some great Singapore beaches too.
You’ll find three distinct beaches on Sentosa Island for all the different types of beach goers, namely Siloso Beach, Palawan Beach and Tanjong Beach.
Siloso beach is for the water sports enthusiasts. There’s volleyball and frisbee, as well other thrilling activities like bungee jumping at AJ Hackett, flowriding at Wave House Sentosa, zip-lining at Mega Adventure Park, indoor skydiving at iFly Singapore and water-jetpacking at Ola Beach Club.
Quieter and longer than Siloso Beach, Palawan is more geared toward families. It is children-focused with loads of fun and entertaining activities. A popular activity is to take a selfie on the suspension bridge that leads to the southernmost point in continental Asia.
For some family fun on Palawan Beach head to the Pirate Ship or Kidzania. Pose with pretty parrots at Animal & Bird Encounters, then grab a bite to eat at beach club, bar and restaurant FOC, one of our favourite Spanish restaurants in Singapore. There is also Bora Bora Beach Bar and a food court for more casual bites.
By far the classiest beach of the lot Tanjong Beach lies on the outskirts of the golf course and millionaire mile Sentosa Cove. It’s a more refined beach option for the beautiful people to show of their beach bodies while Instagramming their colorful cocktails to live DJs. Tanjong Beach Club (TBC) is the hottest place on the island, especially on Sundays when the vibe becomes electric. Beyond the parties, there are yoga sessions, movies under the stars and many impromptu volleyball games, stand-up paddle board meet-ups and other gatherings.
Before heading to Sentosa, check out some fascinating facts about Sentosa. Bear in mind that Sentosa is an artificial, man-made island in front of the second largest shipping port in the world, so you may come across pollution.
Where to stay on Sentosa Island: I recently stayed at W Singapore – Sentosa Cove and was disappointed by their service. It is a break from its usual hip brand and is more geared toward families than trendy couples, but families may think otherwise. You can read my full review here. I would much rather recommend the Sofitel, Le Meridien or Shangri-la Rasa. The Capella is by far the most luxury hotel option on Sentosa Island and I have stayed there twice and loved it every time. Here’s my review.
For families, your best bet is to stay at one of the hotels at Resorts World. Take your pick at:
Within the 28 hectare beach park lies Changi Beach that stretches 3.3km along the coast. It is also the closest beach to Changi airport if you want to dip in the ocean before you leave. There are six distinct parts of Changi beach that you can stroll along including Creek Walk, Beach Walk, Sailing Point Walk, Cliff Walk, Kelong Walk and Sunset Walk.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience Singapore’s past and present all at once, the old kampong feeling still lingers here with many locals who come to enjoy their downtime. There is overnight camping, barbecuing, fishing, cycling and jogging all along the path. Watch the sunrise by the SAF Changi Ferry Terminal, and stroll over to the west at Changi Point for sunset.
There are also some places to have fresh fish like Bistro@Changi, or the various food options at Changi Village like Changi Village Hawker Centre or Changi Village Market all within close proximity of each other.
Where to stay near Changi Beach: The closest luxury hotels near Changi airport are Capri by Fraser Changi City which is more business than luxury or the Crowne Plaza at Changi Airport. However, the beach is a short 20-30min to town where there are a host of luxury hotels. Check the best hotels in Singapore on Booking.com | Agoda | HotelsCombined
The not so frequently visited north of Singapore is where you will find untouched nature and unspoilt beauty. Punggol Point Park has a fabulous viewing deck to inspre you with wanderlust with elevated views over the ocean and you can even spot Malaysia across the water.
Punggol is the place to go to escape the muggy city centre, a place where you can actually feel the ocean breeze. Stroll along the Punggol Promenade at your own leisure and then up your picnic on the beach on the soft white sand. There are a bunch of large rocks scattered thought, which can be annoying at times, but makes for an epic photo.
Other activities at Punggol include a recreation centre, and a Children’s Playground with toilets. You can also access Coney Island from Punggol Park and make it a full day of exploration.
Where to stay near Punggol Beach: There aren’t that many hotels in this are as it is primarily residential and there aren’t any reasons for visitors to stay there. However, Punggol Beach is a short 20-30min to town where there are a host of luxury hotels. Check the best hotels in Singapore on Booking.com | Agoda | HotelsCombined
Coney Island (Pulau Serangoon)
At the northern tip of Punggol lies Coney Island. This is more for nature lovers than beach bums but there are a few stretches of sand. The privately-owned 50 hectare park can be trekked on foot or explored by bike to witness the environmentally-rich area. If you’ve been to Haw Par Villa, you’ll know about the Haw Par brothers and founders of Tiger Balm. They also own Coney Island which was only opened to visitors recently and is one of the last uninhabited parts of Singapore.
As a result of isolation and lack of development, Coney Island is pretty wild and untouched, so it’s not really the place to go if you’re looking to show off your beach bod. There is no electricity or running water, or any stores to buy any food or drinks, so pack accordingly.
There are some beaches on Coney Island, aptly named Beach A, B, C and D, but they are small and may have sand flies, although the sand is fine and white. There is apparently a secret beach on the island that is isolated and better for tanning, but we have never found it! You can also try to find their old abandoned beach villa if it hasn’t already been completely demolished.
The best thing to do on Coney Island is to hire a bike and explore the nature. It is a large island to walk and there is only one toilet, so it’s best to hire a bike for easier access. There are also some eateries, with the most famous being Sembawang White Bee Hoon.
Coney Island is open from 7am to 7pm and can be reached on bus 84 from Punggol exchange.
Where to stay near Coney Island: There aren’t that many hotels in this are as it is primarily residential and nature conservation area and there aren’t any reasons for visitors to stay there. However, Coney Island is a short 20-30min to town where there are a host of luxury hotels on Booking.com | Agoda | HotelsCombined
Singapore’s Southern Islands (St John’s, Kusu, Sisters’)
Not all the beaches in Singapore are on the main island. In fact, some of the most beautiful can be found in a cluster known as the Southern Islands, accessible only by ferry. Depending on which one of the three you choose to visit, you will need 20 to 40min on the ferry from Marina South Pier at a rate of S$18 to get there. Check the ferry schedule here. Or can also rent your own yacht and explore them independently.
The Southern Islands in Singapore are made up of three islands that include St John’s, Kusu and Seven Sisters Islands. While St John’s and Kusu have scheduled ferry services, you will need to hire a boat at the ferry terminal to get to Seven Sisters.
The beaches on St John’s Island in Singapore
Only 6.5km from the main island of Singapore, St John’s Island and has two beaches. The best one is the crescent-shaped, white sand Lazarus Beach. This does require a 15min walk, but is well worth the effort as it’s probably Singapore’s best beach. It is isolated, filled with nature and feels like you are in a different country.
There are also walking paths through the forest and various places where to set up a picnic. Book one of the wooden cabins for the night through the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) if you want to extend your stay. There are no shops on St. John’s Island so make sure to bring all you need with you – and take your trash back too. Note: It seems that there is currently asbestos found on the island and some areas are closed until mid-2019 for cleaning. Please check with SLA before going.
Kusu or “tortoise” Island is about 5.6km from the main island of Singapore. It is surrounded by small sandy beaches that are not as sprawling as Lazarus, but still beautiful. There are also guided walking tours of the reef and a diverse marine life.
Two shrines were built since on the island, one Muslim and one Taoist, which are very busy during the eleventh month of the lunar calendar which is also known as the “Kusu” season. There is the Taoist temple known as Da Bo Gong or Tua Pek Kong (Grand Uncle), which was built by a wealthy businessman in 1923 and Kramat at the top of the 152 steps was built in ode to a pious man (Syed Abdul Rahman), his mother (Nenek Ghalib) and sister (Puteri Fatimah).
There are toilets on Kusu Island but no other facilities or stores to buy anything. The beach area is surrounded by grass and has picnic tables and chairs.
If you really want to get off the beaten path in search of a beach in Singapore, then you will need to head to Sisters’ Islands. There is the larger Big Sister’s Island (Pulau Subar Laut) facing the ocean or the smaller Little Sister’s Island (Pulau Subar Darat) facing mainland. Only Big Sisters’ Island is open to the public as the rest is reserved for research and conservation.
There is some great snorkeling and diving in the area and you can even set up camp for the night for that rugged adventurous experience. You will mosty likely spot giant clams, seahorse and octopus.
Big Sisters’ Island can only be visited privately (there is no public ferry connection to get there), you are almost guaranteed to be alone there. Join one of the Singapore Park’s guided walks for a commentary visit and an easy ferry ride (the ferries are organised as part of the walk).
Where to stay near the South Islands: There is no accommodation on the islands except for the basic cabins on St. John’s. However, the pier from where the ferries depart is right by the CBD area so there are plenty of luxury hotels to choose from. For example, the Westin Hotel or the Marina Bay Sands are probably the closest, but you are unlikely to walk to the pier so any of the many hotels in the center will be perfect too. My favorite are the Six Senses Singapore, the Fort Canning Hotel and the historic Raffles Hotel.
Pulau Ubin is the last real kampong (traditional village) in Singapore. This means that there is no electricity in the households and the residents live using traditional ways and means. It is one of the forgotten sites of Singapore that should definitely be visited, even if you don’t go to the beach, to learn more about the roots of the country.
Catch a boat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal for about 10mins to this iconic location that captures how Singapore was in the 60s. The beaches are quite grassy and not really for people looking to get a tan. But Mamam beach, where one of the two campsites are, is probably your best bet for a wild piece of isolated shore. Noordin Beach was originally the best beach on the island, but due to severe erosion had to be closed off. More daring explorers can investigate the other beaches without facilities.
Chek Jawa Wetlands offers beautiful nature with a stroll through the mangroves. There are also hikes and fresh traditional food to eat. You can also camp on Pulau Ubin for free at Mamam campsite or Jelutong campsite. Visit here for more information about camping.
Where to stay near Pulau Ubin: The only accommodation on the island is camping so if you want all your creature comforts, best to choose one of the many luxury hotels in Singapore and head to Pulau Ubin on a day trip.
The beach on East Coast Park
Explore the 15km stretch of coast that starts at Changi Airport and ends at the Marina, which is a very popular family spot for locals and feels the most like the other beaches of Southeast Asia. Culture vultures should pop in here as you will experience life as locals do, far from the trendier tourists spots. While the view of container ships is not the greatest, there are many family-fun activities to be had like rollerblading, cycling and eating at the many different establishments.
While the park is open all day long and there are no fences, the bike rental shops usually close at 10pm. You can check everything there is to know about cycling in Singapore in our guide here. You can find more details about East Coast Park here.
Where to stay near East Coast Park: East Coast Park is a long stretch of land bordering more residential spaces from Changi to the Marina. So your best option is to stay somewhere Downtown and visit for the day. Another great idea would be to stay in the Marina Area and hire a bike for the day.
Pasir Ris Beach
Other than the islands near Singapore, Pasir Ris Beach is probably the best beach in Singapore. The tranquil 6km stretch of coastline has all the facilities you need from barbecue pits and restaurants to skateparks and sheltered areas. It even more family friendly than East Coast park.
Take a tip in the ocean and the head to one of the playgrounds to have a bit of family fun. Then you can take a stroll along the mangrove trail and the Pasir Ris Park Maze. Horse riders and foodies can rejoice too as there is also non-member horse riding available at Gallop Stable and plenty of dining options like JUMBO or Long Beach UDMC Seafood Restaurant for the famous Singapore Chilli Crab or Georges @ The Cove.
Where to stay near Pasir Ris: Like with the other Singapore beaches on this post, there aren’t really any luxury places to stay near Pasir Ris so you are best off staying in the downtown and visiting for the day. Or camping overnight for a simple but fun way to enjoy the park.
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