10 of the Best Beaches in Southeast Asia
Are you planning a trip to Southeast Asia? There’s so much to see – from ancient history, pulsating cities and stunning natural wonders, but perhaps the biggest draw in the region is the hundreds of beautiful beaches. Keep reading for (what I think) are the 10 best beaches in Southeast Asia – let me know if you agree!
Sugar Beach, Negros, the Philippines
Best for: Solitude
Sugar Beach isn’t easy to get to. First you need to find your way to Negros (not a particularly popular destination in the Philippines), then you need to take a bus and then a boat. I arrived by boat as the moonlight was shining over this stunning stretch of sand – it’s hard to remember a more idyllic introduction to a beach in Southeast Asia. There are only a few small bungalow resorts on Sugar Beach – and at most times of the day the beach is completely deserted.
Long Beach, Koh Lanta, Thailand
Best for: A relaxing week or 2
Koh Lanta’s Long Beach is one of the best all round beaches in Southeast Asia. Accommodation is comfortable and reasonably cheap, wifi is everywhere and it’s home to some of the best value food in Thailand (50 Baht for a big plate of green curry and rice!). When staying at a beach for a week or 2, you want to have some home comforts, and Long Beach is a perfect example of a beach that isn’t too crowded, but has everything you need to relax.
This beach in the 17 Island Marine Park, Flores, Indonesia
Best for: Swimming
I don’t even know what this beach/island is called, but it’s definitely one of the best beaches in Southeast Asia. You can climb a hill to get an amazing view of the beach and surrounding islands, but the best thing to do is swim in the clear, warm water. I went on a boat trip with 4 other people and we were the only ones swimming there – it’s not often you get a beach this good that is almost completely empty. No one lives on this island, but you could probably try and camp overnight there, it’d be awesome!
FURTHER READING: Exploring the 17 Islands Marine Park in Riung, Flores
Long Beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia
My favourite beach in Southeast Asia
I went to Koh Rong about 2 years ago now, and I’ve heard it’s already started to change. Long Beach is a short walk from the main beach on Koh Rong (there was 1 guesthouse on Long Beach when I was there). Once you scramble down the rocky hill a stunning (and very long) stretch of beach unfolds before you. The water is that perfect blue colour and the crowds were tiny; let’s hope it doesn’t change too much. Koh Rong was Southeast Asia’s best kept secret for a long time, but word is getting out!
FURTHER READING: Koh Rong: One of the Best Places to Relax in Southeast Asia
Nembrala, Pulau Rote, Indonesia
Best for: Surfing and sunsets
I’m not a surfer, but almost everyone you’ll meet in Nembrala is, and they rave about the waves. The beach isn’t bad either, and I had a great time swimming, talking to the locals and getting to know a bit about the surfing culture in Indonesia (which mostly involves Australians). Not many people make it this far east in Indonesia, but I’d recommend it as a great alternative to Bali and the Gili Islands.
FURTHER READING: Rote Island, Indonesia: A Gem Hidden far from the Tourist Trail
Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi Leh, Thailand
Best for: Movie lovers
It may be completely overrun with tourists, but Maya Bay is still one of the most beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia. The sand is blindingly white (in the parts where you can see it, you’ll often just see blindgingly white tourists instead), the water is surprisingly clear considering how many boats pull up there and the scenery is stunning – there’s a reason they decided to film the movie The Beach there, it’s just a shame it gets so crowded.
FURTHER READING: Should You Go to Koh Phi Phi, Thailand?
The Pink Beach, Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Best for: Women (and snorkelling)
This one is for the ladies! In truth, the beach isn’t that pink, only the sand right next to the water is pink, but it still looks cool, especially from above. The snorkelling is also great. The boat you’re travelling through Komodo National Park on will stop a little way away from the beach, and you can snorkel around the lively coral and rainbow coloured fish until you get tired, then swim on over to the beach for a rest.
FURTHER READING: Komodo National Park: More than just Dragons!
Nacpan Beach, Palawan, the Philippines
An almost deserted beach close to a tourist hotspot
Nacpan Beach, only around 30 minutes from bustling El Nido town by tricycle, feels like another world. There were no guesthouses on it at all, but I’m sure that’s about to change. We actually looked at buying a piece of land there but it was already too expensive. It’s the best beach we went to in Palawan – get there before it gets too developed!
FURTHER READING: The Beaches of El Nido, Palawan
Salang Beach, Pulau Tioman, Malaysia
Best for: Fish (that you can see without snorkelling)
It took me about 28 years to gather the courage to try snorkelling for the first time (I’m not really a water person), and until then, the best “swimming with fish” experience I had was at Salang beach on Tioman Island. You can walk out to about waste deep (obviously not accurate if you’re a midget, or really tall) and be surrounded by curious fish. The beach is great too, way better than any I saw on the overrated Malaysian islands of Langkawi and the Perhentian Islands.
Naiharn Beach, Phuket, Thailand
Best for: A weekend island getaway
If you’re working in Southeast Asia like I was (in Singapore), you’ll want to head off for a couple of days on a beach from time to time. Phuket is one of the most convenient places to do it, and although Phuket gets some bad press, Naiharn Beach was the perfect place to relax. The sand and water were way better than I was expecting, and it wasn’t as crowded as some of the more popular beaches in Phuket.
FURTHER READING: Should You Travel to Phuket?
*The Best Beaches in Southeast Asia Update 2016
I recently went to Koh Kood, an amazing island in Thailand. It’s home to several of the best beaches in Southeast Asia and I couldn’t leave it off this list! If you’re looking for a perfect Thai island then check out the post before and start planning your trip there.
FURTHER READING: Koh Kood: The Most Beautiful Island in Thailand?
What do you think are the best beaches in Southeast Asia? Which one of these would you most like to visit? Let me know!