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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.

Sugar Beach, Negros, the Philippies - one of the best beaches in Southeast Asia

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.

Long Beach, Koh Lanta, Thailand - one of the best beaches in Southeast Asia

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

A view of the 17 islands marine park in Riung, Flores, Indonesia

 

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

Koh Rong, one of the best natural wonders 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

Nemberala Beach, Rote Island, Indonesia

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?

Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh, Thailand, one of the best beaches in Southeast Asia

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!

The Pink Beach in Komodo National Park, Flores, Indonesia

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

Nacpan beach, one of the beaches of El Nido, Palawan, The Philippines

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.

Salang beach on tioman, one of the best islands in Malaysia

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?

Naiharn beach in Phuket, a great place to stay if you are going to 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?

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!

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Jon Algie

Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.
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14 Comments

  1. February 16, 2015 at 11:49 am — Reply

    Hi Jon,

    Loving this list!

    We’ve only been to Nai Harn Beach and Long Beach on this list; they are 2 of my fave for sure. We’ve hit Nai Harn some 100 times – or more – as it’s our fave beach in Thailand and Long Beach is right behind it. Nai Harn feels like home to me, and during peak high season the water is like a pristine bath, with visibility pretty much unlimited as you work your way out. Love doing my swim laps there.

    Inspiring share!

    Ryan

    • Jon Algie
      February 18, 2015 at 5:08 am — Reply

      Cheers Ryan, I’m glad to hear some praise for Naiharn! I never seem to read/hear anything good about Phuket these days, but as with most places, if you get away from the crowds and more popular beaches it’s really nice.

  2. April 8, 2015 at 2:19 am — Reply

    Jon great post! I’d add another less known island in Thailand to this list called Koh Kradan. Hardly anyone seems to know about it but it has beautiful beaches, no roads, superb snorkelling and true island life. I’ve written a post about it here which may be useful to people interested in finding out more on the island, including how to get there: http://www.justinewharton.com/2015/03/18/koh-kradan-thailands-secret-island-paradise/

  3. Jon Algie
    April 19, 2015 at 5:52 am — Reply

    Hey Justine, sounds like a cool place!

  4. September 12, 2015 at 1:14 am — Reply

    Awesome list! It’s nice to see Palawan making it on your list. Indeed this place has nice beaches. It’s a paradise for beach lovers with so many captivating beaches that has crystal clear water and white powder sand, truly beautiful.

    http://guide-manila.com/attractions-in-manila

    • Jon Algie
      September 20, 2015 at 11:09 am — Reply

      Thanks Adie, Palawan is awesome, I hope to return one day!

  5. Lindsay
    September 23, 2015 at 3:27 pm — Reply

    Great list! Highly, completely recommend Ngapali Beach in Myanmar.

    Also, have you been to Phu Quoc or Con Dao in Vietnam? My boyfriend and I get winter vacation time from our teaching gigs in Korea, and are considering visiting one of them.

    • Jon Algie
      September 25, 2015 at 9:57 pm — Reply

      I thought about going there a few years ago when I was in Myanmar but didn’t have the time. Haven’t been to either of those but I’m planning to next year; I went to Nga Trang and it was OK but it rained the whole time!

      • CHRISTOPHER KELLY
        April 15, 2016 at 4:24 am — Reply

        I was thinking of going to Nga Trang mid September this year. Did you go in September?

        Was there nothing to do when it rained?

        Any place you would recommend with out rain in Mid September>?

  6. May 6, 2016 at 3:05 am — Reply

    I love going into beaches! The ambiance is so relaxing and soul warming.

  7. Joseph Neibich
    February 15, 2017 at 1:38 am — Reply

    You left off Boracay and Coron in the PI

    • Jon Algie
      February 22, 2017 at 3:40 am — Reply

      Haven’t been there yet, kinda updating this list as I go along. They’ll be on there one day.

  8. March 26, 2017 at 2:54 am — Reply

    I was on Koh Rong in 2015 and long beach was amazing! One of the prettiest beaches I’ve seen!
    x

    • Jon Algie
      March 27, 2017 at 5:31 pm — Reply

      Thanks for the comment Stephanie, it’s great to hear that Long Beach is still nice.

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