My Top 10 Beaches in Southeast Asia

April has been a very busy month of travel for me. This was the first month this year that I traveled to four different countries  in a matter of 20 days. In Europe it’s almost that time of the year again- summer. After my three month stay ended in Madrid, I went to London, a city that surprise me so I decided to stay here longer than my original plan of 10 days. Not exactly my top choice for a relaxing vacation but I’m happy to stay put here at the moment before heading back home to New York for the summer. But on the other side of the world, in my home country, it’s already summer. It’s been almost a year since I was in Southeast Asia and I am quite missing the beautiful beaches.

I’m not a beach person but I spent an incredible amount of time in different islands during my first year of travel. In my short time here on earth, I was fortunate enough to have seen and experienced some of the most beautiful beaches of Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Southeast Asia including Sri Lanka. So far, I can say that the most beautiful ones are in Southeast Asia. Am I biased? Maybe. But I’ll let my photos speak for themselves.

In here I list down my top 10 favorite beaches in Southeast Asia to inspire you to book that plane ticket to whichever summer destination you have in mind or maybe still thinking of going to this summer:

10. Sihanoukville, Cambodia

sihanoukville

Cambodia was the second country I traveled solo. So I wasn’t a very experienced solo traveler at that time and I was still a bit in shock with what I was doing. Going to Cambodia after a few days in Bangkok wasn’t really the most ideal since most travelers would do Chiang Mai instead. After my time in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, I found myself in this beach in Southern Cambodia and enjoyed a few days relaxing on the beach.

Sihanoukville is a party island. So if you intend to go to a beach with lots of party every night, go to Sihanoukville. Since I was tired with my travels, I found myself reading and writing instead. What I love about this beach is that you can do either or both. That’s why it made it to my list.

sihanoukville sunrise

My Tip: Wake up one morning and watch the sunrise. It’s one of the most beautiful sunrises you’ll ever watch.

9. Ko Tao, Thailand

Miss Anna in Ko Tao

Ko Tao is a small island in Thailand that is the most ideal place for divers and snorkelers. However, it’s also a nice island to just relax and have fun with friends. This island has tons of big beautiful rocks that makes its uniqueness much more appealing.   I wrote about my experience and recommendations here.

Ko Tao Sunset

My Tip: These huts on the western side of the island has really nice views, but for cheaper accommodations, go to the south and sit back and watch the most breathtaking pinkish to red sunsets you’ll ever see.

8. Ko Phangan, Thailand

Haad Salad Ko Pha Ngan

Ko Phangan is the island popular for its infamous full moon party, but it’s more to it than that. This island is a home of picture perfect and very calm beaches. I was traveling in this island with four of my friends and it’s such an ideal place to just relax, eat and have fun with them. We also went to the full moon party but I’m not a fan of it so I never wrote about it.

Northern Ko Pha Ngan

My tip: Rent a motorbike and go to the north. When you get there, you might never want to leave. The water is very refreshing and perfect temperature especially on very hot and humid days.

7. Kuta Lombok, Indonesia

Kuta

Lombok is an island that everyone traveling to Indonesia should visit. Bali and Lombok are two different islands and Lombok is the island that’s also a great surfing spot minus all the tourists in Bali.

Kuta Lombok

I was traveling in Lombok with six other solo travelers that we decided to explore the hidden beaches together. We had such an amazing time despite the rocky and hard roads to get there.

My tip: Lombok is the island made for adventurers. Rent a motorbike to explore these hidden beaches. This island is not as developed as Bali but also not as touristy. Nonetheless, Lombok has incredible beaches for surfers and adventurers.

6. Bali, Indonesia

Bali Beach

I’ve been to Bali twice. First before the Eat, Pray, Love sensation and the second during my long-term trip. It was quite a big difference ever since the book became popular. Luckily for me, I’ve seen Bali before it was even big with solo travelers. It has become too crowded and overpriced. What didn’t change though are the beautiful beaches.

There’s a hidden beach between the road that connects Nusa Dua and Uluwatu. The local said it’s a secret beach which has no name. If you can find it it’s not touristy and so beautiful. I really loved it there!

Anna in Bali

My tip: To avoid crowds try to find the hidden beaches close to Nusa Dua or be adventurous and explore Eastern Bali’s Tirtagangga and Amed. It’s not easy to get there on public transportation so I recommend hiring a driver with a car. Amed also has quite beautiful and reasonably priced villas.

**Extra tip: Balinese spa and massage = heaven. If you can splurge, the best spa treatment that I ever had is the one is at Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay. Luckily, I was on a working holiday when I was there and the hotel gave me a complimentary spa treatment. The resort is also my favorite among all the hotels I ever stayed at.

5. Camiguin, Philippines

White Island

Camiguin is a very stunning island in Southern Philippines. I was here only for a few days but left me with beautiful memories. I traveled solo here and since it’s not touristy at all, I only met a few travelers who were not surprisingly, also from Manila.  I wrote about my experience in this tiny island of seven volcanoes here.

Anna in Camiguin

My Tip: Instead of taking the boat from Cagayan de Oro, take a journey to the quaint town of Jagna, Bohol and take the ferry from there. Take note of the journeys since they only operate a few days a week. Also, this is in Mindanao and it’s possible that your travel insurance might not cover you here.

4. Menjangan Island, Bali Indonesia

Menjangan Island

I tell everyone I know who’s traveling or planning to travel to Bali to go to Menjangan island. This island is on the northwestern side of Bali and is a lot closer to Java. From the beach you can even see the volcanoes of Java. But what makes this simple island so beautiful is its spectacular underwater.

Menjangan Underwater

This is just a sample of the fishes I saw while snorkeling in Menjangan. For underwater adventures this is my absolute top pick. There’s only a certain time that you can stay in this island since it’s a protected island. The pictures that I have don’t even do justice to the beauty of its colorful underwater. I love this island so much that I did snorkeling here twice in two separate occasions during my travels.

My tip: Menjangan can be easily reached from Lovina which is around 4 hours drive from southern Bali. It’s about an hour drive from Lovina and 30 minute boat ride from the pier. I recommend staying in Lovina to access this island. It really is worth the travel and I cannot recommend it enough.

3. Coron, Palawan, Philippines

Coron Beach

Whenever someone asks me for advice on where to go in the Philippines my automatic answer is Palawan. Palawan for me is the most beautiful place in my home country. You can skip tourist destinations but not Palawan. It’s my most favorite place in the Philippines.

To Kayangan

I could not believe that I saw the beaches of Mexico  and the Caribbean before I even saw my home country’s beaches. I was stunned with how beautiful the beaches of Coron are. It’s quite an enchanting place.

My tip: Banana Island, the most beautiful island in Coron is one hour away by boat. To save money, find other people to split the boat with. For more tips, see my Coron post.

2. Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Gili T

Ahhh, the Gili Islands. Just thinking and writing about it makes me want to jump in a plane right now and go back. If there’s one place in South East Asia that I would go back to again and again  for adventure travel it’s Indonesia. Among the islands I’ve been to in Indonesia, Gili Trawangan is my absolute favorite in terms of island life and parties. It’s very easy to get stuck in this place. It’s too beautiful, great food and so fun. I almost didn’t go to Lombok.

Gili beach

This is a small island which can be toured around by foot for less than three hours. There are no transportation available here and running water is not as good as it is in Bali or Lombok. Also, very few places have wifi or internet connection. If you are the type of person who likes being disconnected this place will suit you so well.

This island is also an excellent place for snorkeling and diving. Though the underwater is not as beautiful as Menjangan, this is the only place you can see and swim with giant sea turtles.

My tip: Watch the sun set from the western part of the island. The sunset with the mountains of Bali on the background makes it such a spectacular view for anyone who’s watching.

1. Ko Lipe Thailand

Thai boats

If there is paradise on earth, it’s Ko Lipe. Whenever I’m asked among which islands in Thailand is the best for relaxing it’s Ko Lipe.  If you want to experience real island living, this is the place to go. There are no banks, wifi and cars and everything is within walking distance. It’s really a place to be enjoyed.

Lipe Beach

On a very sunny day, you’d see how clear the water is. I haven’t met a lot of people who have been to this island. One should definitely consider.  It’s truly Thailand’s best kept secret.

My tip: There is a small island on the south of Ko Lipe called Ko Hin Ngam. What’s special about this place is that instead of sand, the island is made of shiny dark stones. It’s very popular with the locals and most Thais come to the island to stack rocks and make a wish. Hire a long-tail boat to get here and see this natural wonder yourself.

There you have it, my 10 favorite beaches.

Are you heading to any of these beaches this summer?

Enjoy your summer and as always happy travels,

Anna

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Author:Anna

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