10 of the Best Beaches in Southeast Asia

Posted on February 27, 2009 by

Many friends have been scratching their heads for ideas on short weekend getaways from Singapore. We are after all very fortunate to be next-door neighbors with the lush tropical beaches of Malaysia and Indonesia. But thanks to over-developed tourism, most of these ‘ex-paradises’ are now crowded and touristy. Forget Bali, Phuket and Bintan, let’s find somewhere new and refreshing. Here are some alternative spots in our vicinity,perfect for a short weekend escapade!

MALAYSIA

1.   Pulau Rawa

This secluded island is just a short boat-ride away from Mersing, the port where many embark on boast to nearby islands. Unlike neighboring touristy Tioman, many are surprised to find the clear, turquoise waters and rare tranquility on this stunning island.

2.   Port Dickson

Not many tourist/traveler visit this quaint part of Malaysia, so be sure to get some local taste. The Avillion is an amazing resort consisting of water villas built on stilts over water. Although the murky water is not the pride of Port Dickson, the Avillion still offers a great experience with its romantic settings -  a 4-poster bed and opened-rooftop shower.

3.   Sipadan

Divers alert! This amazing world heritage site situated in the Malaysian part of Borneo is packed full of outrageous dive sites and marine life. With tornadoes of barracudas, hammerhead sharks and hawksbill turtles, there is nowhere closer to haven then in Borneo. Diving is a little more expensive especially at Sipadan, but nearby islands like Mabul and Kapalai also have vibrant marine life. 

4.   Pulau Perhentian

Next door neighbour to the renown Pulau Redang, this island is still surprisingly rustic and quiet, away from the public’s attention. With some of the most beautiful beaches and marine life in Asia, it is perfect for dive enthusiasts. You get to see baby sharks and turtles while snorkelling. Try out small-scale cheap huts – the locals will assure you the best time. 

 

INDONESIA

5.   Gili Trawangan

A tiny island off Lombok (a great alternative to touristy Bali), the Gili islands are like a god-sent. Sparkling clear waters, and hey, a very laid-back style with signs that say ‘Mushrooms for sale’ everywhere. Looks like that’s the best place to get literally high in Asia.

6.   Manado

Now that budget airline AirAsia has new routes to Manado, divers and beachcombers have a new playground to frolic in. A hideaway that is only known amongst water sports aficionados, Manado has one of the 10 top dive sites in the world. What’s best, its geographical location at the Northern end of Sulawesi blesses it with Mount Mahawu.

7. Nikoi Island

Just 2.5hours away from Singapore, a stone throw from Bintan, Nikoi is almost unheard of amongst Singaporeans. A tiny island dominated by only 1 single rustic and luxurious resort, it is secluded and private. Perfect for a lovers’ hideaway. It comes with a price of course, at S$300 a night for a 1-bedroom bungalow(min. 2 night’s stay).  
 
Nikoi island

THAILAND

8.   Krabi

Most nature-lovers escape to Krabi, as a quieter option to Phuket. With waterfalls and hiking trails, it has more to offer than Phuket’s pumping music and party crowd. Rent a jeep to drive inland, and kayak through the limestone caves. Check out the exclusive Amari Vogue Krabi that has a zen decor and surroundings, putting your mind at ease.

9.   Koh Lanta

Its close proximity to Phuket and Krabi (around 3 to 4 hours by bus or ferry) also means that you can easily find get here from Singapore for the weekend. A relatively quiet island that allows you to step away from the tourist trail and find some peace and tranquility on empty beaches and wild jungles. If you’re looking for somewhere quiet for your honeymoon or vacation, then Koh Lanta is the perfect island for you.

10.   Koh Tao

As most of the thai beaches have been commercialised and dominated by tourists, this is an up and coming island that is yet to be tinted by tourists. Getting to Koh Tao can be complicating, but this also means a quiet and unexplored island. This island has a few excellent dive sites as well as well marked hiking trails that lead up to the top of the island.    
 
Koh Tao


There, all the best-kept secrets! Any other suggestions for a quick getaway from Singapore?  Please feel free to share.

Comments

comments

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

40 Responses to “10 of the Best Beaches in Southeast Asia”

  1. Liane February 27, 2009 5:33 pm
    #

    love the suggestions! :) i wanna try nikoi and gili one day :)

  2. Jonene February 28, 2009 2:33 am
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    coool! im wanting to try all now! :p

  3. Carrie March 3, 2009 5:23 am
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    Nellie,

    This is just in time for our upcoming vacation. Perfect! My husband has been leaning towards Korea and I'm begging him for Singapore. Now I've got something concrete to show him. BTW, I gave you a stumble for this article. I hope you get lots of traffic. I really enjoy reading your site!

  4. Nellie March 3, 2009 12:11 pm
    #

    guys thanks for the comments! Carrie, yes I hope this convinces your husband! We´re REALLY near to some of the most beautiful beaches in SEAsia. Oh thanks for stumbling my article ;)

  5. Lifecruiser March 3, 2009 8:34 pm
    #

    That looks absolutely gorgeous…. All of them! *dreaming*

    Thailand is a very popular destination for us Swedes and have been for many years, but me and hubby have always been more interested in going to Malaysia.

    In fact, we were on our way there in 2005, but then the Tsunami did hit the coast where we would stay – plus we got pneumonia both of us (what’s the odds of that happening???) and had to cancel. We were supposed to have gone to Malaysia and Philippines for a total of over 2 months. Lovely plans!

    It took us half a year to recover and then we went to South America in the fall instead. Not bad that either, but we still wanna go to South East Asia some day!

    Great tips! Stumbled!

  6. James Love March 15, 2009 12:29 am
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    Singapore has great beaches and a good nightlife. – James Love

  7. Justin March 18, 2009 8:34 am
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    You've got to try Pulau Kapas if you're looking for a quiet beach island that's easy to get to. Only a handful of hotels, one bar, good snorkeling and a campsite on the end of the island. It was really peaceful when we were there!

    • Wanderlei November 23, 2012 3:58 am
      #

      Actullay there’s more on the motor racing ceneldar in the 1960s ..Shenton Way between Lau Pa Sat Market and the Conference Hall was the Go-kart Circuit during the PESTA SUKAN Sports Festival in 1964. Even the air strip at Sembawang Air Base and the land behind Dieppe Barracks was used as a small race circuit for normal street cars .Last if my memory serves me right, the land behind around the Clementi MRT Station was jungle land. There used to be a British Army camp there (which was subsequently used by the SAF as its Staff and Command College in 1968) called Colombo Camp . Next to the camp cross-country races were held for moto-cycles.If you search PICAS you can find more photos of Shenton Way in the 1960s and the go-kart races. DBS Bdlg, SGX Center, Shenton House and UIC Building never existed in that era.

  8. Jooo March 19, 2009 1:16 pm
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    Gili Trawangan…oh heaven!!!!
    this my list of where i want to go (basically lots of islands to die for)

  9. Reelz May 31, 2009 11:50 am
    #

    Gosh! As a beach-lover, these places are TO DIE FOR (not literally, of course, heh!)…I'm always on the lookout for new places to explore so I can brag abt it to envious friends..hahaha….I've been to Krabi (2005) & Pulau Perhentian (2008) & the beautiful memories still lingered loooong after the fun had ended… Thanks a million for the suggestions Nellie! I can't wait to try them all!

  10. Jenin March 10, 2010 9:28 am
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    OMG! these suggestions are super awesome! thanks for sharing them! i will TRY THEM ALL one day! thanks again!

  11. flip March 30, 2010 12:10 pm
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    visit the philippines too, there are a lot of islands where you could frolic in peace. some places though are crowded with tourist. check out caramoan, palawan and calaguas islands. boracay for those who love to party.

    :-)

    • admin March 31, 2010 6:11 am
      #

      Oh definitely, I loved Boracay when I was there, really wanted to visit Bohol, swim with the butandings in Donsol and go sea-kayaking in Palawan – just gotta find some time to head back to Asia! Sorry I missed out these great places on my list. Unfortunately the Phils is still quite expensive to fly to from Singapore, but I’m sure the budget airlines will get there pretty soon.

  12. Rachael April 22, 2010 5:22 pm
    #

    The pictures are beautiful. I want to go there!

  13. brig July 5, 2010 8:04 am
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    had a family 1 week holiday in perhentian, stayed at MAMA's place. that's the best ! rustic chalets. they had the best,freshest and cheapest food. most of all the brothers who run the place provide great service. that was the best holiday ever – saw clear waters, turtles, sharks and even jumped off the jetty ! sadly corals there hv gone white. but still the crystal clear waters ….sigh…still miss it !

    • admin July 5, 2010 11:48 pm
      #

      Thanks for sharing, would definitely check out Mama’s place when I’m there next. These islands are some of the best in the world, let’s hope they stay that way.

  14. hamid July 6, 2010 7:45 pm
    #

    there is soo many to choose from!..can you tell me the cheapest place to visit from singapore?!

    • admin July 7, 2010 6:27 pm
      #

      Thanks for dropping by Hamid! The cheapest place on this list to go from Singapore would be Pulau Perhentian, especially if you go by bus from Singapore. Accommodation and transport are both cheaper there than the other destinations mentioned. Pulau Rawa is nearer to Singapore, but accommodation prices there are not as cheap. Port Dickson is also relatively near, but the resort I’d mentioned above is rather pricey. Hope all these helps!

  15. Xiu July 7, 2010 3:09 am
    #

    Thanks for this invaluable information! Ive just booked Anantara and im keeping my fingers crossed!

  16. jiawen October 13, 2010 11:38 pm
    #

    Looks good! A question tho – do you know if these islands’ waters are suitable for surfing? a 2ft-5ft wave would be more than enough!

    • Nellie October 14, 2010 1:00 am
      #

      hey Jiawen, thanks for dropping by. From the list above, I don\’t think any of the islands have got waves suitable for surfing. But I can suggest some: Bulabog Lagoon on Boracay Island in the Philippines have got excellent surfing conditions. Kuta Beach in Bali is one of the most popular spots. Hope these help!

      • jiawen October 14, 2010 1:10 am
        #

        Thanks so much for the information! great write up by the way!

  17. Lori October 28, 2010 8:43 pm
    #

    As usual, Nellie, you surprise with great photos and suggestions:)!

  18. shivya December 14, 2010 11:22 pm
    #

    Great post! I've done 4 of those destinations, heading to Nikoi very soon! Hope to do all 10 before I leave Southeast Asia :) Thanks for sharing!

  19. Mimie May 9, 2011 12:43 pm
    #

    el nido and amanpulo in the philippines. pristine turquoise water. great people. great food. enough said.

  20. Weekend Getaway September 13, 2012 1:45 am
    #

    Wow. Amazing pictures. I really love to travel in South East Asia and discover such nice and beautiful places. Even I just discovered a weekend boat party that offers weekend trip to the amazing beaches of Cebu, Philippines. It is Cebu Party boat. They offer ticket from Singapore to Cebu and party all the weekend on the boat and in the best clubs in Cebu as well. The accommodation is in the 5 stars resorts near the beach. The other activities include sailing, swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling. And the most important many many WHITE SAND beaches. It sounds like a perfect weekend getaway. I will write later my feedback.

  21. Joanne January 20, 2014 9:41 pm
    #

    Should check it out Koh Lipe at Thailand and Boracay at Philipines. Is a nice place too. worth to travel. Nice beach and beautiful island.

    • Nellie January 25, 2014 8:53 pm
      #

      Yes we\’ve been to Boracay but never been to Koh Lipe, heard so much great stuff about Lipe. Thanks for sharing!

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