10 Beaches in Southeast Asia That Can Rival the Maldives

8 January 2020

Azure waters, pristine stretches of sand and spectacular landscapes… you don’t have to pay top dollar to enjoy these breathtaking sights.

1. Boracay, Philippines

Arguably one of the most popular beach spots in Southeast Asia and one of the most visited destinations in the Philippines, Boracay is known for its beautiful beaches, resorts and numerous party venues. The island is said to be one that never sleeps thanks to its massive number of island revellers and party-goers.

Best time to go: November to May

2. Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines

If you’re tired of Boracay, which is fast becoming a popular tourist spot with inflated prices (or so we read on several travel sites), Panglao Island is its quieter cousin with arguably lower prices too.

Best time to go: November to May

3. Long Beach, Palawan, Philippines

Known as the “Last Ecological Frontier of the Philippines”, you’ll be greeted by incredible waters and sparkling beaches in the northern part of the island. If you’ve got time and are a nature buff, visit its jungles and mountains, where you can find many species of flora and fauna.

Best time to go: November to May

4. Koh Rong, Cambodia

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Rong, in the southwestern side of Cambodia, boasts 43km of untouched white sand, clear turquoise waters plus schools of rabbitfish, sergeant fish and parrot fish.

Best time to go: October to April

5. Blue Lagoon in Bali, Indonesia

Skip the touristy beaches of Seminyak and Kuta and head to the Blue Lagoon if you are spending more than a few days in Bali. The lagoon, which is about 1.5 hours away by car from Kuta, is as its name suggests. Sparkling cerulean waters are surrounded by cliffs and a short white sandy stretch. The beach is beautiful underwater too, with a spirited scene of colourful corals, cow fish, angel fish, cuttle fish and moray eels.

Best time to go: May, June and July.

6. Malapascua Island, Cebu, Philippines

One of the top diving destinations in the Philippines, the secluded island, with its living corals and vibrant marine life, is untouched by tourism so far.

Best time to go: November to May

7. Rawa, Johor, Malaysia

Ideal for honeymoons or short getaways, the idyllic island of Rawa, located off the eastern coast of Johor, is surrounded by aqua-blue waters and dotted with villas and resorts that remind one of the property in Oia or Mykonos, Greece.

Best time to go: March to September

8. Ko Phi Phi Le, Krabi, Thailand

Part of a group of six islands, the smaller Phi Phi Le (its bigger cousin is Phi Phi Don) is paradise on earth personified. Take a 45-minute speedboat or 90-minute ferry boat from Krabi or Phuket, and you’ll be greeted by striking turquoise waters, towering cliffs, immaculate beaches upon arrival.

Best time to go: November to March

9. Riung, Flores, Indonesia

Famed for its unspoilt beaches, waters in varying shades of blue, and vibrant coral reef system and wildlife, the #nofilterneeded Riung is practically paradise found. A national conservation spot, the 17 Islands National Park (which actually comprises a total of 20 islands) is lovely for snorkeling and diving. And, if you have time to explore its surroundings, look out for exotic wildlife including the Timor deer, hedgehogs, ferrets, the Timor monitor lizard and marsupials. To get there, you’ll have to get to the Komodo Airport near the town of Labuan Bajo on Flores, and drive from the airport.

Best time to go: April to October

10. Perhentian Islands, Terengganu, Malaysia

Made up of two islands, Besar (Big) and Kecil (small), the postcard-perfect islands are perfect for snorkelling, diving, and admiring the friendly marine life which comprises turtles, stingrays, manta rays and a variety of schools of fish.

Best time to go: late February to early November