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Planning a beach vacation and not sure where you should go? Most people immediately turn to “safer” options such the Caribbeans, Hawaii or the Bahamas. While undoubtedly these have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, we would argue that South East Asia has more!

Home to tens of thousands of tropical islands, South East Asia boasts some of the greatest beaches in the world, and vacations here are much cheaper and usually more flexible. The countries in this region offer diverse culture, an exotic food scene, and an extreme wealth of beach activities and water sports, and you can easily hop between islands, packing your itinerary with as much relaxation or extreme adventure as you like.

Consider some of the following destinations for your next beach trip.

Countries for a Beach Vacation in Asia

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When people think of a beach vacation in Asia, Thailand usually comes to mind; more than 1.5 million tourists visit the island each year to enjoy the kind of tropical coastline and beaches you find featured in ads.

Fine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters come together with nodding coconut trees to one side and the beautiful Gulf of Thailand to the other, and those wanting to dance barefoot under the soft light of the full moon can join one of the country’s wild nightly beach parties.

Thailand is by far the most tourist-friendly country in the region, and is great for those looking for an all-inclusive beach experience. High end 5 star resorts can be found pretty much anywhere, at a relatively cheap price. These resorts also take care of  island hopping tours and packages, which is perfect for first-timers who wish to get a taste of what a trip to Asia is like, without being too worried about the logistics.

The Philippines

The Philippines has more than 7,000 islands, with a vast collection of idyllic beaches, hidden islands and secret lagoons. Though the fact that it still remains unnoticed by most tourists allows you to enjoy a truly exotic paradise at a significantly lower cost.

A world class beach destination, this is one of the few places left where you can experience the beauty of unspoiled nature, while still enjoying luxury all inclusive resorts. Popular activities include surfing, swimming with whale sharks, and helmet diving; check this best list of best beaches in the Philippines to get an idea of what awaits you.

The Philippines version of the Thai islands is Boracay – a party island whose White Beach is considered to be among the best beaches in the world. And it’s very easy to organize a tour package to Boracay or a guide to the Philippines if you’re not keen on doing the planning yourself.

Indonesia: Bali

If we had written this list 10 years ago, this Indonesian island would surely be at the top. Back then, it was a secret paradise visited by only a few, however as it has gained acknowledgement as one of the world’s top beach spots, over-commercialization has taken its toll.

That said, there are still many parts of Bali where you can find harmony and be one with the surrounding nature, while escaping the crowds. The views are spectacular, and you can find dive sites unrivaled by anywhere else in the world.

Check out the  famous yoga centers, and world class dive sites. For a more relaxed vacation, away from the mass of resorts, bars and nightclubs, consider moving to one of the nearby smaller islands instead (like Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan). These are just as beautiful as the main island, and remain much more secluded and unharmed by tourists and local businesses.

The Maldives

Consisting of 1190 tiny islands, this country is a true paradise for beach lovers. The Maldives are home to some of the world’s most stunning beaches, and a great place for relaxation in a really luxurious atmosphere.

Most islands are inhabited, so taking a boat ride to one of them would mean you get to enjoy a unique secluded beach experience. Inhabited islands, on the other hand, are home to some of the best resorts you can find anywhere on the globe.

Private island resorts with a small amount of rooms means you will get your own private beach right at your doorstep. These resorts offer the best amenities imaginable, so they are perfect for those seeking an all-inclusive vacation of the highest standards. Luxury does come with a cost however, so don’t expect to do any budget travelling here.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Pinterest image Octopus Island by Sinead Friel. Whale sharks in the Philippines by Janey. Bali by Balifornian Tours via Flickr user mikaku.


  1. Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Maldives are my favourite countries in Asia with a vast collection of idyllic beaches. The temperature is good and that is fit for beach escaping. I do love to Surf, snorkelling and etc..

    • Sounds like great minds think alike then since we covered them all :D Yes, these are fabulous beach vacation spots, and the temperature is usually wonderful all year round :)

  2. Been to all of these places except Indonesia.. definitely have to check this place next vacation.


    • Awesome Shachar! Hope you have the chance to tick off Indonesia soon too :)

  3. Thanks for this post, and the lists of beautiful beaches! I’ll keep it for “later” (or for hopefully soon! haha…) The thing is, everytime we travel to Asia, we always end up with a full-packed program (we’re very much into history and local culture), and never managed to make time for a beach vacation. Thailand will probably be our next destination in Asia. :)

    • We’re a bit the same, we usually pack our itinerary so full of activities and attractions that we never have time to actually relax … usually need a holiday from our holiday! But we’ve taken stock recently of the need to slow down, so really enjoy a couple of days at the beach :D

  4. I been to the Maldives and the beaches are fantastic (depending on which island you land up on) :D Really want to check out Thailand and the P’Pines soon as I think a beach vacation is due for us soon. :) Great write up Meg. :)

    • Isn’t the Maldives incredible! Hope you have the chance to visit Thailand soon too :)

  5. I’ve only been to a very few places in Asia – and to be honest a beach holiday in ANY of these would be wonderful. One day, in my dreams perhaps!

    • Asia was made for the beach vacation :D Once you hit your first destination you may find yourself hooked :D!

  6. These are all AMAZING places for a beach destination or even island hopping! We have yet to go to the Maldives and it’s driving me nuts! I have been wanting to go for years and it keeps getting pushed to the side, we gotta make it happen. I also wouldn’t mind revisiting all of these places to see more of their beautiful islands! I keep telling my friends who go to Hawaii every year that they should try a new place out like Thailand, will they listen? Who knows but I know they will love it!

    • Thailand definitely has Hawaii beat in terms of beaches :D Hope you have the chance to visit the Maldives soon! Don’t push it off for too long! :)

  7. These 4 countries offer some of the best beaches in the world! It is so hard to choose between them, though Maldives is definitely the most expensive one. I love Bali in particular because its so diverse and as you said though it has been greatly commercialized there are still a lot of remote areas.

    • Agree that it’s incredibly difficult to choose! Different drawcards for different travel personalities though, for those who love secluded luxury, the Maldives is definitely the place to be, where-as for those who enjoy a diverse mix of commercialization, culture and nature, there’s Bali for that. But why not hit them all and compare :D

  8. I’ve been to a.l of these but think Maldives tops it for best beaches although I’m usually stumped when someone asks me to name one, as there are so many incredible places. phi Phi is incredible though as is an nang national park

    • It’s a bit like that – so many incredible spots, it’s difficult to know where to start! But yes, the Maldives is definitely at the top … Phi Phi and an nang national park too :)

  9. I think the main differences in the Asian beaches you listed and the typical tourist destinations (aka Caribbean, etc) is that the Asian ones are bucket list items, at least to me. They are the best of the best and thought of as a lifetime vacation as opposed to quick hop to the cheap Caribbean. ;) You’ve showcased the best!

    • I agree with you, each of the beaches throughout Asia are completely unique and qualify, in my mind, as the trip of a lifetime. With so much history and culture thrown into the mix in many destinations you really get sense of an exotic vacation :)

  10. Asia definitely has a lot of gorgeous beaches and different water-related cool activities to offer as well. I would love to go to all of the places mentioned above as well and many others like India, for which I know that also has some amazing beaches.

    • I’ve heard India does have some incredible beaches too … Goa I think is one of the really popular destinations – I hope to be able to visit soon :)

  11. You are right about Indonesia. Probably around 10 years ago, its beaches would have topped the list. Sadly, when I went, even Lembongan had also become touristy! I have not been to Maldives yet, but I think nothing beats the beaches of the Philippines in Asia! :)

    • Many beaches in Thailand have been ruined by mass tourism, and it’s really sad to see such a beautiful place decline when it’s beauty is the reason people have traveled to see. Everything in moderation, even travel I guess!

  12. We love the beaches in Thailand – who doesn’t!

    We agree, Bali has some lovely beaches. Nusa Dua has some perfect gold-sand beaches (but as a private gated area, it lacks that soulful connection with the rest of Bali). For beaches, we’d say head on over to nearby Lombok island. But get your culture fix in Bali :-).

    • Thanks for the tips on Bali Janice & George! Sounds like it’s a place you’ve really enjoyed! X

  13. Despite living in Asia for 6 years now I haven’t made it to any of the beaches you mentioned. Not even in Thailand! The Philippines and Bali are high on my list. I would love to swim with whale sharks and have heard Boracay is a great place to do it! Thanks for these great suggestions. Pinning this list for later!

    • Ooooh you must go! Stay in touch and let us know which country you enjoy most! Choosing a favorite between Thailand and the Philippines is a tough call!

  14. Wow, enjoy a trip to a beach and love to ride a boat with families in the water with so beautiful a place. Thanks for your post. really useful.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Amanda, thanks for commenting on our blog :)

  15. Really glad Thailand made the list :D

    Thailand really do have many great beaches and the best ones are on the islands. If you want really beautiful and tourist ready beaches Krabi and Koh Phi Phi is a sure bet. Even more pristine beaches can be found at islands that are not so well known yet such as Koh Mook. Even close to Bangkok, Koh Larn has extremely clear beaches that is sure to be a pleasant surprise :D

    • Wouldn’t be a list without Thailand :D! Thanks for the tips on Krabi and Koh Phi Phi for a more tourist friendly beach, and Koh Mook for a more untouched experience. There are so many islands to Thailand we need to explore, could spend a lifetime just chilling at the beach :D!

  16. I’ve never been to Asia. I guess that I will have to add it to my rapidly growing bucket list! What great adventures! I especially like the idea of secluded small islands for walking the beaches and for a quieter atmosphere.

    • Hope you have the chance to travel soon Alice :) It’s definitely the place for small secluded islands – thousands of them to choose from so the most difficult part may be deciding where to start :D Happy travels!

  17. I am from Asia, the tourist spot you have mentioned i never visit neither read anywhere.
    The Philpine and Thailand beaches seems great, i might plan of it.
    Thanks for sharing

    • Glad we could give you some ideas for places to visit around Asia Nilmman – you definitely can’t go wrong choosing beaches in the Philippines or Thailand.

      Have a great trip!

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