Southeast Asia is home to some of the worlds most beautiful beaches. Everything that comes to mind when you think of a paradise beach; crystal clear blue water, palm trees, a calm breeze and soft white sands… Southeast Asia has it. Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam are top destinations for backpackers for a reason. They are packed with culture and experiences and offer paradise on their islands and shores. If you desire a perfect beach getaway and an adventure to take you there – this is the list for you.
Koh Rong, Cambodia – Long Beach and Lazy Beach
The coastline of Cambodia lines the South West of the country and Koh Rong is one of its few islands. It is natural, beautiful and untouched (for now). The lack of infrastructure means the island doesn’t suffer from pollution and at night you can see the stars and sometimes luminescent plankton in the ocean. When arriving on Koh Rong by boat, head for Long Beach to get off the beaten track. Because Koh Rong is undeveloped, the safest and easiest way to get there is by boarding another boat, but the journey is worth it. Long Beach is an elongated stretch of white sands that feels like it goes on forever. The water is a perfect blue for swimming and the backpacker’s choice is to stay in simple local accommodation.
Lazy Beach is similar but this is on a separate island, Koh Rong Samloem. Here, you can rent a rustic bungalow on a calm and quiet beach resort. On both of these beaches, there are a few palm trees, some parasols and some ropes to swing on but mostly they are an unspoilt paradise, a blank slate for whatever fun you’d like to bring to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloen.
Ao Nang, Thailand – Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach
Railay is connected to the mainland of Krabi but has an island feel because vast cliffs cut it off from roads. One of its charms is that you can choose to reach the area on foot. When you arrive at the beach, rocks loom from the ocean to greet you. The sea is beautifully clear with a blue green tint. There are so many activities to fill multiple days, from paddle boarding to climbing to island hopping boat tours. The relaxing vibe of Railay can be felt by any visitor, it’s a perfect place to try something new, explore, sit by the beautiful sea with a beer or just have fun.
In the Railay area, you can also visit Phra Nang Beach which boasts cliffs and caves. You can climb the rocks to see scenic vistas or explore the caves where you can find interesting spectacles… Specifically the sacred phallic symbols of fertility in the Phra Nang Cave Shrine. This is an area for everything, including access to nearby islands. Make sure to give yourself some time to explore all Railay and Ao Nang have to offer. They’re worth it!
Komodo National Park, Indonesia – Pink Beach and Padar Island
The Komodo National Park is known globally as the habitat of the Komodo Dragon. It’s a privilege to be able to visit such an iconic place for biodiversity and natural beauty. 3 islands make up the Komodo National Park including Komodo Island. As well as seeing the dragons and other wonders, visitors come to Komodo Island to find Pink Beach. White sands and tiny fragments of red coral combine to colour this incredible beach pink. The waters are clear turquoise and there are plenty of places to snorkel and see a spectrum of coral reefs and marine life. It’s a welcome cool off from the warm weather and a swim spot to remember.
Another, much smaller, island in the Komodo National Park is called Padar Island. There is a hike on the island which offers a panoramic view of Komodo at the summit, incredible for sunrise if you’re feeling energetic in the morning, or sunset at night. The different beaches of Padar can be seen from this point. They are remote and unique in colour, a similar pink tinged sandy beach, a white sandy beach and a beach with darker, almost black sand. Explore Padar to experience a feeling of untouched natural landscapes and completely undeveloped, isolated beaches.
El Nido, Philippines – Bacuit Bay and Papaya Beach
The Bacuit Archipelago is a picture-perfect example of the Philippines. It is located in the area of El Nido and offers coves, hidden lagoons and an abundance of marine life. Bacuit Bay itself is surrounded by cliffs and jungle, with white sand and clear water. You can rent kayaks to explore the lagoons and coastline and dive into the sea to snorkel. By evening, drink the Philippines iconic rum and pineapple juice and watch the sunset from the beach.
Only reachable by boat or kayak, another fantastic beach in El Nido is Papaya Beach, which gained its name from the fresh fruit ice drinks served by locals. It’s a short beach just one kilometre away from El Nido town but it has a coral reef close to the shore, so provides accessible snorkelling in a tranquil location.
Phu Quoc, Vietnam – Bai Sao Beach and Thom Beach
The islands of Phu Quoc are surprising to many because of their geographical proximity to Cambodia, yet the area is actually in Vietnam. The blue waters of Bai Sao beach indicate its unspoilt landscape. You can try local delicacies, lounge on beach day beds or play sports with friends met in the local hostels. It’s a hidden paradise of Vietnam and one to visit before your visa runs out!
Bai Sao is one of the most popular beaches in the area, so for a more isolated beach experience, choose Thom Beach. This requires a little hike to reach but you’ll be rewarded when you get there with a perfectly calm and relaxing atmosphere, the necessary respite from Ho Chi Minh City!
Southeast Asia gives you the best that beaches have to offer. From relaxing to snorkelling to watersports, it can all be found in this part of the world. There are white sands and turquoise clear waters to be found in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. Once you’re over there with your backpack and mind set for exploration, nothing will stop you finding your beach paradise.
If you are heading to any of the Beaches in Southeast Asia then don’t forget to check this Beach List for your packing!