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Southeast Asia is home to some of the best beaches in the world, and some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.
Unlike my favorite places in Southeast Asia, I’m going to rank this list — I’ll list my top three beaches in Southeast Asia, and everything else is an honorable mention.
My favorite beach in Southeast Asia: Lonely Beach, Koh Chang, Thailand
This beach is perfect. Perfect sugar-white sand, perfect turquoise water, perfect giant palm trees. It’s got a few good restaurants, but for the most part, it’s still mercifully underdeveloped. And Lonely Beach is adjacent to a friendly, chill and cheap hippie community!
If ever I decide to practice the art of beach bummery full-time, it will be on Lonely Beach.
Click here to read my posts about Koh Chang.
My second favorite beach in Southeast Asia: the beaches south of Sengiggi Beach, Sengiggi, Lombok, Indonesia
Senggigi is home to the bluest sea I’ve ever seen, and once you head south of the main beaches, it’s utterly deserted. I felt like I had stumbled across a treasure that few people ever got to experience.
I feel like Senggigi will be much more popular a few years from now, so the time to go is now, while the beach is still deserted like this.
Click here to read my posts about Senggigi.
My third favorite beach in Southeast Asia: Pranang Beach, Railay, Thailand
You know all those pictures of Thailand beaches with the longtail boats in the crystal-clear water in front of the limestone cliffs? Well, 99 times out of 100, they’re taken on Pranang Beach in Railay.
No other beach matches Pranang Beach in Railay for sheer dramatic beauty — which makes me fear that a place this beautiful can’t survive long-term. Also, they have a peen cave.
Click here to read my posts about Railay.
The beaches remaining on the list are all great in their own way. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Coolest Offbeat Beach: Otres Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
It’s slightly out of the way and far less commercialized than Serendipity and Occhuteal beaches, yet this is so quintessentially Sihanoukville! While other beaches have had different heydays in Sihanoukville, Otres has never been a tourist hotspot, which has preserved its beauty.
You’ll still get the cheap prices of Sihanoukville, but it’s so much more laid-back — like a little-visited island!
Click here to read my posts about Sihanoukville.
The Beaches Worth A Long Motorbike Ride: the beaches north of Mui Ne, Vietnam
Mui Ne, Vietnam, is an excellent place to rent a motorbike. From sand dunes to oases to fishing villages to gritty cities, there is so much to see here if you get away from the main town. And that includes the beaches north of town.
While the main beach in Mui Ne itself isn’t that exciting, these isolated beaches are absolutely breathtaking.
Click here to read my posts about Mui Ne.
The Best Beach to Watch a Sunset: Klong Nin Beach, Koh Lanta, Thailand
One of the best things about the seemingly flawless island of Koh Lanta is that all the beaches are on the west side of the island — hence, beautiful sunsets every night.
Klong Nin is a lovely patch of wide, soft, nearly-empty beach in the midpoint of the island. On any evening, you’ll find lots of local children playing in the water as the sun sinks into the ocean.
Click here to read my posts about Koh Lanta.
The Beach That Will Knock You Over: Nha Trang Beach, Nha Trang, Vietnam
One reason why you don’t see a lot of people swimming in the ocean in Nha Trang? The waves are HUGE — a good few meters — and break right on shore.
This was my first time dealing with waves like these, and they usually crashed on top of me — knocking me over and making me somersault all over the place, nearly losing my bathing suit on multiple occasions, much to the bemusement of my dear companions.
Click here to read my posts about Nha Trang.
The Best Beach to Live It Up on the Cheap: Serendipity Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
$5 hourlong massages? $3 pedicures? $3 beach barbecue dinners? $1 for 15 squid kebabs? 25 cent beers? Yes, please! While you can live on $20 a day in much of Southeast Asia if you live simply, you can do that in Sihanoukville while living like a rock star. Serendipity Beach is where the action is.
And while you shouldn’t buy things from kids on Serendipity Beach, or anywhere (a lesson that I realized far too late), those bracelet-selling kids are sweet, hilarious and endlessly entertaining.
Click here to read my posts about Sihanoukville.
The Best Beach for Surfing: Seminyak Beach, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia
Whatever you do, make sure you’re as far away as possible from trash-strewn Kuta Beach. But once you get up to Seminyak, you have the same perfect waves for both novice and advanced surfers — and it’s so much cleaner!
These are beaches are primarily for surfers, not swimmers. I took a lesson from the excellent Rip Curl School of Surf on Seminyak Beach, and as I smoothly rode to shore, I couldn’t have learned in a better place.
Click here to read my posts about Bali.
On this trip, I regrettably missed Thailand’s southern Gulf coast; China Beach, Vietnam; Amed and Lovina, Bali; Kuta Beach, Lombok; and the beaches of Malaysia and the Philippines. I resolve to visit all of these places and more!
34 thoughts on “My Favorite Beaches in Southeast Asia”
Good post. You didn’t miss anything in Lovina except for some nice sunsets. It wouldn’t have made the list. Amed on the other hand… And many of the beaches on the Bukit or further west — these are brilliant.
Great list! Thanks for sharing.
Great list Kate!
We also loved Dong Hoi beach in Veitnam and also Cu Dai Beach in Hoi An. If you are ever in Thailand again, head to the island of Koh Rok for some camping! Amazing beach!
Lonely beach looks amazing. 🙂
I am surprised that beaches here in the Philippines did not make the list. The best beaches in SEA are here.
G, I have yet to visit the Philippines — I mentioned that in the disclaimer at the bottom. I would have loved to have made it on this trip, but it just didn’t happen.
You have some fantastic pictures!
Such a beautiful pictures about nature.Love beaches so much.It can bring peace and happiness to my mind.thanks for your sharing
Wow! that shot of Klong Nin Beach in Koh Lanta is amazing,
and $1 for a ton of squid kababs.. yum!
There is a beach called Serendipity Beach? Love it! These all look so ridiculously gorgeous!
Really great list of beaches! Living in Florida I can really appreciate the different beaches. I really love the photo of Klong Nin Beach.
Lonely Beach and Pranang look beautiful – can’t wait to get to Thailand!! You really got our feet itching to go to South East Asia, Kate! 🙂
I’m telling you…you’d love it! SUCH a great place!
You ever make it to Bintan, Indonesia? It has some fabulous beaches and is also only a ferry ride away from Singapore where Sentosa island/beach claims to be the southernmost tip of mainland Asia.
Have not been to Bintan! But isn’t Sentosa totally an island?
wow! these beaches are breathtaking! that sunset photo’s my favorite!
Such beautiful beaches. Totally understand why these are your favorites. Hoping to visit some of Southeast Asia’s beaches myself eventually!
I love the beaches out there in Indonesia and other south Asian countries likes of Thailand! The best thing is that most of the beaches are surrounded by lush green environment. Out of above all Pranang Beach is my favorite. I like to make a villa over these Rocky Mountains! What do you think?
Great post, my friend is heading over to Southeast Asia (I won’t get into the bitter jealousy) in July and I will pass this along to her. Places look pretty amazing, especially the Klong Nin Beach, beautiful picture.
I really hope you could make it to the Philippines. I believe that we have a lot of gorgeous beaches here! I have only been to a few such as the beaches of Busuanga (Palawan), Pagudpud (Ilocos Norte) and the more popular Boracay. But based on what I’ve seen, I am proud to say that we have some ridiculously amazing beaches! 😀
May you have more happy and unforgettable travels!
Otres Beach in Sihanoukville is one of the greatest most secluded places in the world of beaching that isn’t so secluded that you’ll be lost without a tank of gas when the sun goes down…and even if you were, you’d probably be OK. At the farthest limit of the trail, where the road runs out, there’s a small place with a skinny german guy who apparently had just bought in as a partner when I was there about 6 months ago. There’s a couple places to sit, some ambient temperature water bottles for sale, and the most piece and quiet you could possibly want. Best of all, nobody trying to sell you bracelets and no teenagers on gap year acting like drunken douchebags!!!!!!!! Highly recommend it…
I meant “PEACE” and quiet. LOL.
You may want to visit Philippines.. Pure white sand in Boracay, limestones & beaches in Palawan (El Nido, Coron), and Bohol.
Best time to visit is on dry months from early November to mid May.
Best beaches = Philippines. Hands down.
Since we share a love for two of your top three beaches (in Thailand), I’m going to take your advice on the beaches elsewhere. Making a checklist now!
Excellent, Jessica! Glad to hear it!
Your sthle is very unique compared to other people I’ve read stuff from.
Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess
I will just bookmark this web site.
wow! how i wish i could be there, somewhere in your favorite beaches listed……
You’re blog is a real inspiration for my trip to Thailand!
And if you will visit Vietnam again, try An Bang beach near Hoi An: relaxed, good food, not too deserted but certainly not crowded. I loved it!
Thailand has such a vast number of fantastic beaches. Few countries could compete with it.
fantastic island in cambodia, koh rong , it is amazing paradise.
Hi Kate, great post (as always!). Have you ever been to any Malaysia islands? There are some beautiful ones there also which rival the beauty of Thailand and Philippines. I recently went to Pangkor Laut, an island off the West Coast of Malaysia and it was truly amazing. Ive written a review with photos here if anyone wants to read more about it – you should visit some day and then it might just make it onto this list/post of your favourite islands 🙂 Check out:
I’d love to see more of the islands sometime, Justine!
Wow! Great beaches. I am planning my trip to Sihanoukville next year. This helps me a lot…. I do hope you wander around Philippines beaches given a chance, it is just so amazing too. And probably will be one of your fave beaches! More adventures and cheers!! 🙂