With world famous beaches, Southeast Asia offers a tonne of opportunities to enjoy the endless coastlines of the region. Become a beach bum and spend your days lazing on the sand, taking in the sun followed by a dip in the clear waters. And to help get the ball rolling, we rounded up four of the best beaches in Southeast Asia, which are worth visiting.
Nai Harn Beach, Phuket
Nai Harn beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Phuket with its excellent water quality. It’s encompassed on both sides by jungle-covered mountains and there’s a large freshwater lagoon inland. Never overloaded, even in high season, Nai Harn’s usually busier at weekends as it is popular with both Thais and expats. There’s something special for the children too. At the southern end, the lagoon flows into the sea, creating a stream that children love to play in.
Bonus: Though surfing is not a major sporting pastime in Phuket, at the south end of this beach there is a permanent sandbank that gives a good and often fast ride, even in the smallest swells. At the northern end (right next to Le Royal Meridien Yacht Club) there is a beach-and-reef break in the corner. This break can hold large swells and can at times get pretty potent.
Boracay, the Philippines
While only 7km long, tiny Boracay has rapidly become the Philippines’ top tourist draw, fuelled by explosive growth and a tsunami of hype; in 2013 it was voted as the second-best island destination in the world after Palawan. The centre of the action is dreamy White Beach, a 4 km, postcard-perfect stretch of sand lined from one end to the other with hotels, restaurants and dive shops now several blocks deep.
Bonus: The ocean is full of romantic paraws (a sailboat) giving rides; colourful parasails fill the air. Post-sunsets, live music breaks out and fire dancers twirl their batons. The party goes on all night. All of this can be great fun, à la Waikiki, and can easily occupy your entire visit.
Ngapali Beach, Myanmar
With its pristine white sands, the clear blue waters of the Bay of Bengal and a host of sophisticated accommodation, Ngapali – some say named by a wayward Italian reminiscing about Napoli years ago – has a justified reputation as the country’s premier beach getaway. Despite the huge influx of tourists every year, Ngapali continues to maintain a charming fishing-village vibe, as evidenced by the small boats heading out day and night to catch a bounty that is later served up super fresh in restaurants and hotels.
Bonus: Be it kayaking, bird watching or playing golf, Ngapali is abundant with choices to fulfil your desires.
Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Liberally sprinkled with picture-perfect white sand beaches and cloaked in dense, impenetrable jungle, Phu Quoc is the best beach in Vietnam as well one of the most beautiful beaches of Southeast Asia. Spend your day trekking through the Phu Quoc National Park, visit the beautiful Cua Can and Ong Lan Beaches and the Dinh Cau Night Market for a delicious range of Vietnamese Street food.
Bonus: Indulge in traditional Spanish tapas and Western-style breakfasts at Mondo. Another great option is Oasis for its great shepherd’s pie, shrimp spring rolls, apple pie and all-day breakfast. You can stay at bamboo cottages with the Vung Bau Beach all to yourself.
Words: Ronica Valdeavilla