8 Incredible Beaches of Southeast Asia That Haven't Been Ruined by Tourists (Yet)
July 18, 2019
Southeast Asia has been a popular destination for backpackers, digital nomads, and soul-seekers alike for quite some time and for good reason—it’s magical. But with popularity, comes droves of tourists. And with droves of tourists, come crowded beaches. Not to mention, movies like Leonard DiCaprio’s ‘The Beach’ have made SE Asia’s beaches the “it” place to take those Instagram photos (#beachlife).
Thankfully, SE Asia is absolutely chock-full of gorgeous beaches—many of which are still off the beaten path or tucked away in more “tourist-free” areas. Here are 8 of the best beaches in Southeast Asia where you can still have a stretch of sand to yourself. Just remember—pick up all of your trash and use ocean-safe sunscreen.
1. Sao Beach, Phu Quoc, Vietnam
The island of Phu Quoc is located off the southwestern tip of Vietnam and has been a popular tourist destination for years now. As it continues to grow in popularity, Phu Quoc is still full of gorgeous stretches of beach with powdered sugar sand and crystal clear waters—Sao Beach is one of them. Take a nap in the soft sand after taking a dip in the bath-temperature waters. Then? Refresh yourself with a cold beer at one of the little restaurants with lounge chairs lining the shore.
2. Mushroom Bay Beach, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia
Bali has been a haven for beach-goers for decades—but if you head southeast by just 12 miles, you’d discover a little-known piece of heaven called Mushroom Bay Beach on the island of Nusa Lembongan. Tourists who visit Bali will often hop over to the Gili Islands for picture-perfect beaches but many skip over Nusa Lembongan. Although mostly a quiet, seaweed farming island, you can rent a scooter on Nusa Lembongan and meander over to beautiful Mushroom Bay Beach. Tucked away in a cove in the Indian Ocean, you can witness some gorgeous sunsets from this hidden spot. There are tourist boats that come in and out during the day, but if you rent one of the bungalows on the beach, you’ll have the entire place to yourself after 6 pm.
3. White Beach, Boracay, Philippines
With over 7,000 islands making up the island nation of the Philippines, this stunning country has more gorgeous beaches than they know what to do with. One of their most glorious? White Beach located on the island of Boracay. Boracay recently had to cut off tourism due to ecological damage but now that it’s slowly lifting its restrictions, the island has calmed down substantially. White Beach has always been a popular site amongst tourists, but now that it’s all cleaned up with thousands of fewer people, it's literal perfection on earth. You’ve never seen whiter sand or clearer water.
4. Big Wave Bay Beach, Hong Kong
Although technically not in SE Asia, Hong Kong is just a short flight away from Bangkok or a nice layover if you’re on your way over from the States. Hong Kong is one of the busiest, most bustling cities in the world and is known for its massive skyline with towering skyscrapers. But just one urban hike over the mountain to the other side of the island (make sure to bring water!) lies a phenomenal, quiet, and pristine beach called Big Wave Bay Beach. You’ll find it hard to believe you’re still in Hong Kong while you’re watching surfers catch some waves.
5. Long Set Beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia
If you’ve made your way to SE Asia, make sure to put Koh Rong, Cambodia on your itinerary. Koh Rong is Cambodia’s second-largest island and is on the brink of becoming a major tourist destination. Before the masses come in droves, rent a scooter and find your way over to Long Set Beach for the most relaxing afternoon of your life. If you’re looking for a beach that looks like a computer screensaver, this is it. The turquoise of the water doesn’t even look real.
6. Crystal Bay/Silver Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand
When most people think of SE Asia—they think of Thailand. And when most people think of Thailand—they think of islands like Phuket or Koh Phi Phi. But there are dozens of islands scattered off both Thailand’s western and eastern shores that contain breathtaking beaches. Koh Samui is located on Thailand’s eastern coast in the Gulf of Thailand. If you head south from the party city of Chaweng, you’ll find Silver Beach and Crystal Bay. Shallow waters and beautiful rock formations make this beach perfectly Instagram-worthy.
7. Pulau Perhentian Besar, Malaysia
Venture off the northeastern coast of Malaysia to find the Perhentian Islands, a small group of beautiful, coral-lined islands near the Thai border. There are two main islands—Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil. Kecil is the most popular of the two but if you can afford to buck up and stay at any of the resorts in Pulau Perhentian Besar, you’ll have access to some of the quietest, most serene beaches in all of SE Asia.
8. Ta Fook, The Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Myanmar has only recently opened its borders to tourism, and even still—the entire country is still very much in its “raw” form. If you’re lucky enough to visit, wander down to the southernmost part of the country to find the Mergui Archipelago. Not only will you be able to explore the beauty that makes up this 800-island group, but there are secluded, private beaches galore. Ta Fook is by far one of the most stunning of the small islands—with a beach that is straight out of your dreams. It’s a bit of an adventure to get to—but oh so worth it.
Written by Ashley Brewer for Knockaround.