Best beaches in Asia

Dreaming of the perfect beach escape? White sands, crystal-clear waters, beautiful sunsets? From secluded islands in the Maldives to the winding coast of the Gulf of Thailand, Asia is home to some of the best beaches on earth. Here are our top picks for the best beaches in Asia..
Asia is home to some of the world's finest beaches
Asia is home to some of the world's finest beaches

Thailand

Ao Kantiang, Ko Lanta

No pressing crowds, only pure white sand and clear aquamarine waters. About 6km (4 miles) from popular Hat Khlong Hin is the picturesque bay of Ao Kantiang. This bay has a secluded and private feel to it as it’s framed on both sides and to the back by jungle-covered hills. To the north and high up on the hill are a handful of small resorts; there are lovely views from the top but it also means climbing up a considerable number of steps (away from the beautiful beach) to reach it. The southern end of this bay is anchored by the luxury Pimalai Resort and Spa. This five-star resort is set in 40 hectares of natural tropical surroundings and has direct access to the 1km (0.6-mile) -long stretch of pure white-sand beach. 


Hat Tham Phra Nang, Krabi

Undeniably, the prettiest beach in Railay Bay, if not the whole of Thailand, is Hat Tham Phra Nang. Here, the extravagant and ultra-expensive Rayavadee Resort occupies prime position (there is no other accommodation here). Set amid 11 hectares of coconut groves and surrounded by limestone cliffs, Tham Phra Nang is endowed with the softest of white sands, limpid turquoise-blue waters and beautiful coral reefs offshore. Although staying at the Rayavadee gives you the most direct access to this beach, many day-trippers from Railay West and Railay East flock to Tham Phra Nang to sunbathe, swim and snorkel. Our local experts will help you steer clear of the crowds on our Krabi Beach Escape holiday.


Railay Bay, Krabi. Photo: Shutterstock


Vietnam

Phu Quoc 

Vietnam’s largest island, Phu Quoc, is a mountainous retreat with 150km (90 miles) of sandy coastline. Locals will tell you that Sao Beach (Bai Sao), also known as Star Beach, Khem Beach (Bai Khem), or Cream Beach are the island’s most beautiful stretches of sand. They are correct, and super-fine white sand and crystal waters await those who make the trek there. Discover Vietnam’s deep south with Insight Guides’ Southern Vietnam Explored holiday.


Jungle Beach

The Hon Heo Peninsula north of Nha Trang shelters one of Vietnam’s finest beaches, backed by rocky mountains and washed by clear, emerald waters. The beach is pristine and the water sparkling and clear year-round, with permanent populations of bioluminescent algae that magically light up when swimmers stir the water at night. Discover Nha Trang’s beaches for yourself with Insight Guides’ Very Vietnam trip.


Sunset on Phu Quoc, Vietnam. Photo: Shutterstock


Cambodia

Lazy Beach, Koh Rong Saloem

The island of Koh Rong Saloem is a short boat trip away from the main island of Koh Rong. Lazy Beach is located on the southeastern tip of the island, away from the few resorts and developments. Meticulously cleaned each day as a result of a local government initiative, Lazy Beach is shaded by a forest of aromatic pine trees. The natural protective shape of the bay provides calm waters, which are perfect for swimming and snorkelling. A scenic old wooden pier juts out into the ocean and there a few thatched shacks and beach bungalows scattered among the pines. Discover Cambodia’s beautiful landscape and fascinating history and culture with Insight Guides.


Otres Beach, Sihanoukville

A seemingly untouched and everlasting stretch of white sand, Otres Beach is one of the finest beaches not only in Cambodia, but in Southeast Asia. Undeveloped for the most part, Otres Beach sits side-by-side with the lively, busy Ochheuteal Beach, but, to its advantage, slightly further out of town. Ramshackle seafood cafés and cocktail shacks punctuate the pristine sands of Otres Beach for almost all of its 4km (2.5 miles). The water here is clear, calm and shallow: ideal for families and exploring. Discover Otres Beach yourself with Insight Guides’ Cambodia’s Beaches and Temples trip.


Otres Beach, Sihanoukville. Photo: Shutterstuck


Myanmar

Kyun Phi Lar, Mergui Archipelago

Kyun Phi Lar is one of the hundreds of tiny islands in the Mergui Archipelago, located off Myanmar's south coast. Until recently, tourists were not permitted to visit the archipelago. Today, the islands remain protected and largely undeveloped. Kyun Phi Lar is so undeveloped that its beach doesn't have a name. Despite its lack of a name, this patch of untouched sand is one of the finest in Myanmar. Looking out over the Andaman Sea, this idyllic beach stretches for 4km (2 miles). There isn't so much as a footprint to disturb its heavenly white sand, except for perhaps the odd monkey. To get to Kyun Phi Lar island, you can catch a boat from Victoria Point (Kawthoung). Add a stop to the Mergui Archipelago to any of Insight Guides' trips to Myanmar


Ngapali Beach

Ngapali is Myanmar's only fully fledged beach resort. Sitting 10km (6 miles) south of Thandwe, Ngapali is centred around a tranquil, palm-lined bay. Its soft, white shell sand, translucent water and wonderful fresh seafood offer a welcome respite from the dust and humidity of inland travel. There are several hotels dotted along the beach. Despite this, the atmosphere remains peaceful, with plenty of space on the sand. Fishermen from nearby villages far outnumber tourists. Their boats bob around offshore, unmolested by jet-skis and powerboats. Snorkelling and fishing trips offer alternatives to lounging around on the beach. Add a stop at Ngapali to any of Insight Guides' trips to Myanmar


Idyllic sunset on Ngapali Beach, Myanmar. Photo: Shutterstock


Malaysia

Pulau Redang, Terengganu

Located off Malaysia's stunning east coast, between the towns of Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu, Pulau Redang is home to some of the finest beaches in the country. Actually made up of 9 small islands, Redang is famed for its crystal-clear waters and diverse dive sites. Explore Pulau Redang as part of Insight Guides' Taking the Splendour of Malaysia trip. There is a little track that connects the islands, running through rainforest and alongside beaches. Also, there is a small fishing village where you can stop for refreshments and light snacks. Last but not least, the islands are also home to a large green turtle population!

 

Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Sabah

The area of Sabah remains as beautiful and exotic as ever. Thanks to being largely undeveloped, Sabah now a popular destination for wildlife watchers too. Just a short 20-minute boat trip from the town of Kota Kinabalu are five unspoiled islands that comprise the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. These relatively untouched tropical islands are home to some impossibly idyllic stretches of white sand. Spend the day exploring the islands, or swimming and snorkelling in their clear waters with  Insight Guides' Experience Nature in the Wilds of Sabah.   


Deserted tropical beach on Pulau Redang. Photo: Shutterstock


Sri Lanka

Unawatuna

This pretty little horseshoe beach is backed by one of Sri Lanka’s most enjoyable villages. A long-time favourite with visiting backpackers, Unawatuna is the liveliest and most popular beachside hangout in Sri Lanka. There’s pleasant swimming in the picture-perfect bay and a good selection of places to eat, drink and sleep. Located close by to the colonial town of Galle, you can add a stop at Unawatuna on Insight Guides' Sri Lanka: Culture and Coast tour.


Bentota and Induruwa

One of the finest stretches of beach on Sri Lanka’s west coast, running south from the magnificent Bentota lagoon and lined with a string of alluring hotels. Lying half-way between big-hitter destinations like Colombo and Galle, making a stop at Bentota on Insight Guides' Sri Lanka Family Adventure holiday is an obvious choice.


Sunset at Unawatuna. Photo: Shutterstock


India

Varkala, Kerala 

With craggy red cliffs, epic sunsets and an array of easy-going accommodation, Varkala is the epitome of Kerala’s classic backpacker beach scene. It is also a photographer's dream, so don't forget your camera! Add a stop at Varkala to Insight Guides' Magical Kerala trip and experience it for yourself.


Palolem, Goa

Lined by palm trees, and home to plenty of rustic restaurants and bars, the iconic Palolem Beach is a lively but beautiful arched (2km) 1-mile -stretch of sand in south Goa. The sheer size of the beach has allowed it to retain much of its natural beauty whilst also accommodating a thriving backpacker scene. At the northern end of the beach is Monkey Island, accessible by foot at low tide only. The beach itself is well sheltered and the waters are calm. Discover the beauty of India with Insight Guides.


Havelock Island

Situated in the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, Havelock Island has an abundance of fabulous beaches. There is a very relaxed feel to the place, with the majority of the island still uncultivated jungle. The stunning Radhanagar beach (also known as Beach No. 7) is wide and long, with squeaky-clean sand and pristine, aquamarine waters. If you’re there at sunset you might even see an elephant belonging to the nearby Barefoot Resort strolling on the beach.


Goa's Palolem Beach. Photo: Shutterstock


Bali

Nusa Dua

This purpose-built resort in south Bali caters mainly for the upmarket traveller, especially those seeking refuge from the hawkers elsewhere. Five-star luxury hotels, complete with in-house dining, line the lovely white-sand beach, which is caressed by gentle waves. There are a range of different water sports on offer. A great destination for families with young children. Discover Bali’s beaches with Insight Guides’ Indonesia Island Hop holiday.


Pemuteran

An Idyllic stretch of beach, sandy in parts, rocky in others, with a clutch of boutique hotels and nearby snorkelling and diving at Pulau Menjangan. More low-key yet more upmarket than Lovina to the east, Pemuteran sees many repeat visitors who enjoy its relaxed and understated air. Its calm seas are home to an abundance of marine life, including turtles and manta rays. Book your Best of Bali holiday with Insight Guides. 


Beach at Nusa Dua. Photo: Shutterstock


The Maldives

The hundreds of islands that make up the atolls of the Maldives are home to countless idyllic and secluded beach resorts. White sands, palm trees and relaxation await. The archipelago is also home to tens of thousands of reefs and a thousand recorded species of fish, making it one of the world’s top diving and snorkelling destinations. Experience the Maldives for yourself with Insight Guides’ Sri Lanka and the Maldives holiday.


One of the Maldives' many stunning beaches. Photo: Shutterstock


Philippines

Boracay

The island of Boracay is synonymous with Philippines beach tourism and has become a fabled paradise for both budget and more upmarket travellers because of its long white-sand beach with coral gardens just offshore, plus diving tours that leave each morning just hours after the last resort party ends.


Boracay from above. Photo: Shutterstock


Taking a holiday to Asia: how to get started

Insight Guides can help you with planning, organising and booking your trip to multiple destinations in Asia. Simply, get in touch and share your budget, interests and travel style. Our local experts will create an itinerary exclusive to you and your requirements, which you can amend until  you are satisfied. Alternatively, browse and modify ready-made holidays to create your dream trip today. Remember, all of our trips are fully customisable.