Immense expanses of white sand, crystal clear waters, radiant sunshine, palm trees and lush green hills, surfing spots, incredible underwater life and some of the best diving sites. You are not dreaming, you are just in Southeast Asia where the paradisiacal beaches merge with verdant tropical landscapes. They are the perfect answer for those seeking moments of relaxation and freedom out of the hustle and bustle of cities. Here’s a list of the most stunning paradise islands of Southeast Asia, and how to get to them.
Cat Ba, Vietnam
Located in the Halong area, Cat Ba is a less touristy island but just as splendid as those of Halong Bay. The landscapes are similar, but Cat Ba has this unique authentic touch to it. The steep cliffs swimming in the gray clouds and sitting on the emerald green of the sea and the lush vegetation will take your breath away. Rent kayaks and paddle in Lan Ha Bay to explore the region’s lagoons, sandy beaches on deserted islands and floating fishing villages. Cat Ba will seduce all lovers of nature who wish to leave the beaten track!
How to get to Cat Ba?
First fly to Hanoi. From the Vietnamese capital, take a train to Hai Phong, there are 3 per day. Built in the time of French colonization at the end of the 19th century, the railway system will offer you a local experience in its own right! The journey lasts about 2 hours and allows you to admire beautiful views. From Hai Phong Station, walk to the port or take a cab. Once you arrive at the port, go to a counter to buy a boat ticket to reach the island of Cat Ba, accessible in about 1 hour. It is also possible to pre-book your ticket online or through agencies.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
If you like diving, waste no time and get to Raja Ampat. The archipelago consisting of some 1500 islands is also known as “Four Kings”, according to an Indonesian legend. This diving paradise is home to nearly 1,300 species of fish. Still relatively isolated, these islands are the delight of divers who discover a true natural jewel. The fauna and the flora bloom in a nature still intact and preserved.
How to get to Raja Ampat?
Fly to Jakarta then for Sorong (airport code SOQ). From this port city, 2 ferries take the daily commute to Waisai on Waigeo Island. It is the largest city of Raja Ampat. The crossing lasts 2-3 hours.
Koh Kood, Thaïland
The beautiful island of Koh Kood, or Ko Kut, is located in the bay of Bangkok. It is a 100% authentic fishing island. Still preserved from mass tourism, you will be able to experience a local lifestyle in all quietude. Its inhabitants live from fishing and local cultures (rubber, coconut). Small mountains allow you to admire splendid views of the bay. Let yourself be carried away by the charm of this secret island. Be careful, take cash as there are no vending machines on the island.
How to get to Koh Kood?
To reach the peaceful Koh Kood Island, first go to Trat airport (TDX airport code). You can also get there via Bangkok by public transport. Once in Trat, take a taxi to the port where the boats leave for Koh Kood. Ko Kut Express and Koh Kood Princess are two examples of ferries that make the journey on a daily basis.
Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands located north of the Straits of Malacca, is made for travelers seeking serenity. Peaceful, this island has many natural wonders: judge for yourself by taking a shower at the Seven Wells waterfall!
How to get to Langkawi?
Langkawi is easily accessible because the island has its own airport. Simply book a flight to Langkawi, airport code LGK.
Koh Rong, Cambodia
Cambodia’s second largest island, Koh Rong is the pearl of Cambodia. Still relatively protected from tourists, Koh Rong is the archetype of the island paradise you can imagine with its miles and miles of white sand and turquoise water. Very peaceful, you can relax by reading on the beach, or in a hammock under the coconut trees … Diving and snorkeling are also there. At nightfall, you will have the choice between a festive evening or go to admire the luminous plankton on the beach … Magic!
How to get to Koh Rong?
Fly to Phnom Penh, then take a local flight to Sihanoukville (airport code KOS). From Sihanoukville you can catch a ferry to Koh Rong in about 2.5 hours. It is also possible to take a “speed ferry”, ie a fast boat, for a journey of 45 minutes only. But a 2.5 hours ride on a pretty boat, your hair flying in the wind, with a magnificent sea as far as the eye can see … no one would says no!
There’s no words that could describe the archipelago of Palawan but an earthly paradise. Located in the southwest of the Philippines, Palawan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to the postcard landscapes, you will find five species of rare turtles, more than 100 species of tropical birds, nearly 2,000 kilometers of coastline and more than 1,700 islands. In 2007, Palawan was named the best destination in the world by National Geographic.
How to get to Palawan?
Puerto Princesa Airport is located on the island of Palawan. You will usually reach it by making a stopover in Manila. Once on the island, you can travel by bus or rent a jeep.
One could not make this list without mentioning the island of Komodo. If you thought dragons didn’t exist, think again. Komodo National Park is home to the Komodo Dragon, a huge lizard that seems to have come straight from Prehistory! Located between the islands of Flores and Sumbawa in eastern Indonesia, Komodo is a secluded and untamed Jurassic Park-like island part of the National Park. This little paradise is home to pink beaches, up, you heard it right. A mixture of white and red sand, there are only 7 in the world.
How to get to Komodo?
After taking a flight to Bali, take a local flight to Labuan Bajo Airport (airport code LBJ). Many one-day or multi-day excursions are organized.
Obviously, everyone knows Phuket by name. And there’s a reason. Phuket offers a multitude of spectacular images, from blue lagoons to pink sunsets, not to mention the monks dressed in orange. The interior is also worth a look with the wooded hills, mountains and cliffs.
How to get to Phuket?
The Phuket International Airport is the second busiest airport of Thailand after the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. There are two terminals in the airport; Terminal 1 is used for international flights while Terminal 2 is used for domestic flights. The airport is well-connected to Bangkok with daily flights. There are also direct flights to India, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Germany, among other countries. Some of the airlines with frequent routes between India and Phuket are Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Jet Airways.
Nusa Lembongan, Bali
Nusa Lembongan is a small island off the southeast coast of Bali. Only 25min from Bali, Nusa Lembongan slowly opens up to tourism but is still far from being packed with mass tourism. A quiet island, little traffic on the roads and beautiful scenery, white sand beaches and a breathtaking seabed have made Nusa Lembongan a destination of choice for a quick getaway from Bali.
How to get to Nusa Lembongan?
The only realistic way to reach Nusa Lembongan from Bali is by boat. There are several options according to budget and speed. Most of the scheduled services leave from Sanur Beach at the end of Jalan Hangtuah, and involve getting your feet wet.
Cebu Island, The Philippines
Located in the Visayas region of the Philippines, Cebu Island consists of a beautiful, long, narrow island with upland areas offering breathtaking views of mountains and seas and 167 surrounding islets. There are high end resorts in tourist areas such as in Malapascua, Badian and Camotes, but also more modest resorts in southern and northern fishing villages such as Moalbal for those seeking more adventure and outstanding nature experiences.
How to get to Cebu Island?
Take a direct flight from Manila to Cebu. Both Philippine Airlines and Air Philippines Express operate daily flights from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Cebu’s Mactan-Cebu International Airport. The flights take about an hour, making air travel the fastest way to get to Cebu from Manila.
Looking for more?
These islands aren’t the only ones in the region. Navigating your way through each one of them may not be as easy as it may seem. Therefore, you can more details about traveling to Southeast Asia by clicking here.