Out of all the places on earth, why do millions of people flock to beaches for their holidays? The answer is simple. Just imagine this scenario – you’re resting on a hammock overlooking a swirling, endless mass of water with waves frothing white as foam as they lap at the coast. The sunlight is turning the azure waters into shades of golden while delightfully warming your skin at the same time. You’re sipping a delicious cocktail while turning the pages of a scintillating beach-thriller. Or you’re getting an excellent massage at a beach side spa. However you choose to spend your day on the beach, it comes as close to a perfect a day as possible.
And it makes me think, why would anyone want to go anywhere but to a beach? Fortunately for us, our very own continent is blessed with some of the world’s best beaches. Whether you are looking for an idyllic, secluded beach holiday or an action packed one, you will find the right beach for your mood in Asia itself. We have put together a selection of Asia best beaches – from gazing out across the clear turquoise waters of the Maldives or sinking beneath the waves to explore sunken ships in the Andaman waters off the coast of Havelock, the best beaches in Asia offer a variety of vacation ideas that can all be enjoyed under the sun.
White Beach, Boracay (Philippines)
Boracay is a dog’s bone shaped island 350 kilometers off the coast of Manila – an absolute haven for honeymooners. Tiny but not predictable in the least, this island houses 13 stunning beaches, scenic spots for cliff-diving, kite-surfing, preppy bars, ziplining, and parasailing. The greatest attraction on the island is its primary beach – the White Beach. The eponymous beach has powder soft sand greeting the ocean with restaurants and hotels aplenty to provide you with every comfort and luxury. Most hotels and shacks on the White Beach provide lounge chairs for those wanting to simply up their tan-quotient while relaxing under the sun (or get rejuvenating back massages while gazing at the beach). Not just that, some of Boracay’s best nightlife can be found on this very island. Sweet, chilled coconut water, breath-taking views and excellent food – what else would one need?
For those of you looking for the high that comes with adventure sports, you will obviously enjoy the wide scope of water sports here – the cliff diving at Ariel’s Point, kite surfing at Bulabog Beach, sailing, snorkeling, diving and jet skiing.
For those looking for seclusion, the Puka Shell Beach and the Diniwid Beach offer fewer tourists and guesthouses at the very edge of the coast. Everything you look for in a beach-holiday, you can easily find at Boaracay. Boracay truly lives up to the name bestowed upon it - Tropical Paradise.
Havelock, Andaman Islands (India)
Far off the south-east coast of India, in the seclusion of the Bay of Bengal, lie the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With a rich cultural and colonial history, as well as blessed scenic beauty, the islands have always been an excellent place for tourism, rest and rejuvenation. The most visited of the Andaman Islands, as well as one of the top beach destinations in Asia are the Havelock Islands.
The so called USP of Havelock is that the islands are virtually untapped, and you get to experience the proximity to nature firsthand. The Radhanagar Beach has been rated as the best in Asia by the Times (2004). With silky white sand, woods on the backdrop, and turquoise blue waters gently gracing the shoreline, this beach is sure to stay in your mind, and your camera roll, for a long time. The place has dual offerings in terms of deep diving and snorkeling - a unique combination seldom seen. The Radhanagar Beach has an adjoining lagoon, named the Blue Lagoon. For commuting, the place has public transport as well as bikes and cabs on hire, but if you’re especially lucky you might find an elephant ride along the shoreline dropping you off the main road.
The joys of this island can be summed up best by saying that is an opportunity to indulge in the unspoiled, immaculate waves of nature’s glory; far away from the rambunctiousness of civilization.
Koh Samui (Thailand)
Thailand has so much to offer other than the famous aromatic and therapeutic massages. There are a multitude of attractions here that are sensually-gratifying - pristine landscapes, spectacular beaches, colorful culture, captivating temples and unadulterated warmth of Thai hospitality. One such must-visit beach locale is the island of Koh Samui. Located off the eastern coast of Thailand, this island is most known for its unique palm-tree edged beaches and the gleaming Big Buddha temple. Two of the islands best beaches are the Lamai Beach and the Chaweng Beach. The latter is the heart of Koh Samui – being the biggest and busiest town with the biggest and the busiest beach. Cheap drinks, loud music and excellent ambience makes this beach the go-to place for young back-packers.
The Lamai Beach is as laid back as the Chaweng Beach is busy. With the ocean significantly deeper, this is an ideal place for those looking for swimming. With probably the widest strip of sand running across the North-South direction, this beach is spacious and offers plenty of options for trendy restaurants and bars. The seclusion stays in the northern side of the beach, with the noise and mayhem increasing the further south you go. Other than the beaches. Koh Samui also offers the opportunity to indulge in adventure sports – primarily sea diving and zip lining at fifty miles an hour, hiking at the Elephant Rock and serene ocean side boat rides that take you to the Ang Thong National Marine Park.
Another gem to be found for beach lovers in Thailand is the emerald island of Phuket. Thailand’s largest island, Phuket is spread over 550 square kilometers in the Andaman Sea and is home to many highly sought-after seaside resorts, spas and restaurants. Out of all the marvelous beaches on this Island, an absolute must-visit is the relatively inaccessible, secluded, crescent shaped Banana Beach on Coral Island. Most of the beach is engulfed by the water during high tide, but the sand is blessedly soft and the view ethereal during the low tide hours. Freedom Beach in Patong will satiate the appetite of hiking enthusiasts with the one-kilometer long hike to get there. The heart of Phuket lies in its busiest beach – the Patong Beach. Spend your days exploring Phang Nga Bay and Phi Phi Island, all the nocturnal fun at Patong’s Bangla Road, the serene Big Buddha at Chalong, the numerous fishing villages, Cabaret shows and elephant sanctuaries. There is one more ostentatious offering from Thailand in the form of the Similan Islands. A cluster of nine small islands, this World Heritage Site are the perfect place for those wanting to see its rich and diverse marine life, tropical woods, and sandy white beaches.
Hoi An (Vietnam)
Hoi An is a place that transports you back in time with its agility and simplicity, while mesmerizing you with its beauty all along. Its Old Town, with over 800 historic buildings, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with numerous museums, temples, ancient homes, local cafes and of course, its beaches – Hoi An has enough to keep any tourist entertained thoroughly. Another thing you might not have foreseen with this tiny little Vietnamese city is that it is the textile capital of the country particularly its’ suits. Leave your holiday with a perfect three-piece that would rival those of Saville Row! If the magic of Vietnamese food has worked over you too, Hoi An gives you the opportunity to learn how the nitty-gritties of Vietnamese Cuisine.
Out of all its beaches, An Bang is the beach preferred most by those seeking to have uninterrupted hours of leisure and seclusion. The strips of sand lapping the ocean are pearl white, there are multiples restaurants serving delicious sea food, and you also have an option to book a seaside villa. The Cam Kim island is a 30 minute ferry ride away from the mainland from D Bach Dang and is known for its intricate artistic woodcarvers. Other gorgeous beaches are found at Da Nang, merely 40 minutes out of Hoi An.
Jeju, South Korea
From waterfalls, remains of volcanic islands, dramatic hexagonal cliffs, mysterious roads to multiple beaches, the South Korean island of Jeju rightly deserves the title of being called the Hawaii of Asia. Asia’s only waterfall that falls directly into the ocean – the Jeongbang Falls lies on the island, as does Oedolgae Rock – a rock in the middle of the sea formed out of a volcanic eruption 150,000 years ago. The 10 kilometer trek across the massive Hallasan Mountain gives you the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the view of the ocean atop South Korea’s highest mountain. As for beaches, Hyeopjae & Geumneung are two of the primary beaches on the island.
Hyeopjae is famous for its white sand waterfront, exoctic expressos and fine dining restaurants with some of the best seafood in all of South Korea. At Geumneung beach, the water is shallow enough to take a stroll around the rock and escape the crowds. The Gwangchigi Beach, quite unlike the classic image of a beach, is an astounding natural attraction that will grow on you, especially because the beach gives a direct view of the Seongsan Illchulpeak.
Ride on horse back, visit tea plantations and tea museums, folk villages depicting the essence of life in South Korea and magical lava tunnels at Manjang Cave. Every minute on this island will bring its own magic!
Known as the Island of the Gods, Bali is a piece of heaven on Earth. Sapphire blue seas, golden sun baked beaches, a hub of history and culture, watersports, surfing, food and frolicking, Bali has it all. For the beach lovers, Kuta Beach is the best place - get yourself a towel, some sunscreen, rent a beach chair, an umbrella and forget all over worries for the next few hours. Kuta Beach is also the best place for surfers, with boats and surf-boards readily available for first time as well as seasoned surfers. An adrenaline filled experience awaits you and your family at the Treetop Adventure Park with a number of thrilling rides in the middle of the forest.
For those looking to explore the depth of the seas and the world hidden underneath, Padang Bai is your doorway to the aqua-world. There are seven different sites for diving and you even stand a chance at getting your PADI Certification. If you want to live the life of super-spies in action packed movies, Tanjung Beach gives you the chance to fulfill atleast one of those fantasies- wearing high powered motors on your legs that allow you to soar over ten feet over the ocean! The Tanah Lot Temple, Ubud – a small town that captures the essence and purity of Bali, the paddy fields at Tabanan, the adorable monkeys at the Monkey Forest and the Bali Zoo are other noteworthy attractions in Bali.
Maldives is probably the most picture-perfect place one might ever see in their lifetime. It is a cluster of 1200 little islands and 26 atolls in the middle of startling, azure blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The largest city and most visited part of Maldives is the Male Atoll. Among a host of attractions, Male atoll also has an artifical beach created specifically for sea-swimming and water sports. In the evenings, bonfires sprout on the soft white sand with local bands sometimes gracing the scene outside multiple restaurants. The Sun Island is famous for its stunning beaches, tropical flowers, and striking greenery. The island hosts a number of exotic resorts, spas and rejuvenation centers that promise a luxurious holiday in mid-ocean with absolute privacy.
The Banana reef is one of the world’s most famous spots for diving globally. Spot the coral reefs, abundant marine life, cliffs and caves.
For those looking for treading in calmer waters, Alimatha Island – on the eastern edge of Maldives in Vaavu atoll – is apt for boating and snorkeling. It also is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Maldives with an environ perfect for a match of volleyball, or good old sunbathing.
The HP Reef is a protected marine location and home to extensive aquatic life and coral reefs, the Biyadhoo Island for organic, locally sourced produce and the Baros island for its sun kissed beaches.
Maldives is romantic and enchanting, but also a country that has meticulously preserved its marine biodiversity. A visit to Maldives is like a revelation into the world under the sea, and how unwise the human race has truly been.
Galle, Sri Lanka:
Galle was originally renowned for the Galle Fort, a fortified old city built by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century. Today, Galle is a little bit like going back in the pages of history, because most of the old city (later expanded by the Dutch), is still intact – a perfect rendition of Dutch colonial architecture.
The Galle Fort is the first stop for any tourist on Galle, and rightly so. It is an excellent culmination of architecture, archaeology and south Asian colonial history. It has its own lighthouse and an in-house museum called the Mansion museum that takes you through the history of Galle over centuries.
While the fort is a relic of Sri Lanka’s colonial past, the Japanese Peace Pagoda is a recent addition to the island which, in addition to a stunning view of the sunset on Unawatuna and Galle beaches, also radiates warmth and positivity from its pure white structure.
The Unawatuna Beach is blessed with beauty and calm waters. Ideal for a stroll in the sea, or swimming, this beach is quiet and calm. The Jungle beach is the centre of activities for surfers, snorkeling and water sports enthusiasts.
Other locations that attract and endear Galle to tourists across Asia are the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Beira Lake, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the National Museum of Galle.
Some thirty kilometers off the coast of Malaysia lies Langkawi, an archipelago of 104 islands, known as the Jewel of Kedah. With stunning landscapes, parks, historical and cultural monuments, blessed beaches, and a rocking nightlife, Langkawi is a hidden gem that you need to explore on your next visit to Malaysia.
Dataran Land (a.k.a. the Eagle Square) is a 12-meter-tall elevated structure of a massive eagle with its wings spread wide, naturally making it the spot most tourists (and their cameras) love the most.
The Langkawi Sky Bridge gives you a shocking arial view of almost all popular spots on Langkawi and the surrounding sea at an altitude of 700 meters above the sea level. If you want to explore Langkawi more thoroughly, the Langkawi cable car is an ideal option. A fifteen minute ride from top of Mt. Mat Cincang, this ride gives you a thorough glimpse of all that Langkawi has to offer – the forests, the isles, the water and the cliffs.
Datai Bay, Tanjung Rhu and Pantai Cenang are some of the noteworthy beaches with multiple seaside restaurants, clubs and nightlife options. For those travelling with young families, Langkawi is going to be an absolute favourite with your children – just take them to the Underwater World, the Wildlife Park and Bird Paradise and the famed, unforgettable Paradise 3D museum.