There’s nothing more relaxing than a seaside vacation. Soak in the idyllic and picturesque surroundings of these lesser known – but still exotic – beaches in Asia. (After you’ve had a roll in the sand with your lady, that is.)
1. Palawan, The Philippines (main picture)
We’re definitely not talking about the faux beach on Sentosa but the real deal in the Philippines. With more than 1,900km of pristine beaches surrounding 1,780 islands, Palawan is considered the last ecological frontier of the country, with its rich ecosystem supporting two Unesco World Heritage Sites: coral-rich Tubbataha Reef Marine Park and Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
2. Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Located approximately 99km off the southern tip of Vietnam, Phu Quoc is quite possibly one of the most untold beach destinations in Southeast Asia. The island has an air of rustic charm, with stunning beaches, an untouched natural environment and more. Much of Phu Quoc is part of the country’s national parks – therefore, the protected marine environment is great for snorkelling.
3. Havelock Island, India
One of 572 Andaman and Nicobar islands along the western edge of the Andaman Sea, Havelock is one of a few Andaman isles that permits tourism (the Nicobars are entirely off-limits). The almost talcum-white sand of its beach is backed by a rainforest that reaches out to the turquoise waters. The jungle is opened for trekking, while the sea provides opportunities for snorkelling and scuba diving.
4. Koh Phangan, Thailand
Once known primarily as King Chulalongkorn’s favourite vacation getaway, this island in the Gulf of Thailand has developed quite rapidly over the past 20 years. Koh Phangan has two sister islands: the larger Koh Samui to the south and the smaller Koh Tao to the north. The beach is famous for its full-moon party and a dance-music festival. It also offers excellent swimming and snorkelling experiences.
5. Ngapali Beach, Myanmar
With kilometres of white, sandy beaches fringed with coconut trees, Ngapali is the most beautiful in Myanmar and one of the most unspoilt in the world. Unlike most commercialised ones in Asia, it’s still relatively untouched by tourism – it’s free of noisy beachside bars and crowds. Interesting tidbit: They say the beach, which boasts some of Myanmar’s best cuisines, was named by a homesick Italian.
6. Bentota, Sri Lanka
Never known as a beach destination, Sri Lanka, however, holds this gem, which is a must-visit for beach-goers. Situated where the Indian Ocean and the Bentara River meet, it forms a lagoon in the last part of the river, which lends itself to a wide array of water sports. In addition, it is a popular location for hundreds of weddings by both locals and foreigners every year.