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Your Ultimate Guide To Southeast Asia’s Best Beach Getaways

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Luqman Hakim  •  Mar 05, 2020

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Forget famed European island getaways, Southeast Asia has its own share of island (and beach) getaways and they are just as beautiful. From remote islands for a private vacation to tourist hotspots, Southeast Asia has it all. Credit: Giphy What actually defines a getaway? A place where you can get away from the stress of the real world, lay back, take in nature’s serenity and just relax 😎. Prepare to plan your next destressing trip as we list down the must-visit island or beach getaways in Southeast Asia (sorted by country).
Thailand
1. Phuket
Phuket is one of Thailand’s tourist hotspots and it is here where you will find a few of Thailand’s most popular beaches. There’s no hassle in getting to Phuket as many airlines connect Southeast Asian countries to Phuket International Airport including budget airlines such as Jetstar and AirAsia. Phuket is also known for its large variety of delicious eateries (some of which are Halal-certified or Muslim-friendly) and its infamous nightlife in Patong. Kusuma Seafood restaurant, located in the heart of Patong, serves authentic Thai seafood with a Malaysian twist 🤤 and it’s Halal-certified!  Relax in one of Phuket’s many spa resorts or just simply unwind as you lay in the sand, while watching the sunset at Patong Beach 😊. Heads up though, Patong Beach can be a little crowded during the peak periods (November to February). Looking to plan your itinerary for Phuket? Let us help you out with this  Phuket beach getaway guide.
2. Phi Phi Islands (Ko Phi Phi)
A short boat ride from Phuket (and Krabi), Phi Phi Islands are located south-east of Phuket and south of Krabi. Phi Phi Islands are known for their luxurious beach resorts and pristine beaches 😲. Phi Phi Islands are also easily accessible from Phuket. Register yourself on a tour, as some tour operators offer amazing, promotional offers for tours to Phi Phi Islands but do register at your own discretion as some tour operators are not Muslim-friendly, with regards to food and accommodation. Spend your vacation relaxing in the sunny beaches of Phi Phi or, if you are an adrenaline junkie, there are many water-related activities (such as kiteboarding or snorkelling) you can do during your vacation to Phi Phi Islands 🏄‍♂️.  There are a number of Halal-certified or Muslim-friendly eateries in Phi Phi Islands namely Efe Mediterranean Cuisine Restaurant, which serves Turkish and Mediterranean dishes 😋. Unfortunately, it may prove to be a challenge to find authentic Halal Thai food on the island as compared to the nearby mainland town of Krabi. 
3. Koh Lanta
Just like Phi Phi Islands, Koh Lanta is an island, located off the coast of Krabi. Koh Lanta’s remote geography is perfect for an island getaway 🏝. The island is full of hipster cafés and luxury resorts for those who are willing to go off the beaten path for their vacation. The ideal way to travel to the island is by ferry from Krabi. Airlines such as Scoot offer direct flights from Southeast Asian countries to Krabi’s international airport. It may be tough looking for Halal-Certified hipster cafés on the island, but you can find Muslim-friendly eateries due to Koh Lanta’s large Muslim population. The night market in Baan Saladan is where you can find Muslim-owned stalls selling a variety of street food to cure your hunger pangs 😊. For more “off the beaten path” vacation spots, do check out our list of Asian destinations for the not-so-ordinary traveller.
4. Koh Samui
 Thailand’s second-largest offshore island, Koh Samui is located off the east coast of Thailand. The island even has its own airport. Airlines such as SilkAir, Bangkok Airways and Malaysia Airlines fly into Samui International Airport. Flights, however, may not come cheap as compared to other Thai cities. If you are flying in from Singapore for example, flight prices can start at SGD 500 for commercial airlines.  The star of Koh Samui is Chaweng Beach, which can be a little crowded during peak travel periods. Alternatively, you can spend a relaxing time at Lamai Beach. Unlike Koh Lanta, Koh Samui can be very touristy during the peak travel periods. From night markets to luxury shopping, you will never run out of things to do in Koh Samui. P.S. If you are looking for budget accommodation in a rather costly island, do check out our budget guide to living in Koh Samui.
Indonesia
5. Bali
Bali is Indonesia’s tourist magnet, known for their epic beaches and amazing nightlife. Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali sees flights arriving daily from many countries including Singapore and Malaysia.
Tourists would frequent the towns of Ubud, Kuta, Denpasar and Seminyak but for those who are willing to go off the beaten path, Bali’s highest point, Mount Agung must be included in your checklist ⛰.  Despite Bali being a Hindu-majority island, finding a Halal eatery won’t be a problem as Indonesia in general is a Muslim-majority country. From affordable meals at a warong to delicious, hipster meals at a café, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding something to eat in Bali 🤤. For a guide on where to eat, do check out our list of Muslim-friendly eateries in Bali. #HHWT Tip: Planning your itinerary? Do check out these amazing things you have to do when in Bali.
6. Lombok
Tourists looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of Bali would tend to head to an island east of Bali instead. Lombok is known for water activities and their stunningly beautiful beaches. You can easily fly to Lombok’s Zainuddin Abdul Madjid International Airport via any Southeast Asian country onboard a budget flight including AirAsia.
Lombok offers amazing, picturesque views especially the crater lake of Mount Rinjani, the second highest volcano in Indonesia 🌋. While you’re at it, do check out their traditional markets and cultural sites to experience what it’s like to live as a Lombok local.
 You must head offshore to visit The Gili Islands, which are accessible via boat rides from Lombok. The beauty of The Gili Islands makes your getaway vacation complete with pristine beaches and beautiful coral reefs 😲. Here’s 10 things you never knew you could do in Lombok!
7. Maluku Islands
The remote Maluku Islands, also known as the Moluccas, are located east of Sulawesi. Maluku was ravaged by war and riots in the early 2000s and the Indonesian region saw little visitors after that.
This forgotten travel destination is home to white-sand beaches and beautiful coral reefs. To get here, you have to travel to Ambon, the capital of Maluku before hopping around the Maluku Islands. Getting to Ambon may be a little bit of a hassle as there are no known direct flights flying from Southeast Asian countries into Pattimura Airport in Ambon. You may have to transit via Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport or Makassar’s Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport. Maluku’s cuisine specialises in seafood and most of the restaurants in Maluku are Muslim-friendly. Sari Gurih Restaurant located along Jalan Kopra, Ambon is a must-try. The restaurant serves simple, kampong-style dishes 😋.  Spending your nights in Maluku would be perfect especially if you are travelling with your significant other. Beach resorts can be found all over the islands and one example of this is the beautiful Ora Beach Resort located in North West Seram in Central Maluku. Wake up to the view of the crystal-clear ocean surrounding your resort room 😮. 
Malaysia
8. Tioman Island
Tioman is an island off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The beauty of Tioman lies in the island’s beaches and coral reefs 😊. Tioman Island is accessible by ferry from either Mersing Jetty or Tanjung Gemok Jetty, both of which are located on Peninsular Malaysia. Alternatively (and the less preferred option), you can take a short flight from Subang Airport in Selangor to the island. Go snorkelling or diving to check out Tioman’s beautiful coral reefs and spend your nights in Tioman at one of their many amazing beach resorts. We would recommend Berjaya Tioman Resort, located on the western coast of the island. This luxurious 4-star hotel resort is perfect to spend your nights in your Tioman Island getaway 😎. Malaysia is generally a Muslim country; thus, it won’t be much of a challenge finding a Muslim-friendly eatery. Most eateries on the island are warungs or roadside restaurants or stalls 😬.
9. Redang Island
 Redang Island, located off the coast of Terengganu in Peninsular Malaysia, is one of the most underrated island getaways in this list. If you have got more cash to spare, you can fly direct into Redang Airport onboard Berjaya Air from either Subang Airport in Malaysia or Singapore’s Seletar Aiport. For those on a budget, a ferry from Shahbandar Jetty or Merang Jetty in Terengganu would be a better option. 
The highlight of Redang Island is its amazing, crystal-clear oceans and white-sand beaches. Ready your snorkels (or diving equipment) as you explore Redang’s colourful coral reefs while chilling in the sun, sand and sea 😲. Redang, being an offshore island, is home of delicious, fresh seafood! Expect to find many Halal-certified and Muslim-friendly eateries serving yummy seafood dishes! Spend your nights in Redang in luxury at The Taaras Beach resort. The resort offers amazing views of the island, a great way to just chill back and destress 😊.
10. Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Islands are located off the north-eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia. 2 islands make up the Perhentian Islands; Pulau Perhentian Kecil and Pulau Perhentian Besar and the only way to get there is by speedboat 🚤 from Besut Jetty, located near the border separating Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand. Despite its remote location, Perhentian Islands (especially Pulau Kecil ) see a large influx of tourists visiting the islands’ pristine beaches and epic beach resorts. Pulau Kecil may be the busiest of the two but Pulau Besar is known for its tranquil beaches and Turtle Bay, a popular turtle sanctuary 🐢 in Peninsular Malaysia.  There are many food options and beach resorts in Perhentian Islands 🤤. Here’s our guide to help you out when selecting where to eat and stay during your vacation at the islands. For more information on Malaysia’s Island getaways mentioned above, do check out our complete guide on Redang, Perhentian and Tioman Islands.
11. Langkawi
Langkawi is located in the Andaman Sea, off the north-western coast of Peninsular Malaysia, in the state of Kedah. If you're from overseas, you can fly direct to Langkawi International Airport or take a domestic flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Alternatively, you can hop on board a ferry from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis, Penang or Thailand’s Satun. Do note though, it can get crowded if you opt to travel by sea.
A vacation to Langkawi is like no other. From relaxing at one of Langkawi’s most popular beaches, Pantai Cenang to facing your acrophobia while you cross the Langkawi Sky Bridge (built 660m above sea level 😲), we can guarantee you will enjoy your trip to this wonderful island. Decided on travelling to Langkawi? Then, you probably want to spend your nights at one of the many  breath-taking resorts in Langkawi. You can find many Halal-certified and Muslim-friendly eateries of different cuisines and price points on the island. If you are craving for some Malay dishes, then head to Warung Jati Aisyah, located at Kampung Bukit Lembu in the south-western region of Langkawi. For a unique, Northern Malaysian experience, do check out Laksa Power, located along the south-western coast of Langkawi in Kuala Muda (a stone’s throw from the airport). Laksa Power’s signature northern-style Laksa is a must-try 🤤! For more mouth-watering bites, do check out our list of Langkawi’s must-try eateries.
The Philippines
12. Cebu
Cebu is located in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines and is the Philippines’ equivalent to Thailand’s Phuket. Cebu City is full of historic monuments and heritage sites, representing the country’s Spanish colonial heritage. Getting to Cebu is no hassle at all as many airlines connect Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Southeast Asian countries.  Cebu is a holiday destination for the young and old, perfect for the whole family 😊. From shopping in the city to conquering one of the Philippines most challenging hikes at Mount Babag, you will never run out of things to do.  Credit: Giphy There are many Halal or Muslim-friendly eateries in Cebu as the country is looking to push to boost their Muslim tourism industry. There are even Muslim-friendly Filipino cuisine such as that of Ama’s Choice Halal Foods restaurant located in Colonnade Mall in Cebu City. For a detailed guide on Cebu, do refer to our Muslim-friendly Cebu guide.
13. Boracay
The sunny island of Boracay is located northwest of Panay Island, off the coast of the province of Aklan. Boracay is arguably the best island getaway of the Philippines. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights into Boracay. The only way is to fly into Caticlan’s Godofredo P. Ramos Airport and catch a ferry from Caticlan Jetty Port, located a stone’s throw from the airport, to Boracay’s Cagban Jetty Port. Boracay is the Philippines’ mother of all beaches. The island may be geographically small in size but there are about 17 beaches on the island including the popular White Beach. What a way to get your tan on 🤗!  Worried about bursting the wallet? Fret not! Hostels and resorts on the island won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Muslim-friendly eateries on the island don’t charge much for an amazing dining experience. Located on White beach, Kasbah Boracay offers you an amazing view of the coast while you dig into yummy Moroccan dishes 😋. Not convinced? Here’s more reasons on why Boracay is the perfect island getaway!
Vietnam
14. Phu Quoc
Away from the hustle and bustle of Vietnam’s metropolitan Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi lies a paradise island off the coast of Cambodia. The island may be geographically closer to Cambodia, but it is in Vietnam’s Kien Giang province, where the famed Mekong Delta is. There are flights which connect Phu Quoc International Airport domestically to Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Can Tho and Hanoi. If you are flying from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, fret not! Air Asia flies from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Phu Quoc direct!  Phu Quoc’s tourist crowd is not as chaotic as that of Phuket or Bali, so the island is a perfect place for a getaway. Phu Quoc’s white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters are clean and beautiful (some even left untouched 😲). The island also has its share of beautiful luxury resorts, which offer stunning, jaw-dropping views of the coastline, such as that of Salinda Resort located on the western coast of Phu Quoc.  Phu Quoc has many Muslim-friendly eateries, serving delicious Vietnamese and international cuisine. If you love seafood, then head to Crab House for a seafood feast 😋! Do note though, most of the eateries like Crab House serve Muslim-friendly food as well as alcoholic beverages. Do dine at your own discretion. For more Muslim-friendly tips, do check our Phu Quoc guide. Credit: Giphy We hope we have convinced you to book your next destressing vacation. Escape reality as you relax in the sand, under the sun and along the sea in your next getaway vacation. Book your tickets now and start planning!