best country for beaches in SEA

Which country has the best beaches in Southeast Asia?

Like many backpackers, I always wondered which country in Southeast Asia has the best beaches. After 15 years of traveling around the area, which much of the time back home in the west, I have come to the conclusion that the best beaches in Asia, at least Southeast Asia are in the Philippines. But don’t take my word for it, here is my top five:

Top 5 Best countries for beaches in Southeast Asia

1st ~ The Philippines has the best beaches in Southeast Asia

The Philippines is a massive country made up of thousands of islands. Expect white sand beaches, crystal clear water and amazing weather. Palawan is the number one destination with many small islands which are often untouched. Check out the amazing one below, close to Coron in the north of Palawan:

There are also amazing beaches elsewhere, including the islands around Cebu. To the south, just off the edge of Cebu and Negros lies Suiqijor. San Juan Beach here is my personal favorite place to stay in the Philippines. I love the shallow water and sandbank just meters from the white sand beach:


2nd best country for beaches in Southeast Asia is Indonesia

I spent many months traveling around Indonesia. From the amazing coral gardens at Pula Weh off the north coast of Sumatra, to the remote paradise island experience at the Togian Islands in Sulawesi, with an untouched Beach off the coast of Flores in between. All 3 of these destinations are truly world class.

Unfortunately, I visited when cameras still had film, so I cannot prove it to you here. I highly recommend you visit these places. Just do a Google Image Search and you will see why I fell in love with Indonesia. More recently we stayed for a few months in Bali, where the beaches aren’t great, but the scenery is spectacular.

3rd Best place for beaches in SEA is Malaysia

Again I am afraid I visited here before digital cameras. It was the Perhentian Islands which I fell in love with. Amazing powdery white sand and crystal clear water. It was the perfect place to learn how to scuba dive, so that is where I took my PADI course.  I really hope to return one day.

More recently we visited Langkawi on the other side of Malaysia’s mainland. The beaches aren’t so good there, which is why Malaysia can’t be any higher in this list.

4th Best Country in SEA for beaches in Thailand

You would expect Thailand to be higher, but I haven’t seen anything which compares to the Perhentian islands or the best of Indonesia and the Philippines in Thailand. I have been to Koh Phangan Nan, Koh Samui, Koh Lanta, Railay, Phuket and done island hopping tours.

best beaches in Southeast Asia
an old photo from Ko Pha Ngan

Thailand has amazing tourism infrastructure and it certain;y wins the award for best beach accommodation, with beachfront bungalows available for $5 per night! But this is about beautiful beaches. Thailand is a great place to visit but the sand isn’t as white, nor the water as clear as it is at the above options.

5th Best Southeast Asian country for beaches is Vietnam

Despite being a very long country along the sea, Vietnam doesn’t have many options for beaches. The best of the bunch is off the southern coast. It is a spacious island, with lovely white sand at a beach on the east coast.

best country for beaches in SEA
Dad loved Phu Quoc

We stayed on the west coast and the sea was filled with jellyfish and the sand was only average. My recommendation is to go when the eastern beaches are “in season”- the water and wind was very rough when we visited in March.