10 idyllic islands in Southeast Asia (that aren’t in Thailand)


When most travelers think of island hopping in Southeast Asia, Thailand automatically comes to mind. Although the islands of Thailand are beautiful and offer plenty of accommodation and activities, they are not as affordable as other parts of Southeast Asia due to their popularity. Get the same blue water experiences for less in some of these idyllic Southeast Asian islands not found in Thailand.

ten Koh Rong, Cambodia

Koh Rong is a Cambodian island in the province of Sihanoukville with pristine white sand beaches, dense jungle and coral reefs perfect for snorkeling. The island is known for its party atmosphere and is the perfect place for backpackers looking for a lively and fun time. The vibrant turquoise waters make it a true paradise with fewer crowds than Thai islands like Ko Pha Ngan.

9 Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Malaysia has several incredible islands for travelers to experience, including the Perhentian Islands in Besut District, Terengganu, Malaysia. The islands are located between northeast Malaysia and Thailand. Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil are the two islands where most travelers spend their time. The white sand beaches and blue waters are free from Thailand’s over-tourism and offer plenty of opportunities for travelers to snorkel or scuba dive at affordable prices.

8 Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Phú Quốc is a Vietnamese island in the Gulf of Thailand. The island has a 150 km coastline and vast white sandy beaches overlooking serene blue waters. It’s the perfect way to end a trip to Vietnam and gives travelers a totally different perspective on Vietnam’s landscapes. It is possible to fly to Phú Quốc from Ho Chi Minh City or take a ferry from Ha Tien.

seven Langkawi, Malaysia

Langkawi is an archipelago of islands located northwest of Malaysia in the Andaman Sea. The main island of the group also bears the name of Langkawi. Besides relaxing on the beach and swimming in the blue waters, Langkawi’s main attraction is the Sky Bridge, which is a curved pedestrian walkway suspended above the island’s lush greenery. There’s also a cable car that travelers can ride up Gunung Machinchang Mountain, offering epic views of Langkawi from above.

6 Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia

Koh Rong Sanloem is another Cambodian island, and it has earned a reputation as Koh Rong’s sleepy sister. Also located in Sihanoukville, in the province, Koh Rong Sanloem is a calm and beautiful island, ideal for a relaxing and low-key getaway. It doesn’t have the same wild party scene as Koh Rong and is better suited to couples looking for a romantic vacation in the bungalows overlooking the beaches.

5 Lombok, Indonesia

Everyone knows Bali, but Lombok deserves the attention of travelers just as much. Lombok is an Indonesian island located east of Bali, in the province of West Nusa Tenggara. Lombok has yet to experience the over-tourism of Bali and southern Thailand despite its vibrant turquoise waters and budget accommodation options.

Some of the top things to do in Lombok include visiting the Pusuk Monkey Forest, hiking near Mount Rinjani, and visiting the nearby Gili Islands. Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan make up the archipelago of islands off the northwest coast of Lombok.

Related: 10 Ways to Visit Bali on a Budget (With Tips)

4 Koh Ta Kyiv, Cambodia

Another Cambodian island in the province of Sihanoukville, Koh Ta kyiv, is a quiet jungle paradise with an artistic atmosphere. It’s an easy boat ride from Sihanoukville town, but it’s a really remote destination with limited power supply. Staying here will likely involve completely disconnecting from the grid for a few days, which offers a fantastic opportunity to unplug, recharge and connect with nature.

3 Siargao, Philippines

The beauty of the Philippines is no secret to backpackers, but the many islands to visit mean travelers are more spread out here than on the beaches of Thailand, providing a more relaxing experience. This is especially true when visiting Siargao, an island in the Philippine Sea. Most travelers stay at General Luna when visiting Siargao, a town full of accommodation options and trendy restaurants. Popular day trips from Siargao include Naked Island and visiting the Sohoton Caves.

2 Redang Island, Malaysia

Experience unreal blue waters in a virtually untouched paradise on Redang Island in Kuala Nerus District, Terengganu, Malaysia. The clear waters here provide ideal diving conditions, making it a must-visit destination for divers and snorkelers. There is a diverse marine life in the coral reefs around the island, allowing travelers to get a good look at reef sharks, turtles, cuttlefish, and more. To get to Redang, visitors can fly from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur directly to the island. They can also choose to take a ferry from Kuala Terengganu or Merang.

Related: Vietnam Beaches: Phu Quoc Vs. Da Nang, Which Is Best?

1 Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cát Bà Island is the largest of the 367 islands of the Cat Ba archipelago in Ha Long Bay. Located in northern Vietnam, Cát Bà Island offers diverse wildlife, scenic hiking trails and relaxing beaches. Cát Bà Island has a nascent tourism infrastructure with a few hostels and hotels available for booking on the island. While Phú Quốc is the most convenient island to visit from Ho Chi Minh City in the south, travelers visiting Hanoi in the north of the country will find Cát Bà to be more accessible.

farms and valleys near a river in the mountains of southeast asia

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