Undeveloped beaches still exist in this modern world, and they are some of the most enchanting shorelines to behold. In Southeast Asia, Thailand is world renowned for its islands that look like something out of the movie Avatar. But did you know that Thailand’s neighbors boast underrated beaches that are easy on the wallet to visit and aren’t overwhelmed with resorts and tourists?
From Cambodia to Myanmar and Vietnam to the Philippines, here are 6 beaches in Southeast Asia to get you dreaming of summertime relaxation, airplane tickets, and tropical bliss.
El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
A simple stroll along the beach in the tiny town of El Nido is all you needed to be content, just an unblemished view and the salt breeze cooling your skin. In El Nido, the water is crystalline and undeveloped beaches abound with palm trees stretching to the sun.
Rent a motorbike and explore Nacpan Beach, about an hour’s drive from El Nido town. Only a small village of palm shacks line the shore, the stars at night are phenomenal and you can experience the bio-luminescent phytoplankton glowing in the night waves.
Ko Kradan, Thailand
Paradise isn’t difficult to find in the south of Thailand, the tricky part is finding a paradise not overrun by tourists. Luckily, this Southeast Asia dream destination, though popular among beach bums, has some secrets tucked away behind those breathtaking limestone hills. Off the coast of Trang Province in the Andaman Sea lies a bevy of islands that have escaped the hustle and bustle. Ko Kradan is one of these, boasting silk blonde sand, sparkling low-tide pools and thick jungle that has conquered the island as a whole. You can’t escape the view, a breezy blue horizon speckled with islets. There are a handful of resorts on Ko Kradan, but there are no ATMs, villages, convenience stores, roads or clinics. How’s that for untouched paradise?
This mystical Southeast Asian country has only recently opened its borders to tourism, and with that comes a slew of untouched, powdery-white Andaman coastlines to explore. Myanmar is quickly rising in the ranks when it comes to sublime SE Asia beach destinations, with Ngapali at the top of the list. Stay in a small beach hut and spend your days doing, well, absolutely nothing, and enjoy every second of it! Seven kilometers of unspoiled coast is fringed by feathery-palms and lazy, lapping waves. The cherry on top is the spectacular, cotton candy tangerine sunsets that will melt your camera.
Long Beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia
Hurry and visit, because plans are in the works to develop this plot of paradise. Koh Rong Island is a hippie and backpacker haven, as boats pull along the small wharf and a line of ramshackle guesthouses meet the sea. There is a 45-minute hike through the jungle and you will find yourself at Long Beach, where there are no buildings, barely any people and no rules—just peace and goodwill. Rent a hammock or tent and pitch up in the white sand. Aquamarine water stretches as far as the eye can see, and the sunset at the end of the day will convince you that mother nature is the greatest artist of all time.
Bai Xep, Vietnam
Who knew Vietnam’s coastline holds so much pristine beauty? It really is a perfectly preserved secret. The quaint fishing village of Bai Xep will take you back in time, with narrow streets only wide enough for a motorbike to cruise through, fluffy overflowing Bougainvillea blossoms and sandy beaches dotted with bamboo basket boats. There is a wild island so close to shore, you can take a small boat to explore. Check out Life’s a Beach hostel; the staff is brilliant, delicious seafood dinners are served family style and you wake up to the sound of waves breaking on the shore.
Riung, Flores, Indonesia
Located in the North of Flores lies a covey of 17 islands that make up Riung Marine Park. Riung is the definition of natural beauty and checks off all paradise requisites, from crystal clear water to lovely views and little development. The snorkeling and diving here is the real treat, with colorful coral beds and splendid underwater biodiversity. Be sure to witness the Rose of the Sea: fields of roses dancing in the currents under the water’s surface. They are actually the eggs of giant sea hares, bound together by membranes that resemble giant red rose petals.