Top 6 beach resorts in Southeast Asia

The idyllic beaches of Southeast Asia have drawn many a holidaymaker over to the Southeast Asian shores, seeking solitude, sun, sea and sand. Despite the millions that flock to these beaches, globalisation and ease of travelling has ruined much of these stretches of sand as hordes of tourists – both international and local – take over when the sun is shining. Over the decades, largely indistinguishable resorts have cropped up along the coastlines ruining much of the serene hillside that accompanied the beaches, and the beaches themselves. A handful of luxury properties have ensured that the legacy of paradise lives on with careful preservation and selection of location. Below are Southeast Asia’s top beach resorts, split by region.

Philippines: Amanpulo, Palawan

“Private island” only hints at the paradise that is Amanpulo. Set on Pamalican Island within the increasingly popular region of Palawan, the softest, whitest, most powdery sand forms the coastline that circumnavigates the island. With beaches to rival or even surpass the finest of popular destinations such as the Maldives, Seychelles, Fiji, Caribbean and more, this little-known slice of heaven is only a short trip from Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore, and is accompanied by Aman’s legendary service standards.

Amanpulo, Palawan, Philippines

Guests stay in ‘casitas’, modelled after local dwellings, on the hillside or on the beach, while also having the option to rent (or buy) privately owned beach-side villas with pools ranging from one- to four-bedrooms. Read our review of Amanpulo here.

Thailand: Rayavadee, Krabi

Set on the border of Krabi Marine National Park in Phranang Peninsula in the Andaman Sea within touching distance of the main island of Phuket, the resort is flanked by dramatic limestone karst-rock formations that are a feature of the region. Spread over 26 acres, the resort’s accommodation was built to weave in and out of the canopy of trees, none of which were reportedly cut during the construction process. The whimsically circular accommodation at the resort is designed to blend into its surrounds without compromising on luxury, and offer easy access to both Railay and Phranang beaches.

Rayavadee, Krabi, Thailand

This dedication to conversation and sustainability means the resort continues to be home to hundreds species of flora and fauna, including the Spectacled Langurs, Macque monkeys, monitor lizards and hornbills that inhabit the grounds.

Indonesia: Soori Bali, Bali

While Bali’s southern regions are populated by a mass of cookie cutter resorts, the island itself is large enough to remain largely untouched. One such area is the south-west, where between verdant rice paddies and a shimmering volcanic black-sand beach lies Soori Bali, a resort with minimalist villas ranging from one- to five-bedrooms, along with the 10-bedroom Soori Estate, that offer the utmost in luxury. The long stretch of beach here is perfect for horseback riding from the southern end of the beach to the northern end, just past the resort, where a small cliff is supposedly home to a bat cave.

Soori Bali, Bali, Indonesia

Vietnam: Six Senses Con Dao, Con Dao

Although the islands of Con Dao have a dark past, its present and future has more in common with nature than French colonialism. Hosting the 50 one- to four-bedroom villas on a stretch of soft sand sits the Six Senses Con Dao resort, stylised in the signature Six Senses rustic element, but each comes with a private pool and enviable views; the perfect complement to a serene beach.

Six Senses Con Dao, Con Dao, Vietnam

In continuing with Six Senses’ commitment to an eco-friendly paradise, the resort also sells ‘crystal water’ (mineral water), the proceeds of which provide supplies to building a mineral water supply for children of the Con Dao primary school.

Cambodia: Song Saa Private Island

Cambodia isn’t a destination particularly renowned for its beaches, but a private island sanctuary off the coast of Sihanoukville bucks the stereotype, housing a resort with jungle and overwater villas. The two islands that are collectively known as Song Saa, Khmer for “The Sweethearts”, are connected by a footbridge under which marine life thrives.

Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia

One of the islands, also housing the primary facilities of the resort, features a small, intimate beach which makes for the ideal setting for romantic sunset downers and dinners, and provides a peaceful beach sanctuary to end a Cambodia or Southeast Asian trip.

Malaysia: The Datai, Langkawi

Although The Datai is renowned for being set within the heart of an ancient rainforest, and is not strictly on the beachfront, the Datai Bay Beach is within touching distance and has been rated by National Geographic as one of the top 10 beaches worldwide. Although much larger in room count than the other resorts on the list, it’s also a resort where the focus is actually not on the beach and rather on the encompassing wilderness, of which the golden-sand beach plays a small part. The resort is set 300 metres back from the beachfront, on a forest ridge rising 40 metres above sea-level.

The Datai, Langkawi, Malaysia

The resort, built and opened in 1994, recently added one- and two-bedroom beach villas which give it a new dimension, and is scheduled to undergo a major renovation starting September 2017 which will elevate its status further.

Chinmoy Lad is the CEO and Founder of The Suite Life.

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Comments (8)

  1. nice article, I note some infos for my next trip , I will be happy to visit some spots listed here. It is really a top destyination for a luxury traveler in winter.

  2. hossam ahmed says:

    good article and nice information Cambodia isn’t a destination particularly renowned for its beaches, but a private island sanctuary off the coast of Sihanoukville bucks the stereotype

  3. Fatih says:

    I’d disagree with Rayavadee being on this list. Ever since the Thai government made all beaches public, there’s no quality control and pretty much anyone can use the resort’s beach. Plus the constant sound of arriving and departing longboats breaks the peace and serenity. I’d instead add Pansea Beach at The Surin in Phuket as a worthy addition.

  4. Madison says:

    Yes, Soori Bali! Love the black sand there. Couldn’t believe how find and soft it is. When it dries on your feet it just brushes off like fairy dust (well, that’s what I imagine fairy dust would be like!). Great line up of beach resorts!

  5. Chinmoy Lad says:

    @Faith – The Surin is fantastic value (and Amanpuri next door even better)! Maybe a better consideration for Thailand would be Four Seasons Koh Samui – other than Pansea beach, Phuket’s beaches aren’t really that interesting; and nothing in Yao Noi is better. Krabi/Phi Phi doesn’t have much luxe accommodation.

  6. Chinmoy Lad says:

    @Madison – it is indeed a lovely beach. If you liked that one, check out Amankila on the far eastern coast – it has many elements that Soori has but the beach isn’t as long. That’s made up for with its elevated position on a hill (more varied topography) and fantastic beach club – also features a black sand beach. I think Soori’s beach might be more pristine/untouched though, as oil tankers have somewhat ruined Amankila’s beach (but otherwise this is a better location!)

    If you’re a lover of fine sand, you have to check out Amanpulo too – finest sand I’ve ever felt!

  7. John says:

    Interesting article Chinmoy, thanks. Could you advise what is the best time of the year for a month long visit?

  8. Chinmoy Lad says:

    @John – thanks for your email. Feel free to drop me a detailed email at clad@zebrano.com for trip planning.

    Best time is typically from January to March – but having said that, it rained 10x the monthly January rainfall in Koh Samui just now (and the month is only half way through…)

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