The Best Beaches in Asia

Asia’s beaches are some of the most widely visited (and most beautiful) in the world. The combination of white sand, turquoise water, and stunning natural beauty is a common sight on coastlines from Thailand to Japan. Some beaches even have something extra that help them stand out from the crowd, whether it’s an iconic rock formation or an impossibly beautiful tropical island setting. Here are our picks for the ten best beaches in Asia. 

1. Saluem Beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia

Ivo Posthumus/Flickr

Ivo Posthumus/Flickr

An island in the Sihanoukville Province of Cambodia, Koh Rong is filled with relatively undeveloped beachline that fits the tropical paradise trope to a T. What it lacks in glamorous hotels, the island makes up for in beautiful beaches, with Saluem representing the best of them. A narrow stretch of untouched white sand is sandwiched between a forest and a bright blue sea, making it the perfect serene escape from the clubs and bars scattered around the island.

2. Sunayama Beach, Miyako-jima, Japan

Nao Iizuka/Flickr

Nao Iizuka/Flickr

You might not associate Japan with amazing white-sand beaches, but guess what? You should. Located on the island of Miyako-jima in the Okinawa Prefecture (a.k.a. the Japanese Riviera), Sunayama Beach is a crescent-shaped expanse of white sand and crystal-clear water. It represents the best of this tropical region, located at the southernmost tip of the country.

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3. Unawatuna Beach, Sri Lanka

Dominic DeGrazier/Flickr

Dominic DeGrazier/Flickr

Sri Lanka is gaining some traction as the place to go for beaches, and judging by the looks of Unawatuna Beach, we can see why. There are resorts, restaurants, and bars located along the beach, making it a great spot to visit with friends or family. Aside from the beauty, there are water sports, boat trips, and nature trails to keep everyone engaged. 

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4. Ko Lanta, Thailand

mattmangum/Flickr

mattmangum/Flickr

Close your eyes and picture your perfect tropical beach scene. What you’re likely imagining is a sight not too dissimilar from the ones found in Ko Lanta, Thailand. Naturally, there’s clear blue water and white sand, but there are also craggy sea stacks covered in vegetation, the odd junk boat, and palm trees leaning over the sand and lending some shade. The beaches of Mu Ko Lanta National Park are particularly great, and while Ko Lanta isn’t the easiest place to reach, that’s half the fun. 

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5. Yalong Bay, China

Edwin Poon/Flickr

Edwin Poon/Flickr

Located southeast of Sanya, on the Chinese island of Hainan, Yalong Bay is one of the country’s most iconic sandy beaches. The gentle waves and almost non-existent currents here are ideal underwater exploration, including snorkeling and diving. Other water activities, such as kayaking and jet skiing, are also available. Tip: It is a popular area, so you might want to consider avoiding a visit during peak times, like Christmas.

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6. Havelock Island, Andaman Islands, India

Ankur P/Flickr

Ankur P/Flickr

Havelock Island is the most visited of the Andaman Islands. Getting there isn’t easy -- you’ll have to take a 90-minute catamaran ferry from Port Blair, or a two-and-a-half-hour government-operated ferry -- but the forests, sandy beaches, and glorious water are worth the trek. Elephant Beach (known for its coral reefs) and the crescent-shaped Radhanagar Beach (great for watching the sunset) are must-visit spots on the island.

7. Palolem Beach, Goa, India

Dan Searle/Flickr

Dan Searle/Flickr

Navigate the grazing cows wandering slowly along the waterfront and you can stake your own slice of paradise on Palolem Beach in Goa. Buttressed by forest, overhanging palms, and simple beach shacks, Palolem is a popular beach that attracts people with its vibrant atmosphere, fine white sand, and warm Arabian Sea waters. Not as raucous as some beaches in Goa, Palolem offers a happy medium, with bike rentals, boat trips, and beach yoga for additional fun. 

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8. Phra Nang Beach, Krabi, Thailand

Ajith Kumar/Flickr

Ajith Kumar/Flickr

Forget Leonardo DiCaprio and "The Beach" -- the dream is alive in Railay, rather than Ko Phi Phi Leh Island, these days. Tourist numbers can swell during in high season, but the beauty of Phra Nang Beach is worth the relative crowds. Located in the Krabi Province, Phra Nang features stunning rock formations rising up from the pristine beach. Explore the caves in the area, or cool off in the crystal-clear waters.

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9. Mui Ne Beach, Vietnam

thalling55/Flickr

thalling55/Flickr

Who says beaches must be judged solely on the clearness of their water and texture of their sand? While Mui Ne beach in Vietnam isn’t short of beauty, it’s much more than a place to stretch out and tan. A massive kitesurfing, windsurfing, and surfing scene has grown up around the beach, making it a spot that’s as fun as it is gorgeous. 

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10. Padang Padang Beach, Bali, Indonesia

cat_collector/Flickr

cat_collector/Flickr

Bali is one of the world’s top honeymoon destinations for a variety of reasons, one of which is its photogenic beaches. While there are many sandy stretches to choose from, Padang Padang is one of the finest beaches in the area. It also happens to one of the most famous, thanks to its appearance in the movie “Eat, Pray, Love.” Those who aren’t swimming in the choppy waters are no doubt surfing in them. 

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