Planning an island vacay in Asia? Or wondering which islands in Asia to visit? Well then, you’re in luck. This guide highlights the best islands in Asia worthy of being added to any island lover’s destination hit-list. Whether you are a solo traveler, a couple, or a small family – there is no shortage of amazing islands in Asia to visit.
Asia might be better-known for its old-world charm that’s met with bustling streets, bright lights, and breathtaking cityscapes, but it’s also home to so much more. In particular, some of the most incredible islands in the world.
If you’re looking to explore ivory beaches that go on forever, turquoise waters packed with marine life, towering cliffs, lush jungles, and palm trees for days, Asia is the perfect choice for your next island getaway.
To help you find the very best islands in Asia, we recently got together with fellow travelers (who love island hopping just as much as we do) to set out the very BEST Asia islands for you here.
In a rush? Pin the best islands in Asia for later.
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The Most Incredible Islands in Asia
Siargao, The Philippines
Siargao is one of the best destinations in the Philippines and one of the best islands in Asia. For surfers, particularly, the island is a bucket list destination, as it’s home to the famous Cloud 9 reef break – which is considered one of the best surf spots in the world!
Don’t let that fool you, though; there’s plenty for non-surfers to enjoy too. Siargao offers some of the best island hopping tours in the Philippines. Beat the crowds to the paradise islands by renting a private boat and setting off early. Surprisingly, you’ll end up saving money this way. Just make sure there at least 2 of you splitting the cost!
There’s plenty more to discover on Siargao, too – whether it’s the beautiful Sugba Lagoon or the impressive naturally formed Magpupungko rock pools.
With so much to discover, Siargao is becoming an increasingly popular destination. This means prices are slightly higher than elsewhere in the Philippines. Thankfully, though, it’s still possible to visit this beautiful island on a relatively tight budget!
~ By Sam and Natalie of Something of Freedom.
Penghu Islands, Taiwan
Taiwan’s mostly unheard of Penghu Islands may not be high on your Asia island-hopping bucket list. However, if you’re looking to trade in the busy streets and weird tastes and smells of Taiwan’s city life for island vibes – Penghu is your answer! Although the archipelago consists of 90 islands and islets, base yourself in Magong City. This is the easiest port to reach from the mainland.
There are two options to reach Magong; either by plane or ferry. But if you are pressed for time, I highly suggest flying instead. The flight is only 20-30 minutes long, so you’ll barely enjoy the ocean views before touching down again. Multiple flights run daily from both Taichung and Taipei. Read my detailed guide on how to get to Penghu.
There is a good mix of accommodation options in Magong City – from hostels and luxury hotels to minsu’s (aka Taiwanese homestays). Most places can also help you rent a scooter to make exploring the main islands easier. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a valid license to do so. If that is not an option for you, it’s best to stay close to the city center.
There is no shortage of activities in Penghu either – explore the temples, chill at the beach, do water sports, tour the Marine National Park, snack on local treats such as cactus ice cream, brown sugar cake, and onion pancake. When you want to see more of the archipelago, take a day trip to Qimei Island. This island is home to Taiwan’s most iconic sight, the Twin Heart Stone Weir. Alternatively, go to Jibei Island, where you can walk along a gorgeous tear-shaped beach!
Koh Tao, Thailand
While known as one of the cheapest places on earth to complete many diving courses, that doesn’t mean the quality of diving suffers. With thriving marine life, night diving, and a shipwreck to explore, there’s no shortage of amazing sights to see under the surface of the water.
If you would rather not dive down below the waves for extended periods, there are plenty of amazing snorkel spots where Black Tip Reef Sharks and massive schools of fish can be seen from the surface.
If you’re just after a lively party scene, Koh Tao is full of bars and clubs. However, relaxing on a beach is a great way to pass the days here. This beautiful island has something for every visitor.
~ By Ben McLaughlin, Horizon Unknown.
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
One of Krabi’s most beautiful islands that should be high on your island hopping list is Koh Phi Phi. Although Koh Phi Phi might be better known for its proximity to the world-famous Maya Bay, the island itself is well worth visiting.
Spend your days exploring the best snorkeling, diving, and swimming spots in the Andaman Sea by long-tail boat. Hike to the Phi Phi Viewpoint for spectacular views or enjoy your favorite cocktail on the pearly white beaches.
Whether you are a backpacker or seeking a high-end retreat, there is no shortage of Phi Phi accommodation options. The island does, however, have a bit of a reputation as a party island. So, if this is not your scene, book yourself into a luxury secluded bungalow where you can spend your days admiring the tranquil waters and serene natural surroundings. If you decide to stay somewhere more private on the eastern side of the island, it’s important to know that you can only reach the main area by water taxi, which is a bit pricey. I also found this guide on visiting Koh Phi Phi very useful, and so might you!
Koh Phi Phi is undoubtedly one of Asia’s best islands and an excellent add-on to any Krabi itinerary – especially if you visit Phuket. Speedboats are frequent and affordable, making it so much easier to explore this unique slice of paradise.
Maya Bay Notice
Unfortunately, if you were hoping to see this beautiful reserve firsthand, you will have to wait. But, for very good reason. Maya Bay has been indefinitely closed for conservation purposes by Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP). The closure is crucial and aims to restore and rehabilitate the area’s coral reefs and ecosystems and preserve this beautiful area for many years to come.
Phuket is a beautiful island in southwestern Thailand in the Andaman Sea. An island is highly recommended adding to a Thailand itinerary. It’s famous for its beautiful beaches but also has a few cultural sights. The area around Patong beach, specifically Bangla Road, is where to go if you love partying all night long.
Phuket is relatively cheap and budget-friendly. Hostels start at US$10 a night, and for that same amount, you should be able to have lunch and dinner too. Of course, more is possible, but US$30 a day should work perfectly. Getting around the island can be done by motorbike (budget) or taxi (still cheap).
There are so many beaches that you can spend two weeks on the island and explore one daily. But if you need a change of pace, head to Phuket’s old town, Wat Chalong temple, the Big Buddha, and the most southern point.
If you get tired of Phuket, take a day trip to the idyllic islands of Phang Nga Bay. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Thailand. All in all, Phuket is one of the best islands in Asia!
~ By Chris W. of Chris Travel Blog (CTB Global).
Ly Son Island, Vietnam
If you’re visiting Vietnam, consider island hopping to Ly Son Island. Located off of the South Coast Central of Vietnam, it’s a perfect place to spend a couple of days. You have to take a speedboat from the mainland in Quang Ngai Province to Ly Son Island.
The island is small, yet it has everything you need – a relaxing atmosphere, incredible coastline views, great snorkeling at Cau Cave and An Binh Island, many temples to explore, great hiking at Gieng Tien Mountain, and fresh seafood. Most of the attractions are free to see except for the snorkeling or swimming excursions (around 60,000 VND/ USD 2.60 per person).
It’s best to rent a motorbike to visit the various attractions. Enjoy the peacefulness with your drive since it isn’t congested with people and motorbikes, unlike Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. You may also smell the garlic in the air as this island is known for growing a special type of garlic and onions. We hope you visit this island to de-stress and enjoy the sunshine.
~ By Jackie & Justin from Life Of Doing.
Cat Ba, Vietnam
Cat Ba should top your list of best islands in Vietnam, even though you might not have heard of it. Most people think of Ha Long Bay or Phu Quoc when dreaming of islands in Vietnam. But, Cat Ba is right next door to Ha Long and a cleaner, less touristy paradise since fewer people know about it!
You can enjoy kayaking, island hopping, beaches, climbing, fishing, and so much more on Cat Ba Island. There is a remote village that loves to show travelers how to enjoy village life or just rent you a bicycle so that you can ride through the beautiful scenery. One of my favorite parts of Cat Ba was the lush beach and romantic resort on Monkey Island. We climbed to the top of this peak for a gorgeous view of the surrounding karst mountains and made all your friends who visited Ha Long jealous!
Cat Ba and the rest of Vietnam can easily be enjoyed at US$30-50 per day. You’ll find dirt-cheap meals and accommodation perfect for budget travelers, but also the opportunity to enjoy some luxury and go on a few excursions.
~ By Mike Still of Live Travel Teach.
Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
If you visit Indonesia for 2 weeks, one island you won’t want to miss is Gili T. The great thing about this gorgeous little island is that it’s one of those places where you could spend your days doing nothing, without ever feeling bored.
But, if you do decide to tear yourself away from your hotel’s swimming pool, there are tons of awesome activities to enjoy! Enjoy lazy days swimming in the warm waters, snorkeling with turtles, or scuba diving. Cycling around the island, bar hopping, and feasting on the local treats at the night market are other popular must-do.
There are no paved roads or cars on the island, making it the perfect peaceful retreat from often crowded Bali. But that also makes getting around slightly harder. The only way to get around Gili T is by foot, horse carriage, or bike. Luckily the island is not very big, even though it is the biggest of the three Gili’s. So if you do visit here, don’t bring too much luggage!
Gili T is not the cheapest island in Asia, but you’ll still find prices pretty reasonable. Then again, can you put a price tag on one of the best islands in Asia?
Gili Air, Indonesia
Gili Air is the perfect island for couples in Asia because you can always find a beach, a good meal, and so much more! We loved that there are no motors on the island and enjoyed bicycling around or taking a romantic horse & buggy.
You can see Balinese volcanoes towering above the western horizon while snorkeling with sea turtles. Better yet, book a diving tour, and you might watch one munch on some fresh coral or spot some other amazing life in this marine paradise.
Gili Air resembles Gili T just enough for you to enjoy some nightlife, but without going overboard. This makes it a lovely destination for any couple or even a small family. In addition to the nightlife, be sure to check out some of the wonderful yoga studios, eat a delicious local curry and cool off in the afternoon sun with some ice cream!
The only drawback to any of the Gili’s is that they will cost you a little more than the average Indonesian destination. Plan a minimum of US$50 per day plus a little more if you want to go diving or snorkeling.
~ By Mike Still of Live Travel Teach.
When you visit Singapore, you are bombarded with skyscrapers, technology, and modernity. It is, after all, one of the most advanced countries in Asia. However, those looking for a change of pace might need something a little more low-key and natural than all Singapore has to offer. Fortunately, 45 minutes away lies Bintan, a wonderful getaway in Indonesia.
For only SG$45, you can travel to Bintan on a ferry to experience the unique adventures the island has to offer. You can discover the Sebung River on an hour-long boat tour that takes you to the river’s mangrove forest and other beautiful areas. Active travelers will surely enjoy the land and water activities in Bintan Island, too. Enjoy activities like swimming and snorkeling or riding an ATV around the muddy course of Treasure Bay Bintan. Lagoi Bay Beach and the other gorgeous beaches of Bintan are also lovely places to visit and catch the sunset.
Bintan has a unique culture where fisherman villages thrive, and the food is a mixture of all things Asian. This island is a vibrant yet underrated destination where US$50 a day can take you a long way.
~ By Ruben Arribas & Rachel Pregunta of Gamin Traveler.
Java has two incredible volcanoes, Mount Bromo and Mount Ijen. Both volcanoes are within a half-day bus drive from the more popular Bali. You could see them back to back, but I’d recommend planning a few more days to enjoy this excursion properly.
I found Java to be much cheaper than Bali, especially if you’re willing to take public transit and be adventurous with your meals. I spent about US$30 per day and visited both volcanoes in 4 days.
Mount Bromo sits in the ancient Tengger Supervolcano with the extinct Mount Batok and distant Mount Semeru. This means you can see three volcanoes from one spot! Head over at sunrise for an incredible view of the sand sea covered in clouds, and maybe you too will hear the locals spontaneously break into the national anthem as the sun peaks over the eastern hills!
Mount Ijen should be a world wonder with its mystical blue fire coming out of the sulfuric gases. You’ve got to start hiking around midnight to catch this magic. But, even if you are there during the day, you’ll be pleased by the panoramic view of Ijen’s crater with a turquoise lake glimmering below you.
~By Mike Still of Live Travel Teach.
Cheung Chau, Hong Kong
Despite the small size of the island, it holds a range of sights and activities. There are two official beaches with lifeguards and several quieter unofficial ones dotted around the coastline if you want to beach-comb rather than swim. Make sure to stick around until sunset, when you can enjoy the changing skies while kayaking along the coastline.
Both ends of the island are covered in light forest and paths that make for great walks. You’ll find Cheung Po Tsai Cave on the southern hill – the supposed hiding place of a 19th-century pirate. The story is probably untrue, but the walk to the cave is well worth the time. You’ll pass great views of the sea and rocks shaped into strange shapes by hundreds of years of wave action.
Back in the village, check out the historic Pak Tai Temple and then stroll the waterfront promenade lined with seafood restaurants to choose your dinner. Or just feast on the amazing variety of snacks, one of the main draws for the Hong Kong locals.
Fast ferries cost US$5 and take 35 minutes to reach the island. Ferries depart from Pier 5 in the Central district of Hong Kong island.
~ By Raymond Lowe of Hong Kong Fast Facts.
Modestly placed at the tip of India, Sri Lanka is much more than just a small island. Exotic beaches, historic temples, lively cities, and lush tea plantations – this little island has it all. The country is set to join the list of desired destinations in Asia since the civil war has ended.
There’s something attractively medieval, rustic, and laid-back about Sri Lanka. The Old Dutch town of Galle, with its colonial structures, is hauntingly charming. Ella and Nuwara Eliya are truly beautiful, while Bentota, Tangalle, and Arugam Bay are among Asia’s best beaches with gorgeous sandy shores. With their rich history, Anuradhapura, Kandy, and Dambulla are sure to intrigue you even if you aren’t a history geek.
It’s a great place to visit solo, as a couple, and with kids. Hike or trek, visit the tea estates, feed the baby elephants, get up-close with friendly whales, play with turtles, collect sea shells, relax on the beach, taste authentic seafood and enjoy water sports – Sri Lanka has so much to do and see. If you plan to visit Sri Lanka with kids, be sure to check out the whale watching season and the best places to go whale watching in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is one of the budget-friendliest destinations in Asia. The cost of living is low and thus perfect for budget travelers. The best way to explore Sri Lanka is by train. Traveling by train is not only budget-friendly but also soul-friendly. The scenic train journeys offer views to die for.
~ By Anjali of Travel Melodies.
The tiny coral island of Xiaoliuqiu, just off the coast of Taiwan’s southern shores, is one of the best-kept secret islands in Asia.
Measuring only about 6km2, this Taiwanese island might be small, but it’s filled with amazing temples, gorgeous hiking trails, ancient geological treasures, and abundant sea life. As you might expect, being an island, most of the activities here revolve around the water. Snorkeling, scuba diving, free diving, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding are just some of the incredible things to do in Xiaoliuqiu. However, what really makes Liuqiu Island such a unique destination is that it’s home to dozens of green sea turtles. The best part? You don’t even need to go into the water to spot them! Simply head out to Vase Rock (an odd mushroom-like limestone rock jutting out of the ocean), where you’re bound to spot a couple near the shore.
Getting to Xiaoliuqiu is a tedious journey, but the effort is more than worth it! If you’re based in Taipei, take the HSR to Kaohsiung from where you’ll need to get to Donggang Ferry Terminal. The ferry to Xiaoliuqiu departs several times during the day and takes about 30 minutes.
No list of the best Asian islands would be complete without mentioning Bali.
With dozens of sacred temples, gorgeous beaches, secret waterfalls, verdant rice paddies, and the most amazing food imaginable, Indonesia’s bohemian hub, Bali, is one island you don’t want to miss.
Plan to spend at least 7 days in Bali so that you can see all of its best bits, soak up the vibes and enjoy paradise at its very best. Seminyak and Canggu are great areas to stay in if you want to be close to the beach, but it’s worth spending a few days in Ubud – the cultural heart of this island! Those looking for a quieter escape can head down to Uluwatu’s epic luxury resorts or the sleepy shores of Amed in the North.
Bali is a popular tourist spot, and its main airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport, just south of Denpasar, has frequent connections to all major airports in Asia.
Penang Island, Malaysia
Just a short flight from Kuala Lumpur lies the beautiful island of Penang. While you won’t find as many picture-perfect silky beaches as elsewhere in Malaysia here, there are loads of things to do in Penang. And one of the very best places to check out is the island’s historic old town, Georgetown.
A mecca for foodies, history buffs, and street art chasers, Georgetown is a place where you can enjoy a different slice of island life. There are dozens of nooks and crannies within the old town to explore chock-full with history, culture, and age-old traditions.
The most iconic Malaysian landmarks include the Clan Jetties, Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si Temple, and the Peranakan Mansion. If you still want to squeeze in some beach time, head to the tropical paradise of Pantai Pasir Panjang – Penang’s very own “Long Beach.” Here you can enjoy the best sunset on the island, trek through the thick rainforest or simply cool off in its warm waters. Other noteworthy beaches not to miss are Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bunga, although the latter is not the best swimming spot on the island. No matter where you go, though, Penang is one of the coolest places to visit in Malaysia, and a trip here won’t disappoint!
Boracay, the Philippines
If you’re looking for the perfect tropical escape, you don’t need to look much further than Boracay in the Philippines!
Located roughly 440km south of Manila, Boracay is blessed with stunning natural scenery comprising ivory-white beaches, warm turquoise waters, and diverse coral reefs. Some of the most popular activities include snorkeling, diving, and kite surfing, but there’s also parasailing, kayaking, and island hopping for the more adventurous. If you’d rather spend your days chilling on the beach with a boozy cocktail in hand or getting a massage under the coconut trees, White Beach is just the spot for that!
While Boracay has a bit of a reputation as one of the best party islands in Asia, there’s plenty of secluded areas away from the wild party scenes found near Station 2. You’ll find plenty of luxury resorts on the north or eastern side of the island.
The nearest airport to Boracay is Caticlan International Airport. From there, you’ll need to catch a taxi to Caticlan Jetty Port and then hop on a boat to get to this stunning South East Asian island. Book a transfer that includes all these steps to get from the airport to your hotel stress-free!
There you have it – our top picks for Asia islands! We hope that this list will inspire you to visit these incredible islands in Asia. Do you have any suggestions to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Need some advice on what to pack for your visit to the best islands in Asia? Check out this great Southeast Asia packing list for more tips!
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