By Clare Walsh | October 2017 | 9 minute read
The Far East's beaches range from exclusive stretches of sand fronted by five-star hotels to hippie-at-heart enclaves with legendary beach bum-status. There are lively resorts with thumping night clubs and virtually deserted islands where diving and dining is the main event - read on for inspiration.
Phuket, on the Andaman Sea side of Thailand is home to some of the country’s most popular beaches and clients looking to sizzle in luxury will find many high end resorts, spas and restaurants, while party-goers should be pointed towards Patong, the island’s largest town and busiest beach.
The province of Krabi is quieter but offers dramatic limestone karst scenery and a mix of luxury and budget resorts.
Lying between the two are many more islands, and hopping between them is a great recommendation to explore rather than flop. Islands range from laid-back Koh Lanta, which has luxury resorts like Layana Resort and Spa and Pimalai, to untamed backpacker spot Koh Jum and the more remote Koh Lipe, which has some boutique options like Serendipity Resort.
On the Gulf of Thailand side Koh Samui offers a great summer holidays weather for families as well as a huge range of accommodation and attractions. Koh Pha Ngan is a party mecca with a chilled out north and Koh Tao is a favourite for divers. Mainland Hua Hin and Cha Am are quiet escapes and benefit from their close proximity to Bangkok, as does local’s favourite Koh Samet. Up and coming Koh Chang is closer to Cambodia for those doing a twin-centre.
Sell it: Hayes and Jarvis offer 12 nights from £2,099pp. Four nights for the price of three at the five-star Zeavola, in Phi Phi Don, half-board, followed by four nights at the five-star The Slate, in Phuket, B&B and four nights at the fou- star Santhiya Koh Yao Yai, half-board, including return flights from Gatwick.
Cambodia is a great option for clients looking to combine a cultural break with some post-temple beach flopping.
Sihanoukville was Cambodia’s first beach resort and tour operators have recently reported an upsurge in bookings here. The Serendipity Beach area is still a favourite of partying backpackers, but the far south end of the town at Otres Beach boasts more of a mellow vibe with luxurious boutique resorts tempting those in search of five-star luxury.
Sihanoukville is also the gateway to Cambodia’s enchanting islands such as Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, both offering powder sand beaches and lush tropical forests. Development is underway which will offer an alternative to the private high-end resort of Song Saa, just off Koh Rong. 2018 will see the opening of Alila Villas Koh Russey which will feature 50 Pavilions and 13 villas with butler service.
Also set to open in April 2018 is Six Senses Spa Krabey Island. Featuring 40 private pool villas, wellness will be a key feature offering ancient Cambodian healing traditions and a meditation cave. There will also be an outdoor cinema and observatory offering stargazing sessions.
Sell it: Western and Oriental offers seven nights at Song Saa from £3,459pp based on two adults sharing a Jungle One Bedroom Villa including return international flights and transfers.
The beach offerings of this Indonesian paradise island are vast, from white sand coasts in the south to the cliff-guarded shores of Uluwata, to the black sand beaches of the north and west. Often with local villages nearby, many beaches offer a look into Balinese life.
Surfers initially discovered many of the island’s beaches, like Black-sand Balian Beach, which boasts pounding surf, rolling dunes and exquisite sunsets and remains one of the quieter beaches in Bali with no tourist shops.
Sophisticated Seminyak Beach at the southern end of the island features wide open stretches and beachside resorts, boutiques, slick bars and top dining spots; Kuta Beach is the most popular of Bali’s beaches and a party hot spot; while those in search of a romantic sandy spot should head to Amed on the southeastern coast of Bali, or black sand Lovina.
Sell it: Travel 2 has eight nights at the five-star Alila Seminyak Bali B&B from £1,299pp. Includes return flights and resort transfers.
With over 2,000 miles of coastline, Vietnam overwhelms with its choice of beaches. Bursting with luxury resorts, budget bungalows and everything in between, it has had a surge in popularity in recent years.
Nha Trang City is Vietnam’s iconic beach destination. Six kilometers of sand offer plenty of opportunity for flopping, while its cafes and restaurants offer numerous options for refreshment. Also boasting some of the best diving in the South China Sea, it features hard and soft coral reefs, caves and tropical fish.
Photogenic Phu Quoc stuns with island charm. Surrounded by wild thick jungle and impossibly white sand, clients looking for real escapism should head here. Sprawled across the west coast of Phu Quoc Island, it offers postcard perfection with swaying coconut palms and epic sunsets.
Danang is known for its surfing and scuba diving, while Doc Let is largely undeveloped offering a real escape from the crowds. Con Dao is a collection of islands set in a protected marine park known for sweeping beaches and iridescent waters.
Sell it: Oxford Private Travel offers seven nights in a Garden View Villa on a bed and breakfast basis at The Anam, including return flights and transfers costs from £1,650 per person, based on two people sharing. The Anam opened in April 2017 and is Vietnam’s first five-star colonial beach resort.
This archipelago has myriad beach options but its most well-established is Boracay, thanks to its incredibly white sand and large choice of top resorts including Shangri-La. Offering a less bustling but no less stunning alternative is the island of Palawan, which rivals Thailand’s Andaman Islands for its limestone karsts scenery and offers divers reefs and wrecks in abundance.
Off the island of Cebu are smaller islands offering great sand and sun escapes: Bohol with its Tellytubbyland-like Chocolate Hills inland, Malapascua with its impressive diving sites and Bantayan’s talcum powder beaches.
Off the beaten track, surfers head to Siargao which has pristine beaches and breaks for beginners up to pros looking for three-metres-high waves. Up-and-coming Negros has a rugged mountain interior and unspoiled beaches.
Sell it: Intrepid offers the nine-day Philippines Palawan Island Getaway from £1,195. The trip takes in Manila before moving to Palwan’a Puerto Princesa, San Rafael Beach and the limestone kingdom of El Nido.
Bordering Thailand, Langkawi is synonymous with luxury and has a large range of resorts including five-star options like Four Seasons Resort Langkawi.
If Langkawi is for travellers who want to flop then Penang, further south on Malyasia’s west coast is great for those who want some cultural interest. The island’s capital Georgetown has striking colonial buildings and influences from India, China and beyond which make for a great street food scene. Even further south and much closer to Kuala Lumpur is Pangkor and Pangkor Laut, the latter of which has an eponymous five-star resort.
Lesser-known, the beautiful white sand beaches of the Perhentian Islands off the northeast coast of Malyasia are still a backpacker haven but have a rising stock of great four-star options. A little further south and catering for a more up-market crowd is the Rendang Peninsula and its nine islands set in a marine park.
Sell it: Premier Holidays offers the four-star Berjaya Langkawi Resort which has four restaurants and four bars, for seven nights from £859pp, with flights.