20 stunning islands in Asia you must visit for a unique escape
Asia is a continent full of rich culture and history, but it’s also home to some of the most beautiful islands in the world. Each one of these islands in Asia has something unique about them that will make your jaw drop.
From ancient temples to stunning views, each one of these islands in Asia offers something different for every traveler out there. From the golden shores of Indonesia to the bright blue waters of the Philippines, these islands in Asia are picture-perfect.
Whether you want to go diving, hiking, or just relax by the beach, there’s an island for everyone here.
While you’ve likely heard of famous islands in Asia, like Bali, Phuket, and Cebu, there are many more that have managed to fly under the radar. Regardless of popularity, there are so many islands in Asia that are worth a visit.
Suppose you’re looking for a new adventure or are simply craving an escape to something that feels genuinely different. In that case, these twenty islands in Asia are the perfect destination for you!
So what are you waiting for? Get ready to pack your bags because I can guarantee that this will be the best trip ever!
20 Best Islands in Asia You Cannot Miss
1. Koh Lipe, Thailand
First up on the list of the best islands in Asia is Koh Lipe. This is an idyllic island tucked away in the far southern part of Thailand. It’s close to Malaysia and is part of the Tarutao Marine National Park.
The island’s beauty is highlighted by stunning limestone cliffs and bright turquoise water. With the most picturesque views, you’ll be living the good life in paradise here!
For adrenaline junkies, Koh Lipe is also one of the best diving spots in Thailand. There are several wrecks to explore around Koh Lipe, and the coral reefs that surround it are stunning.
The island is relatively small, making it easier to get around than other parts of Thailand. There are no cars on Koh Lipe; instead, you’ll get around on foot via lovely walking trails!
The best beaches on Koh Lipe include Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach, and Pattaya Beach. These beaches are actually some of the prettiest on these islands in Asia.
Sunrise Beach is known for its beauty, and it’s one of Thailand’s most photographed beaches. As its name suggests, it’s known for its amazing sunrises.
The best place to watch the beautiful sunsets is Sunset Beach — as its name implies. It’s also quieter than Sunrise Beach and Pattaya Beach.
When coming to Koh Lipe, you’ll arrive at Pattaya Beach. It’s relaxed, and you’ll find many cafes and restaurants along the beach.
All in all, this island has it all: plenty of greenery, white-sand beaches, beautiful waterfalls, fantastic seafood, and laid-back vibes.
Best Things to Do on Koh Lipe:
- Exploring waterfalls
- Taking jungle walks
- Kayaking to nearby islands
- Trying local seafood
- Sunrise meditation
Best Time to Visit: November to March
How to Get There: No matter where you’re coming from in Thailand, you’ll have to take a ferry from Pak Bara, Satun to Koh Lipe.
2. Lombok, Indonesia
If you’re heading to Bali, don’t forget to visit nearby Lombok as well! It’s not as crowded as its big sister, making it an excellent choice when visiting islands in Asia if you are craving some peace and quiet.
Lombok is known for its mountains, beaches, waterfalls, lush jungles, and volcanoes. How could I not include it on this list of the coolest islands in Asia?
Pantai Tanjung Aan is one of Lombok’s most spectacular beaches and is ideal for swimming. It’s known for its white sand and powdery texture.
During the day, you can visit Senggigi Beach or Kuta Beach. They’re both known for their picturesque views and beautiful sunsets.
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, Lombok is also home to several waterfalls and volcanoes!
You can explore Lake Matana, which is the largest volcanic crater lake in Lombok. The rim of the crater measures about three miles wide, and its water is a brilliant turquoise color.
You can head to the bustling town of Mataram, explore the Gili Islands, or take a scenic hike through Mount Rinjani National Park.
Best Things to Do on Lombok:
- Go mountain trekking in Mount Rinjani National Park
- Scuba diving
- Beach activities like swimming, surfing, or sunbathing
- Check out traditional and modern culture in Mataram
- Hike to Tiu Kelep Waterfall
- Explore Gunng Tunak National Park
Best Time to Visit: June to September (dry season)
How to Get to There: You can fly into Lombok International Airport from a few places in Indonesia. Most people visit Lombok from Bali, and you jump on a connecting flight to Lombok. Or, you can take a ferry from Padang Bai Port in Bali.
3. Bali, Indonesia
If there’s one destination that makes it onto just about every list of the most beautiful islands in Asia, it’s Bali, Indonesia. It’s one of many very popular islands in Asia.
With its sunny beaches, thriving jungles, picturesque rice patties, and beautiful temples, Bali is one of the most visited islands in Asia and the world!
There are many different areas to visit in Bali, including Ubud, Seminyak, Canggu, and Uluwatu, and each of these regions has its unique atmosphere. I highly recommend planning out ten days for your Bali itinerary so you can explore everything this island has to offer.
Ubud is the most visited part of Bali, as you can pop by the Saraswati Temple, admire the rice fields of the Campuhan Ridge Walk, and say hello to the animals at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.
If you’re looking for some beach time, Seminyak and Canggu are both fantastic regions. But while Canggu is calmer and more relaxing, Seminyak is a prime party destination.
Last but not least, there’s Uluwatu, which is a wonderful blend of all of the regions mentioned above. While there, you can suntan on Pandawa Beach, take loads of pictures with the abandoned Boeing 747 plane, admire the breathtaking Uluwatu Temple, and watch the captivating Kecak Fire Dance performance.
Best Things to Do in Bali:
- Go surfing at Kuta Beach
- Explore Ulun Danu Temple
- Admire Tanah Lot Temple
- Take a cooking class
- Take a tour of Mount Batur Volcano
- White water rafting on Ayung River
- Take a helicopter tour around the island
Best Time to Visit: You’ll want to visit from April to October. The weather is great because it’s not too hot or humid.
How to Get to There: The easiest way is to fly to Bali. Most international flights land at Ngurah Rai Airport (DPS) and Denpasar Airport (DPS).
4. Palawan Island, Philippines
Because the Philippines is a country made entirely of islands, it should come as no surprise to find out that a couple of Filipino islands are on this list of the most incredible islands in Asia. First up, there’s Palawan.
Nicknamed the “Philippines’ Last Frontier,” Palawan is one of the most beautiful islands in Asia.
The island is a glorious mix of lush jungles, sparkling blue waters, and hundreds of karst formations. As such, Palawan features some of the most picturesque limestone cliffs in the entire world.
This region is also home to many beaches, mountains, lagoons, submerged coral gardens, and coastal plains.
Palawan is technically a collection of nearly 1,800 islands, but the main island is Palawan Island. While there, you’ll want to spend almost all of your time exploring the thriving nature of the area.
You can go scuba diving in El Nido, swim in the crystal clear Kayangan Lake, sail down the underground Cabayugan River, and soak up some Vitamin D on one of the many sunny beaches.
Best Things to Do in Palawan:
- Hike up Taraw Cliff (you’ll see picturesque views of surrounding islands!)
- Explore Tabon Caves
- Swim in Kayangan Lake
- Go island-hopping around El Nido
- Kayak on the Underground River
- Climb Mount Mantalingahan
- Eat local Palawan food like halo halo, fresh seafood, and more
Best Time to Visit: December to May
How to Get There: Many flights fly into Puerto Princesa City Airport (PPS). Once you’re there, you can take a bus or a taxi to El Nido. There are several (and some complicated) ways to get to Palawan. For more information, click here.
5. Nusa Penida, Indonesia
The third island in Indonesia to make it on this list of the best islands in Asia is Nusa Penida. I’m sure you’ve seen the Instagram photo of a cliff in the shape of a T-Rex. That view is why Nusa Penida has gained so much popularity — and for a good reason!
This beautiful island is located around 15 miles just across from Bali, which is very accessible.
It’s actually a popular day trip from Bali so that you can visit both of these lovely Indonesian islands in one trip. But, I highly recommend spending a few days exploring Nusa Penida.
There are gorgeous beaches everywhere you turn, karst formations that give you postcard-worthy views, and plenty of adventure opportunities!
The primary highlight of Nusa Penida is the picture-perfect Kelingking Beach. What more could you ask for with the sparkling teal waters, secluded shores, and greenery-laden cliffs?
You can also visit more amazing beaches of Nusa Penida, including Angel’s Billabong, Broken Beach, and Crystal Bay.
Last but not least, if you’d like a little break from the beaches, you can also make your way to the Peguyangan Waterfall, admire the scenery from the Pulau Seribu viewpoint, and find the Rumah Pohon treehouse.
Best Things to Do in Nusa Penida:
- Admire Diamond Beach (I don’t recommend swimming here because the current is powerful. But, there is a viewpoint where you can see the beach).
- Snorkel and swim at Atuh Beach, one of the prettiest beaches on the island
- Watch the sunset at Teletubbies Hill
- Look for manta rays at Manta Bay Viewpoint (I recommend snorkeling so that you can be close to the manta rays. Remember to be respectful as you are in their space. If you don’t want to snorkel, you can see them from the viewpoint).
- Take in the view from Thousand Islands Viewpoint
- Snorkel and swim because the marine life surrounding this island is amazing! (Be careful of the currents and only swim and snorkel when it is safe to do so).
Best Time to Visit: Nusa Penida is very similar to its neighbor, Bali. The most optimal time to visit is from April to October.
How to Get There: The only way to get to Nusa Penida is from Bali via a ferry or speedboat.
6. Batanes, Philippines
Batanes lies in the northernmost part of the Philippines. Three islands make up this group: Basco, Itbayat, and Sabtang.
Batanes is perhaps the most underrated and remote of all of the islands in Asia listed in this post. It’s actually closer to Taiwan than most islands of the Philippines.
These islands are famous for their desolate landscapes, old stone walls, lighthouses, scattered cattle farms, mazes of small stone-paved roads, and ancient stone lighthouses.
The best and most fun way to see Batanes is renting a tricycle (similar to a tuk-tuk). That way, you can set your own schedule and stay as long as you want at each of the sites listed below without worrying about figuring out how to get from one place to the next.
Best Things to Do in Batanes:
- Hike to the top of Mt. Iraya for amazing views of the beaches and coastline below
- Tour a traditional Ivatan house. These houses are made from stone, wood, cogon grass, and coral rock, with a roof made from hay and palm leaves. Consider spending the night in an Ivatan house and experience their lifestyle first-hand!
- Watch the sunset from Basco Lighthouse
- Try local dishes such as flying fish
- See the epic view of Vayang Rolling Hills
- Soak in history at the Japanese Tunnels (The Japanese lived in these tunnels for four years during World War II).
Best Time to Visit: March to June
How to Get There: Via flight
7. Cebu Island, Philippines
Like Palawan Island, Cebu Island is also the main island in a province of the same name. The province of Cebu boasts a total of 168 islands, but Cebu Island is where most of the excitement happens. A lot of my friends say that this is one of their absolute favorite islands in Asia.
One of the easiest ways to explore Cebu Island is by renting a van or jeepney. This will allow you to visit many islands within the province without too much hassle.
As with many of the other islands in Asia, the main highlight of Cebu Island is its nature. You can gape in awe of the views from the top of Osmena Peak, soak in the naturally warm waters of Mainit Hot Springs, and swim with whale sharks in Donsol.
On top of all of that, Cebu Island is known for its beautiful waterfalls. You certainly will want to visit as many of these eye-catching cascades as possible, including Inambakan Falls, Montpellier Waterfall, Cambias Falls, Kawasan Falls, and Dao Waterfall.
While Cebu Island is dotted with pristine beaches, it’s also worth spending some time exploring what life is like in general on this island. It’s loaded with culture, historical landmarks, and more.
Best Things to Do on Cebu Island:
- Spend some time exploring Moalboal, which is a beach town known for its world-class diving and snorkeling. The Moalboal area is also the base of operations for divers who want to see the Mactan Underwater National Park, including coral reefs teeming with life.
- Enjoy the view of Mingan Archipelago from atop Osmena Peak. This mountain offers amazing views of Cebu Island, Bohol Island, and Leyte Gulf.
- Explore Magellan’s Cross, a large cross erected by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 when he came ashore to claim the island for the Spanish empire.
- Find adventure at Kawasan Falls, one of the most famous waterfalls on Cebu. This waterfall has seven tiers which are great for swimming and cliff diving.
- Visit Toledo City to see how locals live outside of the big city lights. You can also do some rock climbing here.
- How to Get There: The easiest way is to fly into Mactan-Cebu International Airport, which is located on Mactan Island. Then, take a taxi to get to Cebu Island.
Best Time to Visit: November to May
How to Get There: By plane
8. Hokkaido, Japan
Like Indonesia and the Philippines, Japan is another Asian country that is made up entirely of islands. Four main islands make up Japan, with the northernmost one being Hokkaido.
Due to its colder weather, Hokkaido offers something slightly different from the rest of the islands in Asia on this list.
Rather than boasting sunny shores and sandy beaches, Hokkaido boasts massive ice sculptures, prime snowboarding conditions, and lovely hot springs.
And thanks to how the people of Hokkaido have wholeheartedly embraced these winter conditions, it earns the right to being called one of the best islands in Asia!
Every winter, the Sapporo Snow Festival takes place, bringing thousands of talented artists and hundreds of enormous ice sculptures. These are a sight to see!
Once you’ve done your fair share of picture taking, you can head to Niseko for some skiing and snowboarding or soak in the rejuvenating waters of the Noboribetsu hot spring.
Winter is a popular time to visit Hokkaido, but there are things to do throughout the year.
You can watch the cherry blossoms bloom in the spring, cool off with some squid ink ice cream in the summer, and admire the fire-colored leaves on Gingko Tree Avenue each fall.
Best Things to Do on Hokkaido:
- Walk through the colorful fields of Furano (In the summer, the meadows here are covered in bright flowers. It’s quite the sight!)
- Look for wildlife at Shiretoko National Park
- Soak in the hot springs of Noboribetsu.
- Visit the Blue Pond in Biei (This is a dreamy blue lake that changes the intensity of its blue based on weather conditions. It’s stunning!)
- Go ice fishing and skiing
- Learn more about Hokkaido’s history at Hakone Jomon Museum
- Trek along the Hokkaido Nature Trail (There are over 2800 miles of trail that cut through forests, lakes, and glaciers).
Best Time to Visit: In the summer, from June to September. In the winter, from December to March.
How to Get There: You can fly into New Chitose Airport, or you can also take the bullet train from Tokyo.
9. Phuket, Thailand
One of the most popular islands in Asia and all of Thailand is Phuket — an island with gorgeous white beaches and crystal clear water, and buzzing nightlife.
Phuket Island was once stunningly secluded and unknown to most people. These days, however, it’s become one of the most visited islands in Asia!
This is due to its endless activities, beautiful beaches, luxurious accommodations, and world-renowned scuba diving spots. There are also natural limestone formations scattered around this island which give it a unique feel.
As you can imagine, you won’t run out of things to do on a trip to Phuket, giving you a wide array of activities and attractions. A few of the best beaches on the island include Freedom Beach, Kata Beach, Nai Harn Beach, and Karon Beach.
Another great thing about Phuket is that you can easily take day trips to nearby islands. Some of the best day trips are Koh Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay, the Similan Islands, and Khao Sok National Park.
Then, once the sun has set, the nightlife comes out. If you’re looking for a bar, you can head to Prohibition Bar, Paradise Beach Club, or On Top.
If you’d prefer just a lovely night of live music, Music Matter and Rockin’ Angels are the places to be. And if you’d prefer an all-out, wild night of fun, you’ll want to go to Illuzion or Tiger Nightclub.
Phuket is simply one of those islands in Asia where there is an endless amount of things to do!
Best Things to Do on Phuket:
- Explore Wat Chalong (This is a Buddhist temple known for housing one of the island’s most famous relics).
- Visit the infamous Big Buddha
- Try local food at the weekend night market
- Take a cooking class
- Soak in the view at Khao Rang Viewpoint
- Walk around Phuket Old Town
- Snorkel, scuba dive, or take a glass-bottom boat tour (You’ll see coral reefs and tropical fish galore!)
Best Time to Visit: From November to April is the best time for the weather (lowest rainfall, highest temperatures). The sea waters will be at their calmest. However, if you want the island to yourself, visit during the off-season (May through October) when it’s a bit cooler and less crowded.
How to Get There:: There are many daily flights from other parts of Thailand and other countries in Asia.
10. Phú Quốc, Vietnam
Phú Quốc is a beautiful island located off the coast of Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s also one of the most laid-back islands in Asia.
You’ll love this quiet island with its stunning white beaches, clear blue waters, and miles of palm trees. The tranquil atmosphere here makes it one of the most peaceful islands in Asia to relax and recharge.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy your time on Phú Quốc. In the morning, go exploring and head to Ong Lang Beach for a good swim. In the afternoon, check out the abundant wildlife around the island! You can visit with local monkeys or look for dolphins.
If you want to truly appreciate nature, head over to Phú Quốc National Park where there are beautiful waterfalls as well as many different species of animals and plants.
When it’s time for some action, you can go scuba diving or snorkeling to see colorful coral reefs and tropical fish. If you love beaches, head over to Khem Beach. You can also spend your time fishing or kayaking.
Make sure you read this post about 19 useful Vietnam travel tips so you can plan the best getaway without my stress!
Best Things to Do on Phu Quoc:
- Go fishing for your own dinner
- Eat Vietnamese food roasted in seashells
- Take a trek into the tropical forests
- Spend time exploring Phu Quoc’s charming fishing village, Duong Dong
- Catch the sunset at Ong Lang Beach or Vinpearl Land Amusement Park (Vinpearl is like an amusement park on the water with a water park, aquarium, and movie theatre)
- Rent a motorbike and explore the island
- Try local dishes at the Phú Quốc Night Market
- Enjoy the aerial views from the Phú Quốc cable car
Best Time to Visit: From December to March
How to Get There: The easiest way is to fly directly there.
11. Andaman Islands, India
The Andaman Islands are nestled in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Although these islands are closer to Thailand and Myanmar, they are a union territory of India. There are over 500 different islands, but only 36 are inhabited by locals and visitors.
One of the best things about these islands is their deep blue water! It’s mesmerizing to watch the waves crash against the shoreline. The beaches here vary widely with many white sand beaches, but there are also some black sand beaches as well. You can enjoy one of the island’s famous sunrises with a cup of coffee in hand.
If you want to find a secluded beach where you won’t see anyone else for miles, head over to Neil Island which is known for its beaches that offer spectacular sunset views.
On Havelock Island, you can snorkel in the clear waters and watch dolphins swim by. In fact, this island is known to have some of the best coral reefs in all of India!
In the Andaman Islands, there are many activities you can enjoy. You can hike through ancient forests or go on a wildlife safari to see the abundant wildlife. You can go kayaking or fishing, or take a scuba diving tour to swim with sharks and manta rays.
After you visit, you’ll see why these islands snagged a spot on this list of the best islands in Asia.
Best Things to Do on the Andaman Islands:
- Go on a day trip to Jolly Buoy Island and enjoy the abundant marine life and colorful coral reefs
- Spend the day shopping in Port Blair
- Rent a bicycle and explore North Bay Island
- Climb up Saddle Peak for some spectacular views
- Learn about the ancient native tribes
- Enjoy a local seafood lunch at one of the village restaurants
- Explore Mahatama Gandhi National Park
Best Time to Visit: October to May. The Andaman Islands are actually one of the best places to visit in India in December.
How to Get There: The easiest way to fly to these islands in Asia is via direct flight from mainland India.
12. Raja Ampat, Indonesia
The Raja Ampat Islands belong to Indonesia and are located very close to Papua New Guinea. Fun fact — this island group has been named as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. As such, Raja Ampat had to be included on this list of the most incredible islands in Asia.
The islands consist of stunning white sand beaches and a crystal clear blue sea, making them a must-visit for nature lovers.
The diving here is some of the best in the world! That’s because Raja Ampat is actually home to 75% of the world’s coral species.
Raja Ampat actually consists of around 1500 islands and cays. These islands are mostly made of limestone and provide a gorgeous backdrop against the sea. Some of the main islands are Misool, Batanta, Waigeo, and Salawati.
What makes these islands so special is their diversity. You’ll see many rare species of plants and animals here. If you’re after unspoiled landscapes, Raja Ampat is one of the best islands in Asia that deliver just that.
The best thing to do is take a snorkeling tour which will allow you to explore the abundant coral reefs! Watch out for turtles, sea snakes, and other unique creatures that live beneath the waves.
Best Things to Do in Raja Ampat:
- Hike through the jungle with a local guide
- Go diving off the coast of Misool Island and explore the rich underwater life
- Catch a traditional dance performance in one of the villages
- Explore the underwater caverns and caves
- Visit some of the local art markets that are open every evening
- Go diving with manta rays at Pianemo Island
- Take a boat tour around Mioskun Island to spot some Dugongs (marine mammals similar to manatees) in the wild
Best Time to Visit: Any time of the year is great to visit Raja Ampat. But, if you plan on diving, you’ll want to visit between October and May. You’ll encounter less rain which means calmer seas and better visibility. The diving here is some of the best in all of the islands in Asia.
How to Get There: You’ll have to take a flight from Jakarta or Makassar to Sarong. Then, you can hop on a small plane or ferry from Sarong to Waisai — the capital of Raja Ampat.
13. Boracay, Philippines
You’ve probably heard of Boracay before. That’s because it’s one of the most popular islands in Asia and the world. Boracay is a small island in the Philippines known for its perfect white-sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters, making it a little slice of paradise on Earth.
Boracay is regularly named as one of the best islands in Asia to visit. Not only does it have tons of natural beauty, but also because it offers lots of fun activities. You can enjoy anything you want here, like sunbathing by the beach, explore all the cool bars and restaurants, or even go shopping in the many markets and malls.
You can also enjoy some great snorkeling in Boracay. You’ll find coral reefs all around the island with abundant marine life to explore, including turtles, rays, and colorful fish. Boracay is actually one of my favorite snorkeling islands in Asia.
One of my favorite things about Boracay is that the sand here is incredibly soft and makes for a great place to walk barefoot. I walked miles and miles along the beach while I was here, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
The most popular beaches here are White Beach, Bulabog Beach, Puka Beach, Tambisaan Beach, and Diniwid Beach.
Best Things to Do in Boracay:
- Watch the sunset at White Beach or Bulabog Beach
- Go nightlife hopping! Bars and clubs stay open late here so you can party the night away every day of the week. There’s something for everyone too — whether you prefer electronic music, hip hop, rock, or anything else.
- Enjoy a parasailing tour over one of the many beaches
- Watch the sunset at one of Boracay’s many beach bars and restaurants
- Island hop and see the smaller, less touristy islands that surround Boracay
- Enjoy a massage under the stars on one of Boracay’s beachfront hammocks
- Soak up as much sun as possible and just relax on the sand
Best Time to Visit: December through April are the best months to visit in terms of weather. But, these months are also the busiest amongst tourists.
How to Get There: There aren’t any flights into Boracay. You’ll have to fly in from Manila into one of two airports — Caticlan (what I recommend) or Kalibo. Then, you’ll take a taxi to the Caticlan jetty port. From there, you can take a short ferry to Boracay Island.
14. Koh Rong, Cambodia
Koh Rong is an unspoiled paradise that’s home to such a unique and surreal landscape. It rarely makes it on the list of the best islands in Asia, but it’s becoming one of the most visited destinations in Cambodia — and for a good reason.
You’ll find many picturesque beaches here with clear blue waters perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. There’s also lots of plentiful wildlife to see — including monkeys, sea eagles, and macaques.
One of my favorite things about Koh Rong is the nightlife. The parties here go on all night, and you’ll find some great music and some super fun people to hang out with. You can even watch a fire show some nights!
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure, I definitely recommend visiting Koh Rong. It’s one of the prettiest islands in Asia, and you’ll fall in love with this hidden gem.
Best Things to Do on Koh Rong:
- Go nightlife hopping — bars and clubs stay open really late here!
- Go island-hopping — some smaller ones are surrounding the main island, which you can explore
- Watch a fire show during your stay
- Visit Ream National Park — it’s home to some of the most beautiful scenery in Cambodia
- Go fishing and snorkeling on one of Koh Rong’s many beaches
- Soak up as much sun as possible and just relax on one of the idyllic beaches
Best Time to Visit: December through April
How to Get There: From Phnom Penh, you’ll have to take a bus to Sihanoukville. Then, you’ll take a ferry to Koh Rong.
15. The Maldives
The Maldives is a major bucket list destination for couples that you have to visit at least once in your life. It’s one of my absolute favorite destinations in the entire world. I felt like I was dreaming the whole time I was there. This is one of those islands in Asia that will truly take your breath away!
This island nation is situated in the Indian Ocean right on top of the equator. It’s made up of 26 coral atolls and over 1,100 small islands — but only around 185 of those are inhabited by humans.
It’s such a popular honeymoon destination because it has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The waters here are so crystal clear and blue. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
You don’t even have to snorkel or go diving to see the colorful marine life. You can see it right from the shore of your overwater bungalow. I saw so many sharks and parrotfish from our overwater bungalow. It was truly magical!
The weather here is also really lovely year-round with temperatures ranging between 30°C/86°F and 35°C/95°F.
My biggest tip for visiting the Maldives is to get off of the main island of Male. I think it’s worth splurging to stay on a private island so you get a true Maldives experience. If you can’t do this, you can also book day trips from Male that will take you to other islands in the Maldives.
Before you go, read my Maldives packing list post! I go over everything you need to pack for an amazing getaway.
Best Things to Do in the Maldives:
- Snorkel and dive in the world’s best waters — explore some of the world’s most beautiful waters and marine life
- Laze around on one of its many sun-soaked beaches
- Visit some of the unique local islands that are only accessible by boat, like Ihuru
- Soak up as much sun as possible
- Relax and unwind — you can’t go wrong with a tropical island vacation, especially one as nice as the Maldives
- Enjoy a private candlelit dinner on the sand under the stars (Truly one of the most romantic things to do in these islands in Asia).
Best Time to Visit: November to April
How to Get There: You’ll have to fly to Malé International Airport. From there, you’ll take a seaplane or ferry to your resort if you’re staying on a private island.
16. Langkawi, Malaysia
Langkawi is less famous than other parts of Malaysia, which is what makes it such a hidden gem. If you’re searching for the quietest islands in Asia, Langkawi is one of them.
This archipelago consists of 99 islands, and there are plenty of things to do on this beautiful island paradise.
If you’re looking for some truly unique scenery, Langkawi is the perfect destination. There are mountains and waterfalls everywhere you look. It’s like a postcard come to life! And, if you like the outdoors Langkawi has plenty of things to do.
You can go hiking through some of the most picturesque jungles or kayaking through some of the naturally formed islands.
You can also visit some of the other islands in the area by taking a boat tour. A couple of the most visited islands include Pulau Dayang Bunting and Pulau Singa Besar, despite being uninhabited. This just means that their natural beauty has been preserved!
When visiting Langkawi, make sure you get off the beaten path. There’s so much beauty on this island and plenty of hidden gems that are worth exploring.
Best Things to Do in Langkawi:
- Hike through some of Malaysia’s most beautiful nature
- Go for a wildlife sighting at Pulau Singa Besar, where you can see monkeys in their natural habitat.
- Kayak through some of the best island landscapes in Langkawi
- Pay a visit to the iconic Eagle Square
- Admire the views from the Langkawi Cable Car
- See the mangrove trees at Kilim Geopark
- Visit the gorgeous Thean Hou Temple
Best Time to Visit: November to April
How to Get There: The most convenient option is to fly into Langkawi International Airport.
17. Koh Samui, Thailand
Koh Samui is another popular island to visit in Thailand. But while Phuket is all about the party scene, Koh Samui allows you to have a much more relaxing beach getaway. Of all the islands in Asia, this one might be my favorite. I lived there for a few months and had the time of my life!
On the top of your Koh Samui bucket list, it should definitely say “visit the beaches!” – but which beach strictly depends on what vibe you’re going for. For example, Chaweng Beach offers plenty of water activities while Bophut Beach is more calm and secluded. Alternatively, you could also visit one of the many smaller beaches on Koh Samui to have a more private experience.
The local culture here is colorful and vibrant, so make sure you spend some time getting to know it. You’ll find a variety of cultures and traditions here.
Whether you choose to explore the nightlife scene, visit some temples, check out the local market or stay on one of the countless amazing beaches, you will truly enjoy your time here on one of the coolest islands in Asia! And don’t forget to try some of the most delicious Thai food ever while you’re there.
Best Things to Do on Koh Samui:
- Explore the many beaches on the island, like Bophut Beach, Chaweng Beach, and Lamai Beach
- Visit Koh Samui’s most beautiful temples like Wat Plai Laem
- See the Big Buddha statue
- Visit Fisherman’s Village for cafes and restaurants
- Admire natural beauty at Na Muang Waterfall
Best Time to Visit: December to March
How to Get There: Fly into Koh Samui International Airport
18. Jeju Island, South Korea
Jeju Island, South Korea is one of the coolest yet most underrated islands in Asia.
Jeju is a volcanic island, and some of the most famous spots on this island include Hallasan Mountain, Manjanggul Lava Tube, and Cheonjiyeon Waterfall.
The waterfalls here are some of the most beautiful in all of Korea! The colors of the minerals brought to life within the water are so vibrant that you’ll be left mesmerized.
But, the main reason for Jeju’s exciting appeal is the haenyeo — talented female divers who spend hours on end collecting top-tier seafood in Jeju’s frigid waters. Many of these haenyeo can hold their breath for two minutes and dive 30 feet below the surface!
Unfortunately, the number of haenyeo has decreased significantly in recent years, despite the South Korean’s government attempt to continue this much-needed occupation.
While in the 1960s, there were 23,000 haenyeo on Jeju, in 2017, there were just 4,000. And of those 4,000, the vast majority of them were over the age of 50.
Today, you can watch the haenyeo at work, visit the haenyeo museum, and even dine on their freshly caught seafood at one of the local restaurants.
And while the haenyeo are the highlight of Jeju Island, there are other things for you to do as well. You can hike to the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, gape in awe at Jeongbang Falls, and explore Manjanggul Cave.
Best Things to Do in Jeju Island:
- Go scuba diving
- Climb Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
- Explore Manjanggul Cave
- Admire heavenly beauty at Cheonjiyeon Waterfall
- Go shopping in Jeju City
Best Time to Visit: November to May
How to Get There: Via flight
When thinking of islands in Asia to visit, most people don’t think about going to Taiwan. And that’s a shame because Taiwan is an excellent place to visit and one of the neatest islands in Asia.
Taiwan has it all: dramatic coastal cliffs, mountains, lush forests, and stunning beaches. If you’re into nature, then Taiwan is the place to go!
Fun fact — Taiwan has some of Asia’s most giant sand dunes. These sand dunes are so beautiful and majestic that they look like something out of a movie.
Taiwan has something for everyone to enjoy. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love visiting the many bustling night markets and the cultural tea houses.
If you love nature, check out the otherworldly rock formations of Yehliu Geopark and soak in the warmth of Beitou Hot Springs.
And if you like learning about other religions, the Tiahou Temple and Fo Guang Shan Monastery are definitely worth a visit.
Best Things to Do in Taiwan:
- Hike Jade Mountain
- Explore the bustling capital city of Taipei
- Go to the top of Taipei 101
- Take a food tour and try all of the delicious food
- Climb natural sand dunes
- See the breathtaking beauty at Yushan National Park
- Head to Kenting National Park for amazing beaches and sunsets
Best Time to Visit: October to May
How to Get There: Fly into Taipei. From there, you can take day trips or hire a taxi to wherever you want to go.
20. Sri Lanka
When talking about Asia, many people forget that there’s more to the continent than the East Asian countries mentioned so far on this list. Located in central Asia, just off the coast of India, Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful islands in Asia.
Sri Lanka is a tropical island that’s covered with mountains, deep forests, and gorgeous beaches. There are so many reasons to visit Sri Lanka!
For starters, it has some of the world’s best surfing beaches. The water here is incredibly calm, and the waves are perfect for beginner surfers.
There are also many breathtaking natural sights to behold. You can take a sunrise hike up Pidurangala Rock, visit the breathtaking waterfalls at Diyaluma Falls, and hike 1,200 steps to reach the top of Sigiriya Rock — one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic landmarks.
You can even marvel at Buddhist temples like the Dambulla Cave Temple or rock-hewn temples like the Aluvihara Temple. Sri Lanka is one of those islands in Asia where you can explore for weeks and still not see everything.
Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka:
- Snorkel with whales at Dondra Head (one of the coolest things to do on these islands in Asia!)
- Go on a surfer’s adventure at Arugam Bay
- Admire the architecture of Dambulla Cave Temple
- Go to Aluvihara Temple and see ancient Buddhist carvings
- See elephants in their natural habitat at Udawalawe National Park and Gal Oya National Park
Best Time to Visit: November through March
How to Get There: Fly into Colombo. From there, hire a taxi or take a train or bus to wherever you want to go.
20 Best Islands in Asia Final Thoughts
With so many unique islands in Asia to pick from, it is hard to narrow down the best. However, these are some of my favorite islands in Asia that should be on your list if you’re looking for a tropical getaway.
If time permits, be sure to do some island hopping in Asia! Some of these islands are just a jump away from one another and it’s such a thrill visiting multiple islands in Asia!
Which of these islands in Asia are on your bucket list? What are some of the best islands in Asia that you’ve visited? Let me know in the comments below!
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