5 underrated beach destinations in Southeast Asia

  • Amazing Nha Trang
  • Bang Saray beach
  • Amazing Nha Trang
  • Coastline at Desaru
  • One of Lombok beaches
  • Mactan island tourist boats

With many countries across the world making plans to reopen travel, people have already begun thinking about the places they wish to visit after nearly two years of being cooped up. And while there is nothing wrong with the usual spots, the most underrated beach destinations in Southeast Asia offer truly unique experiences.

This is no disrespect to places like Phuket and Bali which are wonderful in their own right. But those wanting something new or different would be wise to explore the opportunities on this list. One thing to note about what we mean by underrated. The focus here is on locations that are reasonably accessible but don’t always receive the attention or traffic they deserve. We chose beach destinations where there are developed amenities and infrastructure.

Here are five underrated beach destinations in Southeast Asia and a look at buying property in each location. Because once you visit, you may never want to leave.


One of Lombok beaches

Lombok’s amazing beaches are popular with everyone who has visited the island. It’s only a matter of time before Lombok is no longer considered one of the most underrated beach destinations in Southeast Asia. Anyone who has ever visited speaks glowingly of the island’s pristine beaches, laidback lifestyle and unspoiled beauty.

The Indonesian government has worked to promote the island over the past decade while carrying out work on key infrastructure projects, including the international airport. These days there are now direct connections to Singapore, Perth and Kuala Lumpur from Lombok. There are also numerous flights between Bali and Lombok.

However you get there, a seemingly endless supply of white sand beaches featuring sparkling, bluish green waters awaits. What more could possibly want?

Bang Saray

Bang Saray beach

Bang Saray has become one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets. Situated along the country’s Eastern Seaboard, it is a seaside destination boasting pristine beaches and a relaxing ambiance with that quaint, community feel people love. The town’s humble beginnings as a small fishing village are still evident to this day.

Situated just 90 minutes from Bangkok and 20 minutes from the resort city of Pattaya, Bang Saray is easily accessible. Additionally, all of the conveniences and entertainment options of the Eastern Seaboard are nearby but the town itself retains a peaceful charm.

Nha Trang

Amazing Nha Trang

Vietnam has plenty of outstanding beaches that are all worth visiting. And Nha Trang is certainty up there with the country’s best. The city boasts a beautiful stretch of coastline that spans six kilometers. There is nothing quite like an evening stroll along the promenade.

But what makes Nha Trang one of the most underrated beach destinations in Southeast Asia is the wealth of sights and activities to explore. You can visit Buddhist temples and gothic churches. There are hot springs and waterfalls to checkout. And, of course, Vinpearl Amusement Park is among the region’s best fun centers.


Coastline at Desaru

Desaru in Malaysia has become a go-to weekend getaway location for residents of Singapore and Johor Bahru. It offers beautiful beaches, low-density living and plenty of recreational opportunities. And even though it feels like you’re a million miles away, it’s actually only a 30-minute ferry ride from Singapore. Its underrated status may not last much longer, however. Time Magazine included the Desaru Coast in its 2021 list of World’s Greatest Places.

Apart from splendid beaches, Desaru is home to a wide range of biodiversity and outdoor excursions as well. There are your traditional options, like golf courses and waterparks. But there are also several interesting nature retreats, such as eco-tours at Belungkor Mangroves, learning more about endangered wildlife in the Sedili Wetlands and trips through Kota Tinggi Firefly Park, a protected firefly habitat.

Mactan Island

Mactan island tourist boats

The Philippines has no shortage of underrated beach destinations. However, not all of these are as easy to get to as Mactan Island. It is home to Mactan-Cebu International Airport which means you go from terminal to sands in no more than 30 minutes.

A lot of activity has taken place across Mactan in the past five years and the island has no shortage of entertainment options now available. Meanwhile, the close proximity to both Cebu and smaller islands opens up many other recreational opportunities for visitors.

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About the author

Thomas has a university background in the UK and in Latin America, with studies in Languages and Humanities, Culture, Literature and Economics. He started his Asian experience as a publisher in Krabi in 2005. Thomas has been editing local newspapers and magazines in England, Spain and Thailand for more than fifteen years. He is currently working on several projects in Thailand and abroad. Apart from Thailand, Thomas has lived in Italy, England, Venezuela, Cuba, Spain and Bali. He spends most of his time in Asia. During the years Thomas has developed a great understanding of several Asian cultures and people. He is also working freelance, writing short travel stories and articles for travel magazines. Follow Thomas on www.asianitinerary.com

View all articles by Thomas Gennaro