Top Islands in Southeast Asia

The many islands in Southeast Asia are great for sunshine, good food, parties, and romantic getaways! Use this guide to choose from one or several to visit on your trip.

  • 01 of 06
    Koh Lanta sunset
    ••• The weather on Koh Lanta makes spectacular sunsets!. Photo by Greg Rodgers

    It should come as no surprise that the islands in Thailand make the top of the list. Not only are they easily accessible via Thailand's great tourism infrastructure, the Thai islands are diverse enough to please a wide range of travelers.

    From raging party scenes to quiet islands with scarce electricity, you'll find either as much action or as much peace and isolation as you can handle.

  • 02 of 06

    Islands in the Philippines

    Bohol Island Philippines
    ••• A perfect sunset in Bohol, Philippines. Photo by Greg Rodgers

    With more than 7,000 islands making up the Philippine archipelago, you'll have plenty of choices both close to Manila and further afield. A quick flight to Cebu City gives you a myriad of island options in the Visayas accessible via flight or the Philippines' busiest seaport. Negros Island is an often-overlooked option in the area.

    Philippine islands are typically volcanic, with lush, hilly interiors and many bays with beaches scattered around the edges. Although the beaches in the Visayas are very photogenic and practically undeveloped, don't always expect powdery sand; many beaches are made up of coral or rocks.

  • 03 of 06

    Islands in Malaysia

    The beach in Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia
    ••• The beach in Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia. Photo by Greg Rodgers

    While Langkawi is Malaysia's undisputed island hotspot, there are plenty of other pleasant choices with pristine beaches and excellent diving. The Perhentian Islands are a solid part of the Banana Pancake Trail for backpackers.

    Tioman Island, closer to Singapore, is a duty-free island with both busy beaches and quiet bays. While Penang is a great place to visit, it's so large that you may not even realize you are on an island!

  • 04 of 06

    Islands in Indonesia

    Gili Islands Indonesia
    ••• Lots of undeveloped room exists in the Gili Islands, Indonesia. Photo by Greg Rodgers

    For obvious reasons, Bali gets all the attention from visitors to Indonesia's more than 17,000 islands -- but there are other pieces of paradise waiting to be enjoyed. The three Gili Islands in Lombok are a great choice for island hopping to find a balance between peace and socializing.

    You'll find incredible diving throughout the Indonesian archipelago. Sumatra, the sixth-largest island in the world, is the place to go for orangutans, volcanoes, and jungle adventure.

    • Most Popular: Bali (see: where is Bali)
    • Top Picks: Gili Air
    • Where to Party: Gili Trawangan and Kuta Beach on Bali
    • Where to Chill: Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Kadidiri in Sulawesi's Togean Islands
    • When to Go: The summer months are usually best. Read about the weather in Indonesia.
    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06


    The Singapore Skyline
    ••• Singapore Skyline. Photo by Chensiyuan / Wikimedia Commons

    Yes, Singapore is a city, island, and country all rolled into one! While notorious for being pricier than its Southeast Asian neighbors, Singapore is a unique, world-class destination.

    Singapore may not be the first choice for clean beaches or solitude, but you will find an amazing number of things to do. And don't only expect an urban, concrete jungle -- Singapore has plenty of green space for its size.

  • 06 of 06

    Malaysian Borneo

    orangutan in borneo
    ••• An endangered orangutan in Borneo. Photo by Greg Rodgers

    Many visitors to Malaysia forget that the third-largest island in the world is only a quick, cheap flight away from Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia shares the island of Borneo with Indonesia and Brunei. There you'll find endangered species, national parks, exotic indigenous culture, green rainforests, and incredible diving.