Asia: Best Tropical Holiday Spots
A lazy sun on the horizon. Satiny golden sand. Limpid emerald water. Cold drinks and parasols. Barefeet. Ah, the good life.
Even the most antsy, bookish city habituÃ© needs the tonic of a brilliant beach now and then. Tropical escapes thrive in Asia and evince the kind of magnetic multiplicity the continent is singular for. The telltale trio of sun, sand and surf is not the only equatorial allure, however, as islands like Bali, Palawan, Okinawa and Sri Lanka so acutely validate.
To wit, the best tropical spots in Asia run the gamut and cover a lot of holiday territory. From the rice terraces of Ubud, Bali to the granite sculptures of Coron, Palawan, profuse UNESCO World Heritage gems of Sri Lanka to the rich cultural legacy of Okinawa, the list is long on star quality. Not to mention, of course, some of the most extraordinary beach hideaways on the planet (hello Maldives and Palawan).
Kaafu Atoll, Maldives – Photo credit
The beach and tropical destination of choice in Indonesia for a reason. Bali never fades or gets old. From the posh resorts of Nusa Dua to lush Ubud, simply peerless.
Where to stay: The St. Regis Bali Resort
If Malaysia has a Bali, it is surely Langkawi. The Andaman archipelago is a UNESCO World Geopark of phenomenal allure.
Where to stay: The Andaman A Luxury Collection Resort Langkawi
Discover the pristine paradise that is Palawan and the word “Boracay” will exit your vocabulary for good. For immaculate white sand, natural beauty and first-class resorts, this is the top island and province in the Philippines, bar none. From Coron and the Calamian Islands to the Cuyo Islands, Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park to Mount Mantalingajan, a bona fide jewel.
Where to stay: El Nido Resort Miniloc Island Palawan
The incomparable atolls of the Maldives were made for tourism – literally. When your sole raison d’Ãªtre is to provide a paradisal swath of tropical bliss, you deserve to crack our top 10.
Where to stay: Mirihi Island Resort Male
Okinawa Island and, indeed, the rest of the prefecture that makes up the Ryukyu Islands, is inimitable in Japan. With a nonpareil cultural heritage, abundant coral reefs, tropical weather and a gorgeous coastline, the island feels a long way from Honshu and Hokkaido.
Where to stay: Tokyo Dai-ichi Hotel Okinawa Grand Mer Resort
China is not all urban sprawl and remote rural provinces, as Hainan so gamely proves. The South China Sea island provides a fine holiday target for overworked mainlanders.
Where to stay: Sheraton Haikou Resort
What can you say about Sri Lanka, the island nation that packs a formidable wallop? Whatever your pleasure – city, highlands, traditional coastal villages, UNESCO World Heritage national parks and ancient royal capitals, Ceylon has it.
Where to stay: Heritance Ahungalla Hotel
India’s indisputable beach hangout is still the place to turn on, tune in and drop out.
Where to stay: Taj Exotica Resort Goa
Sorry Phuket but Koh Samui is the ultimate tropical escape in Thailand.
Where to stay: Napasai Resort Maenam Beach
Nha Trang is the beach poster child of Vietnam but the island of Phu Quoc is hot on the Khanh Hoa capital’s heels.
Where to stay: MGallery La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc