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The Top 10 Islands in Asia

The Top 10 Islands in Asia

By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, Travel + Leisure

Yes, Asia is a long flight from the U.S., and the jet lag can be a beast. But when it comes to finding islands that have it all — rich culture, healthy marine life, endless white-sand beaches — you’d be hard-pressed to find a more spectacular part of the world.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.

After two years of winning the No. 1 spot, the Philippine island of Palawan has been unseated, although it still makes an appearance on both this and the overall islands list thanks to its friendly locals, crystal-clear seas, and top-notch diving (don’t miss El Nido, with its limestone islets, and Coron Island, where you can dive among World War II shipwrecks). Sister island Cebu also made the cut.  One reader, who swam with whale sharks there, calls it a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Koh Samui, which is Thailand’s third-largest island and just a one-hour flight from Bangkok, earned praise for its idyllic beaches dotted with seafood restaurants and bars, as well as its range of accommodations (the Four Seasons Resort here took No. 4 in the Top 10 Southeast Asian resort hotel category). Travelers can hike to the pristine Na Muang waterfall and explore Ang Thong National Marine Park, a protected reserve of more than 40 islands. “I’ve been twice to Koh Samui and won’t hesitate to go back,” said one reader.

Over in Indonesia, the perennial honeymoon destination of Bali continues to enchant; visitors practice yoga high in the hills of Ubud and surf the windswept shores of newly trendy Canggu. But for those who prefer their white-sand beaches slightly less traveled, Indonesia’s Lombok, a 30-minute plane ride from Bali, is an interesting alternative. And the No. 1 island, as voted by T+L readers, is another Indonesian stunner that is as exciting as it is idyllic. Read on to see how all these magical destinations stacked up.



10

Koh Lanta, Thailand

The Top 10 Islands in Asia
©Getty Images/iStockphoto
Score: 82.50



9

Koh Samui, Thailand

The Top 10 Islands in Asia
©Getty Images/EyeEm
Score: 85.07



8

Boracay, Philippines

The Top 10 Islands in Asia
©Zhang Zheng/Getty Images
Score: 86.14



7

Phuket, Thailand

The Top 10 Islands in Asia
©Getty Images/Perspectives
Score: 86.14



6

Cebu, Philippines

The Top 10 Islands in Asia
©Getty Images/iStockphoto
Score: 89.10



5

Palawan, Philippines

The Top 10 Islands in Asia
©Getty Images
Score: 90.04



4

Maldives

The Top 10 Islands in Asia
©Sakis Papadopoulos/Getty Images
Score: 90.48



3

Lombok, Indonesia

The Top 10 Islands in Asia
©Getty Images
Score: 93.88



2

Bali, Indonesia

The Top 10 Islands in Asia
©Getty Images
Score: 94.06



1

Java, Indonesia

The Top 10 Islands in Asia
©Getty Images
Score: 95.28

Java catapults itself onto this list, as well as the World’s Best islands overall. The most densely populated island in Indonesia makes the argument that we can have it all, from a thrilling city experience in Jakarta to mystical moments wandering through Buddhist temples like Borobudur, which dates back to the ninth century. It is just one of four UNESCO sites on the island, including Ujung Kulon National Park, home to lowlands rain forests and the endangered Javan rhino. As one fan wrote: “The tourist who visits this island will enjoy every moment.”

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