Searching for places like Bali that's, well, NOT Bali? Why not give these dreamy getaways a chance? You never know, you may find a new favourite paradise.
No one can deny that Bali is a great spot to unwind but it could be time to break the mould and seek out another slice of paradise for your yearly escape.
With statistics showing that 8.1% of all Australians over 14 made Indonesia their last trip (running fourth behind New Zealand, England and the US), you may one of the few looking to spice things up a bit this year.
Check out our list of 16 hotspots that will still let you get some sunshine and the island culture without breaking the bank.
Top places like Bali not to be missed
When it comes to a budget getaway, Thailand is an exceptional option that offers more than beaches. But yeah, it does offer beaches.
If you're planning a buck’s getaway, hit up Bangkok. Or if culture and history are more your cup of tea, head to Chiang Mai. Then there’s the coastal beauty of Koh Samui, Phuket, and any number of other secluded tropical getaways dotted around this small country for those wishing to catch some sun.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Phuket, Pattaya, Krabi, Mueang, Ko Pha Ngan
- Other must sees/dos: Full Moon party, Thai cuisine, temples and island hopping
- Top hotel pick: Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi Island. Live out all of your fantasies from The Beach, plus luxuries like 4-star accommodation, pools, massage services and bars by the beach.
2. Sri Lanka
A trip to Sri Lanka takes in some of the best beaches in the Indian Ocean, world-famous tea plantations and a tropical climate to be envied.
While there aren’t too many package deals available, Sri Lanka is perfect for the budget traveller. It’s also largely unspoilt by Western tourists and is often referred to as "how Bali used to be".
- 5 beaches to hit up: Bentota, Trincomalee, Unawatuna, Arugam Bay, Tagalle
- Other must sees/dos: Temples and National Parks
- Top hotel pick: Vivanta by Taj - Bentota. Overlooking the beach in Bentota, this luxe resort offers pools, specialty restaurants and a spa. Plus, all rooms come with a spa bath.
Nestled between Thailand and Vietnam, there's much more to Cambodia than just Angkor Wat.
While most people may skip the Cambodian coastline for the ancient temples inland, in places like Sihanoukville, you can still find stretches of sand that'll make you feel like you've got the entire place to yourself.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Ochheuteal, Otres, Serendipity, Koh Touch, Long Beach
- Other must sees/dos: Head inland to Siem Reap to explore the Angkor Wat complex, ride the bamboo train in Battambang, visit floating villages in Tonle Sap Lake
- Top hotel pick: Sokha Beach Resort. Sitting on a private section of beach in Sihanoukville, this five-star hotel has a bar overlooking the beach and a free shuttle to town for those who want to go exploring.
With incredible beaches scattered across thousands of islands, this one isn't going to stay below most tourists' radar for long.
Sitting just north of Indonesia, the Philippines often gets missed for other spots in southeast Asia like Thailand, Bali and Malaysia. But with world-class resorts, friendly locals and cheap-as-chips flights available from Australia (thanks, Cebu Pacific), it's a hotspot anyone who lives Bali is sure to love.
- 5 islands to hit up: Palawan, Coron, Borocay, Bohol, Cebu
- Other must sees/dos: Snorkelling or diving, island hopping in Palawan, chocolate hills in Bohol
- Top hotel pick: Club Paradise in Coron. Sitting on its own private island near Coron, this 4-star resort is surrounded by blue waters and sandy beaches.
5. Goa, India
There’s much more to India than the Taj Mahal and there’s no better place to start experiencing it all than in this western state along the Arabian Sea.
Blending Indian and Portuguese culture, Goa is famous for its secluded beaches, Agonda Beach and Baga Beach being two of the best known. Originally a popular destination for hippies from around the 1960s, Goa is quickly becoming popular with traveller from all over the world however still remains quite unspoilt.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Agonda, Baga, Colva, Candolem, Arambol
- Other must sees/dos: Old Goa city, temples, forts, Friday bazaar,spice farms
- Top hotel pick: Ramada Caravela Beach Resort. A sprawling resort featuring a nine-hole golf course on-site, the luxurious Ramada offers direct access to Fatrade Beach.
Samoa is the definition of tropical and boasts a landscape of pristine beaches, incredible swimming holes and mystifying lava flows.
From swimming and snorkelling to hiking, waterfall spotting or relaxing on one of countless deserted stretches of sand, there’s plenty to fill out your itinerary. Throw in a warm Polynesian welcome and you’ll soon forget Bali even exists.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Lalomanu, Namua, Paradise, Aganoa, Tafa Tafa
- Other must sees/dos: Piula cave pool, Alofaaga blowhole, Mount Matavanu, To Sua ocean trench
- Top hotel pick: Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's Resort. Escape to the island of Upolu and stay at this resort, which features 133 rooms that overlook the ocean, a polynesian spa and cultural shows.
The phrase ‘undiscovered gem’ gets thrown around a fair bit in travel articles, but when it comes to the 15 unspoilt Cook islands it well and truly applies.
With weather that stays perfect all year round and a pace of life that’s refreshingly relaxed, the best way to enjoy the Cook Islands is with your feet up, cocktail in hand on one of many pristine beaches.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Muri, Black Rock, Nikao, Out Foot Island, Aroa
- Other must sees/dos: Lagoons, marine reserves, cultural experiences
- Top hotel pick: Pacific Resort Rarotonga. This family-friendly resort boasts 5.5 acres of land sitting right on the beach in front of impossibly blue, crystal-clear waters. It's rooms are in a contemporary Polynesian style with tropical garden or beach views.
Find yourself on a secluded romantic island or in a relaxing family resort with a mere four hour flight (ex. Sydney).
Surfing, swimming, diving and snorkelling are all must-dos in Fiji, but it’s the relaxed pace of island life that will entice you back. The locals are also unbelievably friendly — you’ll get sore cheeks from all the smiling — so say “Bula” to Fiji for your next getaway.
- 5 islands to hit up: Yasawa, Vomo, Malolo, Tokoriki, Wakaya
- Other must sees/dos: Sigatija sand dunes, Mount Tomanivi, temples, eco parks
- Top hotel pick: Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa. Located in luxury resort community of Denarau Island, the Sofitel boasts a dreamy pool and a private beach.
Malaysia is that underrated beach location you should really discover.
Glam it up in a luxurious resort in Penang or Langkawi or find beautiful budget accommodation in a beachfront bungalow along the east coast. The weather is great - it rarely drops below 20 degrees, even at night - and it’s not overrun by tourists.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah, Kuantan, Penang Island, Tioman Island
- Other must sees/dos: Malay cuisine, temples, Petronas Towers, Batu caves
- Top hotel pick: Berjaya Resort Langkawi. Live the dream in an over-water bungalow at this Langkawi resort, or indulge at the in-house spa.
Astonishing natural beauty, history and people are just a few things you should expect from a trip to Vietnam.
Think the amazing rocky islands of Halong Bay, the towering limestone peaks of Ba Be National Park, the mystical ancient temples to the French colonial influence and the horror of the Vietnam War to name a few highlights that should not be missed.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Mũi Né, Phú Quốc, Nha Trang, Phú Quốc, La Gi
- Other must sees/dos: The Imperial City, temples, rice fields, Halong Bay, Mekong Delta
- Top hotel pick: La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc. Frolick on a private beach by day and fall asleep in dreamy canopy beds by night at this Vietnamese resort.
Best beaches in places like Bali:
Love Bali's scene of beaches, resorts and seaside bars? Then check out these beach-side destinations.
|Destination||Beach||What to expect|
|Bentota, Sri Lanka||Bentota||Luxury resorts set on long sandy beaches|
|Koh Tao, Thailand||Sairee||Beach bungalows and villas and relaxed beach bars|
|Goa, India||Anjuna||Pumping nightlife, beach parties and plenty of markets|
|Sihanoukville, Cambodia||Ochheuteal||Quiet island escapes and beach BBQs with tables in the sand|
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