Looking for an exotic escape to somewhere like Bali? We've rounded up our favourite places with similar charms to the popular Indonesian isle.
No one can deny that Bali is a perennial favourite for Australians looking to unwind, but now's the time to break the mould and seek out another slice of paradise for your yearly escape.
Check out our list of hotspots across Asia and the South Pacific that are riddled with attractions like beaches and temples, offer sumptuous cuisine and are, well, just perfect places to kick back and relax.
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.
Most people only think of the temples of Bagan when Myanmar is mentioned, but the country actually has a stellar coastline riddled with beaches and small islands too.
If you love Bali for its combination of beaches and cultural sites, then Myanmar is one to add to your list. With only about a fifth of the number of tourists visiting annually compared to Bali, you're less likely to battle crowds and more likely to feel like you're the only person on the beach.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Ngapali Beach, Ngwe Saung Beach, Chaung Tha Beach
- Other must sees/dos: Bagan Archaeological Zone, Shwedagon Pagoda, Inle Lake
- Top hotel pick: Aureum Resort & Spa Ngwe Saung. Situated on a picturesque beach, this sprawling resort is the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the sea.
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.
Just keen on pristine beaches? Check out these destinations:
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.
It’s time to start practising your hula moves for a tropical taste of Americana.
Hawaii is a delicious blend of the laid-back and the not-so-laid-back. If you want to laze by the pool sipping cocktails all day, knock yourself out. But if you want to hire a car and go exploring, go bargain-hunting or treat yourself to all the cheeseburgers, ribs and everything else you can manage, there’s more than enough to do in Hawaii to fill out your travel itinerary.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Waikiki, Ho'okipa, Punalu'u, Kauna'oa, Honaunau
- Other must sees/dos: Humpback whale spotting, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, surf Ohau, swim with manta rays, hula
- Top hotel pick: The Royal Hawaiian. One of Waikiki Beach's most iconic hotels, the Royal Hawaiian has a private section of sand and offers views of the beach and Diamond Head from it's rooms.
Other Indonesia hotspots not to be missed
Images: Ministry of Culture & Tourism, Republic of Indonesia
If you want a taste of Indonesia’s true culture, Yogyakarta is the place to get it.
Just a one-hour flight from Bali, this tourist hub (affectionately known as Yogya) offers a glimpse into the history and spiritual traditions of central Java. Yogyakarta offers a remarkable blend of old and new, from the important archaeological sites of Prambanan and Borobudur to all the bustle and noise of a major urban centre.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Baron, Pantai Depok, Ngandong, Kukup, Pantai Krakal
- Other must sees/dos: Prambanan Hindu temple, Borobudur temple, Taman Sari castle
- Top hotel pick: The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta. Set in a historic, colonial building from 1918, this MGallery Collection hotel is the perfect launch off point for discovering the city.
One of the biggest islands in the Riau archipelago, Batam is one of the region’s fastest growing tourist destination.
Though it wasn't too long ago that it was a laid-back, unspoilt destination dotted with sleepy coastal villages. These days you can now wile away a week or two in a luxury resort, enjoy the impressive nightlife and explore beautiful beaches.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Nongsa Point, Turi, Batam View, Barelang Island, Melur
- Other must sees/dos: Mesjid Raya mosque, Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist temple, Barelang Bridge
- Top hotel pick: Holiday Inn Batam. Just five minutes from the Waterfront Ferry Terminal, this resort features four restaurants and a Balinese spa.
Bali's neighbour to the east, Lombok isn't visited nearly as much as the main island and is an easy three-hour ferry ride away.
A popular surfing destination, Lombok is the perfect place to bum around on a quiet beach. It's backed by the massive Mount Rinjani volcano that you can climb if you're feeling adventurous.
- 5 beaches to hit up: Kuta (Lombok), Senggigi, Gili Trawangan (offshore), Tangsi Beach, Tanjung Aan
- Other must sees/dos: Island hop on the Gili Islands (Trawangan, Meno and Air), climb Mount Rinjani
- Top hotel pick: Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort. Slide down waterslides, sip cocktails at the poolside bar or just relax at the beach at this classic Lombok 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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