Looking for some awesome, affordable places like Thailand for your next trip? Check out our list of 15 alternatives.
Thailand has long been a popular destination for Aussie travellers, providing a mixture of affordability and adventure activities from surfing and diving to kayaking and kite surfing – there’s plenty to keep you busy on a Thai holiday.
That said, you might be ready for something new. Maybe you’ve lost count of the number of times you have basked on the beaches of Phi Phi or strolled the boozy backpacker haven of Koh San Road, or maybe you’d like to find somewhere that isn’t quite as heavily frequented by other Australian tourists.
Check out our list of 15 destinations like Thailand that could be the perfect place for your next holiday.
1. The Philippines
Boasting 7,000 islands and gorgeous beaches to delight any beach bum, the Philippines offers a wonderfully diverse island-hopping experience.
The widespread use of English is an added attraction for many travellers.
What to do: Kiteboarding, canyoning, kayaking and surfing. When to go: December to February are the coolest months and see the heaviest tourist traffic while July to September is monsoon season. Stay at:Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, right on the beach of the mountainous island of Palawan. The island is less crowded than beach spots like Borocay and is home to the underground river and is the gateway to stunning El Nido. Rates can be as low as $170.
The natural beauty of Malaysia is only surpassed by its assortment of cuisines and idyllic sandy beaches. A few must-see Malaysian attractions are the pristine beaches and dense jungles of Pulau Langkawi and the breathtaking surrounds of Pulau Tiga National Park, which is also known as "the Survivor Island".
What to do: Temples, jungle hikes, tea villages, Petronas Towers, Batu caves When to go: May to October are the wettest months on the west coast while September to December receive monsoon showers in the east. Stay at: the Holiday Inn Resort in Penang where the watersports are just around the corner and the cuisines is finger lickingly addictive.
Since the 1970s, Bali has been a magnet for Australian tourists seeking an affordable tropical paradise. It offers something for all sorts of traveller, from adrenaline junkies and party hunters to nature enthusiasts and family tourists.
What to do: Party, visit Gunung Rinjani (Indonesia's second largest volcano), hiking, watersports When to go: The best time to visit Bali is considered to be during May, June and July. Stay at: the four-star Holiday Inn Resort Bali Benoa. It boasts full spa services and a price tag that starts at $130p/n.
Java combines relaxation with exploration and then some. On top of world famous surf breaks, it has one of the densely rain-forested areas on Earth. Trekking through its smoke-billowing volcanoes and untouched rainforest is most definitely in order.
What to do: Visit the Buddhist temple Borobudur, the Hindu temple Prambanan, surf world-famous surf breaks When to go: The dry season is from May to September. May, June and July are the ideal months to visit. Stay at: the Hilton Bandung in West Java is a 4.5 star oasis that has rooms from $170p/n. The hotel offers spa services and body treatments.
Cambodia's beaches are only matched by its rich cultural history. The temple at Angkor Wat is a must-see, depicting the might of Cambodia’s early kingdoms.
Cambodia is also riding a growing wave of ecotourism that introduces travellers to the country’s tropical wilderness and unique wildlife.
What to do: Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom, Botum Sakor National Park. When to go: The wet season lasts from May to October and the tourist season runs from November to February. Stay at: Paradise Angkor Villa Hotel where eco-tours and mountain biking abound nearby and hotel rates start from $69 per night.
The natural beauty of Vietnam is breathtaking and some of the most memorable in the world. For something akin to Thailand, make a visit to Ha Long Bay. Here, thousands of rugged limestone islands jut out of pristine waters.
Must do/see: Ha Long Bay and Hanoi, street food, rice fields, snorkelling, kayaking, hiking. When to go: The climate varies considerably from one region to another. Check weather patterns for the regions you plan on visiting before booking your trip. Stay at: the Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa is one of the most luxurious hotels you can lose yourself in. With water views and rates starting from $190p/n, it's hard to say no to.
Goa boasts white beach and wide ranging outdoor activities on top of that glimpse into a rapidly developing nation. The infrastructure in most places is good and easy transportation options are available for those who wish to travel further.
What to do: Kneeboarding, wakeboarding, windsurfing, diving, white water rafting, partying. When to go: Mid-November to mid-February is peak season and offers a milder climate. During this time, Goa transforms into the party capital of India. The weather heats up from March to May and June is typically the wettest month. Stay at: The Double Tree by Hilton Hotel is within 4km of Anjuna, Bag and Calangute Beaches and won't set you back to much at around $114 per night.
Sri Lanka is hotly becoming the place to explore spectacular beaches, tropical rainforests and ancient culture. In it, adventurers can indulge in adventure activities and watersports, spiritual travellers can meditate in 2000-year-old temples and families can while away days on any one of its unspoilt beaches.
What to do: Temples, national parks, beach crawling. When to go: The weather is ideal from December to February in the south-western and south coast areas. Stay at: The Hilton Colombo Residence boasts panoramic views of the city and is minutes away from temples and beaches. Prices from $257.
Tonga’s 170-odd islands provide an excellent opportunity for travellers who want to go off the beaten track. The overall atmosphere in this tropical paradise is incredibly relaxed and it’s largely unspoilt by tourists. (Score!) Tonga provides an excellent opportunity to gain a true cultural experience from a tiny Pacific island nation.
What to do: Caves, waterfalls, water activities, humpback whale dives When to go: The climate is warm and rainy between December and April and prone to tropical storms, so it's best to visit outside this period. Stay at: the family friendly Likualofa Beach Resort where you and the family can hike, bike, scuba dive, kayak and snorkel until the sun goes down. Rooms from $118.
Borneo is divided between three states: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It provides some of the most astounding natural scenery on Earth with lush green rainforest, vivid blue ocean and ragged mountains. This rugged locale is also home to hundreds of pristine beaches undiscovered by tourists.
What to do: Jungle trekking, diving, watersports When to go: The climate is appealing throughout the year but tourists looking to get involved in activities like jungle trekking and diving should avoid the wet months. Stay at: theLe Meridien Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. It costs around $167 per night and is a 10-minute walk from Warisan Square, Sedco Square and Filipino Market.
5 pristine islands for one perfect beach getaway (and a little bit of a splurge)
This jewel of the South Pacific combines idyllic beaches, heavenly waterfalls and fantastic diving and snorkelling. The locals are hospitable and life in Samoa is much more laid back than in many other popular tourist spots. Get ready to relax and unwind.
What to do: Lay on beaches, discover waterfalls, watersports, trekking. When to go: The dry season extends from June to September and is the best time to visit. Stay at: the three-star Insel Fehmarn Hotel in Apia for an affordable stay ($130p/n) that's not too far away from the top attractions (and beaches).
On top of its world class surf beaches and crystal clear waters, the Aloha state's landscape features lava-caked volcanos, thick jungle and soaring mountains. Spend the day on the water or explore the dried lava fields and bio-diverse thickets of the jungles. Both are highly recommended.
When to go: The peak season is during winter from mid-December to March, while September to November is usually much less crowded. What to do: Snorkelling, parasailing, golf, scuba diving, wind surfing and hiking. Stay at:Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort is a 5-star with a starting rate of $345. Relax and unwind here.
A trip to New Caledonia involves relaxing on beautiful beaches and sipping cocktails if you want to unwind or various watersports if you want an adventure getaway. You can even visit heritage shipwrecks that provide a fascinating insight into the long maritime history of this tropical paradise.
When to go: The cool season lasts from April to August and is actually quite pleasant, while December to March is hurricane season when the weather is warmer and wetter. What to do: Kayak, snorkel, rock climb, dive. Stay at: The Hilton Noumea La Promenade Residences is a four-star luxury with direct access to the beach and prices close for $250 per night. Nearby activities include boat tours, water skiing, sailing, wind surfing, and snorkelling.
Fiji has a reputation as "the soft coral capital of world" with countless coral reefs surrounding its beautiful islands. Away from the water two of Fiji’s islands, Taveuni and Kadavu, offer the perfect opportunity to explore mountain ranges and dense rainforest.
When to go: The peak season is from June to September and coincides with a milder climate. November to April are the wettest months and typically experience high humidity. What to do: Coral reef snorkelling and diving, jet skiing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, beach bumming. Stay at:Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa is a sanctuary that offers nearby watersports and spa services fit for a queen with a price tag that hits the spot around $270p/n.
This place boasts astonishing tropical beauty, an idyllic climate and welcoming locals. The largest of its 15 islands, Rarotonga, has dense jungle, white beaches and craggy mountains that will entice any adventurer.
What to do: Scuba dive, fish, snorkel and kayak. When to go: June to September are the ideal months. December to February is the rainy season with typhoons occasionally hitting between January and March. Stay at: Paradise Inn in Rarotonga is just 20m away from a private beach and a hop and skip away from the airport, meaning you can get to the beach that much faster. Budget studios available from $112.
Will is a personal finance writer for finder.com.au specialising in content on insurance. While he cannot give personal advice to clients, Will enjoys explaining the intricacies of different types of protective cover to help individuals and businesses find affordable cover that won't leave them underinsured.
If you're a big fan of Byron Bay, but are looking to travel somewhere new on your next holiday, check out these alternative paradises for surfing enthusiasts and beach lovers both in Australia and abroad.
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