The best beach holidays in the world – from Cebu to Song Saa
By Time Out Hong Kong|
Tioman Island Malaysia’s gem
Why should you go? Because you’ll love the stunning white sandy beaches, clear blue waters and amazing marine life right on your doorstep. Paya beach is an excellent place to watch the sunset over cocktails and good conversation. South Pacific was partially filmed here, you know?
Why you should go now… Because the weather is at its best (and the waters at their warmest) from May until October.
What’s the quickest way to get there? Fly direct to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, then get a 40-minute flight to the island with Berjaya Air. Check out their website www.berjaya-air.com/flightinfo for seat availability and special packages.
Hoi An Awash in Vietnam
Why should you go? Because the untarnished beaches offer a glimpse into the resort that Hoi An would have been over the ages and continues to be today, just with modern amenities and luxuries attached.
Why you should go now… Monsoon season starts in August, so if you want to avoid the rains and soak up the rays, now’s the time to head over.
Where should you stay? The Nam Hai is a secluded resort with four different pools (including an infinity pool), minimalist architecture, airy rooms and splendid views. Rates start at US$400 per night (exclusive of tax).
What’s the quickest way to get there? Cathay Pacific flies direct to Hanoi or Ho Chih Minh City. A connecting flight will be required to get to Hoi An. Rates start at HK$3,430.
Cebu Bliss guaranteed
Why should you go? Imagine soft white sands stretching over miles of horizon punctuated rhythmically by the foam formed froth from the crystal clear waters. That’s Cebu’s dual coastline.
Why you should go now… Because the sun is at its warmest, the water at its clearest, and the weather at its finest. Don’t forget your piña colada to stay cool.
Where should you stay? Alegre Beach Resort has three private beach coves for maximum privacy and comfort. Online rates start at US$172 per night, valid until 31 December (exclusive of tax). www.alegrebeachresort.com.
What’s the quickest way to get there? Cathay Pacific flies direct to Cebu. Rates start at HK$3,470 for a round trip. www.cathaypacific.com.
Song Saa Private Island Cambodia’s sweetheart
Why should you go? Because within Cambodia’s stunningly beautiful Koh Rong archipelago two pristine islands lying side by side and known locally as Song Saa (‘the sweethearts’) are just about to open for business. If you want eco-conscious luxury in truly virginal surroundings with maximum privacy, you’ve just found it. We’re talking God’s paradise here.
Why you should go now… Well, hold your horses, We suggest checking the website www.songsaa.com to see when the resort will officially open. At present we hear it’s in November this year. However, they’re already taking bookings, hence the reason why it’s in our feature.
Where should you visit? The glorious beaches and the lush rainforest interior. The resort spans the islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong, connected by a footbridge over a marine reserve that has safeguarded the delicate islands’ amazing reef system. It features 27 luxury overwater, rainforest and beach villas built with sustainable materials while offering world-class cuisine, yoga, and spa facilities to die for. Failing that there are more than 20 deserted islands dotted nearby, so the choice for seclusion is easy.
What’s the quickest way to get there? China Southern Airlines has direct flights to Siem Reap Airport from Guangzhou. From there, Song Saa is a 1-hour flight by seaplane, or 30 minutes by speedboat from the city of Sihanoukville.
Sanya The Hawaii of China (kinda)
Why should you go? Because Hainan’s tourist hub offers every conceivable accommodation type under the sun, with deals being thrown around willy-nilly to attract the foreign (and motherland) crowds.
Why go now? Because with the Maldives being suddenly opened up to Chinese nationals, Hainan’s city room deals are becoming more and more attractive by the moment. That could all change if the Male’ demonstrations continue, mind.
Where should you stay? You can book out villas (or just apartments) in Sanya proper, but Yalong Bay is where all the fancy action is. Seemingly every 5-star hotel brand in the world has pitched up here (or thereabouts). Throw a stick and make your choice. Note: don’t be too deceived by the publicity images – the waters of Yalong Bay are considerably less crystal clear than they would have you believe. Still, the beaches are mostly litter free and you can switch off here pretty easily. The service staff of all the hotels is world class and the facilities of the beach-side hotels are amazing. The Russian guests are great fun around the pool bars, too.
What’s the quickest way there? Hong Kong Airlines flies direct to Sanya Phoenix International Airport. Check flight comparison sights for the lowest prices. Remember, the airport is a good 18kms from Sanya city centre so book a (legit) taxi.
Phuket You know you love it
Why you should go? Because no beach feature would be complete without Thailand, and more specifically, Phuket. The mountains and hills roll over the land and meet the ocean forming a serene yet stunning landscape. The teal Andaman Sea stretches out, eventually touching the horizon.
Why you should go now… Scars have healed, fears have dwindled, and much of the region has been restored to its natural splendour. The sun is at its most furious but as long as you’ve packed plenty of sunscreen you can enjoy the heat with a cool cocktail.
Where should you stay? The highlight at Andara Resort and Villas is the 40m pool that seems to fold out into the sea. The resort has been built with pure serenity in mind. Rates start at US$592 per night (exclusive of tax).
What’s the quickest way to get there? Thai Airways flies direct to Phuket. Rates start at $3,300.
Jimbaran Bay We love beach life
Why should you go? Because Bali is the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake.
Why you should go now… Because Bali is better (and safer) than ever before, thanks to the strength and attitude of its gorgeous locals. Early summer is also dry and sunny.
Where should you stay? The Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay is almost a getaway unto its own, with private villas, plunge pools and more. Rates start at US$680 per night (exclusive of tax). www.fourseasons.com.
What’s the quickest way to get there? Cathay Pacific flies direct. Rates start at HK$4,660 for a round trip. www.cathaypacific.com.
Koh Samui Shun the backpackers
Why should you go? Because if you don’t have time to plan an off-the-map beach vacation then Koh Samui will always deliver, no matter how well-trodden this Thai island destination.
Where should you visit? Stick to the beaches, of course. But if you’re in the mood to explore, we suggest hiring a motorbike to visit the various villages within the interior, and to see Buddhist and Muslim places of worship co-existing in tolerance and harmony.
Where should you stay? Since opening late last year, the W Retreat Koh Samui is now the hip hotel on the island. Wallow on the luxurious all-villa beachfront among the pristine northern coast amid unspoiled golden sands. Come nighttime, there’s also plenty of energy and action at the just-opened WOOBAR.
What’s the quickest way to get there? Bangkok Airways flies direct to Samui Airport from Hong Kong. Check flight comparison sites for the best deals.