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“Secret” beaches that aren’t so secret (plus better alternatives)

Secret beaches of Southeast Asia
Photos by Julia Cuthbertson and Carlos Jimenez (and lower right by April Cole)

Recently, our friends over at Travel + Leisure published a list of the “Best Secret Beaches on Earth” – beach vacation destinations worldwide for travelers looking to get away from crowds and noise.

Within Southeast Asia, they highlighted Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, as well as Koh Lanta, Thailand – both great islands that we have sent many guests to over the years.

But while these islands are certainly unheard of by most travelers, our Southeast Asia specialists April, Courtney and Naida had a few other ideas for truly off-the-radar beach destinations that we guarantee only those “in the know” have experienced. So read on if you’d like to find yourself alone on a white-sand tropical paradise anytime soon.

If you like the sound of Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, try…

Koh Rong & Koh Rong Saloem, Cambodia

Both Phu Quoc and Koh Rong (map) are located off the coast of Sihanoukville Province, Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand; but unlike the larger island of Phu Quoc – which features an airport with multiple daily flights from Saigon – Koh Rong is only accessibly by speedboat from the mainland, and offers a private paradise of lush green jungles and a few laid-back resort options designed for relaxation and appreciation of the natural environment.

Beaches are the highlight of any trip to Koh Rong, as 43 km of the 61-km coastline are covered in white, beige or rose-colored sand, meaning there is always a way to find a secluded spot with nary another person in sight. (If you need more proof, the American television show Survivor filmed seasons 31 and 32 on Koh Rong from March through July 2015, so you know it offers secluded spots.)

Several small islets and off-shore reefs provide a beautiful marine environment for those willing to explore with mask and snorkel or sea kayak. And the interior features interesting sandstone rock formations and a number of seasonal waterfalls that can serve as an alternate activity to the endless beach time on offer.

For the ultimate in luxury, try the Song Saa Private Island Resort, located on an islet just off the main Koh Rong island in the northeast. Click here for April’s first-hand account of the Song Saa experience.

But for a more secluded setting, head to the Lazy Beach Resort on the southeastern side of the smaller island of Koh Rong Saloem (just below Koh Rong). Click here to read a blog post about a honeymoon at Lazy Beach.

Whatever you choose for accommodations, don’t wait too long to plan your escape to Koh Rong!


Click here for Koh Rong slideshow

And if Travel + Leisure’s description of Koh Lanta, Thailand sounds nice, try…

Koh Kood, Thailand

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Kood (also spelled Koh Kut – map) is a secret gem featuring less than 15 hotels on the entire island (compared to hundreds of options on Koh Lanta). And while development has been slow to arrive in Koh Kood, that may be changing… With 24-hour electricity just having been brought to the island in June of 2015, direct flights from hubs such as Bangkok and Siem Reap, and a growing number of unique and luxurious resorts on pristine beaches, we think Koh Kood is poised to become the next great “secret” getaway spot in Thailand.

In addition to secluded beaches, the island offers great snorkeling and SCUBA diving options, fishing trips, hikes to seasonal waterfalls and authentic Thai fishing villages worthy of exploration.

For those seeking luxury, the Soneva Kiri resort is an amazing choice. The property offers 24 gorgeous villas as well as 11 private residences, all of them offering a great combination of luxury with environmentally sensitive design and furnishings. With a fantastic spa, fun activities such as outdoor movies and an observatory, and unique dining options (you can eat dinner in a hanging tree basket!), it’s a place you will never be bored.

For those travelers seeking value, the Shantaa Koh Kood is a beautiful sea-side resort featuring private villas that offers a perfectly relaxing retreat in a more rustic setting. Palm-lined pathways lead down to the great snorkeling beach in front of the property, and the resort is happy to arrange for tours of the island or other activities.


Click here for Koh Kood slideshow

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