5 Off-The-Beaten-Path Destinations In Southeast Asia

All within a four-hour flight from Singapore


Southeast Asia is one of the most-visited regions in the world - and unsurprisingly, it's not easy to find places that are off the beaten path. However, thanks to a treasure trove of archipelagos and recently opened-up locations, we've managed to round up 5 relatively secluded locations for your next holiday - check them out below!

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

If you love the palm-fringed beaches of Phuket but hate the crowds, it’s time to plan a trip to Phu Quoc. Touted to be the next big beach resort in Southeast Asia, this island off the coast of Vietnam is undergoing major development – which means you should visit it soon before mass tourism takes over Phu Quoc’s tranquillity and barely-touched rustic beauty. 

Phu Quoc is roughly the size of Singapore, but with only 85,000 residents. When I visited the island last June (low-peak due to monsoon season), I stayed at a seaside resort and had the entire beach to myself. If you prefer sunny and dry weather, visit between December and April to enjoy the tropical paradise at its best. Besides snorkelling and fishing tours, Phu Quoc is also known for producing Vietnam’s finest fish sauce – so set aside time to visit one of its nuoc mam factories if you’re keen!

Getting there: Vietnam Airlines has two flights a week to Duong Dong Airport.

Koh Rong, Cambodia

A two-hour boat ride off the coast of Sihanoukville (south of Phnom Penh), Koh Rong is the ultimate island getaway that boasts postcard-perfect scenery. When you’re bored of lazing by the soft, white sandy beaches, there’s a host of inland activities to entertain you, from jungle treks to waterfall visits.

For a more indulgent holiday, head to the nearby Song Saa – home to one of the most stunning resorts in the region. There are only 27 villas on the luxe but relaxed private island – all equipped with sea-view plunge pools and private decks – ensuring privacy for all guests.

Getting there: Fly to Phnom Penh, take a car or bus to Sihanoukville (4 hours away) and travel by boat to Koh Rong.

Hsipaw, Burma

While most travellers flock to Yangon and Bagan when they visit Burma, we urge you to check out Hsipaw, a laidback town tucked away in the country’s Shan state. It offers a taste of the real Burmese village life – and offers an interesting look into the country’s fascinating history (Hsipaw was formerly a Shan royal city).

The major draw of Hsipaw are the treks – which provide a rare, “untouched” experience compared to the more popular Kalaw to Inle trek. The treks usually bring you to villages belonging to hill tribes, and you can even arrange for a homestay!

Getting there: Fly to Mandalay, and take a train to Hsipaw (an hour away).

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Raja Ampat is located on the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsular in the West Papua province of Indonesia. The sparsely-populated island chain is home to lush jungles, white sandy beaches, hidden lagoons, mushroom-shaped islets and dreamy turquoise waters.

The coral reefs here are considered one of the best in the world, with Bird’s Head Peninsula identified as having one of the greatest marine biodiversity in the world – making it a diver’s dream come true. Arrange a stay on one of the liveaboard boats to discover the beauty of this remote archipelago.

Getting there: Fly to Manado, and take a domestic flight to Sorong. From Sorong, you can take a ferry or speedboat to Raja Ampat (about two hours).

Layang Layang, Malaysia

Also known as Swallow Reef, Layang Layang is a beautiful deep sea islet off the coastline of Sabah, Malaysia. The island is actually man-made and served as a base for the Malaysian Navy, but has now grown into a dive spot.

There are 14 dive sites on the islands, which attract avid divers to catch a glimpse of the famous hammerhead sharks and virgin atoll reefs. Non-divers will still enjoy a relaxing and breathtaking retreat at the island’s only resort, Avillion.

Getting there: Fly to Kota Kinabalu, and take a domestic flight to Layang Layang. 

For more on Living, head here. Or check out 5 Private Island Getaways You Can Actually Afford and 10 Awesome Inflatable Floats For Your Resort Trips.

sign up for our newsletter

Sign up to receive a weekly round-up of the latest fashion, beauty and lifestyle news!

By signing up, I consent to Elle’s Terms & Conditions.


you will love this

we also recommend

you’ll love this