Getaways to neighbouring islands are always great: they’re a short and (usually cheap) flight away; you can live it up like kings and queens at a fraction of what it would cost to fly somewhere further; and you don’t even have to pack too much stuff with you.
There’s just that little problem of everyone else having the same great holiday idea as you.
I don’t know about you, but when I have a relaxing trip all planned out in my mind, the last thing I want is to suddenly face off with hordes of tourists. I don’t even care where they’re from — Singapore, China, or those inevitably drunk and obnoxious Aussie bros you get everywhere in Ubud – I just don’t want to be around any of them.
Thankfully, Southeast Asia is still plenty big for all of us, and there are many islands that have (so far) been mostly spared the Bali/Phuket/Batam treatment. According to Booking.com, these five remote islands will provide some serious downtime (and of course, bragging rights).
Palawan Island, Philippines
Why visit: While this isn’t exactly remote or unknown, it’s still less touristy compared to sister island Boracay. Here, you can dive and explore shipwrecks, or uncover local food offerings in the fishing villages on tricycle. It was recently voted “Best Island” in the world on Travel & Leisure, so best to visit before the world gets wind of it.
Stay at: The remote Macapuno Beach Resort, for hour upon hour of quiet contemplation.
Koh Kood, Thailand
Why visit: The island with a population of just 2,000 near the Cambodian border is apparently so off the tourist radar that it stays pretty much deserted all through the year. With its powdery white sands and emerald waterfalls, Koh Kood is often feted as the perfect Thai island.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Why visit: A great diversity and variety of marine life here makes the island chain of Raja Ampat a biological hot spot – and also an ideal location for divers and snorkelers (the water’s apparently so clear you can see marine life without a mask). Even if water activities are not your thing, the many hiding caves and lagoons are ready for exploration.
Pom Pom Island, Malaysia
Why visit: The small coral reef island whose circumference takes approximately only 25 minutes to traverse is best known for scuba diving – thanks to a vibrant coral reef and the presence of Green and Hawksbill turtles. Human development has also been kept to a minimum.
Stay at: Pom Pom Island Resort, which helps divers coordinate trips. Opt for one of the over-water villas for an unobstructed view of the boundless ocean.
Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
Why visit: Get ready for serious downtime here: the island still runs on generator electricity; Wi-Fi is almost non-existent; and activity highlights include snoozing on hammocks and boozing at sunset.