Tired of Bali? These Nearby Islands Are Just As Good, If Not Better!

Bali is one of the most well-known island destination in the Southeast Asian region. Thousands of tourists pass its entry points on a daily basis. Bali’s pull on tourists is due to its beautiful artwork, religious traditions, and architecture, among others.

Many people aren’t aware, however,  that there are many other islands that are equally as good as Bali. These islands are less crowded and quieter, which make them perfect for those who are more adventurous. They also have fine sandy beaches and crystal clear waters; perfect for potential holiday destinations. So, if you have visited Bali before and are looking for a new island to discover, we present you the best islands in Southeast Asia that are as good (or even better) than Bali.

1. Togian Islands, Sulawesi

Togian islands, Sulawesi
Image credit: Jelle [email protected]

The Togian islands are actually an archipelago of 56 islands in Central Sulawesi. It is surrounded by various coral reefs which can be visited during snorkeling or diving trips.

The islands are home to turtles and dugongs who breed in the surrounding waters. There’s even a lake filled with stingless jellyfish. There are several spots which you can stay in Togian, including Bomba, Una Una and Kadidiri.

  • Getting there: The first step would be to take a plane to the city of Luwuk or Gorontalo. If you land in Luwuk, you’ll have to take a bus or taxi to Ampana. From either Gorontalo or Ampanae, there are boats available on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays to several spots in the islands.
  • Travel costs: Flight to Luwuk/Gerontolo  – SGD 800 round trip (check Expedia for more flights’ deals up to 6.00% Cashback)
  • Best time to travel: All year round, except for Ramadhan ( the Muslim fasting month)

2. Pulau Kapas, Malaysia

Beach view at Pulau Kapas
Image credit: Dave [email protected]

Kapas Island is a very small and minimalist destination off the coast of Terengganu in West Malaysia. It’s the perfect place to escape all the hustle and bustle of daily life. The island is surrounded by great snorkeling and diving spots, but you won’t find luxurious hotels here. Instead, visitors stay in minimalist chalets.

  • Getting there: You can take a flight to Kuala Terengganu and then take a bus to the small town of Marang. Pulau Kapas is accessible via ferries from Marang. Alternatively, you can take a bus directly from Singapore to the Marang Jetty.
  • Travel Costs: Flight to Kuala Terengganu: SGD 380 round trip (check Expedia for more flights’ deals up to 6.00% Cashback). Bus trip to KL to Marang: SGD 100 round trip (check Easybook for buses schedules and Cashback up to 7.00%)
  • Best time to travel: From March to October. Try avoiding the East Coast monsoon season from December to February each year.

3. Koh Rong Island, Cambodia

Treehouse table at Koh Rong island
Image credit: Aaron Bradford @ Flickr

Koh Rong is also known as Monkey Island and is a relatively new tourist destination. It only opened up in 2008 and this means that much of the island is still virgin forests. There aren’t many roads here and you’ll have to get around on foot or by boats. The main attraction here is the High Point Adventure Park that offers spectacular jungle trekking experiences for nature lovers.

  • Getting there: You’ll have to fly first to Phnom Penh and then grab a van to Sihanoukville province. From Sihanoukville, there are slow boats and fast motor boats that depart from the Jetty several times a day.
  • Travel cost: Flight to Phnom Penh: SGD 280 round trip (check Expedia for more flights’ deals up to 6.00% Cashback)
  • Best time to travel: Mid-November to early May in order to avoid the rainy seasons.

4. Siquijor Island, Phillippines

Cambugahay falls in Siquijor Island
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Siquijor is an island that’s south of Cebu in the Phillippines. The island has several luxury resorts where you can enjoy five star treatment. However, the main attractions here are natural features like the Cambugahay Falls, Cantabon Cave and the Balete Tree, an ancient tree revered by the locals.

  • Getting there: There are direct flights to the nearest airport, which is at Dumaguete. From here you can find a passenger boat to Siquijor which depart several times a day.
  • Travel Costs: Flight to Dumaguete: SGD 530 round trip. (check Expedia for more flights’ deals up to 6.00% Cashback)
  • Best time to travel: January to May is the best to avoid crowds

5. Rai Leh, Thailand

Rocky outcrop at Rai leh island
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Rai Leh is an island with spectacular rocky outcrops that hang high over clear blue waters. The sheer drops of the cliff here make it a favourite destination for rock climbers and extreme sports enthusiasts. However, you don’t have to be a fan of extreme sports to love this island that has plenty of obscure caves and beaches to explore.

  • Getting there: Getting a ferry here is easy as there are several nearby towns like Krabi, Ao Nang and Phuket. There are direct flights from Singapore to both Krabi and Phuket.
  • Travel costs: Flight to either Krabi or Phuket: SGD 120 round trip. (check Expedia for more flights’ deals up to 6.00% Cashback)
  • Best time to visit: November to March is the best as it’s not too hot or rainy

6. Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Ocean Sky Island Landscape Sunrise Phu Quoc Water
Image credit: MaxPixel

Phu Quoc is actually Vietnam’s largest island and it is easily accessible by a direct flight from Singapore. Apart from the picturesque beaches, you’ll be able to learn about the island’s pepper and pearl farming industries. At night, there are squid fishing tours and night markets to keep you entertained too.

  • Getting there: It’s easy to travel to Phu Quoc as there are direct flights from Singapore on certain days, by companies like Jetstar and Vietnam Airlines
  • Travel costs: Flight to Phu Quoc: SGD 320 round trip. (check Expedia for more flights’ deals up to 6.00% Cashback)
  • Best time to visit: April to June and late October is the best time to enjoy non-peak prices and good weather.

7. Pulau Dayang, Malaysia

Jetty at Pulau Dayang, Johor
Image credit: [email protected]

There are more than 10 small islands off the coast of Mersing in Johor, Malaysia. Its proximity to Singapore means that you can actually just take a road trip here instead of needing to fly. Pulau Dayang is probably one of the untouched islands near Mersing that still has that old world charm. Apart from some water sports and sunbathing on its spotless beaches, Pulau Dayang is also a good spot for stargazing.

  • Getting there: Take a four-hour bus or car ride to the Mersing Jetty from Singapore, and you’ll find several boats available to Pulau Dayang
  • Travel Costs: SGD 60 for a round trip bus ride to Mersing Jetty. (check Easybook for buses schedules and Cashback up to 7.00%)
  • Best time to visit: The island is closed to visitors from November to March, which is the monsoon season. Anytime before or after this is great.

So many islands, so little time!

Ready for your next island getaway in Southeast Asia? Let us know which one are you doing to visit in the comments. And, don’t forget to compare prices on flights and accommodations while planning your trip. Keep your costs low by booking on online travel sites like Booking.comExpedia and Agoda.

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