The Top 10 Islands in Asia
This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.
Anyone who has journeyed to Asia’s islands from the U.S. will attest that it’s worth expending the time and effort to bask in those extraordinary vistas and idyllic waters. Even travelers deeply familiar with the region say that there are always new discoveries to be made, even on well-known islands. This year’s list of the best islands in Asia, as voted by T+L readers, features six repeat favorites from last year and one spot new to the list, Langkawi, which also made the 2020 list of the best islands in the world.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.
Related: The World's Best Awards 2020
Readers’ frequent favorites in Thailand, Koh Samui (No. 7) and Koh Lanta (No. 3), are joined this year by Phuket (No. 8), a tropical destination that appeals both to frugal travelers — ultra-affordable hotels and restaurants abound — as well as to those seeking the indulgence of top-tier resorts like Amanpuri, a decadent, 40-villa Aman resort that occupies a private peninsula.
An archipelago comprising around 100 islands in the Andaman Sea, Langkawi is known for its white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and verdant rainforests. Travelers looking to splurge gravitate toward the Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi, which has 29 elegant villas — each with a private pool — and 90 suites nestled in the rain forest and along the beach.
But the island readers loved most of all is Palawan, in the Philippines, which last earned the top spot in 2017. Read on for a full list of the best islands in Asia.
1. Palawan, Philippines
Palawan, the main island of an eponymous collection of nearly 1,800 islands between the South China and Sulu seas, is back in the top spot after two years, when it came in at Nos. 2 and 5, respectively. Also voted one of the world’s best islands, Palawan is beloved for its national parks, which protect both the mountainous island and the emerald-green waters surrounding it. The varied landscape makes Palawan a popular destination with hikers and divers alike, while beach enthusiasts will be content simply staring out at the vast horizon. As one T+L reader attested, “It offers the most beautiful beaches, resorts, and scenery anywhere,” while another added, “Really worth the trip!”
2. Sri Lanka
3. Koh Lanta, Thailand
4. Langkawi, Malaysia
5. Boracay, Philippines
6. Bali, Indonesia
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 88.14
7. Koh Samui, Thailand
8. Phuket, Thailand
10. Lombok, Indonesia
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.