The Top 10 Islands in Asia in 2017

Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines, Southeast Asia
Photo: Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery

Should you hesitate for a moment when it comes to booking a flight that might take a day (and possibly a night) of your life, consider this: the No. 1 island in Asia is also the No. 1 island in the world this year. So this is as fine time as any to download a few seasons of shows you’ve been wanting to binge-watch and high-tail it to Palawan, an island province in the Philippines. “Point and shoot anywhere, and you’ve got the best sunsets and vistas,” said one reader. Added another, “Palawan is a beautiful paradise with its limestone islands, clear waters for snorkeling, coral reefs, and variety of underwater life. There is so much to see.” And while you’re there, considering calling in sick to work for a couple of weeks and squeezing in a visit to Boracay, Panglao, Cebu, and Luzon, since these Philippine islands — renowned for their pristine white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and prolific marine life — also made the top 10. Luzon also happens to be home to Manila, the nation’s capital, where days can be spent recovering from jet lag wandering the Spanish-colonial monuments and museums. 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. Two iconic destinations in Thailand — Koh Samui and the island that quite possibly put tourism to the country on the map, Phuket — also ranked high on the list. They’re a quick flight from bustling Bangkok, and have luxurious resorts that share the beach with shacks offering feasts of grilled fish and ice-cold beers. Other islands worth flying for include the cultural mecca that is Bali and the coral atolls that make up the Maldives; both are evergreens on this list, and destinations that many book for honeymoons even before making a deposit on a wedding venue. “Absolutely worth the long trip,” wrote in one reader of the Maldives. “Nowhere else in the world is the same.”

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10. Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui Thailand
Getty Images

Score: 82.43

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9. Sri Lanka

Pinnawala elephant orphanage Sri Lanka
Getty Images

Score: 82.57

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8. Luzon, Philippines

Philippines, Luzon Island
Getty Images/AWL Images RM

Score: 83.07

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7. Phuket, Thailand

Kata Noi Beach located on Phuket Island in Thailand
Getty Images

Score: 84.13

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6. Cebu, Philippines

Oslob, Cebu Island, Philippines
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 86.48

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5. Maldives

Aerial view of atolls, Maldives, Indian Ocean, Asia
Sakis Papadopoulos/robertharding/Getty Images

Score: 86.69

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4. Panglao Island, Philippines

Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines, Southeast Asia
Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery

Score: 87.37

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3. Bali, Indonesia

Bali Indonesia rice paddy fields
Getty Images

Score: 87.61

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2. Boracay Island, Philippines

Boracay Island Philippines Asia
© David Kukin

Score: 89.67

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1. Palawan, Philippines

Philippines, Palawan, El Nido Island
Getty Images

Score: 93.15

Palawan is the main island in an eponymous province that includes close to 1800 neighboring outposts, and the jewel in its crown. Famous for its reef life and blindingly beautiful beaches, it is also home to spectacular mountain ranges and limestone cliffs, as well as hiking trails that meander through primeval forests. Many of our readers cited the El Nido Resorts, which sit on the small outlying islands, as some of the best places to stay. One fan wasted no words, calling it, “Nature’s best location,” while another wrote simply: “Paradise.”

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