The Top 10 Islands in Asia in 2020

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

boat in Palawan, Philippines
Christian Aslund/Getty Images

Score: 94.83

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

Galle Lighthouse and coast in Galle, Sri Lanka
Jui-Chi Chan/Getty Images

Score: 90.00

3. Koh Lanta, Thailand

Ko Lanta, Thailand
Rita Zerner/EyeEm/Getty Images

Score: 89.41

4. Langkawi, Malaysia

Cable bridge over the tropical rainforest island landscape in Langkawi, Malaysia.
Getty Images

Score: 88.76

5. Boracay, Philippines

White Beach, Boracay
John W. Banagan/Getty Images

Score: 88.22

6. Bali, Indonesia

Traditional Balinese Tribe Village. Cars and motorbikes drive along the street in Amed, Bali, Indonesia
Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 88.14

7. Koh Samui, Thailand

Thai long tail fishing boats at Koh Samui
Getty Images

Score: 87.56

8. Phuket, Thailand

Tropical beach landscape panorama of Kata and Karon beaches in Phuket, Thailand
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 85.72

9. Maldives

Aerial View of Vacation Island Lankanfushi, North Male Atoll, Indian Ocean, Maldives
Reinhard Dirscherl/Getty Images

Score: 85.11

10. Lombok, Indonesia

View of Lombok with Mount Rinjani in background, Kuta, South Lombok, Indonesia
Dominic Barnardt/Getty Images/Gallo Images

Score: 80.00

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.

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