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Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy. Soak up the sun on a stretch of fine white sand, or commune with the tropical creatures as you dive along coral ridges or the colorful wreck of a WWII war ship. On shore, the lush jungle shelters stone temples and mischievous monkeys. The “artistic capital” of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, take a batik or silver-smithing workshop, or invigorate your mind and body in a yoga class.
Home to Bali International Airport, Denpasar is usually overlooked by visitors flocking to Bali’s beaches. For those who stick around, this culture-rich city serves up ornate temples and some of the island's most authentic Balinese food.
The postcard-perfect beaches of Sanur are truly idyllic, the realization of all those daydreams about Bali beach vacations. More laid-back than neighboring vacation destinations, Sanur is the type of place where hip Europeans who have outgrown the party scene come to recharge. Every year, the endless blue skies are peppered with flecks of vibrant color during the International Kite Festival.
Seminyak boasts some of the most glorious beaches in Bali. Be sure to catch the legendary sunsets and enjoy the tranquil beauty, and marvel at Balinese ceremonies on the beach, complete with gamelan players and offerings to the gods. Of course, don’t let the smooth sands and intricate cultural experiences distract you from spas and shopping! Sophisticated spas and high-end boutiques will entice you away from the waterfront—for a short time, anyway.
Low-key Legian is the picture of relaxation. Just about the only action the beach gets is from the evening fire spinners, whose quick hands pass orange balls of light through the sky. Surfers, body boarders and sunbathers share the calm sands happily. There are plenty of markets, cafes and restaurants to satisfy your cravings for merchandise and meals. If you itch to mingle with locals, you might be able to join in the game of football that happens nightly on Blue Ocean Beach.
Nusa Dua is a hotbed of luxurious accommodations, golf resorts, fine dining and R&R. Surfing and diving are popular activities for more active visitors to this beach destination. Trek up the many steps to Mother Temple Besakih and combine sight-seeing with muscle toning. An array of spas, galleries and boutiques await those who prefer less exertion. Local Barong performances can be admired at Batubulan.
Forested hills, romantic white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters greet visitors to tropical Palau Langkawi, the largest of the 99 islands in Langkawi archipelago. Known mysteriously as "Legendary Island" because of myths associated with its ancient geological formations, it drifts serenely alongside Malaysia in the azure Andaman Sea. Sample local cuisine at the night markets, hike to dramatic waterfalls or dive into an underwater marine park to take a guided glimpse at life beneath the sea.
Soak up the sun and some Vietnamese culture on Phu Quoc Island, where white sands and tropical waters entice beachgoers from all over the globe. Snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing are the most popular water sports here, though jet-skiing, wind sailing and squid fishing—yes, squid fishing—are also at your holiday-making fingertips. Check out the early-morning Duong Dong Market for an authentic local experience.
Phuket offers a rainbow spectrum of spectacular holiday sights from blue lagoons and pink sunsets to orange-robed monks. Three wheeled-Tuk Tuks, taxis, buses and long tailed boats transport visitors between these marvels. Phuket's south coast offers its most popular beaches. The north is more tranquil. Koh Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay and Patong Beach are popular spots. Diving, snorkeling, wind surfing and sailing are just a few active options. Inland, forested hills, mountains and cliffs wait to be explored.
You’re on a gorgeous island off the coast of Thailand—it doesn’t get much better than this. Spend the day on a lively, popular beach, or explore the Ang Thong National Marine Park’s secluded lagoons. Looking for romance? Choose a luxurious five-star resort, a simple, secluded bungalow or pretty much anything in between.