West Bloomfield Township, Michigan
I've recently had two awesome trips. The first was in Thailand where we visited Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Railay with a quick trip to Siem Reap and Ankor Wat. We loved the Thai islands with the beautiful beaches and giant hongs sticking out of the water. The second trip was to Bali where we visited Seminyak, Uluwatu and Ubud. We loved all of these places for their culture and beauty. We were NOT backpackers. We stayed at reasonable hotels and some Starwoods hotels. (Avg Price $80-$200 per night).
WHERE CAN WE GO NEXT?
Now we are looking for a new place to visit that offers beautiful beaches, culture as well as some other types of nature. We don't want it to cost a fortune, but we also don't want it to feel like it is just for backpackers. We want to stay in comfortable places. We are considering Sri Lanka, Philippines, Burma, Vietnam but can't decide between these. Also would consider Palau, Fiji (been before), or possibly somewhere in South America (never been).
Also we are going to be travelling in December / January so we want the weather to be nice.
Please share some ideas and offer insights if you have been to some of the places we have been.
I have been to all places you mentioned and I must say the Philippines were my definite favorite! Even though it is commercialized, it is still less crowded and touristy than Bali and Thailand. We were there around 5 years ago, so I don't know how it is now, but back then it was a lot less touristy than the other places you mention. And maybe the difference is also that in Boracay there are mostly of Asian tourists, maybe that is why it didn't feel to touristy :-). We went there in June though, so maybe it is different in December/January.
The Philippines has a lot more great places to offer! Coron Island and the island of Palawan, for example El Nido are BEAUTIFUL! You will feel like you are in a movie set. It is a bit like Koh Phi Phi, but then twice as breathtaking and 90% less tourists.
If you are divers or snorkelers you can also try the tiny island of Malapascua Island. We loved it and it is beautiful, but there is not much to do if you are not in to diving. There aren't even roads or anything, but I had the best meal EVER there in a tiny hut in the middle of the island.
What you could also consider as a destination is Borneo. We have been to the Malaysian part (Sabah). Especially Mabul Island, Kapalai Island and Sipadan. Most beautiful destination I have ever been to. Really quiet, never saw an ocean that blue. There are a few nice resorts at those places I mentioned. I know there are a lot more pretty resorts on little islets along the coast. Just google Borneo Resort and you will find them. This is different though than the places you have been before (a lot less busy), but it is amazing. You could also do a jungle trip and see Orang Utangs in the wild and if you are up for it climb the second highest mountain of South East Asia: Mount Kinabalu.
If you need any more recommendations, please let me know!
Mentioned in this answer:
Boracay has a beautiful long white sand beach and amazing turquoise water. But it's definitely pricier than other beaches in the Philippines and very touristy (think fire jugglers, wall-to-wall bars and restaurants). However, given your previous destinations, I'm guessing you'll enjoy it!
Tip: Try to get a morning flight to Boracay. Planes are often delayed in the Philippines, and the runway at Caticlan airport is too short to land safely after dark. So, if your plane is too late to land in daylight, you'll end up at the other airport (Kalibo), a whole 2 hours drive away! (It happened to me.)
There are still parts in Boracay Island that are still worth going to. But, it has just been too commercialized over the years. You may want to go for 3 days or so but If you're more into the peace and quiet, I suggest going to Coron, Palawan or Pearl Farm.
Hope this helps!
Mentioned in this answer:
Boracay Island is awesome, for several reasons. As mentioned, there is a row of restaurants and nightlife steps from the beach. In my opinion, a very unique place where you can swim in the beautiful waters, then go dancing in your sandals not even 5 minutes later (if you're into that). Plus, street food is the bomb! Hope you have a great time. I will travel to Chiang Mai this year and wanted some of your feedback. Thanks!
I'm Thai who visited Bali last April.
In my opinion Boracay is interesting, Filipino sea is awesome and less crowded than in Thailand and Bali.
Mentioned in this answer:
If you love beaches, make your way to Boracay as there are so many beautiful beaches here. Phu Quoc in Viet Nam is also a great place for beach lovers also. There are a bunch of resorts and hotels in these two plaes.
To me, I prefer Viet Nam as the culture here is unique, I especially fall in love with Hoi An (an ancient town of Viet Nam). It's soooo beautiful. When you are in Hoi An, Royal hotel is a good choice for a comfortable stay.
You can find some of these itineraries helpful for your trip to Boracay and Hoi An, also Phu Quoc.
Enjoy your holiday!