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Best island in the world

Bali, Indonesia

There's nowhere quite like Bali. It's the kind of place where you'll eat the best fresh fish of your life on the beach with your feet in the sand. You'll watch whole families zoom by on motorbikes, or maybe a monkey will steal your glasses at Uluwatu temple. Despite high—and still growing—tourist numbers, you can still find vestiges of old Bali in small villages surrounded by rice paddies, where you'll hear the twinkling chimes of neighborhood gamelan ensembles rehearsing at all hours of the day and night. Note: Mount Agung, the volcano considered holy by the Balinese, has been even more active than usual for the past year, so double-check the latest seismic and volcanic activity before departing.

Pro tip: Avoid Denpasar, where you fly in, and Kuta, a tourist trap; visit culturally rich Ubud instead, and use it as a jumping off point to explore beyond. Take a day trip to Sidemen, which has all the rice paddies without the selfie-takers, or go even farther, to the village of Munduk in the mountains.

Getting there: Many international airlines fly to Bali from hubs in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Hong Kong.

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4. Palawan, Philippines

A regular on our list of the world's best islands, Palawan is home to the otherworldly Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site worth the trip alone. Many make El Nido and its blue lagoon their base, though, to explore the Bacuit Archipelago.

Pro tip: Puerto Princesa is one of the longest underground rivers in the world, traveling five miles through a subterranean cave system. Guided boat tours take visitors down a portion of the waterway, where karsts—natural rock formations created by dissolving limestone—loom in every direction.

Getting there: From Manila, it’s an hour-and-15-minute flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s main airport. Alternately, ferries travel between Manila and the island several days a week (about 24 hours each way).

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Penang, Malaysia

3. Penang, Malaysia

A former trading hub, Penang has benefited from the influences of a variety of cultures. George Town, the island’s capital, showcases both colonial and Chinese architecture, and rows of Instagram-perfect, pastel-painted shophouses.

Pro tip: Penang is renowned as one of the best cities in the world for street food, and the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre is host to the biggest variety of stalls in George Town.

Getting there: There’s no shortage of flights into the Penang International Airport from cities across Malaysia and the surrounding region. Penang Island is also connected to the mainland by two bridges, making travel by car a viable option.

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Cebu & Visayan Islands

2. Cebu and Visayas Islands, Philippines

Located in the center of the Philippines, Cebu draws nearly 2 million travelers annually for its pristine beaches and diving off the island’s northern coast. Spanish and Roman Cathoic influences permeate Cebu City; Basilica Minore del Santo Niño houses a small statue of Christ that was presented by Ferdinand Magellan.

Pro tip: Kawasan Falls, a swimming hole and series of three waterfalls near Cebu’s southwest coast, is popular with locals and tourists alike. Really popular—avoid visiting on weekends and hike past the first of the falls to find a more peaceful spot.

Getting there: Daily flights are available from Manila into the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and are just 90 minutes, which definitely beats the 22-hour ferry journey.

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1. Boracay, Philippines

This itty-bitty island (just under four square miles) in the Western Philippines is as close to a tropical idyll as you’ll find in Southeast Asia, with gentle coastlines and made-for-Instagram sunsets. Fold in a thriving nightlife scene, and you have one of the top tourist spots in the region. Unfortunately, it's become too touristed—the island closed for "rehabilitation" in 2018 to compensate for overcrowding and unregulated development, reports Traveler's Cynthia Drescher; and while it reopened to visitors last fall, the work is ongoing.

Pro tip: The aptly named White Beach is Boracay’s main draw, with powdery white sand and shallow azure water ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

Getting there: Fly from Manila to Caticlan in Malay; from there, pump boats ferry passengers to White Beach.

Content created and supplied by: Ollorsato (via Opera News )

Bali Balinese Denpasar Mount Agung Uluwatu

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