Pulau Sibu is an easy getaway to relax on a beach and spend some good time with family or friends. It’s not the best island in terms of beach, snorkeling, or diving but it’s a good destination for a relaxing weekend and it’s close to Singapore with easy access, making it a perfect destination for a 2 day weekend. You need to book your accommodation before you go.

How accessible is it from Singapore?

Singapore to Sibu island journey details short

Pulau Sibu is closer than Pulau Rawa, Pulau Besar, Batu Batu and Pulau Tioman. It’s the closest to Singapore and you will save 30 minutes getting there compare to most of the other islands (and more than 3 hours compared to Tioman). It’s one of the closest options for a getaway from Singapore over a 2 day weekend and a good alternative to Bintan and Batam since you will feel more “disconnected” in Pulau Sibu.

The total door to door journey from (your home/office in) Singapore to your resort on Sibu will take you 3 hours and 50 minutes (if the traffic at the border is reasonable). This includes your taxi or van to Tanjong Leman and your boat transfer to your resort on the island.

How much is this going to cost us?

Transportation wise, this trip will cost you about SGD 380 return for 2. This estimate includes the car and boat transfers. It will be cheaper if you share the taxi or van with other people.
Accommodation wise, there is a limited number of resorts on Sibu but you can find cheap bungalows or nicer resorts. It may feel a bit pricey for the value but hey, you pay for the proximity with Singapore.

What about the kids?

The destination is kid and baby friendly. The only concern would be the transfer. The road is decent but the boat ride can be a bit stressful if the sea is rough. It’s only 20 minutes but on a small boat. It’s not a problem if the conditions are good.

Of course, a lot of activities such as snorkeling and diving are not suitable for babies and small children. However, you can find alternative activities for them as well. Pick your resort accordingly.

How remote and risky is it?

The island is small but safe and there are a few resorts so finding assistance should be OK if anything happens. There is no doctor or clinic on the island but you can find some in Mersing.

When should we go?

The best period to visit Pulau Sibu and avoid the rain season are the months of March, April, May, June, July, August and September. Refer to the chart in the sidebar for details about the monthly average rain volumes and rainy days..

Alternatives to Batu Batu

There are a few islands off Mersing, take a look at this comparison where we compare 5 islands (Batu Batu, Pulau Besar, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Sibu and Pulau Tioman) to pick the one that’s right for you. Click the picture below to discover this comprehensive review in which we compare accessibility, accommodation, beach, snorkeling, diving, etc

Tripinasia - Destination battle - Islands in Johor, Malaysia

Connections from Pulau Sibu

Most people would go to Sibu for the weekend from Singapore. However, if you want to see more beaches, you can combine this trip with a trip to another island around Mersing. Pulau Rawa, Pulau Besar or Batu Batu and Pulau Tioman are good alternatives.

Another classic for people who want to combine beach and jungle is to go visit Endau Rompin National Park.
Visiting Kuala Lumpur can also be an option if you need to transit there.

Getting to Pulau Sibu from Singapore

To reach Sibu island you first need to get to Tanjong Leman , then your resort will arrange a boat transfer to the island (it is usually included in the accommodation rates). The ride lasts approximately 30 min. The departure time depends on the tides, but you can ask your resort to arrange your boat pick up to match your arrival time, including late in the evening when it’s dark (unlike some of the other islands). Some resorts arrange boats until 11.30PM. This makes Sibu the most accessible island (if you use a private car). At the jetty you will find the resorts booths as well as a couple of basic local food stalls. There is also a KFC overseeing the harbor (yep, out of nowhere!)

You have a few options to go from Singapore to Tanjong Leman (the jetty to go to Sibu island). The Jetty is not at Mersing, it’s before Mersing when you come from Singapore so the total journey will be shorter (30 minutes less) than to go to islands accessible from Mersing.

Driving your own car (or rent one) takes about 2.5 hours if there is no massive traffic at the border. If  you don’t have a car, you can rent one from SGD300 for 48h rental (check Avis Singapore). You can park your car at Tanjong Leman (open air carpark with limited (if any) surveillance). The GPS coordinates of the Jetty are: 2.151704, 104.005411 

Arranging a car with a driver from Singapore (passenger car, minivan, etc) takes about 3 hours if there is no traffic at the border and costs approximately SGD 350 per car for a return trip up to 4 pax and SGD 450 per mini van for a 10 seaters. You can book via Discovery Tour agency: +65 6733 4333 / Email : sales@discoverytours.com.sg

Travelling in a van is actually the fastest way to cross the border since there is a lane for these vehicles. You will usually cross much faster than in a private car or taxi.

Alternatively, most resorts on Sibu will offer to arrange transfers from and back to Singapore with a van. You can ask them a quote for the transfer. 

Taking a bus from Singapore to Johor Bahru and then a taxi from Johor Bahru to Tanjong Leman.

To reach Johor Bahru, you can take the Singapore-Johor Express bus or the Causeway Link Express bus, departure from Bugis / Beach Road and arrival to Larkin Bus Terminal in Johor Barhu. A one-way ticket costs SGD 2.5. It runs from 6:30 AM to 11:00 PM at 15 minute intervals. If you have large luggage with you, you will have to pay for a second ticket for your bag. You’ll have to get off the bus at the immigration checkpoint, take all your belongings, and keep your tickets.

The best is then to get a taxis from Larkin Bus terminal. It will cost approximately MYR 100  and will take 2.5 hours. Taxis are available at the Larkin Bus Terminal.

There is no bus from Larkin to Tanjong Leman but you could take a bus from Larkin to Kota Tinggi and a taxi from there. The bus costs RM5 but can take 1 to 2 hours depending on how many stops it makes. The taxi from Kota Tinggi to Tanjong Leman costs about RM80 and will take an hour. 

Where to stay in Pulau Sibu

Most resorts are open from March to September. Book your stay at one of the few pensions on Sibu Island and ask them to pick you up at the jetty. It ranges from cheap Bungalows with limited comfort to more comfortable (and expensive options). In all cases, they charge relatively high prices for the quality. You can tell that almost all visitors are from Singapore and the prices are pretty aligned to Singapore. Resorts on Sibu usually propose all-inclusive packages with meals. Drinks can be purchased as extras.

If you are looking for something comfortable try the higher end Sari Pacifica (we stayed there in April 2016 and found it OK but the food was really disappointing and the resort overall fell under maintained despite the large staff). Good alternatives are the Rimba Resort (we stayed there in 2011) and its nice bungalows and chilled out atmosphere or the Sea Gypsy (popular with families but also playing Bob Marley). All offer dive centers and can arrange snorkeling  and diving expeditions. Sari Pacificia and Sea Gypsy have a kids playground and games. Sibu is a popular destination for Singaporeans, Malaysians and expats and resorts are often fully booked. Remember to book early.

or, if you prefer, use

To see & to do in Pulau Sibu

Enjoy the beach

Well, the beach is the main reason you are going there, isn’t it? Read a good book, look at the waves for hours or rent a canoe. Play games with your friends or plan your next getaway!

Snorkel

It’s too hot to stay on the beach? Put your snorkeling gear on and run into the sea. Don’t expect amazing corals, crazy sea life or crystal clear water but give it a try, you’ll see nice things.

Walk around the island

You can walk around the island following a path that will take you from one resort to the next. Some portions of the path are on the beach, some are in the jungle. Some parts can be a bit difficult, especially slippery in case of rain. If you want, you can walk all the way to the little village. Honestly, the village itself is not beautiful however it is a nice objective for a walk.

More info to prepare your trip

Wifi

Wifi is available at a few locations but don’t count on it if you have some really important things to do.

Money

There is no ATM on the island so you need to bring enough cash to pay for your accommodation and drinks. ATMs are available on the mainland at Kota Tinggi or in Johor Bahru. Credit cards are accepted at most resorts. Some resorts also accept Singapore dollars. Check before you go.

What to pack for Pulau Sibu

Your main bag

That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.

  • Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
  • Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
  • Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which  you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
  • Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
  • Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
  • Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
  • Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
  • Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
  • Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
  • Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
  • Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
  • Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
  • Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
  • Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.

Your small bag

That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.

  • Your passportcashcredit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag  in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
  • Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
  • Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
  • Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
  • Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
  • Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit  and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
  • Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
  • Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
  • Camera and its protection.

Beach pack

Remember that this one comes on top of the Regular pack (above)

  • Beach towel or equivalent (pareos / sarongs are lighter)
  • Snorkeling equipment: mask, scuba, (fins?)
  • Shoes you can wear on the beach or in the water (to protect your feet from being cut by corals)
  • Dry bag if you plan to go on a boat and want to keep your stuff dry.

Well, you will probably adjust your bag after a few trips. Remove the stuff that you have not used and add the one that you missed. Post a comment to share your tips!

Happy packing (it’s the worse part of the trip but it’s worth it…) and travelling!

Malaysia

Malaysia

  • Language: Bahasa Malaysia
  • Time zone:   Kuala Lumpur GMT +8 hours, no time difference between Malaysia and Singapore
  • Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
  • Phone: + 60
  • Electricity: 220V 50 Hz

Immigration and airport taxes on arrival

A lot of nationalities are exempt of visa to enter Malaysia. You can check on the Malaysia Immigration website. If you are arriving by:

  • By air: On busy weekends, expect to wait for quite a while at the immigration counter
  • By land: If you are driving from Singapore remember to have your fuel tank full to 3/4 when crossing the border. Buy a Touch & Go card (to pay for taxes, tolls and fees) and remember to take it with you when going to Malaysia. More details on the card on the Touch and Go website.

National Public Holidays in Malaysia

2015

Day Date Holiday Comments
Wednesday January 01 New Years Day All regions except Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, Terengganu
Tuesday January 14 Mawlid Birthday of Prophet Muhammad
Tuesday January 14 Birthday of The Sultan of Negeri Sembilan Negeri Sembilan only. Always celebrated on 14 January
Friday January 17 Thaipusam Hindu festival. Kedah, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang, Selangor only
Sunday January 19 Sultan of Kedahs Birthday Kedah only. Always celebrated on 19 January
Friday January 31 Chinese New Year 1st day of 1st lunar month
Saturday February 01 Chinese New Year 2nd day of 1st lunar month
Monday February 03 Federal Territory Day (observed) Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, Putrajaya only. Anniversary of the formation of the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory in 1974
Tuesday March 04 Anniversary of Installation of the Sultan of Terengganu Terengganu only. Always celebrated on 4 March
Tuesday April 15 Declaration of Malacca as a Historical City Malacca only. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 7 July 2008
Friday April 18 Good Friday Friday before Easter Sunday. Sabah, Sarawak only
Saturday April 26 Birthday of the Sultan of Terengganu Terengganu only. Always celebrated on 26 April
Thursday May 01 Labour Day International Workers Day
Wednesday May 07 The Sultan of Pahang Hol Pahang only. Marks the death of a state Sultan
Sunday May 11 Mothers Day 2nd Sunday in May. Not a public holiday.
Tuesday May 13 Wesak Day Birth of Buddha. Observed on the day of the full moon in May
Saturday May 17 Birthday of the Raja of Perlis Perlis only. Always celebrated on 17 May
Tuesday May 27 Isra and Miraj Kedah, Perlis and Negeri Sembilan only
Thursday May 29 Public Holiday Perak only. Mark the passing of the Sultan of Perak
Friday May 30 Harvest Festival Sabah and Labuan only
Saturday May 31 Harvest Festival Sabah and Labuan only
Sunday June 01 Harvest Festival Sarawak only
Monday June 02 Harvest Festival Sarawak only
Saturday June 07 Birthday of SPB Yang di Pertuan Agong Kings Birthday. 1st Saturday in June
Sunday June 29 Beginning of Ramadan Johor, Kedah and Johor, Kedah, Malacca only
Monday July 07 Georgetown Heritage Day Penang only. Georgetown was given Unesco World Heritage Site status in 2009
Saturday July 12 Birthday of the Governor of Penang Penang only. 2nd Saturday in July
Tuesday July 15 Nuzul Quran All regions except Johor, Kedah, Malacca, Sabah, Sarawak
Monday July 28 Hari Raya Aidilfitri Eid Al-Fitr
Tuesday July 29 Hari Raya Puasa Holiday Second day of holiday for Eid Al-Fitr
Sunday August 31 National Day Independence Day
Saturday September 13 Birthday of the Governor of Sarawak Sarawak only
Tuesday September 16 Malaysia Day Became a Federal Holiday in 2010
Thursday September 25 State Holiday Kelantan only. Allow voting in by-election
Saturday October 04 Birthday of the Governor of Sabah Sabah only. 1st Saturday in October
Sunday October 05 Hari Raya Haji Festival of Sacrifice
Monday October 06 Hari Raya Haji Holiday Holiday in lieu. Second day of Festival of Sacrifice
Friday October 10 Malacca Governors Birthday Malacca only.
Wednesday October 22 Diwali The festival of lights. Except Labuan, Sarawak
Friday October 24 Birthday of The Sultan of Pahang Pahang only. Always celebrated on 24 October
Saturday October 25 Awal Muharram Islamic New Year
Sunday October 26 Awal Muharram (in lieu) Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu only.
Monday November 03 Public Holiday Pahang only. Marks football team winning the Malaysia Cup final
Tuesday November 11 Birthday of the Sultan of Kelantan Kelantan only. Always celebrated on 11 November
Wednesday November 12 Birthday of the Sultan of Kelantan Kelantan only. Always celebrated on 11 November
Saturday November 22 Birthday of the Sultan of Johor Johor only. Always celebrated on 22 November
Thursday November 27 Birthday of the Sultan of Perak Perak only. Always celebrated on 27 November
Saturday November 29 The Sultan of Johor Hol Johor only. Marks the death of a state Sultan
Thursday December 11 Birthday of The Sultan of Selangor Selangor only. Always celebrated on 11 December
Thursday December 25 Christmas Holiday Internationally observed Christian holiday

* check the exact date as it varies from one year to another. When a public holidays falls on a Sunday, the following day will be Public Holiday. There might be some special public holidays in some states. Please refer to this website.