Tioman is a large island (20km by 10km) with many options in terms of activities and accommodation. On the menu for this weekend: Snorkelingdiving, relaxing on the beach, or why not climbing up the Twin peaks. It’s a popular destination for people in Asia but also for tourists from Europe.

How accessible is it from Singapore?

The island is not that far from Singapore, however getting there is not as easy as it seems. It’s best to go for a minimum of 3 days. However, technically you can go there for a regular 2 day weekend from Singapore.

The total door to door journey from (your home/office in) Singapore to your your resort on Tioman will take you about 6 or 7 hours (depending on how far your resort is from the jetty) if everything goes well (although they are supposed to run on schedules,  ferries between Mersing and Tioman are not very reliable).

Singapore to Tioman  journey details

How much is this going to cost us?

This trip will cost you about SGD 840 return for 2. This estimate includes the car and boat  transfers. Accommodation wise, there is a wide offer on Tioman and (if they are not fully booked) you will be able to find anything from a cheap bungalow to a luxury resort.

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. 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 safe and there are many tourists so finding assistance would not be an issue in case of problem. There is a small clinic on the island.

When should we go?

The best period to visit Pulau Tioman and avoid the rain season are the months of 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 Pulau Tioman

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 Tioman

Tioman is typically a standalone destination from Singapore. However, if you want to see more beaches, you can combine this trip with a trip to another island around Mersing. Pulau Sibu, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Besar or Batu Batu or Pulau Sibu (see the comparison above)
Another classic for people who want to combine beach and jungle is to go visit Endau Rompin National Park.

Kuala Lumpur can also be an option if you need to transit there.

 

Getting to Pulau Tioman from Singapore by road + boat

The total journey takes around 6 hours from Singapore (3 hours on the road, 2,5 hours on the ferry and probably another 30 minutes to reach your resort. This can actually become more if there is heavy traffic at the border checkpoints or if you need to wait for your boat for a while. Check school and public holidays in Singapore and Malaysia and try to avoid this period (or, if you can, go one day before and stay one day longer to avoid traffic).

Step 1. From Singapore to Mersing

You have a few options to go from Singapore to Mersing. From the fastest to the cheapest option.
(click the + expand sign to expand each section)

The most painful part of the trip is to cross the border. You can get an idea of what to expect by checking the traffic webcam on the One Motoring website. Hiring a van with a driver may be the fastest option to cross the border since they have a dedicated lane at the border and go through faster than private cars or taxis.

Driving your own car (or rent one) takes about 2.5 hours if there is no traffic at the border (to be honest, unless you travel in the middle of the night, there is always some traffic at the border so 3h30 is more realistic) . Renting a car will cost you from SGD 300 for 48h rental (check Avis Singapore). You can park your car at Mersing (open air carpark with limited (if any) surveillance, RM 15 per night). The GPS coordinates of the Mersing Jetty are 2.434352, 103.839191 (Jalan Abu Bakar)

Woodlands or Tuas? Which is fastest?
If you drive the car yourself, you will have the option to cross the border at either Woodlands Causeway or Tuas Second Link checkpoint.
We found that, generally speaking, there are less vehicles at the Tuas Second Link checkpoint. However, depending on where you start your trip in Singapore, going through Tuas may add up to 50 km to the total journey. The road between Tuas Second Link and Johor Bahru (where you connect with the traffic going through Woodlands Causeway) can be busy. So, if you travel in the night or outside of peak hours, use Woodlands as it’s shorter. If you plan to be at the border on at 7PM on a long weekend Friday and don’t mind burning additional gas, you may want to give a try to Tuas Second Link (but there is no guarantee) and hope that the waiting time is shorter compared to Woodlands Causeway.

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 approximatively 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.

Compared with private cars, taxis and buses, vans are the fastest way to cross the border since they use a special lane and carry less passengers than buses.

Arranging a specially licensed taxi (regular taxis cannot cross the border) is another option. If you use these taxis you will have to transfer vehicle at the taxi station. 

  • From Singapore to Malaysia:
    – (only specially licensed) Singaporean taxis can go to  Kotaraya taxi stand (near Johor Bahru City Square).
    – Malaysian taxis can take you anywhere in Malaysia but can only be taken from Ban San Street Taxi Kiosk at Rochor Road, in Singapore. This is close to Bugis MRT station. It costs SGD 10 per person or SGD 40 per car.
  • On the way back, from Malaysia to Singapore you can take a taxi at Kotaraya taxi stand (near Johor Bahru City Square). The ride from Kotaraya taxi stand to Ban San Street Taxi stand (Rochor road) cost RM15 per person or RM60 per car.

You can book cross border taxi services with SMRT taxis or call the taxi stations at+65 6296 7054 (Singapore) or +60 7 224-6986 (Johor Bahru).

Take a look at taxisingapore.com for more details and contacts.

If you prefer a transfer from anywhere in Singapore to Mersing (or anywhere in Malaysia) with no change of vehicule, you can book contact limousinecab. The transfer is SGD 300 upwards from Singapore to Mersing (depending on the car).

Taking a direct bus from Singapore to Mersing takes 4 hours or more depending on the traffic at the border and costs approximatively SGD 30 / pax for one way. Several bus companies offer daily coach transfer to Mersing. Most buses leave from the Golden Mile Complex near Lavender MRT. You can try Transnational Express (departure around noon / +65 6294 7034). FiveStar does not operate this service anymore.

Taking a bus from Singapore to Johor Bahru and then a taxi from Johor Bahru to Mersing. This is useful if you cannot catch a direct bus as they leave quite early. This option is suitable if you want to leave right after work on Friday for example.

To reach Johor Barhu, 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, keep your tickets.

Taxis from Larkin Bus terminal to Mersing will cost approximatively MYR 100 SGD 40and will take 2.5 hours. Taxis are available at the Larkin Bus Terminal.

Step 2. Boat transportation from Mersing jetty to Pulau Tioman

To be honest, this part can be a pain. We recommend you book your tickets in advance. You can send an email to this agent:  fei222@yahoo.com. Alternatively, you can book your tickets directly at the boat terminal (but the boat may be full). From Mersing to Tioman, you will have to use the Bluewater ferries. Time schedule varies according to tides and some unpredictable events (and poor management). The transfer can be pretty chaotic on busy days (ask someone who’s been waiting for his boat for 6 hours at the terminal because all boats were full)…  From Mersing to Tioman, the ferries stop at the following points: Genting, Paya, Berjaya Tioman, Tekek, ABC, Salang. But check with the staff before boarding and confirm with the crew once on-board.
2.5 hours and RM 35 per way per pax

Step 3. From wherever you land to your resort

The best is probably to arrange this with your resort. They can arrange to come pick you up with a boat. Some charge a lot of money for the short ride. You can also try to find someone with a boat that will take you there but of course, there is no guarantee you will find someone. The mobile coverage is not so good on the island so tell your resort what ferry you plan to take and ask them to meet you at the closest stop to your resort.

Again, all this considered, although you can go to Tioman for a 2 day weekend, it’s probably a good idea to plan a trip for 3 days or more. 

Where to stay in Pulau Tioman

There are many resorts on Tioman, most of them are located on the West side of the island.  You can pick the one you prefer based on the location and the activities they offer. You can select from a full range of resort, from a peaceful lover retreat in a nice bungalow to a non stop party weekend with friends in cheap bungalows. If you know which places and diving spots you want to see, try to find a resort that is close to that. This will save you some time in transfers once on the island.

If you are looking for a nice hotel take a look at the Tunamaya. A classic for divers is the Berjaya (but recent reviews are not so good). Looking for insane luxury in the jungle? Check out the Japamala. If you are not convinced by this selection, take a look at the other hotels using this search box.

or, if you prefer, use

To see & to do in Pulau Tioman

Snorkeling / Diving

Tioman offers more than 20 diving spots so you will have plenty of options. Most resorts have a diving center or can arrange a diving expedition for you. If you don’t have your PADI yet, Tioman can be a good opportunity to get it (in 4 days). Coral island is reputed to be one of the best sites, it’s also one of the most visited so expect not to be alone underwater. There are dozens of diving centers, do a bit of research before you go, especially if you plan to do a lot of diving. As always, remember that you put your life in the hands of the diving center so double check the quality and safety before you dive.

Enjoy the beach

The good thing about islands is that they offer plenty of beaches. Enjoy the one from your resort or take a walk or a boat to another one.

Walk around

Whether you want to access a remote beach or talk a walk in the jungle, there are many options for you. Take water and biscuits and keep in mind you will probably get lost on the way so plan extra time and don’t start just before the sun goes down…Not sure that Jungle Tioman by night is a great experience. Paths are not all maintained or indicated. You may need to ask your way around (just remember monkeys can’t talk).

More info to prepare your trip

Wifi

If you are a “a good break is a break with no email” person, then you’ll enjoy Tioman. Wifi is not available in a lot of locations. Phone network is also poor on the island. Tell your boss before you go…

Money

Tioman is a duty free island. Alcohol and tobacco are cheaper but pretty much everything else is more expensive than on the mainland because of the transport (and the number of tourists?). Plan to take some cash with you and don’t plan to use ATM or to find a bureau de change on the island. Check with your resort what payment means they accept. Most accept credit cards.

What to pack for Pulau Tioman

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.