How to Go to Pulau Tioman Island from Singapore to Mersing
1. By Car from Singapore to Mersing
2. By Bus from Singapore to Mersing
3. By Ferry from Mersing to Tioman Island
4. Lunch at Mersing Food Centre
5. Inside the Ferry to Tioman Island
6. Arrival in Tioman Kampung Tekek Jetty
7. By Ferry from Pulau Tioman to Mersing
⦿ Shuttle Bus Back to Kampung Tekek Ferry Terminal
⦿ Where is My Coach Back to Singapore?
Just two weeks later after spending a weekend in Pulai Springs Resort (Johor Bahru, Malaysia) in my last blog with my friends, I went to Pulau Tioman (also known as Tioman Island) in Pahang, the largest island situated in the South China Sea. I had been to nearly all the islands in the South China Sea region when I went fishing with my friends ten years ago.
The islands around the South China Sea are renowned for its diving spots and fishing. The area experiences the seasonal monsoon from November to March and with limited water sports during this period. Please check the schedules and activities if you are planning to go during the monsoon period as the water is very choppy.
A word of caution: It is dangerous to take a ferry or do water sports during monsoon season as the waves can go up very high and the water is very choppy. Many of my friends vomited non-stop due to severe seasick. The boat could capsize and therefore, please think twice before taking the risk to go during this period.
I remember that I stayed in a budget and rundown resort when I went fishing in Tioman Island. I did not know the name of the resort. I did not know the name of the resort. We stayed there for a night or two just to shower. Most time, we stayed onboard the fishing boat. We used taxi boats to ferry us to the centre of Tioman so we could see more people and feel its vibrancy.
Berjaya Air, the only commercial flight carrier serving Pulau Tioman had ceased its operation in March 2014. One can reach Pulau Tioman by chartering a private plane.
The distance from Singapore to Mersing takes approximately 3 to 4 hours, 150 km of driving. One can park at Mersing Harbour Centre for RM15 per day. I have heard stories about people losing their car, tyres, theft, vehicle damage while parking overnight at the old car park of Mersing Jetty, especially vehicles and accessories that were perceived to have a higher value by the thieves. Park at your risk.
You can also book a private charter from Johor at your designated pick up location and have him send you to Mersing. Alternatively, for people arriving at Senai Airport in Johor, you can also book a private car to bring you to Mersing.
Booking a coach ticket online from Singapore to Mersing from 4 departure points – Golden Mile, Singapore Flyer, The Plaza and Boon Lay. The price ranges from SGD 21 to 35 (RM 67 to 113) for a single trip and available in different timings.
*Bear in mind that it takes 5 hours from Singapore to Mersing by bus. There are approximately three ferries per day departing from Mersing Jetty to Pulau Tioman with no fixed timing. Read more on the ferry from Mersing Jetty to Tioman Island at the next section below.
Assuming you choose to take the earliest coach departing at 6.30 am from Golden Mile Complex shown from the image above, it will first go to Singapore Flyer, then to Boon Lay pick-up point. It will arrive at Mersing between 11.00 am to 12 pm.
I took the earliest coach from Boon Lay pick up point and arrived at Mersing Jetty around 11 plus (5.5 hrs bus trip). The Singapore to Mersing coach did not stop during the journey for the passengers to take their breakfast, which was unusual. Therefore, eat some food before the trip or consume it on the bus.
It is not possible to select the 10.30 am Mersing Ferry departure time unless you plan to take the night coach from Singapore at 10 pm and stay for a night in a cheap hostel that will cost you RM $ 10 to 20 per person. (It is not difficult to find lodging there but book in advance because you will arrive in the middle of the night).
Many years ago, I was afraid not to get any ferry tickets in Mersing Ferry Terminal. Hence, I called up the only ferry company to Tioman, Bluewater Express (+607 – 799 4811 / 799 8518) to ask about the ferry schedules before booking my coach tickets. They gave me three ferry timing from Mersing to Tioman (10.30 am, 12.30 pm and 3.30 pm) and advised me to book the 12.30 pm slot based on the earliest departure time from Singapore.
Each ferry ticket from Mersing to Pulau Tioman cost RM70 then. The trip took about 1.5 to 2 hours to your departing ferry destination, depending on the hotel that you stayed as there were many ferry stops in Tioman island. Upon arrival, I went straight to the Bluewater Express Counter in Mersing Ferry Terminal. It was very packed, messy, noisy and disorganised at the ticket counters. The feeling arising from the crowd and making sure that no one cut into my queue was unpleasant.
Nowadays, it is so easy to book the ferry ticket online. As mentioned above, there are at least 3 ferry schedules per day. If you take the first bus from Singapore to Mersing, you should arrive between 11 am to 12 pm. You can catch a ferry in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the timing is never fixed daily and you can get a ferry as late as 3:00 pm in the afternoon. The adult ferry ticket to Tioman costs RM 40.25 or SGD 14.26.
Make sure you select “Mersing Jetty” as your departure point. There are 5 ferry stops in Tioman Island – Kg Air Batang, Kg Genting, Kg Paya, Kg Salang and Tekek Ferry Terminal. You will book the one nearest to your hotel/resort. If you have not decided on your hotel yet, you can select “Pahang” and look at all the timing. Anyway, all the ferry terminals have the same departure time and the same cost. So, get your ticket online here.
With effect from January 2017 and remain unchanged till 2020, all visitors to Tioman Island has to pay a Tioman Marine Park Fee, which is a conservation fee that goes to a trust fund for managing and maintaining the park. Non-Malaysians will have to pay RM30 for adults and RM15 for both senior citizens and children. The fees for Malaysians remain the same at RM5 for adults and RM2 for children. This is a fee that is compulsory to pay. If you do not pay it, you will be rejected of boarding.
There is another fee which is supposedly mandatory to pay. I have not come across it in the past and wasn’t sure if it is really compulsory to pay. The fees for adults is RM30 and RM10 for children. Locals will pay RM5 and RM3 respectively. Anyway, make sure you have brought enough cash (ringgits) to pay both types of charges which are not included in your ferry ticket. Look for the counters inside Mersing Harbour Centre. If you forget to pay, you will be rejected during the ferry boarding after queuing for so long.
If you have time to get some food, there is a food centre beside the Mersing jetty called “Plaza D’Jeti” to get lunch. If you follow the map below and scroll left further down the road, you can see the hawker centre entrance. In the middle of the building are some travel agencies, clothing shops and toilet. Be careful of what you order at the hawker stall as some do not come with any menu or price tags.
That is to say that the seller can quote you any price they want and you may be overcharged. I had chosen a large sotong (aka squid), prawns and egg from one stall there – Restoran Sutera Emas. The plate of food cost me MYR 40+, which I did not expect! However, the seafood was very delicious and fresh, especially the chilli, which somewhat compensated for the expensive food and left me with a little regret.
The queue was long but orderly. The ferry tickets had seat number allocated. We were assigned to sit on the top deck, which had fewer seats compared to the lower one. When we found one of our places occupied by someone else, we sat at other seat numbers as we did not want to make a fuss about it and asked the person to shift away. Shortly, a couple approached us telling that we had taken up one of their seats.
We told them nicely that someone else had also taken our place, hinting that they should just find another available seat on the top deck. The man was unhappy upon hearing our explanation and exclaimed that he didn’t care. Well, we didn’t care either since that was the result of poor management. The woman walked down the lower deck to get another seat while the man sat in one corner sulking.
Soon, another family of three came and faced the same problem because the man had sat in their place. However, they did not kick up a fuss and found two seats for themselves while the husband sat on a container top as there was no more seat left. From this incident, we could see that passengers did not bother to respect the seat number, and the ferry staff might even count wrongly and issue duplicate seat numbers.
Overall, it was very disorganised on board the ferry as everyone was moving around trying to locate their seat numbers. It came as no surprise that some people would sit anywhere they wanted in this state when the direction was not clear. The whole process of boarding the ferry can be quite a nightmare watching such an arrangement from the start.
Whenever the ferryboat arrived at each stop on Tioman Island, the staffs would announce the name of the terminal for the passengers to alight correctly. The ferry terminal of our hotel, Berjaya Tioman Resort was in the middle of the island, so it took some time to reach. The correct ferry stop to alight for Berjaya Tioman Resort is Kampung Tekek.
Upon crossing the road, there would be a bus shelter right in front of a food centre where the shuttle bus from Berjaya Tioman Resort came and picked us up at the assembly point. There were also people distributing flyers for the various activities and things to do in Pulau Tioman such as diving, island hopping, and visits to nearby islands for snorkelling.
Going back from Tioman Island to Mersing to take a coach was another tricky decision. You have to know the ferry departure time from Pulau Tioman to decide the coach ticket timing back to Singapore. At that time, I had to call Bluewater Express first as their ferry schedules were never fixed. Therefore, the ideal way was to book your bus and ferry ticket online so you can coordinate the two modes of transport together.
The shuttle bus left from Berjaya Tioman Resort to Kampung Tekek Ferry Terminal at 10 am. It was a long queue at the ferry terminal when we were collecting the boarding pass. During passenger boarding, the passengers were more orderly this time as compared to the boarding situation at the Mersing Jetty. There was nothing to see or do at this place – no shop and no eatery. It was plain boring waiting for the time to pass.
It was tough to guess the parking position of the coach in Mersing going back to Singapore as there was no signboard indication. The reservation slip did not state the Mersing pickup point too. Moreover, the area around Mersing Jetty was quite big. The coach could park anywhere. We walked around hunting for the travel bus and asked many people and travel agencies, who did not know either where the travel buses would park.
It was a very scorching and humid afternoon in Malaysia, as always. The thought of walking back again with luggage on hand irked me. A man told us confidently that he knew where the bus we were searching for was parked and offered a taxi ride for RM10. We rejected him politely because we had spent all our money (ringgits) away. The friendliness diminished on his face like lightning.
So, one has to be careful being approached by overly warm and helpful people there as their intention was to find ways for you to pay for their assistance. Finally, after asking a dozen people, some young chaps pointed to us the direction of the coach on the photo below. The location was opposite the Mersing Harbour Centre.
We boarded the bus and saw the same friendly Malay driver who drove us to Mersing on the first day. We requested to alight in Boon Lay. He said he would stop at Golden Mile Complex first, before proceeding to Boon Lay. Eventually, we decided to alight at Golden Mile Complex to have Thai dinner first before taking a cab back home. As we had left a few dollars of Malaysian Ringgits with us, we gave the leftover to him as tips.
Booking coach ticket online to Tioman Island was a breeze. The challenge was buying a ferry ticket and it has to be purchased in Mersing Ferry Terminal unless you want to spend more money buying Tioman ferry tickets online which might not be too secure either.
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