How-to's, Malaysia

How to get to Tioman

May 11, 2014

Tioman is a beautiful island in peninsular Malaysia. So beautiful, that getting there just ought to be complicated and long.

I have written about Tioman earlier, I love the island and we’re going there again next weekend. This time to Juara beach which looks stunning and peaceful. Last time we went by car, but now we don’t have that much time to spare, so we’re going the way which many people usually take to get to Tioman. Here’s a how-to.

How to get to Tioman

To get to Tioman island from KL, you have really got 2 options:

– Fly in from Subang airport (pricey)
– get to Mersing and take a ferry (you can either take a bus or drive if you have a car)

(we’re not going to talk about flying to somewhere close to Mersing and then taking a ferry – I don’t see much sense in this option, to be honest)

Driving time is around 5 hours, but I wouldn’t recommend driving at night to catch the early morning ferry, so if you really need to drive, you can leave KL early in the morning and should be able to get there for the afternoon ferry (1-2pm, depending on the schedule). There’s a parking area, quite safe, I think we paid around 100 ringgit for 8 days, not sure how much it was exactly.

So the most conventional way to get to Tioman from KL would be:

Night bus to Mersing jetty (5,5 hours+), wait for the ferry (~2 hours), ferry (~2 hours to Tekek), and then depending on where you’re going in Tioman (if it’s Juara, then another 20 mins or so by car).

I booked everything in this order:

1. Searched for hotels/motels online, called and emailed them, got a price quote and booked (verbally).

2. Booked the ferry tickets. This one’s tricky – last time the dive shop assisted us with this one and left us the ticket at the jetty counter, those were 70 ringgit return each. This time they advised to book with the official ferry company (link above), BUT these guys are 90 ringgit return and you only can book for a certain date, not time. After the booking they send you the schedule (it’s updated monthly as tide levels are different every month) and even that is not a 100% guarantee you’ll get a seat on the boat. I called them, they have very pleasant call reps and they assured that if you buy tickets online, you will leave on the date booked, just get to the counter as soon as you arrive to Mersing and see if there are seats left. If not, then wait for the next ferry (there are 3-4 boats a day, at least this May).

A friend of mine went to Tioman 2 weeks ago and he hasn’t booked a ferry, having arrived to the jetty (it was a busy public holiday too), it turned out there were no tickets for 2 boats in a row, he had to wait until 11am (having arrived at 5am). So yeah, I went safe this time and booked online even though it’s 20 ringgit more.

3. Booked the bus. We are leaving from KL to MSG, Mersing. Same return.  The bus station Term B’spadu Selatan (or TBS) is located right at the LRT station Bandar Tasik Selatan Station (Ampang line). Mind which direction you’re boarding – the line splits in two at some point. We wend from Bangsar to Masjid Jamek and changed to Ampang line there. I’ve heard you can do the same at KL Sentral and Pasar Seni, but please double-check that.

Once you reach the station, follow the directions to the bus terminal, go up and across the bridge and register at the counter at that same level. Note that you need to register both of your tickets. They’ll give you the boarding passes and you’re good to go one level gown to your bus.

4. Figure out your transportation from the jetty in Tioman. We’re arriving to Tekek, going to the duty-free shop in the airport, and the hotel owner picks us up and drives to Juara (40 ringgit per person, return). There are boats that you can hire too, or if you’re going to Salang or ABC, take the ferry straight there.

5. Going back – same thing. Arrive to the jetty early to make sure you get the seat, waaaait, 2 hours by boat, waaaaait for the bus (or have your roti canai at the nearest mamak), 5-6 hours by bus. And a cab back home.

Looks complicated, but I honestly believe Tioman is worth it. I have yet to experience the Perhentian Islands, Redang and other islands here, but I’ve heard from too many friends here that Tioman is their most favourite one.

Note: this is not the only way to get to Tioman, there are other buses and, I guess, other boats too. I explained how I’m going and how many of my friends get there, so yeah, please always travel responsibly and do your research :-)

Hope it was useful and talk to you soon!

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