Going to Pulau Tioman can be easy – if you know your way around. However, as a newbie in international travel, I was able to find my way around. Even if I was with my sister and her friends, I kind of felt responsible for them; after all, it was my idea to go to the island anyway. So despite having researched the plan over and over again, I still wasn’t sure how I’d be able to get to Pulau Tioman. Fortunately, a few days before, I was already able to locate the Ban San Terminal. My first plan had been to take the bus from Ban San Terminal to Larkin Bus Station in Johor Bahru and then take the bus from JB to Mersing (the jump off point going to Pulau Tioman and Pulau Besar).
However, due to the changes in my sister’s schedule, I had to settle for the train going to Kranji Station and then the 170 bus from there going to Larkin Station.
My first plan had been to leave at around 5pm in Singapore, travel to Mersing and then stay overnight there. But because one of my sister’s friends had duty until morning, we opted to stay in Singapore and leave at 8am, when my sister’s friend had arrived from work.
In order to get to Pulau Tioman, your cheapest bet would be to go to Larkin Bus Station in Johor Bahru (JB). You can either ride the Causeway Link bus (SGD 2.40) or the 170 bus (SGD1.60) in Ban San Terminal near Bugis Station OR catch a 170 bus from Kranji Station. According to other blogs, there are also 170 buses at Woodlands (which is actually nearer to JB), however, I wasn’t sure because I didn’t try that route. During the second option, you can choose to use your EZ Link card.
Now, remember, once you get to Woodlands Checkpoint, everyone has to get off the bus for immigration, since you’ll be leaving Singapore. EVERYONE. So you have to take all your bags with you, follow the crowd, which will lead you to the Singaporean immigration at the Woodlands Checkpoint.
Once you’ve passed the SG checkpoint, go down through the other side and find the 170 bus line (turn around from the escalator you’ll be coming down from) or the Causeway Link bus line. Tap in again and you’ll see the sign saying “RIDE RESUMED”. Even if it may not be exactly the same bus that you rode on, it’s okay. As long as you are on the same kind of bus as you had gotten on from Singapore, you’ll be safe.
After crossing the bridge that divides Singapore and Malaysia, the bus will stop again, this time at the Malaysian immigration. You’ll need to go down the bus (tap out and it will simply say RIDE SUSPENDED which is normal) and up the escalator. This will lead you to the quite grand Malaysian immigration, which I have to admit, is much faster than the one in Singapore.
Once you are released from the immigration, go down at the escalator going down to the 170 bus station (the first escalator you see on your left side (past the door going to the JB city). When you reach the bus lane at the bottom, find the lane for the same bus you rode again. For 170 buses, you’ll find your lane straight ahead.
From there, it is a 15 minute ride to Larkin Bus Station.
Larkin Bus Station is pretty big. Once the doors open, many people will come hunting you, asking you where you’ll be going. These are called “ulat” or people who will try sell you tickets higher than they should really be. It is better not to entertain them, unless for questions on where the ticket counters are. Ticket counters have signs, so don’t be afraid to look. Many of them speak good English, so don’t hesitate to ask as well.
I made sure not to be victimized again by the ulat, but I immediately asked them where the Mersing buses where. Good thing the ticket counter was not that far. Maju Ekspress (the bus Darwin of Tracking Treasure and I rode back to JB from Malacca the other day) also ran buses that went through Mersing. According to their schedule, the next bus would be at 11am, we arrived a little after 10am, but because it was a little late for our 1pm boat, I made a move to go to other counters. The man at the counter stopped me though, saying the bus for 10am was still there. I paid RM11.50 for each ticket and we ran to bus lane 32 to catch the bus.
Holding my breath, the bus was still definitely there. We quickly boarded the bus and it backed off the lane at around 10.30am.
We arrived at Mersing at around 12.15pm, just in time for the 1pm boat (we called earlier for the boat times).
Since the bus was only going through town to get to Kuantuan, they stopped right in front of the jetty, or the port.
The port going to Pulau Tioman is in a small center, with an establishment in the center that caters to several offices of various hotels on the island. You will probably get lost going to the terminal where you will be able to buy your tickets, so make sure to ask around. It’s pretty small and located behind a few offices as well.
Like mentioned, it is always important to call Bluewater Express Ferry (07-799-5696), at least the day before you set off for Tioman just to make sure you have the right time for the ferry’s departure. Time of ferry varies, depending on the current tide at the island.
During that time, April 20th, a Friday, schedule from Mersing to Pulau Tioman was 6am, 10am, 11am and 1pm. Schedule from Pulau Tioman to Mersing on April 21st, a Saturday was 7am, 9.30am and 4.30pm.
Once you buy a ticket to Pulau Tioman, the guides there will explain to you how the ferry trip will go.
There are 6 stops once you reach the island.
First stop will be the one in Genting. Genting is where accommodations like Genting Jaya, Idaman Beach Holiday, Nipah Beach Chalet, Nipah Paradise, Impiana Inn and Island Reef Resort are located.
The next stop is at Paya, where Sun Beach, Tioman Tacht Resort, Tropical Coral Inn and Genting Bayu Chalet is located.
Next stop was Tekek, which has its own runway and is possibly the most crowded beach of all. Coral Reef Holiday, Nazri’s Place, Tioman Paya, Swiss Cottage, Babura Seaview Resort, Pesona Island Resort are all located at Tekek.
Next stop is at ABC Beach or Air Batang. Resorts like Sri Tioman Beach Resort, Monte Chalet, Nazri’s Place, South Pacific Chalet and Mawar Beach Chalet are all located here.
Panuba Bay is next, where Panuba Inn is located as well as the island’s marine sanctuary, Nazri’s Cabanas II, Bamboo Hill and Tioman House.
Finally, Salang is the last stop. Resorts like Salang Sayang Resort, Puteri Salang Inn, Salang Indah Resort, Salang Beach Resort, Ella’s Place and Salang Huts are all located at Salang.
While the end parts of the beach may seem a little rocky, the part close to Panuba Bay is absolutely divine. Soft white sands, clear blue-green waters – heaven type of beach.
The wharf is separated from the main beach by a long bridge, understandable because once the tide lowers, the water can push back as far as 20 meters from the shore.
When you decide to go back, always make sure to double check your boat’s time, just in case there are any changes. Be at the wharf at least 30minutes – 1 hour before departure time just so you can secure your seat.
Here’s my itinerary (transportation):
9am – MRT to Kranji Station
9.45am – Kranji Station 170 bus to Larkin Station
10am – Larkin Station
10.30am – ETD for Mersing
12pm – ETA at Mersing
1pm – ETD for Pulau Tioman
3pm – ETA at Salang Beach
April 21 (for 4.30pm boat)
4pm – Salang Wharf
4.30pm – ETD from Salang
7pm – Mersing
Notice the long delays on the boat? Yes, that’s possible, so it’ll definitely be better if you don’t have a tight schedule.
Here’s my suggested itinerary
Arrival at Mersing, Overnight
7am – ETD for Pulau Tioman
9am – ETA at Salang
At least, this way, you get to have one whole day on the beach.
Costs of Transportation
From JB Larkin Station – Mersing RM11.50, one way
From Kuala Lumpur (Bandar Tasek Selatan) – Mersing – RM30, one way
Ferry is RM70 RT and RM35 one way.
By the way, in Lavender St, Singapore, there is a bus (Transnasional, I think) that goes straight to Mersing for a whopping SGD30.
Those coming from Kuala Lumpur should allot 5 hours for the travel, so you can either spend the night at Mersing, or take the night bus from Kuala Lumpur.