Tioman (Malay: Pulau Tioman) is a small island, 39 km long and 12 km wide, located off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia.
Tioman's beaches were depicted in the 1958 movie South Pacific as "Bali Hai". In the 1970s, Time magazine selected Tioman as one of the world’s most beautiful islands. The densely forested island is still sparsely inhabited. Also it is surrounded by numerous white coral reefs, making it a haven for scuba divers from around the region.
Already the most commercially developed of Malaysia's eastern islands, a controversial RM 40 million marina project for Kampung Tekek, complete with 175-meter cargo jetty, now threatens to speed up the pace of development on Tioman considerably. The marina is finished and the jetty is under construction. However, visitors with an aversion to such progress can avoid this part of the island and stay elsewhere without any impact.
Rubbish control on the island is nil, apart from certain better resorts. So you must expect to share otherwise beautiful areas with all manner of garbage. The island fathers haven't worked out that a large sustained effort could remove the vast quantitiies of rubbish strewn everywhere so that a smaller effort could be employed maintaining it. When the penny drops could someone update this comment?
Note that Tioman is in Pahang ("East Coast") within the Mersing Marine Park, which contains less commerical islands such as Sibu Island. The primary gateway Mersing is in Johor ("South").
Most visitors arrive by ferry from Mersing on the mainland. Bluewater Express operates the ferry services and its boats are fast and comfortable taking approx 1 hour 20mins to the first jetty. This ferry is now the only option, the smaller and faster services being cancelled because of safety concerns after a tragedy. Unfortunately in countries that cannot afford to patrol their regulations well, some ferry companies overcrowd their vessels. If you ever feel uncomfortable boarding a vessel for any reason, refuse. A good way to avoid this is to avoid the last vessel as it is always the busiest. There are three services per day in each direction, but tidal issues (or lack of passengers) may cause cancellation charges RM 35 for an adult ticket, RM 20 for a child ticket (babes in arm free, as of last info), and departs from Salang at 07:15 am, Panuba at 7.30am etc etc and at noon, and picks up travellers all the way down the coast. It should be noted that apart from the first sailing of the day, the ferry operator tends to leave Mersing when it is deemed that there are sufficient passengers, or perhaps they are waiting for a connecting bus. This has the effect of making the timetables vague at best. If you are planning onward journeys based on these timetables, then leave sufficient buffers (1-2 Hours).
In Mersing, the ferry terminal and main bus terminal are in the same building.
Some ferries also depart from Tanjung Gemuk to the north of Mersing.
During the monsoon season (late October to mid/late February) the ferries run much less frequently and exceptionally bad conditions may shut them down completely for several days at a time.
Since 2004, there are no direct ferries to/from Singapore's Tanah Merah ferry terminal available.
The sole commercial operator to the island's small airstrip near Tekek is , which flies 48 seat Dash-7 turboprops from Kuala Lumpur (60 min; RM214 one-way; daily) and Singapore (35 min; RM240 / S$111 one-way; daily peak season, several times a week during the monsoon season). Discounted fares may be available if booked in a package with accommodation. Maximum baggage weight is 10Kgs. Excess baggage charges seem to depend on how many passengers are on the flight.
These flights use the secondary airports of Subang (SZB) in Kuala Lumpur and Seletar (XSP) in Singapore, so factor in transfer time from KLIA/Changi when making your plans. As a general guide, allow for 2 hours on the road to travel between KLIA and Subang and about half an hour on the road to travel between Changi and Seletar.
No matter which way you choose to arrive, a marine park fee (RM5) should be levied on all visitors to the island. In practise, ferry passengers are not charged. Transfers can be arranged directly with resorts.
Tekek now boasts a recently built harbour with substantial wave break walls. On inspection in Oct 2009, there were several cruising yachts in berths plus an assortment of other vessels. There were also 2 cruising yachts anchored outside the breakwater, so one would have to assume that they were dissuaded from a floating berth by the charges thereof. So the plan is obviously to cater for the cruising yacht fraternity, but the Tekek anchorage does not look like the nicest part of Tioman to hang about in, especially given the carefully chosen high intensity sky polluting orange lights installed in abundance. With any luck for all residents and visitors to the island the usual non-existant standards of maintenance will apply and these lights will fail over time. But, Tiomanese, if anyone from there, or indeed anywhere else, reads this, those lights are a no-no, replace them with down facing lights more keeping with the atmosphere you wish (need) to promote.
Except for a short concrete path connecting the airport to the road to Tekek village and on to the nearby Berjaya Resort, about 2km from Tekek, there are almost no roads on Tioman and local transport is by boat and 4WD.
By far the best and cheapest way of hopping from one village to the other is to use the Mersing/Tioman ferry service. On its way to and from Mersing it goes between Salang in the north and Genting in the south. The ferry will take you to most villages between from RM10-15 per person and is much cheaper than the private speedboat services.
Speedboats charge about RM 50 for a single trip, which is extortionate by Malaysian standards, but while you can try to negotiate they know full well that they're the only game in town (unless you hike). A single trip by boat as far as from the west coast to the east coast is RM 150 and can be shared if there are more passengers. Expect to pay double at night.
There are 4WD "taxis" from Tekek to Juara. They charge RM 75 (single person), RM 120 total (two persons) or RM 35 each (min. 4 persons). But be careful if it is (or was) rainy: the jeeps are likely to get stuck along the way, which involves the calling of some friends of the driver and lots of wasted time spent on a slippery jungle-road. Also note that these jeeps are not always available; they are available at the drivers' discretion.
Tioman Cabana Sport,Cafe & Adventure one of the registered company running the transportation (Sea & Land)service and backpackers and travellers can get better rates please check it out at the place at Tg Saik Beach
There are several jungle treks , following the power lines, which connect the Kampungs.
It is relatively easy to cross the island on foot from Tekek to Juara. The path up from Tekek is a well established but unpaved, 7 km long track with occasional stone steps to assist and a few fallen tree trunks to keep things interesting. You cannot lose the trail because it follws the powerline to Juara. It's feasible with a small backpack, but fairly strenuous, so allow plenty of time. In Tekek, the trail starts north of the airport (sign to Juara). Close to the waterworks, one leaves the road and continues on the trail. On the east side, it's an easy broad concrete footpath with no steps all the way from the summit down to Juara. Allow a minimum of at least two hours for the whole thing, significantly more if you want to stop along the way or if you're carrying anything, and take plenty of water and bug repellent; also bear in mind that the path is unlit and that it gets dark early in the jungle (especially on the Tekek side). In Tekek, the trail starts north of the airport (sign to Juara). Close to the waterworks, one leaves the road and continues on the trail.
It's also possible to walk from Tekek to Air Batang (ABC) (40 minutes) and from there to Panuba and then on to Salang (just follow the power cable); this is a less strenuous hike overall as it's relatively level, however in places the path itself is more difficult to negotiate.
Nevertheless, this path can exhibit some beauty, because it comes along the Monkey Beach and Monkey Bay, which lie next to each other (in fact, one can swim out of the bay of Monkey Beach and reach Monkey Bay on the right without problems). It takes about 70 minutes to get from ABC to Monkey Beach. To continue to Salang go back to the power cable and follow the path under it (where it hasn't fallen down - given the trouble to put it in and its importance, it's amazing that it is not maintained) Remember to follow the power lines, since the path may be hard to see sometimes. Furthermore it is quite punishing, because it goes uphill for a long time. Until Salang is reached, there is nothing but jungle. Allow at least 90 minutes for this part of the hike.
If you continue along Monkey Beach to it's northern end, you will find a foot pad that leads to the side of Monkey Bay, a very pretty hourglass indented beach. The foot pad is subject to treefall so expect it to be hard to follow in places, but panic not if you lose the path, use your head and nut it out. The more use the better the path will get. Both beaches offer very good snorkeling. The other way to reach them is by water taxis.
There are ruins of attempts to set up business here, but otherwise no development, but the writer definitely saw a family of monkeys, who ignored the humans and didn't seem to expect any food. Of course don't feed them.
Juara, which is a very quiet beach at the east coast (especially in the off season, when almost nobody is there), has some special things to offer. There are three rivers coming from the mountains, delivering cold freshwater to the beach - a chilling alternative to swimming in the sea, and a path leads to waterfalls in the jungle, which again is nice to take a swim and climb over the large rocks.
The place itself is divided into two beaches that are separated by a small hill, which is said to be the "origin" of Tioman. Some locals say: "you have not been on Tioman, if you did not stand on these rocks". (Perhaps this is just the opinion of the peaople of Juara - I can not tell). The beaches are definitely more beautiful than Air Batang and probably even lovelier than Salang.
The beach more towards the north (where the jetty is) has very nice sand, but some dead corals in the shallow water. Swimming is ok, but walking in the water can be painful. At both ends of this beach is the mouth of one of the rivers mentioned above.
The beach more towards the south is even quieter (probably because the jetty is at the other beach). The sand again is very nice and there are no obstacles in the water. At the south end of this beach the last of the three rivers meets the sea.
As mentioned above, there are small waterfalls in the jungle, where one can take a swim in the basins or climb upstream over the boulders to explore the river. To reach the waterfalls, just follow a marked path for about 30 minutes. The path starts at the south beach (opposite of the great rocks, which lie on the beach) and is marked by the bottoms of cans, nailed to the trees and painted yellow. At the beginning of the path there are three such signs at a tree. If you walk along the only concrete road towards south, you can not miss it. The path is well visible all the time and very easy to walk, even with slippers.
Finally, somewhere at the north beach seems to be a turtle hatchery.
Scuba facilities are readily available, and the diving is reasonably good, especially in view of the proximity to Singapore. Most villages have a variety of dive shops. Padi Open water courses average at about RM990 (4 day course), and for licensed divers each dive is roughly RM90).
B&J Dive Center, Has two full-service dive shops, at Air Batang and Salang. A very accommodating bunch of people with good dives. Can also help to arrange accommodation. Don't just dive: plan and extra day or two to explore this island's other attractions - very beautiful and warm welcoming people.
Tioman Dive Centre:, Enjoy diving in clear blue waters over beautiful coral reefs teeming with marine life. Tioman is perfect for both learning to dive (TDC offer a comprehensive range of PADI dive training courses) and diving for fun at over 20 dive sites. Safety is, of course, their primary concern, but your fun and enjoyment are also important. They maintain a friendly, informal atmosphere in the dive centre, and hope you will enjoy their hospitality. Their many repeat visitors are testament to the fact that they are doing something right! +609 4191 228
Tioman Cabana Sport & Ray Dive Adventure: Dive with local guided Shamrock to explore underwater world..with friendly staff and have most the best experienced and recommended from backpackers diver call 013-7176677
Fisherman Divers: Very professional PADI certified dive shop with experienced instructors & divemasters and really friendly staff. They can provide Nitrox (EANx) fills as well. Located at Salang beach, opposite to Four "S" cafe.
Perhaps the most popular activity for visitors is snorkeling. Most resorts can arrange for speedboats or seabuses to take you to the beaches and small uninhabited islands nearby (such as Pulau Tulai, aka "Coral Island") and Renggis island where the snorkeling is at its best. The water is almost pristine save for the occasional litter. Just be careful of the small jellyfish, as they can pack a sting, and try not to lose your rental gear or you'll be subject to the renter's arbitrary fines. However, snorkeling is fantastic in front of most beaches and can rival that of any snorkeling trip at a fraction of the cost. However, do note that the beaches are home to several Portugese Man of War. These prickly creatures tend to rest on rocks and if snorkelling in shallow waters, one should be especially careful of not coming in contact with these. They pack quite a sting and might require medical attention. Some of the best locations are as follows.
Paya: A group of rocks adjacent from the beach offers a variety of colourful coral and fish.
Tekek: The marine park, 3km north of Tekek, has a man-made artificial reef just off its jetty. The visibility can be questionable and theres not much coral but is teeming with fish.
Air Batang: The best village for snorkeling. At ABC (the far end of the beach) one can snorkel around the rocks towards panuba with a full reef full of colourful coral and fish. Its not too deep, making it perfect for snorkeling. Even more colourful is the reef on either side of the jetty where one can see turtles and a vast garden of yellow coral.
Tioman Cabana:, register company of watersport located at Tg Saik Beach, Tekek Village.Any guest stay at Tekek Village or ABC can go doing activities with this company.To get more details information please dial +60137176677
Depending on where you eat, food can be quite expensive on Tioman, compared to other places in Malaysia. Western food can be up to RM15 per plate, whilst local food is cheap (between RM3-6 normally). Especially if you eat at the restaurants attached to the resorts and chalets, you should plan around RM 30+ per day (good breakfast, lunch and dinner).
The 1.5 l bottle of water costs between RM 3-4 (as of August 2007), some places offer refill with locally purified water for RM 1-2. Canned softdrinks are about the same, beer starts at RM 2 (Tiger beer at local shop).
Village restaurant at Coral Reef Holidays the most Malay and western food also good view (by the beach)
There are several places to eat in Kampung Genting.
If you want nightlife and atmosphere, they have alots of choice from Tekek Village till ABC. Its 4 bars serve everything from cheap beer to cocktails and most do bonfire nights on the beach on occasion.
Allo bar, Air Batang (turn left at the jetty towards Nazri 2) Fantastic beach bar, perhaps the best on the island. Beautifully arranged, cheap alcohol with a great atmosphere. Beer, like at most bars on Tioman is 3 for RM10 from 5PM-7PM. Otherwise expect to pay RM5 a can.
B&J Bar, Air Batang (near Johan's). Has a large selection of cocktails and liquors. Very chilled out.
Jungle Bar, Air Batang. You may notice small Jungle Bar signs leading off the main path away from the beach. Across broken ground and past some dwellings continue on to a bar where optimism overcomes all the usual rules. You can choose from a drink overlooking the jungle or inside which has an interesting atmosphere, or perhaps from the roof. The entrepeneur deserves support. RM10 for 3 Tigers.
Mañana, Juara (southernmost beach) . Wooden open air lounge/terrace at the beach with cushions, very good selection of chilled music in the evening, good food and a nice flair. But don't expect any wild parties going on there. The place is almost in the middle of the south beach. At time of writing (April 2006) there was a volleyball net in front of it on the beach.
Sunset Bar, Air Batang (Nazri's place). Serves a variety of homemade pizza (ranging from RM10-15), sunset bar is right on the beach.
Tioman Cabana Bar, Tekek Village (between Coral Reef Holidays Chalets & Wak Cottage). Good selection of music from the 70's onwards and cheap beer; also hosts private parties. Fireball (poipoi) shows & lesson most nights, plus bonfires and most choice of cocktail...The owners are backpackers and also good place to meet backpackers,travellers & local..Open by 8pm till 3am...Some backpackers said "Island Bar" because of the music,coconut tree,bamboo and tree building..
Ari's Cafe, Between ABC and Tekek, make your way from ABC to Tekek, You can't miss it., A great place to chill out and relax with other backpackers. Not sure of the exact address, but from ABC where you make your way to Tekek, you can't miss this little hut, with friendly hosts and many other backpackers just chilling out over a cheap drink.
While the most commercialized of Malaysia's east coast islands, Tioman has yet to be invaded by mass tourism on the scale of Penang or Langkawi and there are plenty of cheap beds to be found. However, if heading for anywhere other than the backpackers' villages, reservations are advisable as getting to some of the more remote kampungs can be a hassle. Note that some places stay open year round, but many close for the monsoon season (typically end of October to mid/late February).
Most of Tioman's backpacker accommodation is to the north of the island, with numerous budget chalet operations clustered around Salang and Air Batang (sometimes also referred to as ABC - although this is the name of the resort at the northern end of the beach, not the beach itself), and to a lesser extent Tekek. Dorm beds start about RM 20, single rooms (huts) around RM 40 and up. Amongst the most popular are:
Wak Cottage (previous Sri Tioman),Kg Tekek.RM25 Onward.
Mokhtar's Place, Kg Air Batang. RM30 onward.
My friend's place, Kg Air Batang. RM25 onward.
Salang Indah Resorts, Kg Salang. RM50 onward. Tel. +609-419 5015, no wifi
Y & P chalets, Kg Air Batang. RM20 onward.
Juara, a quieter beach on the east coast, also has a selection of budget rooms at similar prices.
Practically every kampung on the west coast of the island has a self-styled resort or two. A typical air-conditioned chalet will set you back in the vicinity of RM 100, although significant discounts can be negotiated in the off-season, in package deals or just by showing up and smiling. In off-season it is advisable to just show up and pick the best and cheapest spots. Genting resorts are largely owned and operated by friendly local fisherman families. For the support of the local community, you are likely to have a chance to pick the best fish at the beach in the evening and have it prepared by the women.
Coral Reef Holidays, 09-4191868 or Mobile: 0137176677, . Located on a relatively private beach and is the longest beach in Tekek Village,With main facilities like restaurant,cafe,diveshop,laundry.Various rooms are available with a choice of either a seaview and/or garden view room.Rates start from RM45 to RM150.00 per room.
Coral Resort Kampung Mukut, Tel: 609-4191868, Rm100 aircon room, wi-fi Rm5 for 5 days. Refurbished older resort under new management.
Bamboo Hill Chalets, northern end of Air Batang, . A very small resort with just six rooms (RM70-RM120). The boulder-top chalets are simple (no air-con or hot water or TV) but to a very high standard, and all directly overlook the sea. The majority of guests are repeat visitors, and booking well in advance is pretty much essential. Closed during the monsoon season.
Melina Beach Resort, . About halfway between the Genting and Paya jetties, Melina Beach Resort is a small, non-Malaysian owned and run resort. While the resort is comparably cramped with the 2009 addition of a new building, the semi-private beach is long and shaded rests are great. It offers both aircon and fan rooms built in typical chalet-style, and other more original rooms such as a tree hut. The restaurant also caters for western tastes with some German specialties, and is clearly above average price. Free pick-up and drop from the Genting jetty can be arranged. Alternatively, it is a pleasant 20 minutes walk.
Paya Beach Resort, Kampung Paya (south of Tekek), . A typical Tioman resort featuring an almost-private beach, a particularly good restaurant, a swimming pool, a dive shop and chalets of varying standards. The crumbling Standard chalets are poor value, the newer Superiors are much better. Get a package here as the rack rates are extortionate.
Nipah Paradise Resort. A nice small nice bay in the south of Tioman, with only two small resorts, the beach and a creek. Nipah is the right beach for people, who want to get away from it all because there is not even a public telephone! The atmosphere is laid back and relaxed, most of the travelers are backpackers who put up at Nipah Beach Chalets. The second resort - Nipah Paradise - is a paradise for the backpackers. It offers small cheap challets. The nice owners offer a two days trekking tour through the jungle to the peak of Gunung Kajang, Tioman's highest peak (1038m).
Nazri's Place, Phone +609 4191329, . You can camp too there with the price of RM 3 person per day. Ask to build camp next to pizza "hut" near beach. This camp place will suite for 2 tent (4 man tent). There are field behind for more tent, but it is far a bit from beach.
Panuba Resort, tel. +607 7996349, . Located at a very small kampong about 200 metres north of Air Batang and the second last ferry stop. This kg has now been subsumed by an adhoc collection of accommodation structures that climb the rocky headland. The growing technical prowess of the builders results in a mixed grill of style from Malaysian hut to alpine chalet, and a switch from environmentally sympathetic timber to more intrusive concrete, the remnants of previous structures being carelessly preserved. Might be interesting in a typhoon! Anyway, the rates at Oct 09 go from RM45 to RM140 and the agent price is the same as the rack price. For 140 you get a room with en-suite, air con, kettle (but no tea or coffee) breakfast, and a spectacular view from a balcony that just hangs over the ocean. Suggest you check out the different offers. In front is a 100 metre beach which is great for swimming at the top half of the tide, and a huge home reef for snorkling. The restaurant food is quite good and the kampong grown fruit and drinks are spectacular. Refreshments were limited to Tiger beer at RM5 and red wine, sold from the snorkling gear hire shop. Bali Hai dive shop is a UK run operation with a surprisingly large office on the jetty and a variety of diving craft moored in the vicinity. They offer the usual programs including night dives on the home reef from the jetty.
Swiss Cottage, Phone +609 419 16 42 . Swiss Cottage, where Tioman Dive Centre is based, was one of the first chalet operators on Tioman. The resort has a variety of rooms built around a central area which is shaded by trees. It has a relaxed feeling and is a great place to hang out. The resort has five types of room, all of which are fan cooled, except for the Long House Aircon, - usually sufficient given the beach front location - with bathroom and hot water shower.
Tioman Paya Resort, . Located behind the Paya Beach Resort, this resort is in need of upgrading. The chalets have hot water, air-con and TV. However, the air-con in the chalets are of the 1980s model that can vibrate strongly. The toilet is not what you expect to see in a mid-range resort, and the towels and blanket are very worn out.
Berjaya Tioman Suite, tel. +60-9-4191000, . 7 blocks of fully furnished units comprising 1-bedroom studios, 2-bedroom family suites and 3-bedroom luxury penthouses. Located on the hill, most of the rooms are facing the sea and a swimming pool. Shuttle transfers every 10 minutes to Berjaya Tioman Beach, Golf & Spa Resort.
Japamala Resort, . A very private and intimate resort with just 12 villas and chalets, a beautiful beach and 2 amazing restaurants, Tamarind Terrace & Mandi Mandi. Note that there is no mobile network coverage at Japamala which makes it an ideal getaway from the rest of the world. Impeccable service from its attentive staff.
Tioman is a duty free zone and offers a good selection of alcohol and cigarettes at very cheap prices. The main outlet is "vision duty free" (past the hospital and school) and at the airport. Other villages such as Paya and Salang have small outlets.
However, do note that in case you intend to purchase alcohol or cigarettes and carry them into neighbouring Singapore, then you would need to pay duty on these goods and hence the cost advantage vanishes. Refer to Singapore customs website on duty free allowances; the Singapore authorities can be pretty strict, so smuggle at your own risk.
Broadband: There is an Internet café across from the airport in Tekek. The rate is 10rm/hour. It is open 09:00-18:00. There is also broadband available at Berjaya Tioman Beach, Golf & Spa Resort for similar rates, and one at Paya Beach Resort.
Dial-up: most of the villages have a couple of dial-up spots. In Air Batang, there are 2: Bamboo Hill has dialup for 10rm/hour available 08:30-19:30. There is also an Internet café near the jetty with 2 computers, open until late
Tioman Cabana * : You can surf the internet and also have access to HOTSPOT - WIFI,The rate is RM10/hour.Open from 9.00am till 2am.
A better option if you have a laptop, wireless broadband is available at Berjaya Tioman Beach, Golf & Spa Resort at MYR 80.00 nett for the duration of your stay (only applicable in public areas - poolside, restaurant, café and lobby, etc).
Tioman Dive Centre * : Located at Swiss Cottage, Tioman Dive Centre offers free WIFI for customers with their own laptops who are diving with them, for the duration of their stay. They also have an on-site computer with internet access for RM10/hour.
Panuba offers a single internet service for RM1 per 5 minutes.
3G Mobile Broadband: If you have your own laptop then by far the cheapest way to get online on Tioman is to subscribe to a mobile broadband service from Celcom or Maxis. The cost from Celcom is only 20 RM per week for unlimited access (5GB).
Tioman advertises that it has a number of payphones that can be used upon purchasing a phonecard, and a lot of travellers buy the cards before realising that none of these phones work.If you want to call home, a lot of chalet complexes offer international call services at a price, otherwise consider using skype via the internet (call credit can be purchased online in order to call regular telephones thru skype).
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