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Tioman Island is located on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula in the state of Pahang. Despite its beauty, mass tourism has never reached Tioman – even though the airport was operating until 2014. Currently, Tioman Airport is not frequented by any airline.

From Kuala Lumpur via Mersing to Tioman: How I got there and my first impressions

Juara Beach, Pulau Tioman

So currently the only way to get to Tioman is by ferry. In June this year, I spent 3 days on the tropical island and in this article I’ll tell you how you can best get to Tioman.

From Kuala Lumpur to Mersing

The nearest larger city on the mainland is Mersing. It’s the main hub for tourists who want to travel to Tioman. Mersing itself has no airport and so you have to take a bus from Kuala Lumpur, which takes about 5 ½ hours. You could also take a bus from Johor Bahru, so there’s a bus service from Singapore as well.

You can buy tickets at 12go.asia or easybook.com. There’re quite a few buses from various operators, which depart several times a day from the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) in Kuala Lumpur. The TBS bus station is just a few train stops away from KL Sentral by KTM Komuter. The train station at the bus terminal is Bandar Tasik Selatan.

Once you arrive there, you can buy a bus ticket at the bus station. However, it may happen that there are no more seats available. If you have already purchased a ticket online, just go to the check-in counters and pick up your boarding pass. Pack something to eat and drink – the ride is very long and the bus only stops once.

Info: If you want to go to Tioman Island from Europe, you should book a flight to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Everything you need to know about prices, departure times and tickets can be found at Skyscanner.

Stopover in Mersing and ticket purchase

And now for the bad news, which is actually not that bad. A stopover in Mersing is almost inevitable since the first buses from Kuala Lumpur don’t leave before 9:00 a.m. and you will probably not manage to take the ferry the same day, given the 5 ½ hour journey. The ferries, in fact, only leave at certain times and most days not in the late afternoon. In addition, the departure times are dependent on the tides and vary strongly – so it’s also possible that it works out in terms of time.

If you don’t want to rush, just leave Kuala Lumpur around noon. This way, you’ll arrive in Mersing in the early evening and can buy a ticket for the ferry at the port without any hassle. Tickets are even sold directly at the bus terminal in Mersing, so you don’t have to walk to the port and can go straight to your accommodation afterward.

Here, too, it’s recommended to book a ticket online in advance, at least during the high season. Otherwise, there may be no more seats available. The provider’s name is Bluewater Express and the only trustworthy website you should book through is www.tiomanferryticket.com. The regular price is 35 Ringgit per trip or 70 Ringgit for a return trip. Anything else would simply be a rip-off.

Ticket booth at Mersing Jerry

In addition to the ferry ticket you have to buy 2 tickets for the national parks for a total of 50 RM per person. You can also buy them after check-in or shortly before departure at the port of Mersing. The ticket booths for the national park and Bluewater Express are located on the left side when you enter the port area of Mersing.

By the way, it’s only a 10-15 minute walk from the bus station to the port. You can also take a cab if you have a lot of luggage. If the price for the cab seems too high, you should definitely try to bargain – after all, the ride takes only 3-5 minutes.

The city of Mersing is quite relaxed and I imagined the stay there to be much worse. There are a handful of accommodations, which are all located in the city center and the harbor is within walking distance. You’ll also find some restaurants, a KFC, a 7-Eleven and very important: ATMs! You should definitely withdraw enough cash as there are currently no ATMs on Tioman.

Enjoy the evening with a walk along the river and watch the sunset. Afterward, you can go to one of the Muslim or Chinese restaurants and have some Malaysian food. How about some Nasi Kandar or Roti Canai?

Rotary in Mersing, Malaysia

At the river of Mersing, Malaysia

From Mersing to Tioman

On the day of departure, you should get to the jetty in time. After check-in, you need to get a boarding pass and then just wait in the small hall. If you don’t have the national park tickets yet, you’ll need to buy them as well. The crossing from Mersing to Tioman takes about 1,5 – 2 hours.

The ferry has a total of 5 stops on Tioman: Salang, Air Batang (ABC), Tekek, Paya und Genting. You’ll have to get off the ferry depending on where your accommodation is located. So listen carefully to the announcements on the ferry.

Kampung Tekek on the island of Tioman
Kampung Tekek

If your accommodation, is located at Juara Beach across the island, like mine was, you have to get off the ferry at Tekek. From there you’ll continue with a 4×4 jeep through the heart of the mountains. Most accommodations there offer a (free of charge) pick-up service.

Welcome sign at Juara Beach on Tioman

First impressions of Tioman

When I finally arrived on Tioman, the pick-up service of my accommodation, Rainbow Chalet worked out pretty well. Less than 30 minutes later I could finally move into my bungalow right on the beach. And now here comes the highlight…

View from the bungalow at the Rainbow Chalet on Juara Beach
View from my bungalow
The bungalows of the Rainbow Chalet at Juara Beach, Tioman
The bungalows of the Rainbow Chalet

This was the view I could look forward to for the next 3 days, immediately after getting up. Juara Beach is considered the most beautiful beach of Tioman and although I haven’t seen the other beaches yet, I would agree immediately.

Although the sand is not quite as bright white as for example on the Perhentians or Redang, the turquoise sea is still absolutely dreamlike and very tranquil. You’ll only hear the sound of the ocean, which is always present, day and night.

View of Juara Beach from the pier

I haven’t been so happy after a hotel check-in for a long time. And I was looking forward to the next few days in any case since the first impression of the Rainbow Chalet was great. Friendly staff, simple rooms, no luxury, but at least air conditioning (which you hardly need at the rather windy time of year in June anyway).

A small supermarket and the Bushman Restaurant with perhaps the best food on the beach are located right next door. However, the food at Juara Beach is not necessarily the best and it’s not cheap – but I had to accept that in this paradise.

Teh Tarik at the Bushman on Juara Beach, Tioman
An ice-cold Teh Tarik at the Bushman Restaurant – fantastic view inclusive
In the village of Juara (Kampung Juara) on the island of Tioman
In the village of Juara (Kampung Juara)


Even if the journey is very exhausting and long, a visit is absolutely worth it! Tioman is still a real paradise island without mass tourism, but with friendly locals and a lot of beautiful nature. After arriving at Juara Beach, I felt right at home and fell a little in love with this beach. I didn’t like the other side of the island too much, at least Kampung Tekek, even if I was only passing through. The other beaches such as Salang in the north are certainly much more beautiful.

The left side of Juara Beach from above, captured with the DJI Mavic Pro

Marcel at Juara Beach on Tioman

By the way, as during my stay on the Perhentians in 2016, I was in Malaysia during Ramadan. This probably made the island even quieter than it already is. Some restaurants and resorts on the beach had closed during the fasting month and the selection was unfortunately not large. Therefore, during 2 ½ days I went more or less only to 2 different restaurants. Nevertheless, it was a great time on the island!

Have you ever been to Tioman? Let us know in the comments how you liked the island!