The East Coast of Malaysia


Global Mark : 13.25

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Market Relax Fiesta 


5 5 1 1 2 5 3 1 11.50

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
12 100% 83% (10) 100% 10 to 18 15.00

Note : I was on Tioman in 1994 during the monsoon and I saw a lot of rain for two days... The following is based on conversations with travelers. If you have been there recently, feel free to contribute...

Description : A big mountainous tropical island 

Comments : Tioman has been recently described by some backpackers as "not worth going". This is certainly unfair : the snorkeling may not be as good as on the Perhentian Islands (the last monsoon destroyed a lot of corals) but, being much bigger, it offers more activities around and less tourist per square centimeter of sand...

What to do ? Relax while admiring the spectacular mountain scenery or the crystal clear water / Explore your paradise : sandy or rocky beaches, waterfall, jungle trek,... / Spot wild life : monkeys, turtles and lots of colorful insects / Go underwater / Relax with the locals / Walk rustic little villages / Play golf or other expensive water sports / Enjoy barbecue by the beach / 

What you may not like ? The size of the place / The sand flies / The cost of food (fried rice R3-4, dishes R6-9) & drinks (big water R3-4) plus the lack of good choice / Being attacked by monkeys / The dead coral / 

How long ? Enough to forget it all !

Where to stay ? 

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online & save money !

Rather than pointing at GH, let's talk about beaches :

  • Muku : the southern beach is popular with local people and offers the biggest coral reef
  • Nipah : good snorkeling, nice beach and fairly deserted
  • Air Batang : rather poor beach but the main backpackers' center and centrally located
  • Salang : the busiest place of the island offer the proximity of Coral Island to divers
  • Juara, on the east coast : limited snorkeling but the nicest beach at the cheapest prices (R15-30) as fairly quiet. There is also a Dive Center with PADI courses available in English or French. Going there is tricky indeed : you can either walk the 8km concrete path inside the jungle (2 hours as it is not flat at all) or take the daily boat for R15 : leaves Juara at 15:00, arrives in Tekek at around 16:30, depart Tekek at around 16:30-17:00 and reach Juara at around 18:30. 

Backpacker's Tips : Jack JB, Polish (July 01)
"Fascinating and relatively easy trek from Pekak to Juara. The Bay of Juana is paradise when you come out directly from the jungle !  
Concerning Nipah...good food (ask BBQ!, otherwise quantity is rather limited), excellent beach, relax (1st Doctrine of Nipah), coral mostly destroyed, but you can still find nice places for snorkeling : North - small beach, behind the first rocks; South -go to 3 rocks Islands - really big fishes and coral.

When to go ? Avoid local or Singapore holidays & WE and avoid the monsoon when it can rain all day long (November to February)

Internet ? Limited and very expensive at R10-15 per hour ! Maybe you can wait for Mersing ?

A worry free tour ? See Mersing's numerous travel agents for 3 days 2 nights all included tours (AC accommodations, full board, island tour) for as low as R200

How to reach & leave ?
See Mersing section for info on boats. Boats from Tioman to Mersing leave at 7 & 7:30 (Ferry) and 10 & 15 (speed boat). Speed boat may not operate during the monsoon.
The flight from / to Singapore has been cancelled but there is a speed boat service for around R150 one way (5 hours). 

Backpacker's Tips : Nils Peeters, Belgium (Aug 01)
"Beware of the touts that jump on you, trying to sell you tickets for the speedboat crossing when you get off the Kuala Lumpur-Mersing night bus at 4 am. Some of their boats (like ours) are not safe and have obviously no life jackets on board! If you don't trust it, don't go on board, even if it means losing your 30 RM.
For the rest, most Tioman guesthouses offer a snorkeling trip to Coral Island and Monkey Bay (like ABC Bungalows where we stayed). This trip costs 35 RM and is really worth it (bring you own gear). Also here watch out on the little motorboats cause the locals like to scare you going really fast, making it a very bumpy boat ride.

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