The many ways to get from Singapore to Tioman Island (Malaysia)
All the various options of how to get from Singapore to Tioman Island are quite easy! It all depends how adventurous you are and how much time and money you want to spend.
Below I listed options such as buses from Singapore, buses from Johor Bahru, taxi from Singapore and then from Johor Bahru, self drive, car hire, cycle and hitchhike!
To reach Tioman Island you must pass by or stop by Mersing. This is the main ferry point, hence most of the below will refer to the journey from Singapore to Mersing.
BUS – Easy and relaxed
Right now quite a number of the buses that leave Singapore for Mersing depart near the Golden Mile Complex on Beach Road. With the recent news that the complex will be demolished it is unclear where the new launch point will be. We will update this page once known.
You can sit back and relax from the beginning in the comfy bus seats. It will set you back some SGD40. This option has a good combination of relax and cost, but it can be time consuming depending at what time you leave Singapore.
Quite often I have taken a this bus or other mini buses on a Friday night after work. Customs can get very busy on a Friday night, which could add at least one to two hours to your journey’s time. I have experienced arriving at Tioman Island at 2am in the morning!
Taking the bus also has the disadvantage of having to get off the bus to clear customs twice, firstly in Singapore and then once in Malaysia.
BUS – Adventurous but cheaper
Another option for your weekend getaway is to catch the bus in Johor Bahru (JB for short) directly, but it can be a bit complicated. Below I will explain what you need to do.
Get to Woodlands by MRT (probably the most convenient if you do not have your own vehicle) or catch the famous SBS 170, which will also take you around JB. You will need to clear immigration on foot and once cleared Singapore immigration you will have few buses’s options to cross the strait unless you decide to walk (weather allowing; it is almost one kilometer walk).
Each of the various buses available will have a different price tag. If you take bus SBS 170 you will be able to hold to your ticket and use it all the way to JB’s bus terminal (Larkin). One good option would also be to catch the SBS 170 bus from the Kranji MRT station.
Once the Malaysia immigration is also cleared, the easiest option would be to catch the famous public bus SBS 170 as above. This bus will lead you all the way to the JB bus terminal.
Another option however is to walk to City Square Mall right next to the Malaysia checkpoint. Here the options are to either catch a taxi to the bus terminal or board a local bus. This option may be more suitable for those that are not in super rush. One can make use of the mall’s aircon and do some shopping or eat prior to continue with the journey Tioman Island. Larkin is not really centrally located and the food options there may be a limited.
The cost of this option is much cheaper than the above. The same level of comfy bus (depending on the bus company) leaving from JB to Mersing would cost around RM30 to RM40. The money saved here can allow you to catch the taxi from City Square Mall to Larkin.
TAXI services or private cars
If you have a larger budget for your weekend getaway to Tioman Island, you can catch a taxi. From Singapore all the way till you clear both immigration points you can do it with a Singapore Taxi. But be warned that only specific and licensed taxis can do this route. They operate on a fixed fee of SGD12 per person or SGD48 if you want the car all for yourself. This service can take you all the way to Larkin only. More detailed info can be found here.
Once in Larkin you would then be able to catch another taxi which could set you back between RM80 to RM180. The price would change depending from the time of the day and your negotiation skills. I caught once a taxi from Larkin in the middle of the night with a friend and it costed RM180. This was not too bad considering it is a 160Km ride and we shared the cost!
Another option is obviously the rental of a private car and driver, which would be the most expensive option. This option is more suited for families with children or elderly. This is because you will hardly have to leave the car, also during immigration. And once off the border, sit back and enjoy the ride all the way to Mersing. If you want to travel in style and as a group of friends too, this could be a viable option.
Self drive and car hire
I have done both…self drive is the most convenient as it would be just you and your friends (or other half), no external party drivers. You play your own music on the radio, be silly and no-one is there to judge. Obviously you will need to own a car or know someone who does and is willing to go to Tioman. Island. There would be the inconvenience of finding a safe and guarded car park in Mersing to leave the car whilst you are gone for your weekend getaway island retreat.
The other option is to rent a car in Johor Bahru. There are plenty of options and it would be easy enough to navigate in the Johor State. Once away from JB the amount of traffic decreases immensely and you would have the road all for yourself on motorway no. 3.
I have done the journey once on my Vespa. Read my article here.
Other useful info
Did you know that you were able to fly to the Tioman Island? This service is not operating anymore but it used to be served by Berjaya Air. I was told that there is a new airport being planned near the Berjaya resort, hence watch this space for direct flights from Singapore. Flying costed around SGD250 per person (return), and it was by far the most convenient way for a true time-limited weekend getaway.
Another thing that not many know is that there is still a train system operating between Singapore and Malaysia! Yes, the old train station is not operating any more and the tracks removed. But the checkpoint train station is still there and very well operative. Forget about changing buses, walking up and down the stairs at immigration. You can take the train and clear customs at the offices located near the railroad. Obviously you would need to board on and off the train, but there will be less queues to join. Plenty of seats on the train and the possibility to have a very different experience. Once in JB you would need to go back to the bus or car options above to get to Mersing and Tioman Island. Train fare should be around SGD6.
Actually I have personally not explored this option yet 🙂
I am sure there is a way to hitch a ride in Malaysia. The major problem I foresee is that you must be lucky and persistent enough to look for a ride that will go all the way to Mersing. The road leading there at some point is cutting through palm oil forests and you do not want to get stranded there hoping that someone else will pick you up. Even though sometimes, the more isolated you are the more likely locals will give you a ride.
This too is something I have done before! Not may people know, but there is a Singapore immigration point at Changi village. Yes, you read correctly. At the same spot where you catch the bum boats taking you to Pulau Ubin, you can clear immigration and catch a bum boat all the way to Malaysia. You would arrive at the port of Pengerang. From here to Mersing it is around 160Km joining motorway no. 3 at some point in the middle. When I cycled from Singapore to Mersing I took the coastal road all the way, which was amazing and super quiet. Motorway no. 3 is not the best option for a cyclist, but is obviously a direct route.
Finally the ferry
Once in Mersing, go to the new Harbor building, register yourself and buy the ferry ticket which is only operated by Blue Water Express. This should set you back some RM70 and on top of that you would have the Marine Park fees to pay, which for non Malaysian is RM30.
The Ferry journey will vary on sea conditions and departure times from Mersing will also be dependent on tide levels. The Mersing harbor is very shallow, hence on low tide the ferry would not operate. The Journey then can take between 2 to 3 hours depending where on the island you will alight.