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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in tioman island
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Tioman (Malay: Pulau Tioman) is a small island, 39 km long and 12 km wide, located off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia.
The densely forested island is still sparsely inhabited, but is surrounded by numerous white coral reef, making it a haven for scuba divers from around the region. Its 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.
Already the most 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 — so get there before it's too late!
Most visitors arrive by ferry from Mersing on the mainland. There are a number of ferry operators and three types of ferry. The largest, slowest (approx 2 hours) ferry is the most economical; the smaller and faster catamaran costs more; the smallest and fastest (approx 1 hour) outboard speedboats are the most expensive option.
Some ferries also depart from Tanjung Gemuk to the north of Mersing.
Note that due to the significant reduction in demand, ferries run less frequently during the monsoon season (typically late October to mid/late February), and that during this period exceptionally bad conditions may shut them down completely for several days at a time.
Overland to Mersing: - several bus companies operate direct services to Mersing, including Transnasional (http://transnasional.com.my) (from Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, and Singapore); other services that use the east coast highway (eg Johor Bharu to/from Kota Bharu) also call at Mersing.
Overland from Singapore: - the most economical way is local bus to the border, then minibus to Johor Bahru's Larkin bus terminal, and proceed to Mersing from there - but an early start will be required if an overnight stop in Mersing is to be avoided.
Direct ferries to/from Singapore's Tanah Merah ferry terminal used to run daily (except for the November to February monsoon period), but were discontinued in 2003; this service is now only available for about 4 weeks during the peak school holiday period (~June).
The sole commercial operator to the island's small airstrip near Tekek is Berjaya Air (http://www.berjaya-air.com/flightschedule.htm), 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.
Except for a short concrete path connecting the airport at Tekek to the nearby Berjaya Resort, there are no roads on Tioman and local transport is by seabuses and speedboats.
It is however relatively easy to cross the island on foot from Tekek to Juara. The path up from Tekek is a well established but unpaved track with occasional stone steps to assist and a few fallen tree trunks to keep things interesting - it's feasible with a small backpack, but fairly strenuous, so allow plenty of time. 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).
It's also possible to walk from Air Batang 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.
Scuba facilities are readily available, and the diving is reasonably good, especially in view of the proximity to Singapore.
Another favourite activity for visitors is snorkelling. Most resorts can arrange for speedboats or seabuses to take you to the beaches and small uninhabited islands nearby (such as Pulau Tulai) where the snorkelling 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.
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.
Amongst the most popular are Mokhtar's and Nazri's Place. Dorm beds start about RM 20, single rooms around RM 40 and up.
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.