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Tips and Suggestions
TIP 1. Not sure if you should depart from Mersing or Tanjung Gemuk? Mersing is closer to Singapore, whereas Tanjung Gemuk is nearer to KL. However, whilst Mersing tends to be the default ferry terminal for most travelers, and typically offers more departures per day than Tanjung Gemuk, Mersing's departure times tend to be dynamic, due to the tidal river mouth. Meanwhile, Tanjung Gemuk's ferry times are more fixed.
That said, keep in mind that Mersing offers way better facilities than Tanjung Gemuk, particularly since the opening of Mersing Harbour Centre.
TIP 2. Book your hotel or resort on Agoda or Booking.com. These so-called aggregate websites tend to offer below-average room rates and also have great offers and promos every now and again.
TIP 3. Parking at the designated area opposite Mersing Harbour Centre costs up to RM 18 per night. The car park is fenced off and secure, but tends to be full during weekends and holidays, as it belongs to Rawa Island. However, there are other car parks you can try. Have a look here for more details.
TIP 4. The only vaccination requirements For West Malaysia are yellow fever. And this only applies to infected areas. Cholera, smallpox and malaria have largely been eliminated. That said, if you're going hiking or jungle trekking, especially to remote areas, then best bring malaria pills, as some malaria clusters do occur here and there. If you forgot to bring some, you can try to get them here.
TIP 5. There are several rather good food stalls at Mersing Harbour Centre. Make sure you sample some the dishes offered, because they're well worth it. Also, Tioman souvenirs of all shapes, types and sizes can be bought at the Mersing Harbour Centre shops and kiosks. You can even get a hair cut. Or, better yet, why not go for a massage, an excellent way to perk up those weary limbs after your road trip to Mersing.
TIP 6. Tioman is renown for its superb scuba locations. Always wanted to get your scuba permit? Or if you already have your permit but you want to know more about scuba diving in Tioman, then head for Counter 19. They will tell you all there is to know.
TIP 7. Can't wait to get a taste of Tioman whilst awaiting your ferry's departure? Drop by Mersing Harbour Centre's I Love Tioman One Station Shop. Best of all, they've got all kinds of travel accessories for sale that may well come in very handy on the island.
TIP 8. Before your departure to Tioman, you'll be asked to pay 30 Ringgit conservation fee. Please note that the funds collected go towards maintaining the Tioman marine and terrestrial environment, i.e. the island's sea and land flora and fauna. You'll be issued a receipt upon payment of the fee.
TIP 9. Mersing Harbour Centre doesn't offer an ATM just yet, but there are quite a few in Mersing proper, a few minutes' walk away. Whilst Tioman does have an ATM, it's on Tekek, so a bit of a way's away if you happen to be in one of Tioman's other kampongs. In other words, it's a good idea to bring some cash with you to Tioman. Keep in mind also that Tioman's ATM can run out of cash or break down every now and again.
TIP 10. Local calls can be made from public phones using coins or pre-paid cards. International calls can be made from public phones with card phone facilities or at any Telekom offices or Internet cafes using Skype. However, it's a lot easier to just buy a pre-paid SIM card, either here or when you're in Tioman. Pre-paid SIM cards are quite affordable, both for calls and for data. That said, do note that Tioman is quite a distance offshore, which doesn't do its connectivity a lot of good. The dense jungle on the island also causes "no-network" pockets now and again.
TIP 11. If you're going to drive a rental car in Malaysia, you'll need an international driving licence. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road. And please note that it's advisable to observe the speed limit: 50km/h in the city or residential areas and 80km/h and 110km/h on the highway and expressway, respectively.
TIP 12. Bring an extra t-shirt or hoodie with you on the ferry, because sometimes the air-con is set to high, resulting in quite a chilly cabin. Only brought summer wear? Fashionable apparel is available here.
TIP 13. Local food tends to be quite spicy. If you cannot take spicy food, inform your hotel's staff. They'll then be able to prepare your meals using less chili.
TIP 14. Not sure at which kampong or jetty you need to disembark the ferry? This is the usual order of the various ferry stops:
2. Paya (Don't mistake "Paya" for "Berjaya", which is in Tekek)
4. Air Batang (Also known as "ABC")
x. Panuba (But only when there are guests staying here)
Just reverse the order on your way back to Mersing or Tanjung Gemuk. Note that during the monsoon, the ferry route taken may ned to be adjusted. By all means ask the ferry cabin crew if you're not sure where to disembark.
TIP 15. If you're going to Kampong Mukut or Nipah, please inform the ferry crew in advance, as these kampongs are not on the usual ferry destination list.
TIP 16. Visitors to Malaysia must be in possession of a valid passport or travel document with a minimum validity of six months beyond the intended visiting period. Most visitors do not require a visa for social or business visits. Best check with your embassy to make sure you don't run into any problems at passport control.
TIP 17. Tap water is safe to drink in Malaysia. However, just to be sure, it's best boiled first.
TIP 18. Apart from the monsoon months, November to March, and the occasional squall, most of the ferry's crossings tend to be quite smooth. If, however, you tend to get seasick, you can try motion sickness medication, such as Dramamine, available from Mersing Harbour Centre's pharmacy.
Another way to combat that queasy feeling in your stomach is by using a motion sickness patch. These slow-release patches cause less drowsiness than oral medication. Sucking on tangy candy also does the trick for some. If all else fails, please note that the ferry offers seasickness bags.
TIP 19. Looking for a cheap way to get to Mersing? There are various bus and coach options. You can book your tickets real-time and your bus seats are confirmed immediately.
TIP 20. If you're not in the mood for a hot meal but would like a fresh roll or some bread or pastry, then head for Mersing Harbour Centre's very own Sweet Bakery.
TIP 21. Didn't bring any sun block? Or left your mozzie spray at home? Mersing Harbour Centre's convenience store to the rescue.
TIP 22. If you're worried you'll get the munchies whilst on your ferry journey, then rest assured that you can beat the munchies blues with a choice of local delicacies, cookies and traditional snacks right here in Mersing Harbour Centre.
TIP 23. Book your ferry tickets as far as possible in advance, especially when travelling over weekends, local school holidays or public holidays. New accommodations are being added to Tioman every year, but the ferry service is having a hard time keeping up, due to the river Mersing's shallow river mouth. To avoid missing out on a day's fun in Tioman, not to mention your hotel booking there, it's best to book your ferry early. Ferry tickets can be booked online here or here.
TIP 24. If you've arrived at Mersing Harbour Centre and you want to book your ferry trip and collect your ferry tickets as soon as possible, make your way to Counter 21. It's also the perfect spot for Tioman accommodation advice and all kinds of other useful information pertaining to Tioman.
TIP 25. Do you have a tip or a suggestion? Email us.
NOTE: The Malaysia Ringgit is at historic lows currently, so better book your Malaysia trip a-sap, because odds are that you'll be able to snag extremely good resort deals!