Best Option From Singapore To Tioman Island

So a long weekend is approaching:

And you’re contemplating on undertaking the strenuous journey from Singapore to Tioman Island or Rawa Island.

But you have doubts:

How bad is the jam going to be?

Is it worth the trouble?

Which is the most stress-free way to go?

In this post, we’re going to breakdown exactly what it’s going to be like. Or at least what you can expect!

1. Best Option From Singapore To Tioman Island

There are unfortunately no direct commercial flights from Singapore to Tioman Island or Rawa Island!

Tunamaya Beach & Spa Resort At Mukut Village

Which leaves you with the following 3 options to get to either Mersing Jetty or Tanjung Gemok Jetty:

  1. Relying on public transport
  2. Self-driving
  3. Hiring a private car service

Regardless of which mode of transport you choose:

All will likely use the same route(s) to Mersing Jetty and Tanjung Gemok Jetty.

And there’s no way to bypass immigration between Singapore and Malaysia with either of these!

Read also: Singapore To Tioman Package: All-inclusive Package For Fuss-free Trip To Tioman

1.1. Taking The Bus To Tioman Island From Singapore

Public transport is, without a doubt:

The cheapest way to get to Tioman Island.

Bus Operators from Singapore to Tioman Island

But there are inconveniences:

Cons Of Taking The Bus:

  • You have to get off the bus for immigration (with your luggage). And then, queue up to board the bus again after.
  • Being at the bus departure point on time usually means getting up early in the morning and arranging for transport there!
  • Bus tickets sell out incredibly fast for public holiday dates

Tip: If you have a sizeable travel group, and you’re not going on one of the longer public holidays (3-4 days), take a private car! Less hassle for all your travel mates!

1.2. Self-Driving To Tioman Island From Singapore

Having a car allows you greater flexibility in your itinerary.

Self-drive to Tanjung Gemok Jetty

The biggest issue of self-driving is not the toll or petrol fees:

Cons Of Self-Driving:

  • Mental energy required to drive!
  • Finding parking. There are limited car park slots at either Mersing Jetty or Tanjung Gemok Jetty.

Circling around endlessly waiting for a car park is not how you want to start your holiday!

There may be no car park slots left!

Leaving your car overnight is at your own risk too!

1.3. Private Car To Tioman Island From Singapore

So what about hiring a private car service instead?

You do get the benefit of flexibility as well as not having to drive when you go for a private car service.

Singapore to Mersing Tioman

Families with young kids and elderly folk will appreciate the extra space and not having to get out of the car for immigration too!

But alas:

Cons Of Taking A Private Car Service:

  • Expensive for solo or couple travellers
  • Still subject to causeway traffic too with equally long hours on the road!

Tip: Don’t bother to take a private car during the 3-4 day long holidays. You might still miss your ferry! Any other normal weekend will be fine!

2. Travelling To Tioman Island From Singapore During The Peak Season

Of course, there’s always going to be congestion at the Johor-Singapore border during public holidays or on the eve of any long weekends.

Sometimes it can be really bad:

Thus, it definitely helps to know when to travel so you can avoid the worst of the mobs!

2.1. When Are The Busiest Travel Periods To Tioman Island

If there happens to be a stretch of 4 days of back-to-back holidays (including weekends), you may be stuck at the Singapore and Johor checkpoints for 5 to 8 hours!

That’s about the same time it takes to get to Tioman Island (or Rawa Island) in the first place!

Even a 3-day stint of a public holiday can result in heavy queues and infinitely long waiting times at the checkpoints.

This is especially so if the public holiday falls on a Friday or Monday.

Or if there is a replacement holiday on a Monday.

Public Holidays For Singapore (And Malaysia)

In general, you must consider both countries’ holidays if you plan to go to Tioman Island or Rawa Island. As the islands are popular with Malaysians too!

Swimming Right In Front Of The Rawa Island Beach

Photo credits to phalinn

Major Public Holidays For Singapore And Malaysia:

  • Hari Raya
  • National Day (Singapore) every August 9
  • Hari Raya Haji
  • National Day (Malaysia) every August 31

It’s highly advisable to give long public holidays a miss altogether:

As many Singaporeans cannot catch their ferries due to the heavy congestion at the customs!

And you can’t assume that just because resort rooms are available, ferry slots are too! That might not be the case at all!

2.2. Other Reasons To Avoid Travelling To Tioman Island During Peak Season

Besides the insane traffic, you’ll have to deal with:

  1. Higher resort prices
  2. Early reservations required for accommodation and overland transport but you can’t book early for the ferry/boat transport to the islands!
  3. It is exceedingly difficult to get a comfortable time slot for the ferry to Tioman Island! Or any, for that matter!
  4. Frustrated group members – Everyone’s patience will be running thin.
  5. Greater risk of missing your ferry due to heavy traffic.

2.3. Missing The Ferry Or Speedboat Transfers Because Of Your Transport

In the event that you do miss your boat to Tioman Island or Rawa Island due to getting stuck in a traffic jam either by bus or self-driving:

Cataferry Ferry to Tioman Island

Other than losing the time spent in the jam, you’ll be wasting money on:

  • Your initial ferry bookings, of course!
  • Booking a new set of boat tickets
  • Booking extra accommodation (we’ll explain this further)

So what is the worst-case scenario?

Many Singaporeans end up having to make an overnight stay at either Mersing Jetty or Tanjung Gemok Jetty.

What if the ferries are all booked?

Tanjung Gemok Jetty Entrance

Tanjung Gemok Jetty Entrance

Since Mersing Jetty and Tanjung Gemok Jetty are ~20 minutes’ drive apart:

Taking a taxi to the next jetty is another way to get a ferry to Tioman Island. Just note that there are no boats to Rawa Island from Tanjung Gemok Jetty!

Or you might have to charter a private speedboat service! Splitting the cost with other unfortunate travellers who have also missed their ferry!

Island Hopping Near Rawa Island

Photo credits to phalinn

Even so, speedboats are subject to availability during peak season!

Which means:

You may have to wait for the next day, incurring further monetary losses (e.g. accommodation at the jetty and on the island)


Is it worth going to Tioman Island during the peak season?

Seeing that you might end up spending many hours stuck between Singapore and Johor whether you decide to take a private car, a bus or drive:

Not to mention, unforeseen expenditures like missing your ferry and having to stay overnight in Mersing!

It seems an awful lot of trouble just for a few days on Tioman Island or Rawa Island!

But if you’re still adamant on making the trip during a particularly long period of 3-4 days of public holidays, here are some tips:

  • Start planning early so you can start booking early! This may not help much since the Tioman ferry schedules are typically only published 2 weeks (Tanjung Gemok Jetty) or 3-4 weeks (Mersing Jetty) before the departure dates!
  • Allow ample time in your schedule as buffer for delays, especially if you have a flight!
  • Travel light. Extra baggage is heavy on the mind too!
  • Take the bus! There’s no point in taking a private car or driving if all of them are going to take a long time. Might as well save some money!