Berjaya Tioman Resort review – ditch the dive huts for fancy resort living

The last time I was anywhere near Tioman, I was doing a live on board scuba diving trip on a dinky little boat. Cramped down in the hull in a bunk bed dorm next to the hum of the engine, I’ve since decided that I’m a little more willing to pay for some comfort these days. So when the Berjaya Tioman Resort invited me to check out their refurbished hotel, I was definitely excited to make a long awaited trip back to Tioman and see what it’d be like living the high life on this beautiful island for once.

Berjaya Tioman Resort sign at the driveway on a sunny day with palm trees and beach in background
Welcome to Berjaya Tioman Resort

My stay at the Berjaya Tioman Resort was sponsored by the hotel. All opinions are my own.

I wrote about things you can do on Tioman besides scuba diving for The Straits Times – read the online article at ST [paywall].

Location

South Tekek

Berjaya Tioman Resort is located in Tekek, the largest village in Tioman and where most of the administration and amenities are located. The resort takes up about 200 acres of land to the south of the village.

The resort is easy to get to as the public ferries (Bluewater & Cataferry) stop at Tekek. It’s definitely more convenient compared to some of the other resorts in more remote villages that require a separate water taxi transfer or private ferry arrangement.

The resort is about 20mins walking distance from the ferry terminal, though I wouldn’t say it’s easy to walk and and from the village as there’s a small steep hill in between. The hotel can drop you via car/van at the ferry terminal and main village area if requested. 

Tioman Berjaya Ferry Pick Up
Vans picking up Berjaya guests at the Tekek ferry terminal

Hotel

Kampung Style

Berjaya Tioman Resort opened back in 1985 so it is one of the older villages on the island. Occupying a massive area along the Tekek coastline, the resort is practically a village in itself which is what I think the design was inspired by. 

Berjaya Tioman Resort Malay house inspired architecture
The wooden panelling, decorative eaves and raised floors on stilts are quite typical of Malay style houses often seen in villages.

The main building and the individual chalets and duplexes are built like typical wooden Malay houses with sloping roofs and raised floors on stilts and seem to be grouped in little clusters, which makes it great for families and groups booking multiple rooms as there are no large family-style suites or rooms – each room only houses 2 people though you can add 1 extra bed if you need to.

*That said, there are 2-bedroom chalets marked on the resort’s map though it’s not reflected in the website

Berjaya Tioman Resort beachfront chalets
These beachfront chalets face the sea and have their own little yard and deckchairs, as well as a full-length sliding glass door to the terrace so you can admire the view from inside.

Even if you can’t get a beachfront view which are the most expensive rooms, the mountain view or garden chalets has a nice green view, though some of the Garden rooms are quite far away from the main reception and required buggy transfers if you don’t want to walk.

Berjaya Tioman Resort Garden Terrace on the beach by a river
These garden chalets are somewhat on the beach though these particular units were facing the small river that flowed into the sea

Room

Comfortable

I stayed in Room 103, a Garden Premier Terrace room which was in the same block as the reception area. It’s one of the larger rooms available and I liked that it was close to reception and most of the resort’s amenities without having to call a buggy.

post ATV ride, parked outside our room
Posing on our ATVs in front of our room. To the left of our room is another smaller room of unknown function (staff quarter? store room?)
Berjaya Tioman Resort Terrace view
View from Room 103’s terrace. Too bad it’s mostly blocked by the recreation building (it’s a bit overexposed, but you can see the sea from behind where the trucks are)

The room itself was spacious with two queen beds and a sofa set to rest on. There was a small table in the corner where I spent some late nights banging out some writing, and for entertainment there is a large tv with Netflix. One sign of the resort’s age is its power outlet situation – there were outlets at both the work table and the dressing room table, but not any right next to the bed, nor any sign of USB outlets either.

Garden Premier Terrace room with twin beds and a sitting area
Room 103 is a Garden Premier Terrace which is one of the larger rooms available, mostly due to the extended sitting room area
View from the beds
Here’s the view from the beds so you can see the sitting room area, table and TV. Room has both air-con and fan. Toilet entrance to the left of the beds

The toilet was long and spacious with an oddly large dressing room area where the wardrobes are. It had both bath tub and shower, 2 sinks, a sitting toilet and bidet next to it.

Dressing room area and wardrobes
Entrance to the toilet – this is the ‘dry’ area aka the dressing room area. Inside the wardrobes you had the safe and other amenities.
Berjaya Tioman Resort Toilet
Bathtub and shower on the left, toilet and sinks to the right. This ‘wet’ toilet area doesn’t have a separate door from the dry area, but this toilet is pretty spacious overall.

I like that the room had a nice outdoor terrace with chairs, but the sea view was mostly blocked by the very large recreation hall right in front of it. Also, would be nice if they had a rack to hang wet clothes out to dry on the terrace so we don’t have to drape clothes on the railing.

Berjaya Tioman Resort Terrace view
View from Room 103’s terrace. Too bad it’s mostly blocked (it’s a bit overexposed in this picture, but you can see the sea from behind where the trucks are on the right). That building in front of us is the recreation centre.

Dining

Berjaya Tioman’s main restaurant is the ASEAN All Day Dining where you can get breakfast on a basic package. I got to try the resort’s new premium all access package (additional 500 RM per day) where you can get all three meals and tea including free flow drinks (beers, house pour wines and some hard liquors included!) – if you don’t intend to venture out of the resort at all, this is something you can consider. The buffet dishes change every day and there is a variety of Malaysian and western dishes on the buffet and a la carte menu.

Tioman Berjaya ASEAN Dining Room
The main dining area
Tioman Berjaya ASEAN Dining Buffet
Buffet time!

On Friday and Saturday nights, dinner is a more raucous affair as they have live BBQ grills with meat and seafood instead of the usual buffet food. The smell is pretty amazing throughout the resort then. Also, look out for the staff performing an actual fire show!

Tioman Berjaya Dinner BBQ Grill
All that satay, meat and seafood!
Tioman Berjaya Fire Show Flame
Hard to believe but these are the resort’s staff multi-tasking as fire breathing entertainers!

If you’re in the resort for a special occasion, the resort can also customise some special meals for you. They kindly let me experience some of these too. First, breakfast on the beach if you’re a morning person:

Tioman Berjaya Beach Picnic Me
Having a picnic breakfast on the beach – lovely view though it does get hot quickly so have your breakfast early if you want to do this!
Tioman Berjaya Beach Picnic
Breakfast picnic spread with Pulau Renggis in the background

Berjaya Tioman Resort faces the west coast and its sunsets are its most spectacular natural sight. There is a little elevated space above the pool that’s perfect for small parties or private dinners, where they’ll even throw in some decorations along with a 3-course plated meal.

Tioman Berjaya Pavilion Dinner Sunset Me
Having dinner at a private pavilion by the sea for sunset views over dinner
Tioman Berjaya Pool Deck Dinner Me
Having a date with some cocktails and a plated 3-course dinner up on the pool deck. Sadly not much of a sunset that evening!

Beach + water activities

The beach is of course the main highlight of Tioman, and the resort has a great stretch of private white sand beach, though for all the beaches in Tioman: BEWARE OF SANDFLIES. The resort has a bunch of sprays with homemade sandfly repellent near the sand – spray that liberally on any exposed body parts. I mostly sprayed my feet but my upper thighs, arms and shoulders ended up quite itchy >_<

Tioman Berjaya Beach Chairs
Deck chairs for tanning
Tioman Berjaya Beach Low Tide
Low tide is perfect for intertidal exploration and you can walk out quite far as its pretty shallow
Tioman Berjaya Beach Sunset Beer
Grab a beer at the beach bar and enjoy the sunset!
Tioman Berjaya Beach Sunset Renggis
Managed one decent sunset on our first evening there, was quite cloudy rest of the time
Tioman Berjaya Beach Jumpshot Me
You know I gotta do some jumpshots (and this is also when I ended up getting sandfly bites)

You can also rent a kayak or SUP board if you want a bit more of a workout, but I was happy enough just wading in the beautiful blue waters. You can also rent snorkelling equipment, though I’d recommend taking a snorkelling trip to nearby Renggis Island or somewhere further for better fish spotting.

Tioman Berjaya Resort from Sea
View from the water – that green building is the resort’s recreation centre

Scuba Diving

The resort has started its own dive centre and one of its highlights is being just a literal stone’s throw away from Renggis Island, one of the best spots for scuba diving and snorkelling in Tioman. Sea turtles and black-tipped sharks are regularly spotted in these shallow waters here that are about 10-15m deep.

I’ve dived in other parts of Tioman before and only had time for 1 dive on this trip, but still managed to see some turtles and make friends with some sociable pufferfish. The visibility was not super high, maybe 10-15m? Lots of small fish shoals as well here at Renggis Island.

Tioman Scuba Diving Me WS
Whale shark sighting? I’ll make it happen!
Tioman Scuba Diving Puffer Coral Structure
Artificial reef to encourage coral growth along with the friendly pufferfish swimming with us
Tioman Scuba Diving Turtle Coral
Caught a turtle munching on coral

Tioman honestly is not a bad place to get your dive certification because there are enough fish and corals to interest newbies and water conditions usually aren’t too difficult. Those interested in scuba diving usually stay along the west coast of Tioman – Salang up north is closer to more of the dive sites, though you can find lots of dive shops in Tekek, ABC, Paya and Genting as well.

Swim in the beachfront pool

If you’re not a fan of sand, there is a lovely swimming pool area that faces the beach so you can enjoy a soak while still taking in the coastal views. There is a swim up bar so you can grab a drink while in the water, and deck chairs for lounging around the pool.

Tioman Berjaya Pool Lights Sunset
I actually love the pool view at night with all the lights on
Tioman Berjaya Pool Chalets
The pool by day with some of the duplexes and mountain view in the background
Tioman Berjaya Pool Hills Me
Enjoying the hill view

Other land activities

Yoga by the beach

One free thing you can do in the resort every day is to take a morning or evening yoga class in the beachfront pavilion. Just sign up, turn up and enjoy a serene stretch with sea views and hill views to wake you up. We did a 1-hour yoga session in the morning which was a refreshing way to start the day.

Tioman Berjaya Mountain View
Mountain view from the pavilion. No photos of me doing yoga as all my limbs were in use then!

Movies on the beach

Tioman doesn’t have much nightlife, so if you get bored at night, you could pop out to the movie nights that they organise on the beach. Just pull up a mat and some beanbags and catch what’s playing – we had The Secrets of Dumbledore running when we popped by. There is Netflix in your room with a large TV if you want better resolution and sound, but it’s nice just chilling out under the stars on the beach.

Tioman Berjaya Beach Movies
Movies on the beach at night

Taaras Spa

Kick off your trip with a relaxing massage, body scrub or wrap at the hotel’s Taaras Spa. I had a pretty good 1hr deep tissue massage, though you can opt for aromatherapy as well. There is a cute little jacuzzi pool in the middle of the spa’s garden area which was being cleaned when we were there unfortunately, but otherwise it has a really nice view of the mountains where you can soak and relax.

Tioman Berjaya Spa Tea Me
Relaxing with some ginger tea post-massage – my massage took place in the little hut to the left.

ATV Rides

You can rent bicycles, e-scooters and quadricycles to better explore Berjaya Tioman Resort’s massive 200 acre compound, but I thought the ATV ride was actually one of the more fun things you can do. We got a quick primer on how to handle the ATV right at the start, and then we followed our guide south past the golf course…

Tioman Berjaya Golf Course ATV
Tioman’s 18-hole golf course is another of its highlights though some of it is being refurbished right now

… all the way to the Condotel property at the end of the mostly paved road. From there things get a bit dicier as the gravel road becomes more rocky and you have to be quite careful to not steer yourself off the downward sloping path.

Tioman Berjaya Condotel ATV
Condotel in the background. This was actually taken on the way back because I was a bit nervous on the drive here.

But in the end, you are rewarded with a lovely secluded beach known to the locals as Bunut Beach, though it was renamed TAT Turtle Sanctuary later on. There’s no sanctuary here now though – you have to head to Juara if you want to see the actual turtle centre. There is an abandoned hut here so maybe there were activities here before, but now it’s just a very lovely quiet stretch of beach where you can attempt to ride your ATV on sand (just don’t get stuck in a sand pit like me…)

Tioman Bunut Beach ATV Sand
Riding on the beach!

You can’t ride your ATV beyond this beach area because of the thick forests. More on that next…

Jungle Trekking

One of the things I was definitely curious about was jungle trekking in Tioman. I’ve spent way more time underwater than on land in Tioman to date, so it was nice to be able to actually explore its forests. Because of our limited time, the resort arranged for one of their staff to take us on a short hike from the southern end of the resort to the neighbouring village Paya.

Tioman Paya Trekking Guide
Wear good shoes and spray on the repellent! It can get slippery especially if it’s been raining the night before.

This particular hike is something you’ll probably only be able to do with the Berjaya Tioman Resort as it passes through their private property, but some of the other villages are linked by jungle paths as well.

We saved a fair amount of walking by getting a lift on the buggy as far as the Condotel property that’s perched on the cliffside, and from there we walked along the dirt paths, past Bunut beach until we reached the forested area. This part requires some climbing, but there is a trail marked and some handholds and ropes at the steeper bits to help.

Tioman Paya Trekking Me Cat
We had a stray cat follow us over the steep ridge from Tekek to Paya! Sadly we didn’t have any food on hand to feed it so it abandoned us at Paya for more generous looking tourists

The crossing didn’t take that long – about 20-30 minutes of walking and climbing up and down the hilly forested ridge later, we found ourselves in the village of Paya!

Tioman Paya Village Path
Paya village is much smaller than Tekek and has a different vibe

Over there, we took another trek to see some interesting things around the area. First up: the rock falls.

Tioman Paya Rock Falls
The Rock Falls is basically a small swimming hole to chill in when it gets hot. It’s more impressive after it rains though!

After a longer walk through the forest (ATV is also an option if you don’t want to walk so much – there’s a rental place at the village area at the start of the path), we made it to Mother Willow, a huge tree on top of a rock that’s apparently over 300 years old! You can climb up via a ladder built into the side of the rock for a nice high view of the forest floor.

Tioman Paya Mother Willow Climbing Me
Climbing up the ladder
Tioman Paya Mother Willow Top Me
Scary view from the top? The ladder is secure enough but you have no other barriers around to keep you from falling, so I kept myself wedged close to the trunk as much as possible.

There are other treks available – there is a more hardcore trek from Tekek to Juara, and a more wildlife focused one around Tekek to look for Rafflesia flowers. If you’re really into trekking, Mukut down south is where you can climb the twin peaks, or scale Tioman’s highest peak Gunung Kajang, 1000m high between Paya and Juara.

Best time to visit Tioman

Tioman’s high season is from March to October, when the weather is generally drier and seas are calmer so you can do all the outdoor activities as compared to November to February when it’s monsoon season. However, it’s not that you can’t visit Tioman at all during the wetter months. Berjaya Tioman Resort offers a fine weather guarantee where you may get night extensions or discounts if your trip is affected by perpetual rain. Also, the rain in these tropical parts is intermittent and generally you will still get some sun even during the rainy season – having a larger resort like Berjaya with many activity options lets you tide over those rainy moments in between.

How to get from Singapore to Tioman

Despite its relative distance from Singapore, Tioman is actually a bit of a pain to get to from Singapore, mostly because there are no direct options from Singapore to Tioman.

You have two options:

Cheaper: Bus to Mersing, Ferry to Tekek Jetty

KKKL has a coach service from Kovan Hub (6am) or Tan Quee Lan Street (630am) to Mersing Ferry Terminal. The journey usually takes about 3-3.5 hours but depends on how fast you get through customs. I visited over the school holidays and only reached Mersing at around 1130am.

The bus is comfortable and a guide hops on after you pass Malaysian customs who will brief passengers on what to expect at the ferry terminal. 

A one-way bus ticket on KKKL costs $39 and can be booked at kkkl.com.sg or subsidiaries like Busonlineticket or Easybook.

Tioman KKKL Coach Bugis
630am bus from Bugis, zzz
Tioman KKKL Coach Seats
Comfortable coach seats!

An alternative is to arrange for a private car transfer from Singapore to Mersing. It may be more expensive but offers more flexibility and may be worthwhile if travelling in a large group. Sgmytaxi.com has cars that start from $440 per car (round trip).

The bus drops you in front of Mersing Ferry Terminal, but you will need to cross the road to Mersing Harbour Centre to pick up your ferry tickets if you haven’t already printed them out, as well as to pay the mandatory Tioman Marine Park Fee. Look for the Taman Laut Malaysia sign. The fee is RM30 ($10) for non-Malaysians and a receipt is issued that you need to show with your ferry ticket when you board.

Tioman Mersing Harbour Centre
Mersing Harbour Centre is right across the road from the ferry terminal
Tioman Mersing Harbour Centre Taman Laut
This is the Taman Laut counter

There are two ferry options from Mersing to Tioman: Bluewater Ferry is older and their seats are more rundown and has one standard price of RM65 ($20). Despite the number on the ticket, it’s free seating so hustle on board for a good seat. Cataferry is newer and has a nicer ambience with assigned seating and a premium option on the upper deck.

Tioman Mersing Ferry Terminal Tickets
Here’s what the ticket situation looks like – the actual ticket (white, right), a group marker (yellow, left – there are many ferries going off at the same time so they used this to help sort the crowds), Marine Park Fee (Taman Laut Malaysia, left) and a luggage tag (purple, right) with Tekek so the baggage people know where to offload your bag
Tioman Mersing Ferry Terminal Waiting Room
Waiting area to board the ferry – super crowded cause it was the school holidays

The ferries typically make stops at the villages in a loop: Genting, Paya, Tekek, Air Batang (ABC) and Salang before returning to Mersing. Pay attention to the place names that are shouted out and alight promptly when the boat is in dock. Some villages like Juara, Nipah and Mukut are not on the public ferry route and require special arrangements to connect.

A one-way ferry ticket on Bluewater Ferry costs RM65 ($20) and can be booked at bluewater.my or Easybook

Tioman Ferry Bluewater Boat
Bluewater ferry
Tioman Ferry Bluewater Seats
Meanwhile this is Bluewater’s interior – the front has more legroom

Cataferry tickets have variable prices from RM40-300 ($12-94) depending on the day and seat class. Book tickets at cataferry.com – they are known to run promos where prices drop as low as RM5, so book as early as possible.

Tioman Ferry Cataferry Boat
Cataferry is one of two ferry providers. They are much newer and have nicer boats compared to Bluewater which is the OG ferry service
Tioman Ferry Cataferry Seats
Cataferry interior. You can pop out the back for an open-air deck!

A note that buses and ferries do connect to Tioman from Tanjung Gemok as well, which is further from Singapore, so your bus ride is roughly half an hour longer, and the ferry ride correspondingly shorter. There are less ferry connections at Tanjung Gemok compared to Mersing, so in the event of missed connections, you have a better chance of rebooking at Mersing.

Expensive: Flight to Subang Airport, Flight to Tioman Airport

If you get seasick or are willing to pay for it, you can fly from Seletar Airport to Subang Airport in Kuala Lumpur. There are two flights per day that you can then take to Tioman’s airport in Tekek, but note that the plane is very small so there are very strict luggage limits (10kg max).

  • Firefly Airline international flight from Singapore Seletar Airport (XSP) to Sultan Abdul Azziz Shah Airport (SZB) in Subang, Selangor (1hr 20 mins) – estimated $200-250 round trip cost.
  • SKS Airways domestic flight from Sultan Abdul Azziz Shah Airport (SZB) to Tioman Airport (TOD) in Tekek (1hr 30 mins) – estimated cost 600-1,000RM ($180-$320) depending on fare title

I’ve not tried this for myself, but given the timings of the flights and the need to transit in the airport, it seems like it’ll take about the same amount of time as taking the bus/ferry – the earliest you’ll arrive in Tioman is on the 2nd SKS Airways flight

Tioman Tekek Airport Road
Tiny airport in Tekek!

Looking to visit more of Malaysia‘s islands? Check out more posts here:

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