Located 50km off the east coast town of Mersing in southern Malaysia is a hidden island gem fringed by palm trees and lovely yellow sand. Tioman Island is the name of this place – a 20km long and 11km wide mountainous and heavily forested speck in the middle of the vast ocean. For tourists, there are a number of villages to choose from with Air Batang being a popular choice.
Air Batang is sleepy
Air Batang is one of the sleepier villages to call home when on Tioman Island. Many other villages such as Salang cater toward masses of domestic tourists more interested in banana boating than relaxing in a beachside bar or lying on the sand. Although Air Batang is one of the sleepier and less developed villages, it still feels much more developed than say Karimunjawa in Indonesia. In fact, there is a concrete path running the length of the village, electricity 24hrs per day and restaurants catering toward foreign tastes.
Air Batang accommodation
Air Batang accommodation is not very diverse with most hotels and guesthouses primarily offering cheap shacks. These cheap shacks usually have cold water showers, Western toilets, a fan and a reasonably comfortable foam bed. You can pay more for better accommodation in Air Batang which features air-conditioning, but part of the fun of Tioman Island is the rustic feel of the place. We definitely recommend searching for cheap accommodation on Air Batang – prices start at around RM40 per night.
Air Batang food
The food in Air Batang is generally geared towards tourists with most of the meals not being too weird. That said, you can still get plenty of Malaysian dishes for about RM4 per serve and there are even places that serve really good hamburgers. Of course, there are plenty of juices and soft drinks on offer, plus the best part – cheap beer! We don’t know why, but beer is much cheaper here than in other parts of Malaysia with one can costing RM4. We think it might have something to do with the island having duty free status.
A word of warning, though. If you are Muslim and get caught drinking beer, the religious police may punish you. The penalty is a fine or A FREAKING WHIPPING, or both. So if you don’t want to be whipped, don’t drink beer on Tioman Island if you are Muslim. Anyone know what this is about? We didn’t realise that doing something against your religion would be punishable by law.
Drinking water on the island has a reputation for being expensive, but we didn’t find it overly expensive. Sure, you pay more on Tioman than on the mainland, but when you’re only talking RM2.50 for 1.5L of water, it doesn’t really matter that much.
Air Batang beach
The beach at Air Batang is great in some places and rocky in others. Actually, the most southerly end of the village has the best beach, but you can easily walk to it regardless of where you stay in Air Batang. The colour of the sand is a deep yellow and just wonderful.
The water is generally a light blue turquoise colour with lots of fish! You can hear it calling your name, “Come in come in!” It is truly sensational. And clean.
Air Batang sunsets
One of the great things to do in Air Batang is to watch the sun set. Because Air Batang faces the west, you can get a great view of the sun setting from almost anywhere along the strip. Out favourite places were the jetty where you get unobstructed views and one of the beach bars in the north of the village where you can sip on a cold drink, relax and watch the sun go down. It is absolutely marvellous. Check out the video and tell us what you think.
Air Batang wildlife
One of the interesting things about Air Batang is that there are plenty of animals roaming around which makes for some fascinating encounters. Of course there are loads of domestic cats, but also giant monitor lizards and monkeys. Let it be known that if you chase a monitor lizard through the jungle, you are unlikely to catch it even if all you wanted to do was grab a photo. #protip.
Getting to Tioman Island
Two ferry companies make the journey from Mersing in eastern Malaysia to Tioman Island daily. The Bluewater company is the most popular to use because they run ferries multiple times every day with the first departing Mersing at about 6am and the last at 4:30pm. If you catch the last ferry from Mersing and it is a busy day on Tioman Island, you may have great difficulty finding a room. A better option is to stay the night in Mersing before heading to Tioman Island the next morning. The cost of a return ticket is RM70.
Air Batang on Tioman Island is an awesome place for some rest and relaxation. Go there, relax and let the hours roll by. And don’t forget to take in those sunsets!
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