I have been posting quite a bit of comments in lonely planet forum Thorntree and recently I met Annie in one posting about Tioman Island. I found her comment was very interesting and would like to share with you guys..

"We have just returned from Tioman Is where we spent 4 nights from 4-7 May. We went over on the ferry from Mersing on the Friday after trying to book a place on the island before we set out. Because it was Friday, we were advised that accommodation was booked out for the weekend in Air Batang, Paya & Penuba - the 3 places we were considering. They could only offer a place in Salang - which the guide book said was overpriced - and we wanted a quieter village."

"After trying a number of agents in Mersing we found one (True Value) that claimed to make a booking for us for 3 nights and sold us a return ferry ticket. When we arrived at Nazri's - they said they only had the room for one night - consistent with the advice we received from an obviously more reputable agent at Kaunter 8 of the ferry terminal."

"We stayed the night at the Nazris chalet in a small aircon chalet (RM60) for the night and prepared ourselves for the possibility of having to move to Berjaya (more expensive than we wanted - RM400 per night) for the next 2 nights, since we were stuck with the return ticket."

"Luckily we walked around ABC village first, and found a RM70 room available at Bamboo Chalets for the next 3 nights - they had a late cancellation. The room was comfortable with just a fan as it was up the hill with a beautiful garden and view and all our anger disappeared. It turned out we were able to return to Mersing with our original ferry ticket even though it was a day late."

"My impression is that the Island seems to be booked up on weekends. During the week I think it should be fine - not sure about June though. The general impression we got was the popular places in southern Malaysia were booked in advance for weekends. Lots of people seem to come up from Singapore or down from KL at weekends. We found the same thing at Melaka the previous weekend - we had made an advance booking there but the hotel was full so we had the worst room for the first night since we arrived last (the fact Labour day and Prophet's birthday were the same week didnt help either)."

"Cheap places in Singapore were also tricky to find 'walking up' but otherwise we had no problem. Our best investment was a DiGi prepaid phone card for our mobile (recommended by a poster here) which only cost RM30 and gave us the opportunity to call places in our guide book a couple of days before to be certain. Phone calls were cheap - we returned with almost half the credit still on it and that was after making several local and international calls. I think it is a good investment for peak season."

"We very much enjoyed our trip to Tioman and spent 4 relaxing days - we didnt even go diving! Compared with other places I have visited in Asia - Malaysia is delightfully untouristed and hassle free."

"For the information of others the things that impressed me (a travel veteran of more than 20 years throughout Asia) were:
- The range of holiday experiences available
- The friendy, easy going locals - who treat you as a person, not as a walking wallet.
- Fair first up prices - no need to haggle over everything
- The refreshing absence of opportunistic pursuit of mass tourism (i.e. the Angkor experience last year..)
- No visas
- Carried $AUD cash and got fair rates everywhere without commissions - no need to convert to $USD first
- Ability to drink tap water everywhere, no need to 'buy' water
- Easily organised, reliable, comfortable transport - alongside locals, rather than tourists.
- Beautiful, high quality, reasonable priced cuisine (from all the cultures making up the country) & decent western cuisine as well.
- Sense of personal security.
- This seems a bit odd, but the relaxed, considerate, normality of the other tourists - of all ages & cultures. (I can only put this down to fact that Westerners who see SEA as a place to 'get-on-the-grog' and act like absolute clowns, don't come here, and the place is all the better for it)."

If you need further information on this topic, please leave in the comment. I will revert back in the same comment column.

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