Mersing town is located on the east coast of the peninsular Malaysian state of Johor. It is 136 Kilometres north east of the state capital Johor Bahru. It is a gateway to nature and traditional culture. But for most outsiders the small tourist town is hardly more than a few-hours rest en route to Tioman Island. Mersing town is thus best known for its passenger boat jetty where ferries depart daily for numerous offshore island destinations.
Despite its estimated population of 21,000, Mersing town should not be viewed as a mere stopover, a transient path to an offshore isle. The town possesses a quiet charm that in many ways represents a fast disappearing small-town culture that once pervaded all of Malaysia. It has yet to see any typical signs of major economic and urban development.
Two main roads run through the town. There only two junctions with traffic lights and only two traffic roundabouts. The two main roads are lined with traditional and modern shop houses that provide a range of modern services. There are traditional fruit sellers, grocers and modern supermarkets, plus a range of local restaurants and fast food outlets, several open 24-hours.
Mersing is a throwback to the small town look and temperament that existed in Malaysia some 20 or 30 years ago. There is little if at all in the way of chic clubs, cafes or shopping malls. The town's appeal lies rather in its out-of-doors, its slow-paced life and natural surroundings, such as jungle reserves and unspoiled beaches, rocky coasts and offshore kelongs for pleasure angling. Air Papan and Penyabung beaches are about 15 and 30 minutes drive north of the town respectively. There you can glimpse the remaining vestiges of traditional seaside Malay village life.
Circumambulate the centrally orientated hill that shoots up right behind the Hindu temple, very near to the roundabout, a short walk from the bridge.
Several bus companies operate direct services to Mersing, e.g. Transnasional from Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, and Singapore, while others that use the east coast highway (e.g. Johor Bahru to/from Kota Bahru) also call at Mersing.
From Singapore, the cheapest way to Mersing is to cross the Causeway to Larkin terminal by bus, which takes about an hour off-peak (see Queen Street Bus Terminal). But buses from Larkin to Mersing are limited, so get there in time to catch the 8:30 AM bus; another is at 2:30 PM. The direct Transnasional bus from Lavender Street Terminal is somewhat easier if three-times the cost; its first departure is at 9 AM and reaches Mersing by 1 PM. You will likely need to book a day or more in advance.
When leaving Mersing, if you don't pre-book, the bus may be full. For travel to Johor Bahru and Singapore, an alternative is to take the local bus to Kota Tinggi (less than 2 hrs) and then the local bus to Johor Bahru's Larkin terminal (less then 1 hour), and then onward to Singapore (buses going all the time).
Rental cars are available in the major Malaysian cities and town. There is as yet no reputable brand name car rental company in Mersing. Visitors are advised to make car rental arrangements elsewhere.
Taxi transport to and out of Mersing is available from Johor Bahru (2:15) and other Malaysian towns, figure on around RM180 per car at peak hours (Fri/Sun evenings) and as little as RM130 at other times. Taxis (official and unofficial) can be found waiting around the Tioman ferry pier.
There are also Taxis in Mersing to travel within the town and the surrounding areas.
Many cyclists ride to Mersing in the summer months to enjoy the serenity and beauty of the Mersing countryside.
Mersing town can be navigated easily by foot during the summer period. It is however advisable to travel by motor vehicle as there are many beaches to explore outside of Mersing town.
Mersing river and the traditional Malaysian fishing boats can be viewed from the bus terminal complex down river.
A Hindu temple is located at the base of the hill near to the central roundabout.
Mersing Mosque is located on a hill top 15 mins walk from the center of town. It has excellent views of the town.
Mersing esplanade and marine park is located walking distance from then town and nearing from Mersing Jetty.
The Beaches in the Penyabung area and at Air Papan. These beaches are all relatively isolated and visitors are advised to exercise care and caution.
Take a walk through the town and savour traditional Malay "kueh" or confectioneries during the traditional teatime.
Have a picnic on a East Coast Beach.
Buy your fish and other seafood from Mersing market.
Internet: the standard charge in Mersing is approximately RM2/- per hour.
You can visit Mersing year round. But it can be wet and windy in December and January. Beaches are best between March to October.
If you are on a budget, it is best to buy everything you may need before you visit Tioman island or the other islands off Mersing as mainland prices are cheaper.
There is a mini "Giant" Supermarket in Mersing which is well stocked. You will also find Kini (near the Bus Terminal) and Tunas Manja (Taman Wawasan), a fairly long walk along the road toward Johor Bharu.
There are only two vegetarian places in Mersing. Both are very simple.
There are numerous hotels and motels in Mersing town.
Early reservation is recommended especially when your visit coincides with Singapore and Malaysia holidays.
The smaller hotels are most suitable for budget conscious travelers and they are usually run by families. Prices range from RM20 per night for non-aircon rooms to RM50 for air-con.
These hotels are suitable for business and family vacation travelers.
Situated on Jalan Endau road, near the Mersing river and just after the central town roundabout