Gemas is a transport town in Tampin district, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. It is notable for being at the main junction of Malaysia's rail network and approximately half-way between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. There is not much to do or to see but you might need to stay a couple of hours waiting for the next train or end up staying overnight. It is a small town and you can walk around the city centre in about 10 minutes.
The town is kilometer zero of the Jungle Railway, which head to Malaysia's north east coast at Kota Bahru. The country's other, more important, main line heads north to Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Butterworth and Thailand. Gemas is located in between the states of Johor and Negeri Sembilan. While the town is in Negeri Sembilan, some nearby villages are in Johor.
Given its importance as a railway hub and unimportance in every other respect, Gemas is usually accessed seen by train.
Trains on the Jungle Railway run to Tumpat, near Kota Bharu and the Thai border, in Kelantan. Heading south, the major stops are Johor Bahru and Singapore. Northbound, trains head as far as Butterworth, via Kuala Lumpur.
The station is approximately half-way between Singapore and KL, making scheduled times and fares to each similar: RM21 2nd class, RM 35 first class, about 3.5hrs.
While the ticket counter's regular opening hours are until 7 pm, it also opens in the half hour or so before a departure. Given that Gemas is a busy junction that every train in all directions stops at, this mean the counter will be open on-and-off for most of the evening and night.
There are several local buses going as far as Segamat in Johor and Tampin in Negeri Sembilan. Journey to Tampin takes 1 hour and 30 minutes and costs RM5.60 . From Tampin, one can either connects to Melaka in another 90 minutes ride or Seremban, the capital of Negeri Sembilan, 2 hours ride.
Transnasional serves the Seremban - Gemas - Segamat route and trip from Seremban to Gemas non stop costs RM8.50 or more.
Gemas bus station is located some 300 metres north of the train station and is totally walkable. From the entrance of the train station walk up the main road towards the end and turn left, it's on your right hand side.
Like most Malaysian small towns, Gemas, is not constrained by the logic of urban planning and knots of settlements are strung every kilometer or so along the main road. This means that the entirety of Gemas, if you count these surrounding villages, can only been seen if you have wheels. However the streets closest the railway station provide everything you will need (hotels, shops, restaurants, internet) within easy walking distance so you can easily get a flavour of the place without having to take a taxi.
Shopping is basic. If you like cheap nasty plastic clothes and footwear, you're in luck. A 7-eleven can be found on the second street to the right as you head out of the station.
The Night Market A rather exciting night market awaits...as you breeze through little stalls set up only at night, selling mainly accessories, lighters, sunglasses, toys, street food, and gifts ideal for souvenirs.
Anyone emerging from the disappointing cuisine of the trains will likely end up in Curry Point or Wang Lai in the row of shophouses on the left on the street straight out of the station exit. This is fortunate as both these near neighbours are are surprisingly good quality and good value.
Heading slightly further aflield leads to:
Drink beer at the Chinese restaurants or buy it at 7-eleven and take it to your hotel room. Water dispensers are scattered around the town looking like strange phone booths or vending machines. If you have a bottle, you can fill it cheaply with filtered purified drinking water (RM 0.10 per litre). The machines also inadvertently accept Thai 1 baht coins as they're the same size as the RM 0.10 coins.
Both budget options are very close to the station, look for the large "Hotel" signs close to the station's exit. Both are basic, though a hand basin in each room is standard. The main entrances remain unlocked at night, but finding someone to let you in after a late arrival can be a challenge. Don't be afraid to ask the slightly out of place looking loiterers nearby for help; they may just be the owner.
There is an internet cafe close to the train station. Turn right at the first intersection and after about 50 m on the right side is a small doorway with a sign "cybercafe". 2,5 RM/h
Golden Horse internet cafe. Head straight out of the station, past the first small street to the right, past the second, main, intersection, and head to the third street on the right. It's a few doors down to the right. If you feel like you're at the edge of town you're on the right street. RM 2 per hour.