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Truly Malaysia, Wanderings

An Unforgettable Trip to Pengerang, Malaysia

A month or so ago, when my tourist visa was about to expire, G and I decided to have it renewed and go out through Pengerang, Malaysia. It was supposed to be a quick lunch trip but we got more than that.

Not even that well known to locals, Pengerang is a small town at the southern tip of Johor, Malaysia. Only a 45 minute bumboat ride away from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal (far east!) in Singapore, you would think it will be somewhat similar to the (in)famous Johor Bahru, which looks like a less developed Singapore with malls et al. because of its proximity to the city-state. But it’s far cry from it.

There were only a few articles and write-ups about Pengarang, Malaysia for first-time visitors like us. Maybe we should have seen it as a ‘sign’ that there isn’t anything to see and do there but we still persisted on going as (1) the jump off point is from one of our favorite areas in SG, the Changi Village, and (2) it’s gonna be a new place for us. So off we went…

It’ll be a long wait for the bumboat at the Changi Point Ferry Terminal. You’re lucky if there’s a bumboat available and there are 12 of you waiting for a ride to Pengerang. If luck isn’t on your side then you would have to wait for the bumboat from Pengarang, AND wait for 11 others to board that boat with you if you’re not willing to pay for the head charge so you can leave immediately.

A tip from an uncle: leave Singapore at 7am on a weekend.

Bumboat costs S$10/person. The old, wooden bumboat still has it’s charm. I like it because it’s so un-Singapore.

We left Stemei (that’s the name of our house) at 10:30am, got on a bumboat only at half twelve, reached Pengerang, Malaysia at 1:30pm. We needed a good look at the ferry terminal so we would know where to go when it’s time to head back in the afternoon. We then got ourselves a taxi to the main town which is really just a street with a few shops selling fruits, housewares, cookies, a couple of hostels, restaurants, and a few others. The setting is kinda similar to that of the western cowboy towns you often see in movies, the only thing lacking are gunshots from two cowboys fighting at a nearby saloon and the occasional tumbleweed in the picture. We needed our money changed but there’s nobody manning the money changer even though it clearly says on their front door that they’re open. We tried our luck again after 15 minutes, went back and it’s still unmanned.

Cab fare costs 20 Ringgit (S$10) to the main town.

Since we came there for lunch, we decided to just make the most out of it and try to have a look at the restaurants. It’s full, yes, but there’s nothing new to what the restaurants offer that’s not being offered back in Singapore. Seafood stuff, chili crab, sotongΒ (squid), prawn, and the works. We’re not at all tempted. We walked back and found a quieter eatery and order fried rice, crispy sotong, sweet and sour pork and cold drinks. We ended up paying S$30 which we think is too much (and there’s no bloody prices on the menu so they probably are just half guessing the prices) given the type of restaurant and even their serving size!

Since we already achieved what we came for, we immediately headed back to the ferry. Be wary though, there’s a shortage of cabs in the afternoon. There were no taxis at the town taxi terminal whereas there were lots of them when we arrived. Good thing one passed by and let us on.

The worst part of the trip was this: Upon reaching the ferry terminal, there was a long queue of people waiting for a bumboat. Almost everyone who went to Pengerang from Singapore that day were stranded because there were no more bumboats coming back from Singapore! There was a queue for passports (they group together the passports for the bumboats) but we were told by a bystander that there’s no bumboat left for the rest of us. They said that the last trip was 4pm, we were there at 3:15 but even if we were early, still a shortage of bumboats.

The Pengerang Ferry Terminal. It looks decent but you can tell from the lack of traffic that there’s not much going on in the area.

Options were: (1) Stay in the terminal and try your luck and wait for a bumboat; (2) head back into town or Desaru and spend the night there and leave first thing in the morning; (3) take a cab and go to the next ferry terminal which is an hour’s drive away and take the ferry back to Singapore. We were desperate to go back as it’s work day for G the following day so we took option 3.

Cab fare was 50 Ringgit because we got to share the cab with another couple and the ferry fee is 54 Ringgit. We reached Desaru Ferry Terminal at 5pm and had to wait for the ferry until 7pm. There’s not much in Desaru Ferry Terminal, not even a shop to buy stuff so the wait there was very boring. But at least they have regular ferries coming and going from Singapore (albeit higher fare) and we’re assured we get to reach home!

So we reached Changi Ferry Point, which we found out, is in the middle of nowhere. IT’S THE QUIETEST PART OF SINGAPORE THAT WE’VE EVER BEEN, just an occasional private car passing by and DEFINITELY NO CABS! We ended up walking the length of Changi Coast Road until we reached Changi Village (Yes! Changi Village!) and got on a bus for home.

What a long day! And we’re definitely not going back to Pengerang, Malaysia. Ever.

About IamJoyceee

I am a full time day dreamer and an eternal wonderer. A Bible-believing Christian, who is a big lover of the Big G, my G and my own little pug, Mr. Pies. I am passionate about being a home chef, solving pain points, as well as adopting tech for good. Twitter: @iamjoyceeee | Instagram: @iamjoyceee


27 thoughts on “An Unforgettable Trip to Pengerang, Malaysia

  1. I do agree that the timing for waiting the boat is long. But please do research before you go travel any place. If you first time to be there, you can spend $65 SGD for joining a tour group from Singapore. It is a 1 day tour and probably you wont disappoint on pengerang. Pengerang is a lovely place and you jus unfortunetly dont have enough time to discover it.


    Posted by apple | November 26, 2012, 10:12 AM
  2. Pengarang or Sungei Rengit is a nice place for get away for Singaporeans. The main thing there is

    1) Lobster(because they farm lobster there). Used to cost really cheap. RM$80 for 1kg. Now around RM$120 onwards but still cheap. It’s at least 50% off what you need to pay in Singapore.

    2) Various farms like bird’s nest farm/ostrich farms/herbs farms/mango farms(if in season), and a few others.

    When visiting places like Sungei Rengit, it is essential to ask for price before you order an item. It should be 50% of what you need to pay in Singapore after the currency conversion, if it doesn’t then skip the item. It is common knowledge that they have separate pricing for foreigners and locals. Just need to check the price before ordering to not get caught in the trap.

    3) If no bumboats are available, the other way you can return is to take a cab to Johor Bahru. Used to be a journey of about 1.5 hours as you’ll need to go via kota but with the new expressway E22, the journey is cut short by at least half the time. So realistically you can fly to JB or vice versa in under 1 hour.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Alfred | April 21, 2013, 5:00 AM
  3. After the oil and gas terminal is ready there might be better transport option from SG as most of the proffesional might be from Singapore. But the rural charm wont be there anymore.


    Posted by kok | July 9, 2013, 6:44 PM
  4. Sorry if I misinterpret the tone of your trip to Pengerang, but it appeared to me that you want travel without adventure or discovery. Why did you go at all if not to learn? Just curious…
    Tom in Beautiful Oregon!


    Posted by tom | September 6, 2013, 3:47 AM
    • Fully agreed. I jus went there w my 7 friends last weekend. Boat wait is a darn thing but since its a rural town boatman are freelance n understandably wun move till they hit price of 12pax. Its now $11 wooden boat at 75mins n $13 fibre boat at 35mims. Bike at $2 each.

      Oh…the famous italian sauce lobster damn awesome. Featured on sg papers n film ch.u fd show. Extra large lobster n 3 big crabs w 4 other dishes …each pax paid ard $35 sgd.wat a steal!!


      Posted by athene | September 25, 2013, 8:53 AM
    • I would fully agreed to that.. I jus went there w my 7 friends last weekend. Boat wait is a darn thing but since its a rural town boatman are freelance n understandably wun move till they hit price of 12pax. Its now $11 wooden boat at 75mins n $13 fibre boat at 35mims. Bike at $2 each.

      Oh…the famous italian sauce lobster damn awesome. Featured on sg papers n film ch.u fd show. Extra large lobster n 3 big crabs w 4 other dishes …each pax paid ard $35 sgd.wat a steal!!


      Posted by athene | September 25, 2013, 8:54 AM
    • Hi Tom from Beautiful Oregon, if you have read, our trip there was supposedly for a ‘quick’ lunch and we did not expect to be stranded there that long as there’s work the next day. So, we went because because of that and yes, we did learn never to go back there without proper planning.


      Posted by IamJoyceee | January 8, 2014, 10:06 AM
      • I think by coincidence you just had a bad day there in Pengerang. But usually by “Quick Lunch” people mean places that they have been to, are familiar with and/or are sure it will be real quick back and forth. You were going to a place that you have never been to, by boat (means your time depends on the boat’s time). without knowing the definite route to and fro, how could the lunch be quick? Plus I think it’s common sense to ask food prices before ordering if you see the price was not stated clearly on the menu, even we locals make sure of the prices before we go makan for the 1st time in some stranger place. Anyway I dun mean to be offensive, just a piece of my thought.

        Liked by 1 person

        Posted by Chloe Chong | July 7, 2015, 8:55 PM
  5. Obviously the author is from a lower IQ society group. Not only she is lack of intelligence, obviously creativity too. She ask for adventure and she got one and yet still complaining.

    Even us local people from Johor Bahru we do not venture to Pengerang. Destination Pengerang will only surface if we have business with the plants there. Pengerang is still not developed into a metropolitan status simply because there is no reason to. State of Johor is not going to be developed only for kiasus from Singapore to plough through and yes don’t return to Pengerang. In fact do the same for our JB. We don’t need you kiasus here.


    Posted by Z. Nash | January 6, 2014, 8:44 AM
    • Thanks for your hospitality and rest assured I have no intention of going back, thank you very much. I believe you could easily comprehend from what you have read that I was simply stating what I have experienced visiting the place, writing down my observation and based on what happened during my visit reached to a conclusion that I’m never going back to the place again.

      And please, you are much rather safer labeling people other things other than his/her IQ because your comment itself did seem like it’s from someone who’s below the average (she is lack of intelligence, what?!).


      Posted by IamJoyceee | January 8, 2014, 10:16 AM
  6. After reading this article I will NEVER go to Pengerang.


    Posted by Frankie Lau | January 20, 2014, 2:41 PM
  7. Next time maybe you can try use Bahtera Express Ferry from Changi Ferry Terminal (Behind Changi Beach Park) direct to Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal (30 minutes to Desaru/Pengerang). They use standard ferry. Cost $SG25


    Posted by Armanee | August 25, 2014, 9:30 PM
  8. what you said is funny. Whether you land at the quietest part of singapore, no cab or long queue. It is not the fault of Pengerang, Malaysia.


    Posted by Test | February 8, 2015, 10:22 AM
  9. I do agree with you, Pengerang, is not really a town, in fact I should say it’s still in kampong. You need to prepare a large sum of ringgit as there’s no money changer, and the nearest town is Sungai Rengit. There’s a bus from Sungei Rengit to Kota Tinggi, but will take about 1.5 hours. Then, if you still want to continue your journey back to Johor Bahru(the nearest metropolitan available), you can either take a bus/taxi back. Of course, prices may vary, and that will take about another 1.5 hours. I’ve been here, and I make a big turn from Sungei Rengit all the way to Johor Bahru. Changi Ferry Terminal is maintain by the Johor state, that’s why no taxi are allowed to step in. Hope this helps to plan a better journey in the future. Prepare about RM200-400 if you want 2 go back from Sungei Rengit to Johor Bahru, as the drive will took about 2 hours.


    Posted by Muhammad Aminuddin Bin Zulkifli | February 12, 2016, 11:56 AM
  10. Hello,
    Does anybody know if it’s possible to rent motorcycles in Pengerang?



    Posted by nessatchak | May 10, 2016, 10:13 PM


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