Miserable in Mersing Malaysia 🫤

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Mersing - Budget Accommodation Nightmares

Miserable in Mersing Malaysia 🫤

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When we think of travel, we often picture beautiful landscapes, cultural discoveries, and unforgettable experiences.

However, not all journeys turn out as idyllic as we hope. Our trip through Mersing, Malaysia, painted a starkly different picture than the one we had envisioned.

In this candid account, we share our encounters with the less appealing aspects of Mersing, from persistent odours to disappointing attractions.



Getting to Mersing

Mersing is the gateway to Tioman Island, which is a very popular destination for travellers to Malaysia.

… but first you have to deal with the gateway.

We had a pleasant coach ride down to Mersing from Cherating, on a very comfortable Adik Beradik coach.

The 240 km trip took around 4 hours, including a 20-minute stop along the way where we could eat and use the washroom. The toilet here was basic but adequate.

Coach stop - "Tandas" (toilet) in the background

Cherating to Mersing Coach stop – “Tandas” (toilet) in the background

Getting to and from Mersing

An Unpleasant Sensory Assault

Our arrival in Mersing was met with an unexpected and unrelenting assault on our senses – the overpowering stench that seemed to linger in the air.

The town, which should have been a picturesque coastal haven, was marred by an unpleasant odour that seemed to originate from various sources, including the harbour and open drains.

This lingering smell cast a shadow over our experience and made exploring the town a challenge.

Limited Accommodation Options

Selecting suitable accommodation can significantly impact the overall travel experience. In Mersing, options are limited and often fail to meet basic standards. The available guesthouses and hotels lacked the necessary amenities and upkeep, leaving us feeling dissatisfied and uncomfortable throughout our stay.

Mersing is not a very large town (see map of Mersing), so it was not difficult to find the Embassy Hotel, which we had booked online three weeks earlier (€16 for a double room, excluding breakfast).

The Embassy Hotel was easily the worst hotel we stayed in during our trip through Malaysia.

Admittedly, it was also the cheapest, but there’s not a lot of choice in Mersing. We were so uncomfortable with the state of the bed and bathroom that we decided not to undress or wash there.

Flights between Kuantan & KL

The bed was just a mattress with an old sheet on it and a very used-looking blanket (no under sheet). When I asked for another sheet, I was told this was not possible since housekeeping was “closed”.

Both the room and bathroom were grubby, and the state of the lock on the door made it feel very insecure.

The ground floor of the Embassy “hotel” also doubles as a drinking hole for the local men, so could be a little daunting for females travelling alone.

Chinese Temple in the center of Mersing

Chinese Temple in the center of Mersing

Dampened Excursions: Lacklustre Attractions

Mersing boasts a selection of attractions that, unfortunately, failed to live up to expectations.

Taman Rekreasi Hutan Bandar, potentially a promising green oasis, felt neglected and poorly maintained. The promised lush landscapes were overshadowed by litter and unkempt paths.

Additionally, the Mersing Museum, intended to showcase the town’s history and culture, fell short with limited exhibits and lacklustre displays.

Beach Blues: A Seaside Disappointment

The allure of a coastal town usually revolves around its beaches, but in Mersing, even the beach experience was far from ideal.

Pantai Air Papan, once considered a local gem, was tarnished by litter and debris scattered along the shoreline.

The serene ambience we had anticipated was shattered by the absence of proper maintenance and the neglect of environmental concerns.

Around town in Mersing

During our visit, there was a pervading stench from the open sewers throughout Mersing that was really off-putting.

If like most folks you’re in transit to Tioman, better to go directly to the afternoon ferry – there are few if any morning ferries.

From Cherating to Mersing

Indian Temple off the Main Road

More about Tioman Island

Culinary Quandaries, Unremarkable Dining

A significant aspect of travel revolves around culinary exploration, but our gastronomic journey in Mersing was far from satisfying. While the town promises a range of local delicacies, our experience was marked by lacklustre flavours and mediocre dining establishments.

The local seafood, touted as a highlight, left us underwhelmed with its preparation and presentation.

We wandered around the town in the evening to find a place to eat. On Jalan Ismail we found a decent Indian restaurant with some very friendly staff.

There are also a few bakeries in town, which are handy for breakfast before heading to the ferry terminal.

Coping Strategies

Despite the numerous disappointments, we attempted to salvage our trip by seeking alternative activities and attractions beyond the town itself.

Exploring the nearby Endau-Rompin National Park offered a glimmer of positivity, with its untouched natural beauty providing a stark contrast to the town’s less appealing features.

Engaging with the local community also allowed us to discover hidden pockets of authenticity amidst the prevailing dissatisfaction.

Lessons Learned: Research & Reality

Our experience in Mersing taught us the importance of thorough research and realistic expectations when planning a trip. While glossy travel brochures and online reviews can paint a rosy picture, they often fail to capture the unfiltered reality.

It’s essential to be informed about the potential downsides of a destination, so you can make well-informed decisions and mentally prepare for any challenges.

Our tale of misery in smelly Mersing serves as a reminder that even in less-than-ideal situations, there are lessons to be learned and memories to be made – albeit in unexpected ways.

Onwards to Tioman

The ferry terminal would be our first port of call the following day.

We were keen to leave Mersing and while away some time on the more secluded far side of Tioman island.

We were looking forward to white sand beaches and dense jungle, and a beachfront cabin to enjoy it all from.

All Hotel Deals in Mersing

If you enjoyed Mersing Malaysia, check out our East Malaysia & Borneo adventures. You may also like:


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