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 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.
- There is an old steam locomotive on display on the southern end of the train station
- 10 km to the west on Route 1 is the Sungai Kelamah Memorial, where the Gemencheh bridge was blown up by Australians resulting in the death of many Japanese during the WWII in 1942.
- Golfing* Gemas Golf Resort, 9 hole = Green fee + Buggy = RM40.00 (twin sharing). 18 hole = Green fee + Buggy = RM70.00 (twin sharing). Tel: +60 7- 948 2687
- Swimming* Gemas Golf Resort. Open daily. Swimming class on every Sunday,8.30am to 10.30am. Tel: +60 7- 948 2687
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 surprisingly good quality and good value.
- Gemas Curry Point Malay Indian food for around RM3.00 a dish. The roti canai easily beats most of those in KL and Singapore. Some English spoken. Tel: +60 7- 948 1861
- Wang Lai Chinese Restaurant Good Chinese food. They speak English and have clean toilets and cold beer. Mysterious unnamed menu item number 10 is not as exotic or exciting as the proprietess will make out. Stick to the named dishes.
Heading slightly further aflield leads to:
- Tropicana cafe on the 1st floor of the Tropicana Hotel. 7.30am to 10.30pm. Must try their chicken chop and fried chicken. Reasonable prices. The coffee's also good. The unreliable free WiFi is a dubious perk.
- Worldwide Internet Cafe* Tel: +60 7- 948 4811
- Restaurant International* Chinese restaurant. Delicious Chinese food with fair price....try it.. Tel:+60 7- 948 1699
- Mustafa Nasi Ayam* Open at Bas station. Next to the bowling centre. Halal chicken rice shop. Famous chicken rice,fair-price and meal quantity and quality in comfirm to full up your stomach. Open from 10.30am to 5.00pm. Tel: +60 7- 948 5110, +60 17-6092864
- Hot Bread Confectionery, ☎ . *
- Mashaveer Taj House (it is a 7 min walk from the train station, opposite Shell petrol station), ☎ . 6AM-9PM. Serves authentic north and south Indian cuisine.
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.
- Phuan, email@example.com. Happy Restoran, about 100 m to the right along the row of shophouses on the first street just outside the train station. The Chinese woman sells all kinds of noodles (soup or fried), rice dishes & drinks (hot & cold) for RM3-4. Food is good & cook when you order. Chicken Rice - Turn left at the first main intersection after leaving the train station then take the first right. This shop is the first shop to the right & end of this shophouse is Tropicana Hotel. Hot Bread Confectionery* Tel: 07-948 5077 - Turn left at the first main intersection after leaving the train station then take the first right. This shop is one of the shophouse on the left.
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.
- Bee Chew, the better option by far. It's the yellow building opposite Hung Suan. Shared bathrooms with hot showers. Part of the balcony has a nice view of the train station. Some rooms have A/C. Double room from RM28.
- Hung Suan, the pink building you can see from the exit of the train station. Some rooms have A/C. Shared bathrooms, no hot water. Double room from RM35.
- Hotel Gemas is 2.5 km north-west of town. It's basic but clean and decent, and comfortable enough for one night.
- Tropicana Hotel, ☎ , fax: . A relatively new arrival that aspires to western standards. Approx. 100m from train station. Turn left at the first main intersection after leaving the train station then take the first right. Walk to the next intersect and it's on the corner (right side). Very clean. Has lifts. From RM51 per night including breakfast. RM50 deposit required per room. Credit cards accepted. Unreliable WiFi, despite 3 routers. 24h security.
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.