Kota Tinggi Fireflies Tour - A Boat Ride to See Thousands of Fireflies

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Boat Tour to See the Kota Tinggi Fireflies

Jalan Tepi Sungai, Kota Tinggi, Johor, Malaysia (near Hotel Seri Kota)

How Much:
Please contact the operator:
+60 13 778 5999

Kota Tinggi Fireflies Tour - Boat ride to see fireflies.

On this page:

[Driving Directions]

[Tour Photos]

[Before They're Gone]

[Tips for Visitors]

Getting Here

  1. This tour can be done as part of a Day Tour to Johor Farms (see my suggested itinerary for specific directions from Singapore).

  2. Otherwise, you may drive here directly from the Singapore-Johor Bahru Causeway.
    • After clearing Johor customs, U-turn at the first opportunity and follow the road onto Jalan Wong Ah Fook.
    • After 2 traffic lights, keep right and follow the lane that says 'Jalan Kota Tinggi'.
    • You'll then be on Jalan Tebrau - Highway 3.
    • After about 37km, follow an exit to Kota Tinggi. You'll drive onto Jalan Johor.
    • Use the map below for further directions to the Kota Tinggi Fireflies Tour jetty (represented by the camera icon).

Your Fireflies Guide & Tour Fare:

  1. Boat Tour Leader: Ah Fook / Ah Seng (Tel: +60 13 778 5999)
  2. Fare: Please contact the operator directly for latest tour fare. Depart 7pm, 8pm daily. More trips if there's demand.

A few people have asked me where they could see fireflies in Singapore.

Well, I've seen a few stray ones when camping on Pulau Ubin. They hover near the mangroves. Others have spotted the rare one or two at the Pasir Ris Mangrove Boardwalk. If you are in Sentosa, you might also see some at the Insect Kingdom.

But all these are no match for the thousands upon thousands you will see on a Kota Tinggi Fireflies Tour. And I can tell you it's worth the hassle of that 1-hour drive from Singapore.

A Few Photos...

Kota Tinggi Fireflies Tour - The jetty where the boat tour starts.

This is the jetty where you start your Kota Tinggi Fireflies Tour.

Notice the bridge in the background? This is the bridge you'll pass if you are driving in from Singapore.

Once you cross it, turn right and move in the direction of the river. To return to Singapore, well, simply back-track the way you came.

Kota Tinggi Fireflies Tour - Tourists getting ready to board the boat.

This family have booked the tour as a group.

The fireflies boat tour is great for a family outing.

Come early, have dinner at the New Mui Tou Restaurant (very) nearby, and then take a stroll here.

Kota Tinggi Fireflies Tour - Getting ready. Waiting to see the fireflies.
Kota Tinggi Fireflies Tour - the boat ride to the mangroves.

A veteran Malaysian tour guide (the gentleman on the left in this picture) was in the same boat as me.

Read about my little conversation with him below...

The State of Mangroves & Kota Tinggi's Fireflies

The boat throttled down the river and I wondered how long it would be before the first fireflies appeared.

The area near the jetty was lit by a strange mix of lights coming from the homes, restaurants, vehicles and street lamps nearby. On the river banks, new buildings were being built. At least two major dredging operations were also on-going. And all these were being facilitated by spot lights in the night!

I had imagined a secluded, weather-worn wooden jetty before I arrived. Obviously, the actual spot looked quite different.

As I made this observation, the tour guide let me in on the stark reality. Where the new buildings now stand were once thick mangroves teeming with fireflies. In the past, there was no need to take a boat to see the fireflies.

He went on, "Ten years ago, when I first started taking tourists here, there were many more fireflies. What you'll see later on this tour is still beautiful. But they used to fill up the place even more magically."

As he finished, he pointed to a spark flying in the sky. A stray firefly was crossing the river. The boat has by now moved into darker territory.

Something in me turned as I tried to let the truth sink in. How long more before these natural wonders completely disappear? I wondered.

Then as I looked down, there they were. In a very un-coordinated fashion, the fireflies began to light up one bush, then another and yet another. As my eyes got used to the darkness, I could see them. The fireflies were like thousands of very dim fairy lights on a forest of 'Christmas trees'. They may be fewer than 10 years ago, but still they were breathtaking.

I know now where the creators of Christmas trees copied their ideas from. But believe me, the original is immensely more enchanting...

Tips for Visitors

  1. The Kota Tinggi Fireflies are best enjoyed on a moonless night. Or during the new moon, when the moonlight is weak. If you know your astronomy, you might just want to time your visit when the moonlight is weak.

  2. The fireflies seem to be more active after a downpour. If you are visiting after the rain, it's quite special.

  3. The weekends after Singapore school exams and during school holidays are especially busy periods for the Kota Tinggi Fireflies tour operators. Up to 20 tour coaches may turn up, with hordes of tourists eager to get a piece of the action. These are times to avoid if you can.

  4. The best time to visit? During the 2 weekends just after the Chinese New Year, when the folks are visiting relatives and temples. I almost had the whole boat to myself when I visited the weekend after Chinese New Year.

  5. See my Johor Farm Tour plan - find out how you may see Kota Tinggi Fireflies with other attractions, including Malaysia's largest crocodile farm and the world's largest birds at Desaru Ostrich Farm.

  6. If you don't plan to drive, you may book a package tour with a travel agency in Singapore, who'll also take you to other attractions in Johor, Malaysia. Taxis may also be hired around the Johor Bahru customs area. But you'll need to bargain with the drivers for a reasonable fare.

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