A few years ago, Johor Bahru was not considered to be an important tourist location in Malaysia. However, this is because not many people know much about the capital city of Johor.
Located between Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, this is the second largest city of Malaysia. Positioned in the southern part of Malaysia, Johor Bahru is connected to Singapore through a causeway, and one of the best routes to visit Singapore from Malaysia. But what many do not know is that Singaporeans visit Johor Bahru on a regular basis mostly for shopping (as it is quite cheap than Singapore) and also to get away from the orderly life of Singapore. While this Malaysian city is popular for shopping, there are several interesting things to do in Johor Bahru that people of every age would enjoy.
Things to do in Johor Bahru Attractions for Adults
There is no dearth of places in Johor Bahru that would not interest the adult minds. Right from historical monuments to hiking trails, there are several attractions that would keep you interested and entertained in this city of Malaysia.
1. Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque
If you are interested in architecture, you would find the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque truly fascinating. Built in 1892, the architecture of this mosque is largely Victorian although you would find some Moorish elements too in this structure. Located on a hill top in Johor Bahru, it can accommodate around 2000 worshippers at a time and offers beautiful views of the Straits of Johor as well as the neighbouring country of Singapore.
2. The Chinese Heritage Museum
The Johor Bahru Chinese Heritage Museum is dedicated to the Chinese immigrants who settled in this part of Malaysia. Consisting of three floors, this museum documents the history and interesting facts about these Chinese settlers. While the first floor of the museum has documents about the history of these immigrants, the second and third floors are full of exhibits that showcase the life and skills of the different groups of people who came to this place from China.
3. Johor Old Chinese Temple
Another relic that belongs to the Japanese community is the Johor Old Chinese Temple. Originally built in the 19th century, the temple underwent renovation in the 1990s. The highlight of this place is that this ancient building lies amongst the skyscrapers of the modern era. The fact that the temple maintains its ancient air, along with its architecture and historical artefacts like the joss stick and the bronze bell, makes it an interesting place to visit.
Must Read: Explore Kek Lok Si Temple Malaysia
4. Pulai Waterfall
If you have missed your daily exercise during your vacation, visiting the Pulai Waterfall would help you burn a few calories. The perfect place to hike or even cycle, this place is great to spend some quality time amidst nature. It would take around two hours to reach the waterfall from the foot of the hill and the journey is one filled with beautiful nature and the company of some wild animals like monkeys, wild birds and lizards. With just the sound of the birds, animals and the waterfall, this is the best way to get away from the manmade noises of the city. Also, do not foget to take your swimwear if you want to swim in the cool waters once you reach the waterfall.
[Also Read : Waterfalls in Malaysia]
Things to do in Johor Bahru Attractions for Families and Kids
If you are travelling to Johor Bahru with your kids, you would have to find something more interesting than mosques, temples and historical buildings. But you really do not have to worry as this city has some of the most interesting things to do for children.
1. Johor Zoo
If your little ones are fascinated by the wild animals in their books, take them to Johor Zoo where they can see these animals in person. Located right next to the Abu Bakar Mosque, it is one of the best zoos in Malaysia. Over a 100 species of animals are present in this zoo, out of which some are endangered too. Some of the animals that you can spot here include elephants, lions, gorillas, flamingos, etc. To make it more interesting for the visitors, the zoo also organizes animal shows on a daily basis. If you are looking for places to visit in Johor Bahru with your children, this is definitely the place to start with.
2. Legoland Malaysia
Legoland Malaysia is surely the highlight of visiting Johor Bahru and also one of the reasons for its popularity. This theme park is completely made of Legos and apart from the amusement park, there is also the water park. Complete with a hotel and over 40 rides and attractions, the Legoland is a place you can have the best time of your vacation. Right from viewing giant Lego models to building your own to indulging in some fun activities, there are no dearth of things that you can do in this theme park. If you are visiting Johor Bahru with kids, this is a place that you cannot miss.
3. Puteri Harbour Theme Park
If your kids love Hello Kitty, Angelina Ballerina, Thomas the Tank Engine, Pingu and Bob the Builder, the Puteri Harbour Theme Park in Johor Bahru is the place to go. Resembling a shopping mall, this complex has two indoor theme parks which would keep your children busy and excited. While the ground floor consists of various stores, the first floor is where you would find Sanrio Hello Kitty which is built around the theme of Sanrio characters. Apart from enjoying some interactive games and attractions, kids can also meet their favourite characters during shows and parades.
The second and third floors of the building is Thomas Town. While the second floor is dedicated to Angelina Balleria, Pingu, Bob the Buildr and Brney, the theme of the third floor is entirely based on Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. Apart from the theme parks, the Puteri Harbour Theme Park also has several food outlets. Whatever the age of your kids, this place would surely bring them great enjoyment.
With so many things to do, we hope that your question as to what to do in Johor Bahru is answered. But one thing that we missed is shopping. There are lots of shopping avenues in this city, and the best thing is that it is quite cheap too. Johorian Premium Outlets, Rusty Market, City Square Mall, Landmark IT Mall, etc. Are some of the best places to shop in the city. Apart from the shopping malls, do not forget to check the cafes in Johor Bahru. The city has some really unique cafes where you can rest and relax with a delicious cup of coffee. However, before you plan your trip, do not forget to get your Malaysia visa from Dubai (if you are from UAE) or any other city in the world.
Interesting Facts About Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru has a rich history and culture beyond just being a border city next to Singapore. Here are some fascinating facts about JB:
- Johor Bahru was founded in 1855 by the Sultanate of Johor. The city was developed as an alternative southern gateway and capital for the kingdom due to threats from piracy and tensions with the Dutch in Singapore.
- During World War II, Johor Bahru was the last Malayan town to fall under Japanese occupation. The Japanese built the Johor Bahru Prisoner-of-War camp where allied soldiers were kept.
- Johor Bahru was the royal capital of the Sultanate of Johor for over 100 years, before the capital moved to Kuala Lumpur. Many cultural sites like the Grand Palace, Royal Abu Bakar Museum and the royal burial grounds are located here.
- The city is an important site for Malay folklore – the mythical Laksamana Hang Nadim is said to have killed attacking swordfish here by building the Tanjung Puteri sandbank near the Straits of Johor.
- Johor Bahru is home to Malaysia’s oldest Indian Muslim community. The city’s old Indian Muslim quarter is called Little India.
Getting to Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru is conveniently located just across the Causeway from Singapore, making it easy to access for both regional and international travelers. By road, you can drive across the Causeway in less than 30 minutes from Singapore. Be sure to bring your passport as there are immigration checkpoints on both sides. If traveling by bus, there are several bus operators that run regular services between Singapore and JB Sentral Bus Terminal in Johor Bahru.
For those flying in, Senai International Airport located north of the city center has connections to major Asian hubs like Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Bangkok. From the airport, you can take a taxi which takes about 30-40 minutes to reach the city center. Alternatively, catch the shuttle bus service to Kotaraya II Terminal in Johor Bahru.
The other option is to fly into Singapore’s Changi Airport and take a bus or taxi across the Causeway which takes less than an hour. The new Johor Bahru–Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS Link) rail service linking Woodlands North in Singapore to Bukit Chagar in JB is expected to launch in end 2024, significantly cutting travel time between the two cities.
Here are answers to some of the most asked questions about visiting and traveling to Johor Bahru:
Is Johor Bahru safe for tourists?
Do I need a visa to visit Johor Bahru?
How do I get from Singapore to JB? What is the best way?
Is accommodation expensive in JB? Where should I stay?
Can I use Singapore Dollars in Johor Bahru?
Is Johor Bahru worth visiting? What are the top things to do?
What is the best way to get around JB?