UNDERSTANDING JOHOR BAHRU
Typically the go-to spot for a quick excursion when you travel to Singapore, such is how the district of JOHOR BAHRU (or JB) came to presence in the tourism industry. But with all the new attractions coming in every once in a while, the third largest city in Malaysia of about 1.4 million people has been a blossoming travel destination on its own right. The shopping scene is a real top adventure, more so with the theme parks apt for a family entertainment, and the spread of photography spots that keep enthusiasts bending and swaying to capture the right shot.
As far as culture goes, Johor Bahru has a good mix of practices from Malay, Chinese and Indian which greatly resonates to the local cuisine, making it another food trip haven in the bigness of Malaysia.
Over the years, Johor Bahru has proven itself to be a standalone tourist spot and it’s about time that travelers turn their eye to what this city can offer.
Read the information below to know travel tips, top things to do and how to get around in the renewed city of Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
HOW TO GET TO JOHOR BAHRU
Here are options to get to Johor Bahru, Malaysia by air and land.
Below are international airlines serving flights to Johor Bahru through Plane Senai International Airport located 35 kilometers outside the city center:
- Etihad Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
- China Airlines
- Oman Air
- Philippine Airlines
- Garuda Indonesia
Aside from private cars, trains and buses are perfect options to get to Johor Bahru from Singapore through the border or in any cities in Malaysia. JB Sentral railway station and Larkin terminal have train and bus connections from these destinations and trip would most likely take for about an hour, except for Penang which would run for about 5 hours.
I have created a separate blog for Singapore-Malaysia cross border which contains tips on how to get around immigration and what bus line company to take in crossing the border. Here’s the full read: CROSSING THE SINGAPORE-MALAYSIA BORDER – A FIRST TIMER’S GUIDE.
On a separate option, KLOOK provides transport from Singapore airport to JB, along with other tour services. Check out each link:
- Singapore to Johor Bahru DIY Itinerary with Private Driver
- Private City Transfers between Singapore and Johor Bahru
HOW TO GET AROUND JOHOR BAHRU
Johor Bahru is easy to get around. Most of its top tourist attractions, except for Legoland and Sanrio Hello Kitty town, are near JB Sentral Bus terminal, the first bus terminal from the border, so you can go either on foot or by taxi. A public bus is a key transport around the area for short and long distances. Minimum bus fare is around 1 to 2.5 RM while base price for tax is 3 RM.
2019 TOP ATTRACTIONS IN JOHOR BAHRU
The top tourist attractions in Johor Bahru is mostly targeted to traveling families. So to say, JB is the best place for kids. Check out each top destination below for details and tips:
It’s lego everywhere. LEGOLAND Malaysia is one of the eight legoland parks all over the world which features a water park, theme park and a hotel all made and designed after a lego toy.
The family theme park is located west of Johor Bahru at Iskandar Puteri. To get there from any city of Malaysia or from Singapore, you can either ride a public or direct bus. LEGOLAND Malaysia offers a bus service direct to the theme park, check out this section in their website to know the pick up points in Singapore and Malaysia: How to Get to LEGOLAND.
Operating hours is from 10AM to 7PM. Ticket price for a day pass when purchased on the day of visit for combo adult pack is RM225 and for combo Child or Senior Citizen is RM180.
Author rating: 4/5
SANRIO HELLO KITTY TOWN
Another avenue for kid entertainment, Sanrio Hello Kitty Town is a fully furnished Kitty house which offers fun activities to visitors, tea-cup rides, nail painting, cooking, just to name a few. Don’t miss out the live of performance of Hello Kitty and her group in your visit.
Hello Kitty town is located on the first floor of the indoor Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park, a short drive from JB Sentral. To get there from the city proper, take bus LM1 at JB Sentral. Inform the driver that you will stop at Puteri Harbour. If you are in Singapore, go to CIQ 2nd link (or Tuas checkpoint), take bus SL1 or JPO2 or CW7L to Puteri Harbour.
Operating hours is from 10:00AM to 6:00PM. One day ticket price per person ranges from 46 to 50 RM depending on the season.
Author rating: 3/5
ANGRY BIRDS ACTIVITY PARK
See the angry birds come alive at its activity center at Johor Bahru. This kid-friendly theme park is indoor, located at the 1st floor of Johor Bahru City Square just right across JB Sentral station. The Angry Birds activity park spreads an area of 26,000 square feet and features a jumping tower, scooter area, lazer labyrinth, shooting game and an interactive ball game wall to name a few.
Operating hours is from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Ticket price for single entry is 75 RM, for family pass of 4 is 280 RM. Visit their website for promotion packages and offers at www.angrybirdsactivitypark.my
Author rating: 3/5
ARULMIGU RAJAMARIAMMAN DEVASTHANAM TEMPLE
Built in 1911, the Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam temple outlives the changing tides of time and works as the beating heart of the Hindu enclave at the business district in Johor Bahru. The temple is a walking distance of about 5 minutes from the City Square and from JB Sentral, trailing a chain of flower stalls, restaurants, and music shops which make up the entire Indian heritage pathway.
People here are friendly and welcoming. Observe proper dress code and basic courtesy when you pay a visit to the temple.
Author rating: 4/5
OLD CHINESE TEMPLE
Though flanked around buildings and skyscrapers, the Old Chinese temple remains to be one of the sought-after attractions in Johor Bahru for what it signifies to the Chinese community being the symbol of unity among the five Chinese dialect groups.
The 130-year old structure is one of the oldest and is said to be the only surviving temple from the bombings in Johor Bahru during World War 2.
The temple is located at Jalan Trus, a block away from the City Square. Opening hours is from 7AM to 5PM.
Author rating: 3/5
JOHOR BAHRU DAY TRIP SAMPLE ITINERARY
I took a day trip from Singapore to Johor Bahru district following this sample itinerary, which kicks off at Merlion Park in One Fullerton, Singapore near the central business district. The itinerary can be extended to 2-3 days depending on how much time you would spend in LEGOLAND and Hello Kitty town. It assumes a party of one and will set back an amount of 403.77+ RM excluding expenses for accommodation, souvenir and other incidentals.
|Sunrise at Merlion||07:00AM||–|
|To Queen Street Bus terminal||08:00AM||0.75 S$/2.27 RM|
|To Johor Bahru||08:30AM||3.30 S$ /10 RM|
|Sanrio Hello Kitty Town||3:00PM||50 RM|
|Back to JB Sentral||4:00PM||2.5 RM|
|Old Chinese Temple||4:30PM||–|
|Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam Temple||5:00PM||–|
|Angry Birds Activity Park||7:00PM||75 RM|
|To JB Sentral for Singapore||8:00PM||3.30 S$ /10 RM|
Things to note for this sample itinerary
- The itinerary is dependent on how much time you need to spend on at the immigration checkpoint. In my experience, I only spent less than 20 minutes getting a clearance, but it may not be the same with your case. I allotted more than 2 hours in the sample itinerary to have enough time for adjustment if need be.
- The best way to get to Hello Kitty Town from Legoland is by taking a cab. It will only be 7 minutes away.
- I am a sunrise/sunset guy so I always take a chance to capture the golden hour. You may disregard the 7AM activity and proceed ahead to Johor Bahru from Queen street bus terminal.
WHERE TO STAY IN JOHOR BAHRU
In case you would like to spend overnight in Johor Bahru, here are available accommodations near JB Sentral.
- Grand Paragon Hotel – 9 minutes away Check rate and availability here
- Crystal Crown Hotel – 10 minutes away Check rate and availability here
- Suasana Private Suites By Subhome – 10 minutes away Check rate and availability here
- Amari Johor Bahru – 10 minutes away Check rate and availability here
- Citrus Hotel – 10 minutes away Check rate and availability here
TIPS WHEN TRAVELING TO JOHOR BAHRU
- April through June is the best time to visit Johor Bahru. The weather is cool but dry during this period.
- Be mindful of the local customs. Johor Bahru is more conservative than some countries in the west. Traveling women are advised to exercise prudence in dress and deeds.
- Take extra caution on the streets. Walk only at pedestrian lane and pay attention to the traffic lights as some drivers tend to ignore speed limits.
- Do not wear flashy jewelries while roaming around the business district. Stay safe and be aware of possible robbery.
USEFUL PHRASES WHILE IN JOHOR BAHRU
A good number of locals in Johor Bahru, Malaysia understand English. But the better way to communicate with them is by using basic Malaysian phrases that they could easily understand. Here are some that proved to be useful.
Good Morning – Selamat Pagi
Good afternoon – Selamat tengah hari
Good evening – Selamat petang
Thank you – Terima kasih
How much? – Berapa harga
EXTEND YOUR TRIP
Visit some of the top destinations in Asia:
- Chiang Mai, Thailand Budget Travel Guide
- Singapore Budget Travel Guide
- Bangkok Temple Hopping Travel Guide
Or read more:
- Top 10 Free Attractions in Singapore
- Top Things to do in Singapore
- Cambodia in a Day: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
- Crossing the Singapore – Malaysia border for the first time
BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER
Lastly, have fun and don’t forget to be awesome! 😉
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