Johor Bahru is the state capital of Johor in southern peninsular Malaysia, just across the causeway from Singapore. A bustling city but one with little of interest for the casual tourist, it is a significant regional transport and manufacturing hub. Johor Bahru can be easily divided into four parts – North, South, East and West.
South – The main city centre is located on the southern part of the city which has a link to Singapore via the causeway. It is an area with housing estates which have been around for more than three decades. Important estates include Taman Pelangi, Taman Century and Taman Sentosa.
North – Its main centre is Taman Johor Jaya, and it can be accessed via the trunk road, Jalan Tebrau. There can be a relatively frequent peak hour jam along this road. Recently, the Austin area has been a hive for construction activities with the latest Jusco Tebrau City locating in its vicinity.
West – Probably one of the largest areas of the four, its hub is Skudai and important housing estates such as Taman Ungku Tun Aminah, Taman Skudai Baru, Taman Bukit Indah, Taman Perling and Taman Nusa Bestari are located here. The largest port in Johor, Pelabuhan Tanjung Pelepas is located in this area too.
East – Another port city which has been around for more than 20 years. The main hub is Pasir Gudang which is both a port city as well as a manufacturing hub. Tanjung Langsat which is located near Pasir Gudang is fast becoming a petro chemical hub.
There are plenty of airlines offering flights to Johor Bahru from major UK airports including London Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester, Aberdeen, Belfast, Glasgow, Cardiff, New Castle, London Gatwick.
Senai International Airport (IATA: JHB). formally Sultan Ismail International Airport (Malay: Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Sultan Ismail), is located 28 km to the northwest of Johor Bahru. It currently only has scheduled domestic services for passengers to both East and West Malaysia by Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia and Firefly. It is designated as “international” because it offers cargo services to foreign destinations. The airfares to these destinations from Senai airport are considerably cheaper than those from Singapore. The airport is compact but it is recently renovated and now fully equipped with shops, a restaurant (landside only), WLAN access (ask for free login at information desk), etc.
Most visitors to JB arrive from Singapore via one of two land links:
- The Causeway linking Malaysia and Singapore is a very popular and thus terminally congested entry point connecting directly into the heart of JB. While congestion isn’t as bad as it once was, the Causeway is still jam-packed on Friday evenings (towards Malaysia) and Sunday evenings (towards Singapore). The Causeway can be crossed by bus, train, taxi or car. Since the opening of the new customs and immigration complex, crossing the Causeway on foot is no longer possible.
- A second crossing between Malaysia and Singapore, known as the Second Link, has been built between western Singapore and Malaysia. Much faster and less congested than the Causeway, it is used by some of the luxury bus services to Kuala Lumpur and is strongly recommended if you have your own car. There is only one bus across which gets very packed at evening peak hours(5.45pm – 7pm), and only Malaysian “limousine” taxis are allowed to cross it (and charge RM150 and up for the privilege). Walking across is also not allowed, not that there would be any practical means to continue the journey from either end if you did. It is very far away from the city center, however, compared to the Causeway.
Driving a car from Singapore to Malaysia is relatively uncomplicated, although small tolls are charged for both crossing and (for the Second Link) the adjoining expressway. Do be sure to change your dollars into some ringgit before crossing, as Singapore dollars are accepted only at the unfavorable rate of 1:1. Entering Singapore with a foreign-registered car is more complicated and expensive.In both directions, note that rental cars will frequently ban or charge extra for crossing the border.
From other parts of Malaysia
JB is at the southern end of the North South Expressway, the toll highway which runs the length of Peninsular Malaysia. Those accessing the city can exit at Skudai, Kempas, Jalan Pasir Gudang or Johor Bahru exits.
JB is also at the southern extremity of the Federal Route One, the main trunk roads which runs the length of Peninsular Malaysia’s West Coast states. Federal Route Three or the East Coast Road also links JB with the East Coast towns of Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bharu via Kota Tinggi and Mersing. The West Coast’s coastal road can be accessed from Pontian..
JB’s public transport is limited to a sparse bus network. Various proposals for relieving the chronically congested town’s traffic remain on the drawing board.
Travelling by taxi is a fairly cheap alternative, although the drivers sometimes refuse to use the meter so you will have to negotiate the price with them. Since Jan 2010, taxi drivers have been required by law to use their meters and issue a receipt on request. The starting rate is 3 RM for the first 2km and the fare increases by 10 sen every 150m. You will also be charged for any waiting by the taxi during the journey. If the driver has a meter and does not switch it on, remind them. If you get into one of the handful of taxis without a meter, it’s best to ask the driver to stop and get off to avoid being ripped off or arguments later.
Travelers need to be vigilant when dealing with taxi drivers, especially if the driver refuses to use their meter and you negotiate a fare. It has been widely reported taxi drivers can raise their fares after agreeing with the passengers on the fares to be paid during initial negotiation. They will tend to get aggressive and may even threaten passengers when passengers try to reason with them. Ride at your own risk.
There is a taxi rank at Jalan Jim Quee – it is right next to the Johor Bahru CIQ. You can see it below as you cross the overhead bridge from the CIQ to JB Sentral. The taxis operate on a prepaid coupon system – buy your coupon from the booth on the edge of the road. Official fixed rates for prepaid taxi coupons: CIQ to Senai International Airport 45RM, CIQ to Larkin bus station 11 RM.
You can opt for a bus to move around the city. e.g. to Holiday Plaza or Plaza Pelangi shopping mall. However, there are no clear signs of the bus stops. Just follow the crowds and wait alongside the locals for the buses. Look at the direction sign on the bus and don’t hesitate to ask the bus driver directly. There are major bus stops on either side of City Square on Jalan Wong Ah Fook and Jalan Tun Abdul Razak. This is where buses to many parts of the city and its suburbs, and also as far as Kota Tinggi (41 km away) and Kulai, start and end. Fares (for the onward journey and return journey respectively) for selected destinations from/to the bus stop opposite City Square at Jalan Wong Ah Fook or Jalan Tun Abdul Razak: Danga Bay 1.60 or 1.70/1.60 or 1.70RM, Larkin Bus Terminal 1.70RM, Plaza Pelangi or Plaza Sentosa 1.20 or 1.30/1.20 or 1.30 RM, Hospital Sultanah Aminah (5 minutes walk from or to Mawar Complex) 1.20 or 1.30RM/1.00 RM, Johor Bahru Zoo 1.20 or 1.30RM/1.00 RM
However, if you are coming from Singapore and want to go to Larkin terminal straight away, you can board any of the buses (bound for Larkin) waiting downstairs in the Johor Bahru CIQ after clearing customs and immigration. The bus bays are about 50m beyond the tourist office.
The frequency of the buses is not consistent, especially for the buses that do not leave from the Bus Terminals. There are generally more buses in the morning and there are fewer buses as it gets later into the day. A word of caution while waiting at a bus stop. Keep a look out for suspicious characters/groups who wait at the bus stop and pay more attention to the people waiting at the bus stop rather than the buses on the road. Walk into a nearby shop if you feel that something is amiss.
There’s little point to renting a car for touring JB alone, but it can make more sense to rent a car here to explore the rest of Malaysia as car rentals and fuel costs are at least 30% less than that of neighboring Singapore.
- Hawk Rent A Car, No. 50C, Bangunan KPMNJ, Jalan Segget (two blocks west of the Causeway), A basic manual Proton Wira starts from RM140.00/day, offices throughout the country for easy dropoff (extra charges apply).
- Pacific Rent-A-Car, Lot PTB No.20708, Sultan Ismail Airport City Lounge, Terminal Bas Central Kotaraya, Jalan Trus, 80000, Tel: 607-224 3951 / 607-224 3952, Fax: 607-224 3953
- Mayflower , (Singapore – Johor Bahru Taxi Terminal), Level 2A, Plaza Seni, Jalan Trus, 80100,
- ORIX Car Rentals,
JB is a remarkably pedestrian-hostile city, although the city core is now mostly navigable via underpasses and walkways and the recent beautification effort has seen the canal turned into a pleasant, if still somewhat whiffy, park for pedestrians.
If you planning to go from City Square to any of the hotels just southeast of the Johor Bahru CIQ (e.h. Naza Hotel, Grand Blue Wave Hotel, Suria City Hotel) or beyond, you will have to walk down Jalan Tun Abdul Razak (Jalan TAR) as far as the police station (it has white walls with blue columns). Just underneath the newly constructed flyover on the left side of the road, you will see a blue sign in English and Malay (Lorong Pejalan Kaki/Pedestrian Walkway) indicating the start of a pedestrian walkway. Walk along this narrow walkway – it is sandwiched between the flyover and a metal fence that encloses a construction site – for about 50 meters until you see a staircase on your right. Climb up this staircase to the edge of the flyover. Without crossing the road, walk along the edge of this flyover towards the Johor Bahru CIQ (it is a massive structure and is clearly visible) or away from the Causeway for about two hundred meters until you see another staircase. Descend this staircase and you will find yourself at the intersection of Jalan Tanjung Puteri and Jalan Lumba Kuda, about 300m from the modern Grand BlueWave Hotel.
Places to See
Historical and modern landmarks
- Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque, sandwiched between Jalan Abu Bakar/Jalan Masjid Abu Bakar/Jalan Gertak Merah, 1.8km west of the Causeway. Located on top of a small hill and overlooking the Straits of Johor, this state mosque took eight years to construct (1892-1900). It has four minarets that resemble British clock towers. It was inaugurated by the then Sultan Ibrahim. It is made of white marble and is a combination of Moorish and Victorian architecture, it can accommodate 2000 worshipers. Visiting hours are between 10am and 6pm from Saturday to Thursday except during congregational prayers. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the mosque building.
- Masjid India, at the junction of Jalan Dhoby and Jalan Duke. This twin-minaret mosque located in the heart of the city was founded by the city’s Indian Muslim community. It is a modern-looking mosque with white walls, blue-tinted glass cladding on both its minarets and a blue and silver dome.
- Sultan Abu Bakar Royal Palace Museum, along Jalan Tun Doktor Ismail, 1.3km west of the Causeway. The official entrance to the palace museum grounds is through a gateway facing the High Court building on Jalan Air Molek. After passing through this gateway, you have to drive or walk along a paved asphalt road for about 400m before reaching the main (central) building (the one with a grand staircase) of the palace museum complex. You can also exit/enter the palace museum grounds by walking down/up the grassy slope to/from the main road – Jalan Tun Doktor Ismail. Definitely Johor Bahru’s top attraction, this is the opulent former residence (Istana Besar or Grand Palace) of the Sultan of Johor. It is still used for royal and state ceremonies and functions. It is surrounded by a 53-hectare, beautifully tended garden (free admission); the Zaharah Botanical Garden (Kebun Bunga Zaharah in Malay) lies about 300m northwest of the palace museum complex centered about a roundabout. The palace complex was first completed in 1866 but has been extended and refurbished many times since. It was built in the neoclassical style by local artisans under the supervision of an European architect. The original furniture of the palace was made in England and ordered by Sultan Abu Bakar in 1866. Sultan Iskandar officially declared the museum open to the public on May 11, 1990. The museum is housed in two of the three white buildings (all with blue-tile pitched roofs) in the complex and consists of 4 parts: the Dewan (in the west building); the Throne Room, the Treasure Rooms and the Hunting Room (in the central building). The east building is not open to the public. The scale of the palace is suitably grandiose. In the Dewan, are displayed an array of items presented to Sultan Abu Bakar and his successors by dignitaries, such as swords, medals, glassware, etc. You can also find in this building detailed biographies of Sultan Abu Bakar and his successors, Sultan Abu Bakar’s stone bust, the sultans’ personal memorabilia, photographs of the sultans and their families, etc. In the Hunting Room, you can find exhibits like stuffed animals (tigers, crocodiles, rhinoceros, elephants),elephant ivory tusks, elephant’s foot umbrella stands, antelope leg ashtrays, etc. In the central building on the second level (you have to remove your shoes), you can find the reception rooms, the royal bedrooms (note the four-poster teak beds), the royal dining room, the chamber of the Royal Council, the throne room (it has a pair of gilt thrones), the library, etc. The banqueting hall on the first level can be seen only from the second level. The furnishings inside these Rococo-style rooms include exquisite wooden furniture from various countries, crystal glass chairs and tables from France, Japanese ceramics, oil paintings of the royals, chandeliers, etc. On the first level of the central building, you can find exhibits such as gold/silverware, crystal ware, gold and silver jewelery, royal regalia, Malay hand weapons, a numismatic collection, etc. Open Sat-Thu 9 AM – 5 PM, closed when there are official functions and ceremonies. Entry US$7/3 (payable in ringgit at a poor exchange rate) for foreign adults/children, RM5 for Malaysian and Singaporeans , and only RM1 for Malaysian children. Last ticket sale is at 4 pm. Photography inside the museum is forbidden.
- Istana Bukit Serene, sandwiched between Jalan Kolam Air and Jalan Straits View, 7km northwest of the Causeway. This green-roof, stone building is the official residence of the Sultan of Johor. The palace has a huge sprawling garden which is a common site for many royal gatherings and celebrations. It was built in 1933 in the Art Deco style. It can be seen from Jalan Skudai next to Danga Bay. The palace walls have fantastic and exquisite carvings. The main tower is 35 meters tall. The Istana is guarded by the personal military force of the Sultan of Johor. Neither the building nor its gardens are open to the general public.
- Sultan Ibrahim Building. Built in 1940, this grey-bricked building is located on top of Bukit Timbalan. It houses the State Secretariat, the Menteri Besar’s (Chief Minister) office, State Assembly Hall and the offices of the state government. The building is an architectural blend of British colonial, Malay and Saracenic elements. It has a distinctive, 64m-high Mughal-style tower. Opening hours: 8am-4:30pm Mon-Sat, (except first and third Saturday of each month)
- Dataran Bandaraya Johor Bahru, Jalan Datuk, 3 km west of the Causeway. Dataran Bandaraya Johor Bahru is the city square (not to be confused with the City Square shopping mall in the heart of downtown) that was constructed in conjunction with Johor Bahru being granted city status on January 1994. A yellow-colored building with a gigantic, yellow clock tower built stands on the north edge of the square. It is surrounded by a spacious lawn on the south and a sports field on the west. Many outdoor events are held here.
- Johor Bahru Art Gallery (known as Galeri Seni Johor in Malay) official website in Malay only – , 144 Jalan Petrie (about 700m northeast of the Thistle Hotel, on the north edge of a major highway – the Inner Ring Road, also called Jalan Lingkaran Dalam). Housed in a 2-storey white building built in 1910, it displays mostly Malaysian modern paintings. Other exhibits include Islamic calligraphy, ceramics, ornate wooden window frames, traditional clothing, weapons, currency, etc. There is a cart with a thatched roof and a giant drum displayed outside the building. Free admission. Open daily except on public holidays 0900-1630.
- Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception, 9 Jln Gereja (700m northwest of the CIQ). This beige building with a single steeple (with spire) is one of the main Roman Catholic churches in Johor Bahru. Built in 1883 in the British colonial style, it is one of the oldest structures still standing in Johor Bahru. Try to get here for the Tamil feast of Pongal in mid-January, when an intriguingly colorful harvest festival service is held within the church
- Johor Bahru Chinese Heritage Museum, 42 Jalan Ibrahim (200m south east of the main post office in downtown JB). Housed in a restored 4-storey building. Learn about the history and culture of the Chinese community in Johor Bahru. The displays are spread out over four storeys. There are numerous captioned photos on display, several TV screens showing video clips, objects/artifacts on display, mannequins dressed in traditional Chinese wedding clothes, a replica of the entrance door and sedan chair of the Roufo Chinese Taoist Temple in Jalan Trus, etc. Open Tue-Sun 0900-1700, closed Mondays 0900-1700. Admission for adults 3 RM
- Roufo Old Chinese Taoist Temple (Roufo Gumiao in Mandarin Hanyu Pinyin), Jalan Trus, is a temple dedicated to the deities Hongxian Dadi, Yuantian Shangdi and Weitian Dadi. The effigies of these Taoist deities are found inside the prayer hall.
- Gurdwara Sahib Johor Bahru (Johor Bahru Sikh temple), 1B Jalan Trus 80000 Located across the road from Plaza Kotaraya in the heart of the city, this Sikh temple was built on the site of the smaller and older Sikh temple and was inaugurated on the 28th August 1992. This is a 2-storey white building with yellow window frames and a all-round, crenellated roof parapet. The Darbar Sahib is located on the second level. The Granthi quarters and two rooms for Sikh visitors are located at an annex on the second level. The Guru Ka Langgar hall, kitchen and office are located on the first level. There are about 250 Sikh families who participate in the religious activities in this Gurdwara Sahib. The normal weekly prayers are held on Sundays from 9.30a.m. to 11.30a.m.
- Sri Raja Mariamman Hindu Temple, Jalan Ungku Puan, right in the heart of downtown JB. It is currently closed to worshipers and visitors as it is undergoing renovation for the temple’s 100th anniversary in 2011. Free admission for visitors. Everyone has to leave his or her shoes at the bottom of the staircase (no guardian).
- Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Hindu Temple less than 50m west of Tebrau Highway and 400m north of Tropical Inn/Landmark Shopping Centre and beside the railway track. Touted as “The First Glass Temple in the World”. The inner surface of the walls and the columns inside the temple are cladded with imported glass, hence the name. The temple also has some special features like air-conditioning, canteen (it is at the back of the temple building and sells only Indian vegetarian food) and is very clean. This place has become one of the top tourist and pilgrimage attractions in this city and there are thousands of tourists and pilgrims coming here everyday. There are food and drink stalls lining both sides of the driveway in the front of the temple.Temple prayer hours 0730-1200 daily; Temple closure 1200-1300 Tue-Sun, 1200-1900 Mon; Temple visiting hours 1300-1800 daily except Mondays (closed to visitors). Admission 10/5 RM for adults/children (5-12 years old), still photography/video fee 3/5 RM, leaving shoes with the guardian 0.50 RM. Chitra Pournami Paal Kudam Festival held every Wednesday and Glass Chariot Procession held every Thursday at the temple.
- War Memorial (Tugu Peperangan in Malay), Jalan Abu Bakar, about 2km west of the causeway. Located across the road from the brown-colored Jabatan Kehakiman Syariah Negeri Johor (Islamic court building of Johor state) and the white-colored Pusat Islam Iskandar Johor (Iskandar Islamic Center), these twin obelisks commemorate martyred servicemen of the First and Second World Wars, and the Emergency (the confrontation with Indonesia in 1962). It was completed in 1962 and unveiled by Colonel H.H. Sir Ismail, the then Sultan of Johor on July 1, 1962 the same year. It was erected by the the ex-servicemen association of Malaya Johor Branch, from donations by the government of Johor, ex-servicemen association of Malaya and members of the public. Seldom visited by more than a few persons at any one time, it is a clean, quiet spot with vantage views of the Straits of Johor.
- Makam Diraja (Royal Mausoleum), located in a large Muslim cemetery enclosed by three roads – Jalan Mahmoodiah, Jalan Petri and Jalan Mariamah, about 2km northwest of the CIQ. This is a royal mausoleum of Johor state. It is a gray-colored building with two domes. The first sultan of Johor laid to rest here was Sultan Abu Bakar in 1895, as are the three sultans that reigned after him – Ibrahim, Ismail and Iskandar. Other persons interred here include: sultanahs (wives of the sultans) – Sultanah Fatimah, Sultanah Ungku Maimunah Ungku Abdul Aziz, Sultanah Rogaiyah, Sultanah Tun Aminah, Tunku Abdul Rahman, some other royal family members (e.g. Tunku Abdul Rahman), as well as notable politicians like Dato’ Jaafar Muhammad, Dato’ Onn Jaafar, Tan Sri Othman Saat and Dato’ Muhamad Salleh bin Perang. The mausoleum is not open to the public.
- Tanjung Kupang Memorial, Jalan Kebun Teh (4km north of the CIQ and at the junction of this road and Jalan Serunai opposite Foon Yew 1 School). This memorial was erected by the Johor state government in memory of the 100 passengers and crew members killed when the Malaysia Airlines Flight 653 (MH653) Boeing 737 crashed at Tanjung Kupang (about 20km west of Johor Bahru) on the evening of 4 December 1977.
- Danga Bay (Teluk Danga in Malay),  7km northwest of the Causeway. It is set to be the premier waterfront development in Johor Bahru, with residential properties, commercial buildings and recreational facilities. Among the attractions that have opened so far are: Danga World Theme Park, Danga World Petting Zoo and Rumah Limas. To get to any of these three attractions, take any of the very frequent buses (RM 1.60 or 1.70) that goes to Skudai and beyond from the bus stop in front of the old railway station at Jalan Tun Abdul Razak. You can take a tourist tram from the Danga Convention Centre to the Festive Street Mall and back (5 RM per person, free for children below 3 years old).
- Rumah Limas Here, Johor State’s eight districts are represented by uniquely-designed traditional wooden Malay houses named as Rumah Kluang, Rumah Mersing, Rumah Segamat, Rumah Johor Bahru, Rumah Pontian, Rumah Kota Tinggi, Rumah Muar and Rumah Batu Pahat. In additon, there are two other traditional wooden Malay houses – Rumah Utama and Rumah Spa. All of these buildings surround a lawn, situated right at the edge of the Skudai Highway. Cultural shows unique to each district are performed in the Rumah Utama. Johor cuisine is served inside and outside some of the houses. There is an orchid garden beside the Rumah Segamat. Massage and spa therapy are offered in the Rumah Spa. Rumah Mersing offers wedding planning services. Rumah Johor Bahru has a gift shop. Rumah Kota Tinggi has a Malay arts and crafts exhibition whereas Rumah Kluang has traditional Malay games and cash crops exhibitions.
- Danga World Petting Zoo is open daily from 3pm to midnight. There is an animal show at 8.30 and 10 pm. The admission price of 10 RM (5 RM for children) is very steep considering that this zoo is substantially smaller than the Johor Bahru Zoo at Jalan Gertak Merah. No video filming is allowed.
- Danga World Theme Park is open daily from 3pm to midnight. This is actually an amusement park more suitable for children. Among the 20 rides are (price per person, minimum 4RM): Zamperla pirate ship (10 RM), tea cups (4 RM), two-level merry-go-round (4 RM), balloon ferris wheel (4 RM), flying elephant, bumper car, etc.
- Taman Merdeka, 2km south of the Larkin Bus Station and 1.5km east of the Istana Bukit Serene at Jalan Kolam Ayer. This is a public park that surrounds a big lake. Here, you can find pavilions, an open-air theater,rock sculptures, an independence monument, two bridges, two twin 2-storey white buildings, cannons and a clock tower. There is a cheap Malay buffet restaurant (Restoran JB Catering, see the ‘Eat, budget’ section) on the north side of the park. Free admission.
- Taman Rekreasi Hutan Bandar (Recreational Park City Forest in English), Jalan Tasek Utara (Ulu Air Molek) 1.5km southeast of the Larkin bus terminal. This is a 13-hectare recreational park. Maintained by the municipality and lying within easy reach of the city center (the CIQ is only 3km away), this gem of a public recreational park contains seven lakes surrounded by tropical rain forest. There is a big fountain at the north end of the southernmost lake. Within the park are jogging/hiking tracks, wooden bridges and platforms, a children’s playground and an open-air swimming pool (open Fridays to Sundays only). There is also an orchid park with many different species of orchids. Anglers can fish by the lakes. There is a car park just beyond the park’s entrance on Jalan Tasek Utara. There are food and beverage outlets beside the car park.
- Johor Bahru Zoo, across the street (Jalan Gertak Merah) from the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque. This is one of the oldest zoos in Malaysia. The zoo was built by Sultan Ibrahim in 1928 and became the private menagerie of the royal family. It was was opened to the public in 1962. A 5-hectare, run-down zoo that provides a dismal diversion to local and Western tourists. It only has birds and mammals on display. There is a pond inside the zoo where you can rent boats as well as a children’s playground. Admission 2 RM for adults, 1 RM (for 3-12 year olds), free for under 3 year olds. Open daily 0900-1800. To get there from the city center, take any of the very frequent buses(RM 1.20 or 1.30; however the fare for the return leg of the journey is only 1RM) that go to Skudai and beyond from the bus stop in front of the old railway station at Jalan Tun Abdul Razak
- Saleng Zoo, Kulai (along the way from Jalan Skudai all the way past Senai town). A private zoo which surprisingly has been reasonably well maintained.
- Orchid Valley Located in the Pulai area along Jalan Johor-Pontian road. Relatively run down.
- Haji Ali House Located in Jalan Lurah 16, Kg Kempas
- Istana Garden For jogging, leisure walk or a game of badminton at an open area in the park. Johor Bahru Hunts
- Mawar Complex (Kompleks Mawar; Mawar is the Malay acronym for Majlis Wanita Johor), 888 Jalan Sungai Chat (tel 07-2214100)(50m west of the Thistle Hotel on the same side of the road). The complex consists of several buildings, among them a handicrafts workshop (closed to the public) and ‘Rumah Mawar (also known as ‘Galeri Mawar’). The latter is housed in a pretty 2-storey white building. It has photos of members (especially female) of the Johor royal family and various famous women of Johor. There are also displays of clothing worn by Sultanah Zanariah on the first level and mannequins wearing wedding clothes and traditional Malay clothes on the second level. Open only on Mon, Tue, Wed Thu and Fri 10am – 4pm, admission 5 RM for a mandatory guided tour of the ‘Galeri Mawar’. You have to get one of the staff from the administration building to open the door to the ‘Rumah Mawar’. He or she will act as a guide. Photography is forbidden except for the mannequin display on the second level. There is a small canteen selling Malay food at the entrance to the complex. To get there from the city center, take any of the very frequent buses(RM 1.20 or 1.30; however the fare for the return leg of the journey is only 1RM) that go to Skudai and beyond from the bus stop in front of the old railway station at Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, and alight at the bus stop in front of the red-colored Sultanah Aminah Hospital on Jalan Abu Bakar. It is about five minutes walk from here.
- Kraftangan Malaysia Cawangan Negeri Johor (Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation of Johore State), Lot. PBT 20002, Jalan Cenderasari, Off Jalan Datin Halimah, 80350 Larkin. Tel : 07-2350433, 07-2350431 (T/T) Fax : 607-2350432. Located 1.5km northwest of Larkin bus terminal and opposite Foon Yew 4 school, this government body has a so-called Treasured Possession Gallery (open Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm) that exhibits batik, embroidery and beads. It also hosts a handicrafts fair on its premises once a year (the last fair was held from 6 to 8 Aug 2010).
Things to do
Johor Bahru is reasonably well known for its golf courses. During the height of the country’s boom, there is almost a golf course planned every 3 months. Here are some of the best in Johor Bahru.
- Royal Johor Country Club probably the most expensive club in Johor Bahru. It is also the first course in this city.
- Tanjung Puteri Resort one of the largest courses in Johor Bahru and boasts of many awards. Very well designed courses and attracts a fair amount of visitors.
- Leisure Farm easily accessible by Singaporeans via the second link.
- Pulai Spring Resort Partly owned by a Singapore company and hence a popular joint among the Singaporeans.
- Austin Hills Golf Resort within the Tebrau Corridor and nearby Tesco hypermarket and Aeon Jusco shopping mall. Nestled amidst the lush greens of 27 hole golf course, the resort clubhouse boasts 66 exclusive suites, free-form swimming pool, tennis courts, 8-lane bowling alley, sauna, jacuzzi, karaoke and banqueting facilities all under one roof.
- Danga Bay There have been some addition recently to Danga Bay. You can rent a paddle boat to explore the area.
- Stulang Laut You can find some windsurfing activities around this area.
- Pulau Sibu PADI Dive Centre, . The nearest PADI dive centre to JB located on the small island of Pulau Sibu within the Cabanas Resort; an excellent weekend island break for Scuba Divers. PADI Scuba Diving courses are also available.
- Dan’s Nasty Frogmen Dive Base at Sea Gypsy Village on Pulau Sibu There are boat dives & Try Scuba Dives daily, morning & afternoon. Scuba diving is taught from the age of 8 years starting with Scuba Rangers. There are also morning & afternoon snorkeling excursions to uninhabited islands. Sailing is availble using Solsa sail boats plus paddle skis, kayaks & boogie boards for hire. Taxis to Tanjong Leman are easily available, depart at 7AM for the 9AM boat. You can depart Pulau Sibu at 5:30PM or 8:30PM, the resort will order a taxi to Johor Bahru for your return trip. Sea Gypsy Village operate a bus service from Johor Bahru daily at midday to connect with their 2PM boat, guests are on the island by 2:30PM.
There are three major cinemas in Johor Bahru, Tanjung Golden Village located in Jusco Tebrau City, Golden Screen Cinemas in Pelangi Leisure Mall and Cathay Cinemas located in City Square, Johor Bahru. Although Pelangi Leisure Mall’s cinematic technology isn’t the best it is still considered acceptable. Most of all, it offers the cheaper tickets among the three. Cathay is the state of the art cinema in the city but experiencing that technology in the center of the city will set you back at least 40% more than other movie theaters. There is also a Tamil movie theatre in the city centre, close to the Hindu temple.
- The Johor Society for the Performing Arts (JSPA),, . A non-commercial Society dedicated to the advancement,promotion and development of the performing arts in JB.
- Massage Gallery Home Spa, Taman Perling . A transformed single storey terrace house with two small but clean and comfortable massage rooms and a semi-open body scrubbing area. Male masseurs only.
- Cruise from and to Danga Bay. There are two types of cruises available. The speedboat cruise (daily every hour; adult – 10RM, child under 12 years old – 5RM; duration of cruise 20 to 25 min) goes from the pier beside the Marina Club building (this is where you will find the International Restaurants) to the Causeway and back. The Danga Cruise 8 (a triple-deck cruise ship) also sails the Straits of Johor (from Danga Bay to the Causeway and back). The pier for this ship is located off Danga Beach. The Danga Cruise 8 starts at 8pm every Fri, Sat and Sun and costs 50 RM net, inclusive of buffet dinner on board the ship.
Singaporeans like to tell horror stories of crimes in the “wild, wild North” and its former Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew once claimed that Johor Bahru is crime-ridden. As a result of the high crime rate, the number of tourists from Singapore has dropped drastically over the past few years. This could partly be due to the high profile that the Singaporean press gives to crime committed in Johor Bahru against its citizens. Even Johor Bahru citizens took to the streets in September 2007, asking for the city to take action against crime. Although the crime rate in Johor Bahru is still higher than in Singapore and elsewhere in Malaysia, things have become better since the Johor Bahru administration took action to increase the police presence and initiate several anti-crime measures – including the creation of a hotline for tourists to call should they require urgent police assistance.
However for safety reasons, these tips are advisable to be taken:
- Do not carry a handbag when walking around town. Snatch thieves have been known to snatch handbags away while their victims are walking on the street, using a motorcycle. If they do manage to grab your handbag, let them have it as some snatch thieves are known to drag their victims along the road with their motorbikes until they release their grip; almost certainly a very painful and unpleasant death.
- Keep your passport safe and close to you because it is a highly prized valuable to robbers.
- Lock the car door immediately or as soon as you get into the car.
- Avoid walking around the city alone. You should walk around the city in groups of preferably 3 or more for safety.
- Stay home at night or only go to areas with good security such as malls and private clubs.
- Using restrooms in petrol kiosks after sunset is not advised. There are cases of armed robbers hiding within the restroom waiting for victims.
In the event that you DO get robbed, it is likely that the robber would be armed with a parang, a long Malay sword. You are advised to give up most, if not all, of your valuables to avoid putting your personal safety in jeopardy.
Tap water should be boiled before drinking. As a rule of thumb, the general hawker food scene in Johor Bahru is hygienic though certain areas are less so. So keep an eye out for those dirty hawkers who pay very little attention to hygiene.