Johor Bahru On a BudgetJohor Bahru is the capital of the state of Johor in Southern Malaysia. Though it is largely industrial and does not typically cater to tourists, especially compared to the grandeur of neighboring Singapore, the city does have some opportunities for shopping, dining, and entertainment.
SightsWhile Johor Bahru is primarily an industrial city, the city is home to a few noteworthy landmarks. One such monument is the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque, built between 1892 and 1900 under the direction of Sultan Abu Bakar. An important symbol for the city, the mosque is also located near the Royal Abu Bakar Museum (The Grand Palace Johor), also called Istana Besar. This Grand Palace is one of the oldest buildings in Johor (1866), and is now filled with information and rare artifacts related to the Royal Family.
Another unique architectural sight is the Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple, which was listed in 2010 in the Malaysian Book of Records as the first and only glass temple in the nation. Aside from this Hindu Temple, Johor Bahru is also home to a Chinese Temple that is one of the oldest structures in the city. In addition to architectural landmarks, visitors to Johor Bahru flock to the LEGOland Malaysia theme park where they can enjoy LEGO-themed rides and character meet and greets.
NeighborhoodsDataran Bandaraya Johor Bahru or (Johor Bahru City Square) is the main square in Johor Bahru. This area is one of the busiest and most attractive sectors of the city with plenty of interesting sights, shops, and restaurants close to the square. It is marked by a large clock tower. Another hub for activity is Jalan Wong Ah Fook-a major one-way road at the center of the business district with many options for shopping and dining. Additional shopping is available in the malls of the city to the north of the main street, a few of which include KSL City Mall and Holiday Plaza.
ActivitiesBetween Johor Bahru City Square and the Jalan Wong Ah Fook main street, there is an area of the city that is home to the Johor Zoo and the Zaharah Botanic Gardens. The zoo is small but features a playground as well as pony and boat rides, and even camel feeding. In addition to the zoo, the gardens offer a nice place to take a break from the bustle of the city. These grounds are actually a part of the palace grounds, with the Great Palace of Johor located on the southern end near the shoreline that divides Malaysia from Singapore. Generally this area is known as Taman Istana and consists of about 53 hectare of beautifully tended green space and gardens.
For those looking to engage in some outdoor activities there are plenty of golf courses, the most premier of which include Royal Johor Country Club and Tanjung Puteri Resort. Other activities in the area include boat diving, snorkeling trips, and various excursions around the island.
Since Singapore is just across the Causeway, it is also common for travelers to take days trips across the way. Some of Singapore's best attractions include the Marina Bay Sands Hotel with its iconic rooftop pool, the Gardens by the Bay, and Universal Studios Singapore, amongst much more.
Food and DiningMalaysian cuisine typically results from a mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, and ethnic Bornean cooking traditions. Due to its proximity to Singapore, the Johor Bahru area dishes are similar to those across the border. One such common dish is laksa-a spicy noodle soup based in curry coconut milk and made with chicken, shrimp, or fish. Hainanese chicken rice is another popular meal, adapted from a dish brought by Chinese immigrants. Rice is generally the central component to traditional Malay dishes, served with accompaniments or relishes like sambal, a relish-like sauce made from chili peppers. One of Malaysia's most popular foods is satay, which consists of marinated beef and chicken pieces skewered with wooden sticks and cooked on a charcoal grill. Street food culture is very popular in Johor Bahru with plenty of options available along Jalan Wong Ah Fook.
TransportationFor shorter routes to and from Johor Bahru, it is recommended to book ahead. The best prices for buses and trains in Malaysia can be found on 12Go. They let you search across all bus, train, and airline routes throughout Asia.
The city is served by Senai International Airport (formerly known as Sultan Ismail International Airport), and is located about 32 kilometers northwest of the Johor Bahru's city center. Domestic and international flights are provided by Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia, Firefly, and Malindo Air. Visitors can reach Johor Bahru from the airport via the Causeway Link, which operates airport express shuttle buses. Many travelers also opt to fly into Singapore Changi Airport, just across the border in Singapore-using the Causeway to cross into Malaysia.