Johor is Malaysia’s most populous state and a growing economic power player. Most itineraries skip it, but those who stray into the southern gateway to Malaysia will be rewarded with the blissful solitude of its postcard-perfect islands and wild jungles. And while getting access to a taste of authentic Malaysian culture and character not easily found in more significant tourist hot spots.
The top draw is without a doubt the ridiculously gorgeous white sand islands of the Seribuat Archipelago, where you’ll find world-class diving, lost-beach trails and plenty of relaxation time with a fraction of Tioman’s crowds. Inland, Endau-Rompin National Park offers the same rich flora, very elusive fauna (rhinos! elephants!) and swashbuckling action that visitors flock to experience at Taman Negara in Pahang, but can get here in a more pristine setting.
And then there’s Johor Bahru, the working-class capital with a handful of worthwhile religious sites and museums that plays sister-city to neighbouring Singapore. For residents and visitors to Singapore, a day trip across the border to JB, Johor Bahru is always a must-do plan.
Whether on business or pleasure, or both, you will always have plenty of things to do and see in Johor Bahru (JB). So what are you waiting for? Read on further to know the best things to do and all the hidden spots Johor has to offer.
1. Fill your Instagram feed with amazing pictures of JB Old Town
While you’re at JB Old Town, you should check out all murals and heritage buildings. Just like in Penang, JB has got some pretty fun paintings on its walls as well. The best part about the town is that the place hasn’t been changed much except for some refurbishments and new paint coats.
Aside from that, the Johor council had ensured that the structures remain the same as when it was built in olden times. Besides, the Red House is a pretty impressive building for the artsy-fartsy people as they often hold cultural and art events. Meanwhile, remember to take loads of pictures and show off to all your Insta followers.
2. See a whole new world at LEGOLAND
The best part about going to theme parks feels as though you’ve just stepped into a brand new world. Although there are many theme parks all around Malaysia, LEGOLAND is somewhat more impressive than the others. Why? That’s because this whole park is built out of LEGOs!
They’ve got both a dry and wet theme park so you can enjoy the best of both worlds in one place. Tickets start from RM73 up to RM244. Children below 12 years old and seniors above 60 years old have discounted fares.
3. Act like you’re in France at Little Paris
If you’re broke AF to go all the way to France, but you still want to have a taste of it, then you should visit Little Paris. This place features a row of shophouses where the exterior decoration mimics the style of Parisian streets.
At night, there are even pretty light decors, which will make any of your Instagram followers think you’re in Europe. Just like the French city, Little Paris has got loads of high fashion clothing stores, and yummilicious cafes and bakeries to check out.
Gourmandises is a humble bakery owned by a French-Chinese lady. It’s located in a little corner shop along that street. She bakes intricate cakes and mouth-watering cookies that are almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Little Paris occasionally holds massive events also where people from all over JB will crowd at to enjoy the festivity.
4. Check out actual JEWELS at Istana Bukit Serene
These jewels aren’t in some boring dusty museum. They’re embedded into a crown-like structure right at the Bukit Serene Palace entrance! The architectural wonder was built in the image of the Johor royal crown, and they have real jewels made into it.
This place gets bustling at night when the sun goes down, and pretty lights illuminate the area, giving the gems a unique shine. There’s also a stunning fountain with colourful lights and an ample space for people to chillax. Funnily enough, a lot of couples tend to have a romantic stroll over here.
5. Paint the town pink with Hello Kitty
This family orientated theme park is in the same complex as another attraction which features in our top 10; The Little Big Club. Both attractions focus on immersing visitors into the world of the characters. They are also located only ten minutes away from the most well-known theme park in the city; LEGOLAND Malaysia. You can make Sanrio Hello Kitty Town part of a fun family theme park day.
This is the first Sanrio Hello Kitty Town theme park outside of Japan and it really takes its theme to heart. Visitors can enjoy Hello Kitty-themed rides as well as plenty of interactive things to do. If you visit you can even make your own souvenir and enjoy Hello Kitty-themed refreshments.
6. Take the Piggy Place down and team up with the birds from Angry Birds
No doubt you’ll be familiar with the Angry Birds phenomenon, and in this family-friendly Activity Park, kids and adults alike get to immerse themselves within the popular franchise. If you’re visiting the city with kids, the Angry Birds Activity Park should be on your list of top things to do in Johor Bahru. It’s set over an area of 26,000 square feet, inside the newest addition to retail and entertainment within the city, Komtar JBCC.
There are several different zones in the Activity Park, so you should be able to find something for everyone to enjoy. In the Danger Zone, you can sample the Lazer Bird Scoot and the Space Drop Air Bag. Move on to Utopia, and you can enjoy the Anti-Gravity Trampoline, the Giant Leap Foam Pit and the Piggy Shooting Gallery.
If all that wasn’t enough, you can spend some time in the South Beach zone where the whole family can play the Angry Birds Video Game or visit Captain Black Birds Ship. Whatever you try, this Johor Bahru attraction will be a welcome break from sightseeing for the kids!
7. Feel super atas by dining at Senibong Cove
This particular spot is quite the hidden gem in Johor Bahru. It is a new mini township called Senibong where beautiful houses are built along the East coast. At Senibong Cove, you can stare into the sunset with a view of yachts parked at the harbour while you dine like the rich and famous people. After the delicious meal, you can have a romantic stroll along the pathway by the coast and enjoy the scenery. So romantic.
8. Chill at the Battery Factory
This hot spot in Johor Bahru was once the Eveready battery factory, hence the name. In the Battery Factory a.k.a Kilang Bateri, you can shop around for locally made clothes and vintage accessories. Besides, there are loads of hipster cafes with band performances to satisfy your coffee and chill needs.
If you’re into more adventurous activities, then you can check out their mini indoor skate park. Oh, and you can even get a haircut here because there’s a barbershop right inside the building. They’re the hipster type of barbershop that also provides shaving services!
9. Shop till you drop at Johor Premium Outlets
Shopping is just so irresistible, significantly when the prices are massively slashed. Over at JPO, you can find all sorts of branded and luxurious labels selling at way lower prices than you’d find at their regular retail outlets.
Here, you can purchase branded goods from Burberry, Coach, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, Salvatore Ferragamo, Swatch, and much more. Then, you can show off all these ang moh branded stuff to your friends and make them jealous.
10. Visit the mosque that is influenced by English Victorian architecture
The Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque was built between 1892 and 1900 and is named after the father of the sultan of that period who directed the construction. The architecture of the mosque is heavily influenced by English Victorian architecture. If you visit the mosque, you will also note Moorish influence in its design. This is not the only building that was designed at that time which has a heavy English impact. If you visit the state of Johor today, you will see a myriad of government and palace buildings that were quite obviously built with the same influences in mind.
The Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque is located on a prominent hill in the city of Johor Bahru at a site where you can look out over the Straits of Johor. It’s a huge building which can hold as many as 2,000 worshippers at one time. If you have a list of attractions in Johor Bahru that you want to visit this mosque should be on it.
11. A glass temple fit for royals
The origin of the temple was as a simple structure back in 1922. This makes it one of the oldest Hindu temples in the city. The temple was rebuilt in the 1990s and re-opened in 1996. The re-building in the glass was instigated by Guru Bhagawan Sittar, who was influenced by the temples he saw during a trip to Bangkok. He saw the glasswork in the temples there and believed that using the same type of work in a temple structure in Johor Bahru would attract more devotees and more visitors overall. The fitting of the glass in the temple began in 2008 and was completed in 2009.
Today, the temple is an impressive place to visit. Around 90% of the building is covered with pieces of glass in a multitude of colours, creating a magnificent mosaic that has around 300,000 pieces. Despite its almost century-long history, the temple is not short of modern amenities which you will find useful if you visit. It is fully air-conditioned and has an onsite café.
Johor Bahru is not the most exciting place in the world, but it’s pleasant, comfortable, and there are some great Johor Bahru tourist attractions. There are also some good big shopping centres in downtown Johor Bahru, and it is an excellent area to walk around.