Friends have told me there’s nothing to do and see in Johor Bahru in Malaysia but after our short stay at Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour, I found out there’s more to Johor Bahru than Legoland.
Johor Bahru is the city that connects Singapore to Malaysia and vice versa. Many tourists coming from Singapore go to Johor Bahru on a day trip to visit the Legoland theme park. Some tourists use the Singapore to Johor Bahru border crossing to connect to Kuala Lumpur and some make a side trip to visit charming Melaka.
Why Visit Johor Bahru
During our 2 nights stop over at Johor Bahru, we discovered that exploring the city in a single day is not enough. There’s so much to see in Johor. So for any travellers planning their next trip to Singapore and Malaysia, here are six reasons why you need to visit Johor Bahru and make it your prime destination.
Affordable and Delicious Food
It is cheaper to stay in Johor Bahru than pricey Singapore. One kaya toast set for breakfast in Singapore could already buy you 4 to 6 kaya toast sets in Johor Bahru. It’s that affordable.
A signature burger and mlikshake at Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour’s Shakes & Burgers restaurant could be priced twice or thrice as much if you buy the same ones in Singapore.
I even learned that Singaporeans cross Johor Bahru to buy their groceries and petrol. So for the budget conscious traveller, your travel funds will go a long way if you stay at JB and go on a day trip or two to Singapore instead.
Theme parks abound in Johor Bahru. It’s even safe to say that Johor Bahru is the theme park capital of Malaysia (or Southeast Asia for that matter) for you will find a handful of theme parks in this progressive city. The famous Legoland Malaysia resides in Johor Bahru.
So does the Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and Thomas Town. Angry Birds Activity Park, Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park and the Permas Go-Kart can be found here too along with other theme parks.
With the presence of these attractions, JB is also the perfect place for families to go on vacation during the holidays and school breaks. Children will surely have a grand time when they visit the homes of their favourite cartoon characters.
If you fancy visiting Penang and Melaka for their street wall paintings, then you will like Johor Bahru’s version too.
The wall art in the city is spread out and you’ll have to summon the Sherlock Holmes in you to discover these paintings in town.
A bamboo installation art project is currently on display at Puteri Harbour showcasing bamboo art pieces by 15 artists and architects from ASEAN. These installations are spread out around the marina area. It’s a wonderful past time to find these art installations and look at the meticulous way they were installed.
Johor Bahru’s heritage district will take you back in time. You can go and explore old shop houses, Indian and Chinese temples or visit iconic landmarks in the city.
The Chinese Heritage Museum will offer you a glimpse of how Chinese immigrants arrived in this Malay Peninsula. Another interesting place to visit is the stunning Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple, a major Hindu temple in Johor Bahru that is also one of the state’s main tourist attractions.
The Istana Bukit Serene is home to the Sultan of Johor and just outside its gates, you will see this magnificent crown arch that was built by the Sultan for the people of Johor. This structure is one of the famous landmarks of Johor Bahru.
Johor’s Administrative Centre also houses an iconic mosque known as the Kota Iskandar Mosque, which could accommodate 6,000 people. This modern futuristic mosque has six towering minarets with intricate carvings of Quran verses adorning its walls.
There’s also the palatial Royal Abu Bakar Museum with a well manicured 53-hectare palace grounds as well as the iconic Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim monument where eastern and western architecture meets.
Outlet shops abound in Johor Bahru. The Johor Premium Outlets is a paradise for those who love to shop as luxury premium brand outlets in Southeast Asia can be found here.
The ZON Duty Free Stores in Johor Bahru Duty Free Zone is also a welcome treat for those fond of buying liquors, cigarettes, chocolates, perfumes and cosmetics.
There are excellent places around Johor Bahru that gives you a taste of nature’s beauty. An all-time favourite among locals is the Puteri Harbour. The best time to see this place is just before sunset. Because of the beautiful display of hues in this side of Johor, many couples come here for their engagement sessions.
And to level up on your sunset experience, the private yacht Black Pearl can take you on a sunset cruise and catch the best area where you can embrace the setting sun.
Where to stay
If you want comfort and a pleasurable stay while in Johor Bahru, Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour is highly recommended. This upscale hotel is just a 5-minute walk from the Puteri Harbour International Ferry Terminal. It is a 20-minute drive from the Senai International Airport or an hour away from Singapore Changi Airport. Hotel Jen is approximately 20 minutes from the main center of Johor Bahru and a stone’s throw away from Malaysia’s first international theme park, Legoland.
The stylish rooms at Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour guarantees relaxation and the four restaurants and bar within the property will take care in indulging you with great-tasting international and local cuisines.
And since Hello Kitty Town is just a 1-minute walk from Hotel Jen, Hello Kitty fans out there can also spend a night or two at Hotel Jen’s Hello Kitty Themed Rooms. The first in Southeast Asia, guests have the option to pick among 12 uniquely designed Hello Kitty rooms upon availability. These rooms get booked fast, especially on weekends, so it’s best to book in advance to guarantee a themed Hello Kitty room.
Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour Johor
Book here for discounted room rates
Persiaran Puteri Selatan, Puteri Harbour,
79000 Iskandar Puteri
Johor Darul Takzim, Malaysia
Phone No. +60 7 560 8888
Our visit to Johor Bahru was too short. Influenced by my peers, I never set my hopes high when I crossed the Singapore-Malaysia border to visit this city. But Johor Bahru was such a sweet surprise that it exceeded my expectations and I would love to come back here again soon.