Johor Bahru is a city connected to Singapore by two bridges. A lot of tourists and locals from Singapore go to Johor Bahru for the shopping malls as shopping is generally more affordable here compared to Singapore. As a matter of fact, Johor Bahru is one of the biggest industrial centers in its country.
Although Johor Bahru is not a popular city in Malaysia, it has a number of beautiful and interesting sights to offer. So if you ever find yourself in Singapore, running out of places to visit, consider going on a day trip to Johor Bahru. You can hit two birds with one stone by checking off two countries off of your bucket list! You will be surprised at how affordable and easily accessible Johor Bahru is from Singapore. By the end of this article, you will have plenty of reasons why you should explore the underrated city of Johor Bahru.
About Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru is a unique city to visit. It boasts of temples, palaces, theme parks, and natural attractions. Due to its proximity to Singapore, a lot of tourists who originally plan to visit Singapore go to Johor Bahru in order to experience shopping and eating in the city. There are plenty of shopping malls and restaurants for every type of tourist ranging from thrift markets to luxury stores, street food to fine dining. Despite being the third largest city in Malaysia yet, Johor Bahru is sprawling. The city center is quite small for a city that is this big. This is why a lot of the city’s best shopping areas and restaurants are located in the suburbs.
Pre Travel Guide
How to go to Johor Bahru from Singapore?
For easy and hassle-free transfers, you can book your chartered cars via Klook! Although there are other modes of public transportation that you may use if you want to visit Johor Bahru from Singapore, I highly recommend that you book yourself a car charter with Klook! Imagine having a private vehicle all to yourself (and your family or friends) for the entire tour. The entire trip will be seamless and safe. As for the convenience and comfort, it will also allow you to avoid the hassle of alighting the vehicle for immigration checkpoints. Also, you can have more space for your things and shopping finds! This is definitely the best way to enjoy your day tour to Johor Bahru as this option is so convenient and comfortable!
There are two options to choose from:
- Private Transfers
- If you prefer a hassle free transfer to and from Johor Bahru and Singapore but you want to explore the city by yourself, this is the ideal option for you. Enjoy a convenient transfer by booking Private City Transfers via Klook!
- Book Here: Private City Transfers between Singapore and Johor Bahru
- One Whole Day Private Driver
- On the other hand, if you are the type of person who would want to explore Johor Bahru comfortably and conveniently, you are better off with this amazing deal from Klook! For an affordable price, you may enjoy a fun-filled day going to your preferred attractions while having the luxury of a private car with driver for the whole day! You will not have to undergo the complicated process of transferring from one public transportation to another, because Klook already got your back!
- Book Here: Singapore to Johor Bahru – DIY Itinerary + Private Driver
- By Bus: This is the cheapest option to reach Johor Bahru from Singapore. The travel time usually takes 40 minutes, but because you have to get off the bus for the checkpoints, it might take two hours before you reach Johor Bahru. Fare starts at SGD 5.
- By Taxi: At Johor Bahru Taxi Terminal, you can find licensed taxi cabs that are allowed to enter Singapore. You may purchase your tickets for a fixed price at the special ticket counter. Travel time usually takes 40-60 minutes, depending on the traffic.
- By Train: Although this may take longer than the other modes of transportation because of immigration checkpoints, you may ride the train from Singapore to Johor Bahru. The roundtrip fare costs around MYR16. Travel time takes about two hours because of the immigration checkpoints you have to go through.
How to get around Johor Bahru:
- By Bus: There are many public buses in Johor Bahru. One way tickets cost around MRY1-MRY2.5.
- By Taxi: There are also plenty of cabs to help you get around. The starting tariff for is MYR3, with a standard fare costing MYR20 around downtown.
- By Rented Car: You may also go for rental vehicles which can be picked up at the central train station or at the airport. Day rates start at MYR230.
Do we need visa?
Philippine passport holders can be issued visas upon arrival in Singapore and Malaysia. Your Philippine passport should at least have six months validity after the date of intended departure from Singapore and Malaysia.
How does the immigration work?
Cross-border commuters will be required to take off their ride twice during the trip for immigration checkpoints. The first checkpoint is at Woodlands Singapore and the second is at the Malaysian Immigration. Both checkpoints will require you to present your passport for verification and validation.
Where to stay?
Johor Bahru is an ideal destination for a day tour from Singapore, so I personally think there is no need to book accommodation. However, if you want to stay in the city of a few more days, here are some places where you can find nice and accessible hotels:
- City Square Downtown – This neighborhood has plenty of hotels. It also features places of worship, open air markets, and cultural attractions.
- Gelang Patah – This area is close to the second link connection to Singapore. It also has plenty of clubs, restaurants, and markets to offer.
- Danga Bay – This region boasts of attractions parks such as Danga World Theme Park, Danga World Petting Zoo, and Rumah Limas.
- Near Legoland – If you intend to visit Legoland, there are a lot of apartments nearby that offer accommodation.
- If you reached Johor Bahru through commuting and then decide to charter a car to explore the city, don’t take your rented car to Singapore. Since Singapore has very strict regulations on foreign cars entering the country, it is highly recommended to leave your rented car in Johor Bahru before entering Singapore.
- Make sure to have your passport with you at all times. Always double check your things before proceeding to your next location.
- Make sure to get your passport stamped.
- Head out for Johor Bahru early to maximize your trip. A lot of Malaysians travel from Malaysia to Singapore for work or other businesses, resulting in the roads between Johor Bahru and Singapore being congested most of the time. You would not want to spend hours being stuck in traffic.
- If you’re riding the bus, keep your tickets. It is necessary to resume your journey after clearing immigration at Singapore checkpoints.
- On weekday evenings especially Fridays, clearing immigration may take hours to complete.
- If you’re riding the train, make sure to book tickets in advance because tickets sell out quickly especially weekends.
- If you are self-driving, it is important to note that for toll fees, they do not accept cash payment. Only payments made by EZ-Link, NETS FashPay, NETS Cashcard, and Autopass Card are accepted.
- Always keep your vehicles locked to prevent theft and other unfortunate events from happening.
What Not To Miss In Johor Bahru
Aside from being known as a great shopping destination, Johor Bahru offers a wide variety of interesting and exciting attractions. For one, I love how you can feel like a child all over again with its top rated places to explore!
The best way to immerse ourselves in a new place is through eating food as the locals do! The food in Johor Bahru is every food enthusiast’s dream. It may be one of the most underrated places in Malaysia when it comes to food, but this food paradise offers some of the most authentic and delicious Malaysian food. Eateries that serve traditional dishes are everywhere. Everything is rich in flavor and unique!
Legoland is known for being Malaysia’s first international theme park and the first Legoland in Asia. It is the most visited destination in Johor. It features 40 interactive shows, rides, and attractions. Best of all, this is the largest theme park in the country! Legoland Malaysia consists of the following main attractions: Lego Building where guests can build houses, cars, and a whole lot more; Lego Mindstorms has computer games and robotics; Sky cruiser where in you can control your aerial monorail vehicle by pedaling above the amazing views of the city and the entire park; Lego Duplo Playrooms where kids can play interactive activities; and the Castle Hill where you can see Lego Knights and a castle.
Enjoy a day of geeking out and looking at the wonderful Lego creations and pieces!
- Where to book tickets: You may book your Legoland tickets via Klook! (Book Here! )
- Fee: Php 1,626
- Operating Hours: Weekdays 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM / Weekends 10 AM to 7:00 PM
- Tip: Book your tickets in advance via Klook to avoid the hassle of queuing and to save plenty of time! This will enable you to maximize your trip for the whole day.
Sanrio Hello Kitty Town & Thomas Town
Another cute and exciting place to visit is the Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and Thomas Town! Sanrio Hello Kitty Town is an amusement park with a playground, a Kitty House, arts and crafts activities, as well as live entertainment. It is the first Sanrio Hello Kitty theme park that is located outside of Japan. This is perfect for Hello Kitty fans! You can explore Hello Kitty’s home, take selfies with your favorite Sanrio characters, experience the teacup ride, and watch Hello Kitty perform live. You will be amazed at all the cute and colorful attractions that you can see here! The attractions are divided into the following areas: Hello Kitty In Oz, Wishful Studio, Hello Kitty’s House, Purrfect Stage, Kitty Tea Cup Ride, and Dream Photo Garden.
For Thomas Town, it is divided into two levels. Located on the second and third floor, the first level features Pinggu, Angelina Balerina, Bob The Builder, and Barney areas while the upper level features Thomas The Tank Engine and his friends. There are six Thomas The Tank-themed attractions, as well as live performances. Although kids would appreciate this part of the amusement park more, I still believe adults who are fond of watching these characters as a child would enjoy Thomas Town! Where to book tickets: You may book your tickets to Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and Thomas Town via Klook!
- Fee: Php 813
- Book Here!
- Operating Hours: 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM
- Tip: With your ticket, you can also ride some of the attractions for adults, watch a live performance, and take selfies with your favorite Sanrio characters! If you want to avoid large crowds, you would also want to start exploring the second and third floors first before exploring the first floor because the crowd follows the systematic way.
Angry Birds Activity Park
I bet you have played Angry Birds at least once in your life! It is one of the most downloaded games of all time after all. And if have been indeed developed a fascination for the game, you will definitely find this place enjoyable and fun! Angry Birds Activity Park is an indoor park where you can play fun games and enjoy unique attractions. There are play areas and obstacle courses that are inspired by the actual game. What makes the rides different is that you will have to move the rides, rather than the other way around. It offers a lot of fun and enjoyment for guests of all ages. The attractions include: Danger Zone, Utopia, Classic, South Beach, and Red’s Jungle Run. There is also the Snack Bar Café if you ever get hungry, Angry Birds Shop for souvenirs and merchandise, as well as a Parents Lounge for the kids’ companions so they can rest while the kids are enjoying the games.
- Where to book tickets: You may book your tickets to Angry Birds Activity Park with Klook!
- Fee: Php 641
- Book Here!
- Operating Hours: 10:00 AM to 10 PM daily
- Tip: This park is nearby KOMTAR JBCC, the city’s newest premier shopping mall where you can also shop and dine.
Hiap Joo Bakery
This traditional Chinese bakery is known for their bread and cakes, most especially the coconut buns and banana cake! Hiap Joo Bakert and Biscuit Factory is one of Johor’s oldest and best known traditional bakery. They offer fresh malt-flavored bread and super delicious banana cakes which they are famous for. What makes their creations special is how they traditionally make them. They use a hole-in-the-wall wood fired oven where they bake everything. The smell of freshly baked buns are to die for! They also sell otak buns which are likely to sell out very quickly. You must not miss this if you are in the area. It can be found in Jalan Tan Hiok Nee’s Heritage Walk.
- An average cost of Banana Cake costs MYR 9 per box.
- Operating Hours: 7:00 AM-6:00 PM on Mondays to Saturdays; 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM on Sundays
Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple
Considered as one of Malaysia’s most visited attraction, Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple is a prominent Hindu temple in Johor Bahru. It was known as the first and only glass temple in the country. The highlight of the place are the crystal chandeliers that reflect light on the doors, walls, and pillars, as well as the ceilings. Ninety percent of the temple is filled with 300,000 pieces of glass in different colors.
- Fee: Free
- Operating Hours: 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily for devotees; visiting hours for tourists are between 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM
Istana Bukit Serene
Istana Bukit Serene is the royal palace and official residence of the Sultan of Johor. It has a huge lush garden wherein they hold royal celebrations. The palace has a 35-meter tower which is considered as one of the most popular attractions in Johor Bahru. The sculptures and carvings on the building feature Art Deco influences that also attract tourists and travelers from around the globe.
- Fee: Free
- Operating Hours: 24 hours
Johor Premium Outlet
Johor Premium Outlet is an outlet mall located in Indahpura, Kulai District in Johor Bahru. It is the only outlet center in the area that offers a wide collection of designer and name brand merchandise that can be bought at 25% up to 65% savings. This is the place to be for shopping lovers! It is considered to be the first luxury premium brand outlet in Southeast Asia. There are plenty of stores to choose from, ranging from the most sought after items to luxury high end brands. You can find impressive selections of clothing, shoes, and accessories in here.
- Operating Hours: 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM
- Tip: Book your Johor Premium Outlets Saving Passport with Klook in order to enjoy shopping with plenty of exclusive rewards from Klook! Avail it HERE.
Old Chinese Temple
This is also known as Old Temple by the locals. It is one of the oldest structures in Johor Bahru and it has become the symbol of unity among five Chinese ethnic groups. The temple features two old artifacts located inside the temple. The artifacts are the plaque and bronze bell. The image of the main deity called Yuan Tian Shang Di is located at the main alcove of the temple. There are also five deities inside, each being separately worshipped by the Teochew, the Hokkien, the Cantonese, the Hakka, and the Hainanese.
- Fee: Free
- Operating Hours: 7:00 AM until 5:00 PM
Over the recent years, Johor Bahru is quickly becoming a point of interest for tourists. Aside from its proximity to Singapore, I think the city is gaining popularity because of its beauty and uniqueness. Unlike before when Johor Bahru was often overlooked, the city has now achieved an image of being a great place to roam around and explore. From temples to shopping malls, to museums and restaurants, Johor Bahru is an amazing destination in its own right.