Travel & Culture Malaysia
Tours Hotels and Events in Malaysia
Johor Bahru (also Johor Baru or Johore Baharu, but commonl called JB) is the capital of Johor state in southern peninsular Malaysia, it is located just across the causeway from Singapore. JB is a bustling city, it is a significant regional transport and manufacturing hub.
Johor Bahru city is mainly easily divided into four parts - North, South, East and West.
South Johor Bahru - The main city centre 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 of this area 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. Recently, the Austin area has been a hive for construction activities due to the new Jusco Tebrau City located in vicinity.
West - 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 - is a port 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.
Johor Bahru was declared a city only in 1994, it has grown rapidly and still growing. Latest census figures indicates that it is fast becoming Malaysia's second largest city, with a population of over one million. Given its relatively large land space, the town is not as dense as other cities around Malaysia.
Johor Bahru Though appreciably less organised and more messy compared to the glitz of the nearby Singapore, shopping and eating in JB can be a real adventure, with many shopping complexes and a wide variety of food establishments offering budget to fine dining.
Johor Bahru is probably more well known as an industrial city rather than a tourist-friendly town. Many of the world's top electronics manufacturers have at least one plant in Johor Bahru, and after the tough times after the 1997 economic crisis the town is stirring to life again.
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 one sports field on the south side and two sports fields on the west side. 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 Temple (Roufo Gumiao in Mandarin Hanyu Pinyin), Jalan Trus, is a Chinese temple (built during the second half of the 19th century) dedicated to five deities, including Hongxian Dadi, Yuantian Shangdi and Weitian Dadi. Each of these deities are separately worshiped by five Chinese dialect groups - Cantonese, Hainanese, Hakka, Hokkien and Teochew. The effigies of Hongxian Dadi, Yuantian Shangdi and Weitian Dadi are found inside the prayer hall. The temple organizes an annual 4-day Chingay parade known as the Parade of Deities. The climax of the parade occurs on the night of the 3rd day when the deities are paraded around the city center. Open daily 7am to 7pm.
- 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 an 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, 4 Jalan Ungku Puan, right in the heart of downtown JB. It is currently closed to worshipers and visitors as it is undergoing renovation in preparation 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; its gate entrance is 30m north-east of the junction of this road and Jalan Serunai; the site is 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. The names and nationalities of all the 100 victims are inscribed on a less-than-two-meter high wall cladded with shiny, black stone.
Other Places to see
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 an inexpensive Malay-run restaurant serving buffet and a la carte meals (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).
Golf courses in Johor Bahru
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.
Cinemas in Johor Baru
There are three major cineplexes in Johor Bahru, Tanjung Golden Village located in AEON Tebrau City, Golden Screen Cinemas in Pelangi Leisure Mall and Cathay Cinemas located in City Square. Minimum/maximum adult ticket prices (minimum prices only on Wednesdays, maximum prices during weekends) - Tanjung Golden Village 8/13 RM, Golden Screen 7/11 RM, Cathay 6/10 RM. There is also a Tamil movie theater ('Broadway') in the city center, about 100m southeast of the Hindu Sri Raja Mariamman temple.
Others Place to visit
The Johor Society for the Performing Arts (JSPA), T: +60-12-7179388, . A non-commercial Society dedicated to the advancement,promotion and development of the performing arts in JB.
Massage Gallery Home Spa, Taman Perling (T: 07-2352369 or 016-7609779) . 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.