Looking to get away for a trip that's short and sweet? Johor Bahru, more commonly known as JB, sits just across the bridge from us, where you're in for some great shopping, meals and loads of exploring to do.
Plus, driving from Singapore to Johor Bahru is a mere hour, give or take the traffic - just a stone's throw away!
It's the perfect road trip to explore a new place while still feeling quite at home. But before you pack your suitcase and stock up the car with snacks, here's a quick guide to get you better prepared for your trip up north.
How to get to Johor Bahru from Singapore
If you're wondering how to get to JB from Singapore, we've got you covered with your options.
Travelling to JB by bus
This is by far the cheapest way to get to JB. Tickets for buses to Johor Bahru can start as low as $S1.84 and you'll reach in about an hour to 1.5 hours with favourable traffic.
Once you're in JB, however, it might be less convenient as you may need to fork up extra cash for taxis to reach places which aren't connected by the public transportation system.
Travelling to JB by train
The KTM Shuttle Tebrau train to JB is by far the fastest way to travel across the causeway, in just 5 minutes!
Trains run hourly every day from the Woodlands Train Checkpoint to JB Sentral and a return trip will cost you a mere S$10. Once fitting in customs clearance, you should be set to begin exploring JB after only approximately half an hour.
Granted, you'll still need to find your way to the Wooodlands train check point which is about 30 minutes away from Suntec City.
Travelling to JB by car
Most people choose to travel by car, because convenience-wise, it's nice to have a car at your disposal in JB to get from one location to another.
A car is a much easier option when travelling with family, especially the elderly, young children or infants, as they won't have to walk great distances and you won't have to lug items around too much during transits.
What to do in Johor Bahru
Wondering what to do in JB?
Once you get there, there's plenty to keep you busy. JB really has something for everyone, whether you're travelling with friends, family or even solo.
Family Activities in JB
Dating back to 1928, the Johor Zoo was, in fact, one of the earliest zoos in Southeast Asia.
Home to over 100 species, the zoo is a must-visit attraction, especially if you're travelling with your kids. Tigers, elephants, crocodiles, birds, they'll want to see all of them!
The entrance fees cost just RM2 (~$0.70) for adults and RM1 for children! You can expect to spend more on pony rides and to feed the animals, but it generally makes for a very low-cost and entertaining afternoon.
If you've got some time to spare during your trip for a fun-filled day with the kids, Legoland Malaysia is where you'll want to go. Admission to the theme park for a day costs RM199 (about $65) for adults and RM157 (about $52) for children.
The theme park, which opened in 2010, has a range of over 40 rides to keep the kids entertained all day long. If you're seeking some of the best thrills, we recommend trying out the Laser Quest Maze, Dino Island and Dragon's Apprentice.
Make sure to bring along your swimwear as there's a water park too! You can top up a bit more to access both the theme park AND the water park right beside it. You'll also get a discount if you get a 2-day or 3-day pass instead. Or you might want to consider an annual pass (RM250/$82 for adults and RM208/$68 for children) for just the theme park, so you can come back unlimited times in a year.
Angry Birds Theme Park
Remember playing the Angry Birds game for hours on end? Here, you'll be able to live out some of that nostalgia with your kids at the Angry Birds Theme Park. It costs just RM75 ($25) for a single entry to the theme park while an annual pass costs RM230 ($75).
The entire park stretches across a whopping 26,000 square feet giving you quite a bit to cover within a day. Luckily, the park stays open till 10 pm daily, giving you your money's worth.
Going to JB with friends
Desaru Beach is one of the best beaches in Malaysia and offers stunning views of white sands and clear waters. Here, you can always lounge on the beach, take a dip in the water and enjoy the fresh air.
If you happen to feel more adventurous and enjoy your share of extreme sports, you could even give parasailing, kayaking or surfing a go!
Permas Go-Kart Club
Up for some speed racing action? Permas Go-Kart Club may not be for the faint-hearted, but it's a fun ride once you get the hang of it!
Here, two types of carts are available, a beginner cart (9 bhp) and an intermediate cart (15 bhp). It only costs RM37($12) on weekdays and RM42 ($14) on weekends for 10 minutes, or about 5 laps. But be warned, once you've gone a few laps, you'll want to give it another go!
The only trouble with Permas is getting there. The track is situated in the middle of a palm oil plantation with limited cellphone connectivity, which can make hailing a Grab near impossible. If you're driving, be prepared for glitches in your navigation so make sure you look out for the road signs.
Going to JB on a solo trip
If you're heading to Johor Bahru for business and find yourself in the city alone, you might want to check out a few of the following:
Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple
Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman is one of Johor Bharu's most popular tourist attractions and one of the oldest temples in the town.
This temple is recorded in the Malaysia Book of Records as being the only one in the whole of Malaysia made of glass! Step into the glittering light reflections which bounce back and forth in this unique structure, and get ready to be dazzled.
Jalan Tan Hiok Nee
If you're not particularly into shopping malls and are looking to take a stroll around Johor Bahru to figure out what the city's all about, why not start with Jalan Tan Hiok Nee?
The heritage street includes the Johor Chinese Heritage museum, a few lovely kopitiams with desserts, local stores such as Hiap Joo Bakery, and nearby Restoran Kin Hua, which have all been drawing in locals and tourists for years.
Which brings us to our next important matter...
What to eat in Johor Bahru
Our northern neighbours mean business with their food and when in JB, it seems a waste to not savour all the city has to offer in its local delicacies. Here are a few local dishes which you'll want to try at least once:
Is it really a trip to JB unless you get your fix of Johor's famous fish head curry? The Bear disapproves...
While you won't struggle to find a string of restaurants in the city which offer this delicacy, we dub Kam Long the best in town.
When a restaurant serves a single dish for over 30 years, and queues of people line up under the hot sun waiting for their taste, you know you're in for something great.
Next on the must-eat list? Laksa Johor, the quintessential Johor dish that's perfect for a breakfast in JB.
Unlike the traditional laksa dish served across other parts of the peninsula, the Johor laksa is known for using spaghetti noodles instead of traditional rice noodles. As the story goes, Sultan Abu Bakar, upon a return from Europe in 1866, had instructed his chefs to make the dish with spaghetti.
Despite being such a popular dish in Johor, this dish is most commonly found around the Hari Raya period. But don't worry, there are places to find this dish all-year round, including eateries like Tampoi Laksa Stall and Bumbu Asli.
Mee rebus is one of those dishes that's perfect if you're looking for a dish that's comforting and traditional. Made up of boiled noodles, a rich gravy made up of sweet potato and shrimp, along with morsels, boiled eggs, bean sprouts, chillis and spring onions, this dish is absolute spicy goodness.
If you're looking for your fix of this slurpy and satisfying dish, a few local favourites include ZZ Sup Tulang Restaurant (you'll also want to try the sup tulang here) and Mee Rebus House.
Where to shop in Johor Bahru
Wondering what to buy and where to buy it in JB? Here are a few shopping havens which are sure to loosen your purse strings.
Buying sofa, beds, and furniture in JB
If you're wondering where to buy furniture in JB, look no further than Taman Molek and Taman Johor Jaya. Both areas are dotted with quality furniture shops with pieces of all styles to suit different tastes. It's worth even spending a whole day walking about to survey the various stores in the areas and seeing what pieces tickle your fancy to bring back home to Singapore.
A few favourites are Boo Furniture in Taman Molek, which sells Balinese style pieces, and SSF Home Improvement in Taman Johor Jaya, a Johor homegrown business which offers contemporary furniture in an assortment of styles.
Check out JB's newest shopping mall
The newest kid on the block, The Mall, Midvalley Southkey, recently opened its doors in August and is now a trendy spot for youngsters and adults alike. Shop till you drop with household fashion names like Uniqlo, Under Armour and Sephora. The mall is also now home to luxury brands such as Kate Spade, Coach and Michael Kors.
The mall spans a whopping 1.5 million square feet, so once you've worn your feet out with all that retail therapy, sit back, relax and grab a bite at one of the many eateries within the mall.
To get affordable items in JB
Looking for souvenirs, or other items at affordable prices? Johor Bahru City Square is a favourite for finding bargain prices as is Johor Premium Outlet.
The latter is an open-air mall, so be prepared to battle the heat and humidity, but those bargains will be worth it!
Tips for travelling from Singapore to Johor Bahru
While it is just a stone's throw away, there are some things to keep in mind when travelling across the causeway.
With snatch theft being quite common in JB, it's important to always be aware of your surroundings, particularly when walking on the roadside.
Carry your bags or belongings on the opposite side of traffic, and try not to wear expensive jewellery such as gold necklaces when walking in the streets. It's also advisable to choose a travel insurance policy which offers coverage for theft to cover worst-case scenarios.
You'll also need to be vigilant with your car, as theft syndicates are common in Johor, particularly targeting Singaporean cars that are parked for extended periods of time. Keyless car thefts in Malaysia are also on the rise, with thefts using radiofrequency technology to hack into car systems, stealing cars within seconds!
| See also: Driving to Malaysia - do I need travel insurance, car insurance, or both? |
Prepaid SIM card
To stay connected on your trip and navigate JB roads, you'll want to invest in a 4G prepaid SIM card during your stay. Where possible, opt for a SIM card which offers you the best deal for the duration of your stay.
The traffic on the causeway can get pretty hectic, especially during the holiday season or long weekends. As a general rule of thumb, try to leave as early in the morning as possible, at roughly 6 AM – 7 AM to avoid peak hours. Be warned that during peak periods, the drive can take up to 4 hours!
However, on less hectic days, JB is just an hour away and the drive can be short, quick, and painless – if you pick a relatively traffic-free time to travel.
Bear tip: Avoid travelling during school holidays, public holidays and weekends if you want to avoid the traffic. And if you absolutely must travel during these periods, try not to pick the start or end of the holidays to drive there and back.
Tolls in JB
In order to navigate tolls on roads in JB, you'll need a Malaysia Vehicle Entry Permit (MVEP) to enter the country. Registration is straightforward enough, and you should be able to receive your confirmation immediately. You can either fill in your personal information manually, or you can upload your car registration for the system to extract your info.
Apart from that, you'll also need a Touch n Go card to pay for the road charge (RC) heading into JB at the immigration checkpoint. As of October 2019, tolls at the checkpoint no longer have reload booths nor accept cash, meaning you'll need a pre-loaded Touch n Go card ready upon arrival.
The problem is, Touch n Go cards aren't sold in Singapore at the moment, nor is there anywhere you can top it up in Singapore even if you have one. And so, there are currently a few ways to get one that has sufficient money topped up on it:
- Purchasing a pre-loaded Touch n Go card through the Carousell app
- Getting a topped up card from a friend or relative who's visiting
Things to note:
- Touch n Go cards should be topped up with a minimum of RM20 to pay for the RC upon arrival at Malaysian immigration
- Touch n Go cards cost RM10 for just the card
- A card which hasn't been used for 365 days will automatically be deactivated
Choosing travel insurance for road trip to Johor
Like any other trip you're taking, it's best to keep yourself protected with travel insurance.
Johor Bahru may not feel very far away from home, but it's important not to forget that you're still technically travelling abroad. And should any unfortunate event occur such as falling ill or getting your belongings stolen, you'll be glad you took the time to get covered with travel insurance.
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