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Johor Bahru

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Johor Bahru (also Johor Baru or Johore Baharu, but universally called JB) is the state capital of Johor in southern peninsular Malaysia, just across the causeway from Singapore. A bustling city but one with little of interest for the casual tourist, it is a significant regional transport and manufacturing hub.

Districts

Johor Bahru can be easily divided into four parts - North, South, East and West.

South - The main city centre is located on the southern part of the city 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 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. There can be a relatively frequent peak hour jam along this road. Recently, the Austin area has been a hive for construction activities with the latest Jusco Tebrau City locating in its vicinity.

West - Probably one of 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 - Another port city 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.

Introduction

Declared a city only in 1994, Johor Bahru is a rapidly growing city. 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.

Due to its proximity to Singapore, it unavoidably suffers from comparison with its neighbour. Recent clean-up initiatives like greening the city and covering the open sewers that until a few years ago ran through the center of the city have made it a more pleasant place to live. Though appreciably less organised and more messy compared to the glitz of Singapore, shopping and eating in the city 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.

Get in

By plane

Senai International Airport

Senai International Airport (IATA: JHB), [1]. formally Sultan Ismail International Airport (Malay: Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Sultan Ismail), is located 28 km to the northwest of Johor Bahru. It currently only has scheduled domestic services for passengers to both East and West Malaysia by Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia and Firefly. It is designated as "international" because it offers cargo services to foreign destinations. The airfares to these destinations from Senai airport are considerably cheaper than those from Singapore. The airport is compact but it is recently renovated and now fully equipped with shops, a restaurant (landside only), WLAN access (ask for free login at information desk), etc.

Domestic flights are provided by Malaysia Airlines (Level 1, Menara Pelangi, Jalan Kuning, tel: +60-7-331 0036, [2]) with direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, and the low-cost carrier AirAsia (Call centre number: +603 2171 9333, [3]) which provides cheaper direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuching, Sibu, Miri, Kota Kinabalu, Bali, Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bangkok.

Firefly airlines is now flying from Terminal 3, Subang airport ( Kuala Lumpur)twice daily. (call centre: 603-7845 4553 or visit http://www.fireflyz.com.my)

If you plan to take an early morning flight, bear in mind that the earliest bus leaves the City Lounge at 5:30AM and reaches the airport around 6:10AM. You have the option of staying in JB for the night. Alternatively, you can book a taxi that takes you directly to the airport or to the City Lounge at Kotaraya, but this will cost you; (see By taxi below). It is recommended that you plan these carefully, the variables and the risks involved in this morning rush is pretty high.

Singapore Changi Airport

Singapore Changi Airport (IATA: SIN) across the border in Singapore is commonly used by locals due to its better connections, including to other Malaysian destinations. The downside is that you will have to clear passport control and customs twice, and the public transportation links from Changi to Johor Bahru are rather poor as taxis are not allowed to cross the border into Johor Bahru, making the journey somewhat cumbersome. In addition, flights to Singapore are usually more expensive than those to Senai. However, if you can arrange your own private transport, flying into Singapore may well be your most practical way of getting to Johor Bahru.

By road

From Singapore

Immigration formalities

You will need to fill up an immigration card to enter Malaysia, so the first thing to do at the Malaysian checkpoint is to walk past the long queue and get one from the immigration officers. Ask for more cards if you want to make a return visit someday. Fill the form, then join the queue.

Most visitors to JB arrive from Singapore via one of two land links:

Driving a car from Singapore to Malaysia is relatively uncomplicated, although small tolls are charged for both crossing and (for the Second Link) the adjoining expressway. Do be sure to change your dollars into some ringgit before crossing, as Singapore dollars are accepted only at the unfavorable rate of 1:1.

Entering Singapore with a foreign-registered car is more complicated and expensive. See Singapore | Get In for details.

In both directions, note that rental cars will frequently ban or charge extra for crossing the border.

From other parts of Malaysia

JB is at the southern end of the North South Expressway, the toll highway which runs the length of Peninsular Malaysia. Those accessing the city can exit at Skudai, Kempas, Jalan Pasir Gudang or Johor Bahru exits.

JB is also at the southern extremity of the Federal Route One, the main trunk roads which runs the length of Peninsular Malaysia's West Coast states. Federal Route Three or the East Coast Road also links JB with the East Coast towns of Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bharu via Kota Tinggi and Mersing. The West Coast's coastal road can be accessed from Pontian..

By bus

From and to Singapore

The following are options to cross to/from Singapore by bus:

Buses between Johor Bahru and Singapore
Line Stops in Singapore Stops in Johor Bahru Price
Causeway Link CW1 Kranji MRT only Larkin via Kotaraya S$1.30 from Kranji MRT to Larkin/$0.90 from Kranji MRT to Woodlands Checkpoint or Johor CIQ/RM1.30 from Larkin to Kranji MRT/RM 0.90 from Johor CIQ to Woodlands Checkpoint or Kranji MRT/$0.80, $1.00 and $1.30 from Woodlands Checkpoint to Johor CIQ, Kotaraya and Larkin respectively
Causeway Link CW2 Queen Street only Larkin only S$2.40 from Queen Street to Woodlands Checkpoint or Johor CIQ or Larkin/2.50 RM from Larkin or Johor CIQ to Queen Street
Causeway Link CW3 Jurong East MRT only Gelang Patah, Taman Bukit Indah (via Second Link) S$4 from Singapore & RM5 from Taman Bukit Indah
SBS 170 (red plate) Queen St via Kranji MRT Larkin only S$1.88 (Ez-link card)/$2.10(cash) from Queen Street to Larkin
RM 2.10/1.80/1.60(cash) from Larkin to Queen Street/Kranji MRT station/Woodlands Checkpoint respectively
SBS 170 (blue plate) Kranji MRT Kotaraya only S$1.01 (Ez-link card) from Kranji MRT to Johor CIQ or viceversa
SBS 160 Jurong East Interchange via Kranji MRT Kotaraya only S$1.61 (Ez-link card) from Jurong East Interchange to Johor CIQ or vice versa
SMRT 950 Woodlands MRT via Marsiling MRT Kotaraya only 1.20RM and 1.40RM from Johor CIQ to Marsiling MRT and Woodlands Interchange respectively. S$0.91 (Ez-link card) and S$1.09 (Ez-link card) from Marsiling MRT and Woodlands Interchange to Johor CIQ respectively
Singapore-Johore Express Queen St only Larkin only S$2.40 from Queen Street to Woodlands checkpoint or Johor CIQ or Larkin/3.30RM from Larkin to Queen Street/2.50 RM from Johor CIQ to Queen Street/$2.40 from Woodlands checkpoint to Queen Street/$1 or 2RM from Woodlands checkpoint to Johor CIQ/1 RM from Johor CIQ to Woodlands checkpoint

Note: It is possible but much more expensive (compared to paying in cash in Malaysian ringgit) to use the EZ-link card when boarding SBS 160, SBS 170 or SMRT 950 at Larkin bus terminal/Kotaraya bus terminal/Johor CIQ to go anywhere in Singapore. For example, it costs S$1.88 using the Ez-link card to go from Larkin bus terminal to Queen Street terminal by SBS 170. This is slightly more than 100% more expensive than by paying in cash (2.10RM), based on current exchange rates (S$1 = 2.30RM). It is also cheaper to pay in ringgit, based on current exchange rates (S$1 = 2.30RM), (1 RM versus S$1) when traveling from the Woodlands Checkpoint to the Johor CIQ by the Singapore-Johore Express bus.

Operating hours of the abovementioned buses are as follow:

All buses except CW-3 use the Causeway. There's a pattern to the madness: Singaporean-operated buses (SBS, SMRT, SJE) can only stop at one destination in Malaysia, while the Malaysian-operated Causeway Link [10] buses can only stop at one destination in Singapore. Terminals aside, all buses make two stops at Singapore immigration and at Malaysian immigration, which gives you the opportunity to hop on (esp. on those line buses where you can pay with an ez-link card). At both immigration points, you must disembark with all your luggage and pass through passport control and customs, then board the next bus by showing your ticket. Figure on 45 mins for the whole rigmarole from entering one border control point to exiting the other; more during rush hour.

Coming from Singapore and if you are planning to go on immediately to Larkin bus terminal, you may take any of the frequent, non-stop buses that terminate at Larkin. After clearing Malaysian immigration, walk about 50 meters past the tourist office (open daily 9am to 1230pm, 2pm to 6pm) and go down the escalator. The buses are all waiting at the bus bays (part of the CIQ) downstairs. Fares from Johor CIQ to Larkin: CW1 and CW2 1.20 RM, SBS 170 1.40 RM, Singapore-Johore Express 1.00 RM. The trip takes 8 to 10 minutes. However, you may also consider taking the dedicated Maju white bus or the orange 'City Bus' (no bus number, 'Larkin Bandaraya' displayed on the front window; Maju bus fare 1.70RM) to Larkin bus terminal from Jalan Wong Ah Fook or Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, on either side of the City Square complex. City Square is less than 5 minutes walk from the JB passport control booths - just follow the signs. You need to cross two overhead bridges - one linking the CIQ to JB Sentral and the other linking JB Sentral to City Square. Note that you can also walk to the CIQ bus bays from City Square to take any of the abovementioned four buses to Larkin.

In the other direction, upon entering the Johor Bahru CIQ, follow the signs for "Woodlands" to get to the immigration booths and then to the Singapore-bound buses one floor below.

The restriction of Malaysian operated buses not stopping anywhere within Singapore and conversely, Singapore ones in Johor Bahru could be used to your benefit. 30 mins to an hour and quarter could be shaved off the journey time within Singapore alone by using a Malaysian registered bus when leaving Singapore from or returning to a bus station such as Queen Street. Some more time could be saved on the Johor Bahru side by hopping on to a Singapore registered bus once you clear Malaysian border control but you will have to pay the fare again (as you did not start your journey on a Singapore registered bus).

If you intend to go to Malaysia from Singapore, spending an entire day in Singapore and then crossing over to JB in the evening by bus and spending the night (in higher category hotel for the smae price than you would pay for a similar hotel in Singapore) is a feasible option.

Note that public buses are not suited for travel with large suitcases and Singapore registered buses only accept EZ-Link cards or 'correct money' on-board; i.e. you will not get any change back from the driver.

From/to other parts of Malaysia

Long-distance buses from JB to other points in West Malaysia depart from Larkin Bus Terminal, located some 5 km north of the Causeway. This bus terminal has three levels and about 50 bus platforms. Level 1 contains coach and bus ticket booths, shops, food and beverage outlets (including McDonald's open 24 hrs, Dunkin Donuts, etc.), a fish/meat/fruit/vegetable market, ATM machines, money changers, a left luggage office (2 RM per bag per day, 7AM-10PM), a travel agency that sells airline tickets, a mosque, 3 barber shops (8 RM for adults, 9am to 9pm), a pharmacy, a police post, an information counter, etc.; level 2 contains a giant bazaar; level 3 contains a food court. Several bus companies run buses to Kuala Lumpur and other destinations at all hours during the daytime and nighttime; except in peak seasons, you can usually get your ticket from some company and get moving right away. Purchase all bus tickets at counter windows and do not pay attention to loitering individuals claiming to sell (fake) bus tickets. You can also purchase the bus tickets for some destinations for some of the bus companies at the bus company ticket kiosks - there are about half of a dozen of them (including Konsortium, Transtar, Super Nice and Grassland) - located on the ground floor of Merlin Tower facing Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and even arrange for a shuttle van to send you to Larkin terminal. You have to pay the bus company an extra 4 RM for the shuttle van. You can also purchase Causeway Link and Plusliner intercity coach tickets from the ticketing counters in City Lounge on the north edge of Kotaraya bus terminal. You can connect to or from the city center with local buses (some of which continue all the way across the Causeway to Singapore) or taxis from Larkin. Only some Singapore-bound buses (CW1, 160, 170 and 950) and the Senai Airport express bus use the Kotaraya 2 Bus Terminal on Jalan Trus in the city centre.

By taxi

Only specially licensed taxis are allowed to operate across the border. The rules seem baffling at first, but boil down to this: Malaysian taxis are only allowed to go to the designated terminal in Singapore, and Singaporean taxis are only allowed to go to their terminal in JB.

The "basic" direct taxi service from the Singapore Taxi Terminal at Queen Street (in Bugis) to the Johor Bahru Taxi Terminal at Pasar Bakti Kotaraya II costs S$10 per person or S$40 per car departing from Singapore, and RM 15/60 (the fare was increased by 50% in 2010) from Johor Bahru. The main advantage of doing this, as opposed to just taking the bus, is that you don't need to lug your stuff (or yourself) through Customs at both ends; you can just sit in the car. This service is also available 24 hours a day, unlike the bus.

If you want to take a taxi from Queen Street to somewhere other than the terminal in Johor Bahru, you have to use a Malaysian (yellow) taxi, and the price will be at least S$45 (depending on distance). Likewise, if you want to take a taxi from Kotaraya II to anywhere in Singapore, you need to use a Singaporean taxi and pay at least RM70 for the service.

Taxis can also be booked to bring you from anywhere in Singapore to Kotaraya, or from anywhere in JB to Queen St. Call +65-62967054 (Singapore) or +60-7-2246986 (Johor Bahru), and be sure to get the taxi's number, driver's name and his phone number.

If you need to get directly from point A in Singapore to point B in JB or vica versa, you have two options. The more expensive option is to take a limousine taxi licensed to take passengers from any point to any destination, but only a few are available and they charge a steep RM150 per trip. However, unlike normal cabs, they can also use the Second Link, which makes them by far the fastest way of getting to western parts of Johor. Advance booking is highly recommended, tel. +60-7-5991622. Alternatively, you can arrange a two-taxi ride through the call centre, where you pay once, cross the Causeway, and swap cabs halfway through.

By train

Johor Bahru has a spanking new JB Sentral railway station along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and Jalan Jim Quee. It is connected to both the CIQ and City Square by pedestrian overhead bridges. Retail outlets (including a 24-hr 7-Eleven store), food and beverage outlets (including a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet open daily 8am to midnight and Old Malaya Kopitiam serving local cuisine) and five money exchange offices (the one at street level is open 24hr) in the new station have opened. There are coin-operated (2 x 50 sen), small left luggage lockers, a Muslim prayer room, male/female toilets (both free of charge), a police post and a tourist information booth in here as well. As of Aug 28 2010, train services to and from here have still not started. So for the time being, trains still use the old train station along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak across the road from Merlin Tower, just two hundred meters down from JB Sentral.

KTM trains from Singapore into Malaysia also cross the Causeway, but on separate right of way, and are thus immune from the traffic jams. On the flip side, while Malaysian immigration is conducted at the Tanjong Pagar station in Singapore, you will be required to disembark with all your luggage and pass through the Singaporean checkpoint at Woodlands. Trains are also very slow (the trip takes an hour) and infrequent with only five services daily, but at RM 3.00-5.00 one way to central Tanjong Pagar the price can't be beat. The first train from JB to Singapore leaves at 0540 - this service starts in JB and ends in Singapore. The other four services originate from elsewhere in Malaysia. In the other direction, the fare is charged in dollars, so you pay more than double the amount! Prices (6/2010): S$3 (for Lambian Timur, Ekspres Timuran), S$5 (for Ekspres Sinaran Petang) or S$3 (for Ekspres Rakyat, Ekspres Senandung Malam, both with seat reservation) for Singapore - Johor Bahru. The KTM train station in Tanjong Pagar will be permanently closed by July 1 2011 because of redevelopment of the land parcel around it. All KTM train services in Singapore will start and end at the KTM Woodlands train station by then.

You can also take a MRT train from any MRT station in Singapore to Marsiling MRT station (North-South line). This is the nearest MRT station (1.5km or 15 min walk) to the Woodlands Checkpoint. Note that there is a taxi rank in front of the pedestrian exit/entrance to the Woodlands Checkpoint. Once you walk past the taxi rank, you will need to go to level 3 to reach the immigration counters by using the escalators or elevators. You can also head to the taxi rank or go to the Marsiling MRT station on foot once your clear Singapore immigration and customs. Note that the last southbound train leaves Marsiling MRT station for Marina Bay MRT station (the last stop on the North-South line) at 2310. Instead of going down the staircase/escalator after clearing customs, walk along the passageway to the left of the staircase/elevator, turn left and then walk straight until you see the escalators or elevators at the end. Use them to go to the ground level.

By boat

The ZON Ferry Terminal [11] (tel: +60-7-2211677) is located in "The ZON" duty free complex (locally referred to as "Duty Free") in Setulang Laut, 1.8 km northeast of the Causeway. Ferries go to Batam and Bintan in the Riau Islands of Indonesia, as well as Tanjung Belungkor near Desaru, Malaysia. To reach the ferry terminal, you will have to go to the second level of the ZON shopping and hotel complex building and then follow the signs to the terminal.

Getting there/away: Causeway Link bus No. 22 or the orange-colored City Bus no. 123, from the bus stop at Jalan Wong Ah Fook opposite City Square in the center of the city.

To Batam: Ferries depart hourly on the half hour (7:30-6:30PM) plus 9AM, 11AM, 3PM, 5PM to Batam Centre. RM69/110 one-way/return for adults, RM46/69 one-way/return for children, plus international departure tax of 8RM for all passengers. Journey takes 90 mins.

To Bintan: 5 ferries (9:15AM, 11AM, 1:30PM, 3PM, 5:30PM) daily to Tanjung Pinang. RM86/144 one-way/return for adults, RM54/86 one-way/return for children, plus international departure tax of 8RM for all passengers. Journey takes 150 mins.

To Tanjung Belungkor: Two ferries daily (leaving ZON at 9:45AM and 7:45PM, leaving Tanjung Belungkor at 8:30AM and 6:40PM). RM 34/44 one-way/return for adults, RM24/34 one-way/return for children.

All children under 3 travel free.

On foot

Immediately after the opening of the new Johor Bahru CIQ complex in Dec 2008, crossing the Causeway from Singapore to Johor Bahru on foot was officially forbidden by the Singapore authorities. Once you have cleared Singapore immigration at the Woodlands Checkpoint, you have to take any of the public or private buses waiting at the bus bays downstairs to cross the Causeway. There is always a Singapore police officer stationed at the staircase entrance to the Causeway to prevent anyone from crossing the Causeway on foot. However, the Malaysian authorities are planning to build a new immigration and customs checkpoint right at the Malaysian end of the Causeway to be used exclusively for people wishing to cross the Causeway (Singapore to Johor Bahru only) on foot.

Once you have reached the Malaysian side of the Causeway, you can disembark from your vehicle and walk the remaining 1.5 km to the Johor Bahru CIQ. You will have to walk on a narrow pedestrian lane on the side of the flyover (it is fenced up on both sides throughout to prevent illegal entry into Malaysia) leading to the Johor Bahru CIQ. Note that it is has always been forbidden to walk from the Johor Bahru CIQ to the Woodlands Checkpoint.

Get around

JB's public transport is limited to a sparse bus network. Various proposals for relieving the chronically congested town's traffic remain on the drawing board.

By taxi

Travelling by taxi is a fairly cheap alternative, although the drivers sometimes refuse to use the meter so you will have to negotiate the price with them. Since Jan 2010, taxi drivers have been required by law to use their meters and issue a receipt on request. The starting rate is 3 RM for the first 2km and the fare increases by 10 sen every 150m. You will also be charged for any waiting by the taxi during the journey. If the driver has a meter and does not switch it on, remind them. If you get into one of the handful of taxis without a meter, it's best to ask the driver to stop and get off to avoid being ripped off or arguments later.

Travelers need to be vigilant when dealing with taxi drivers, especially if the driver refuses to use their meter and you negotiate a fare. It has been widely reported taxi drivers can raise their fares after agreeing with the passengers on the fares to be paid during initial negotiation. They will tend to get aggressive and may even threaten passengers when passengers try to reason with them. Ride at your own risk.

There is a taxi rank at Jalan Jim Quee - it is right next to the Johor Bahru CIQ. You can see it below as you cross the overhead bridge from the CIQ to JB Sentral. The taxis operate on a prepaid coupon system - buy your coupon from the booth on the edge of the road. Official fixed rates for prepaid taxi coupons: CIQ to Senai International Airport 45RM, CIQ to Larkin bus station 11 RM.

By bus

You can opt for a bus to move around the city. e.g. to Holiday Plaza or Plaza Pelangi shopping mall. However, there are no clear signs of the bus stops. Just follow the crowds and wait alongside the locals for the buses. Look at the direction sign on the bus and don't hesitate to ask the bus driver directly. There are major bus stops on either side of City Square on Jalan Wong Ah Fook and Jalan Tun Abdul Razak. This is where buses to many parts of the city and its suburbs, and also as far as Kota Tinggi (41 km away) and Kulai, start and end. Fares (for the onward journey and return journey respectively) for selected destinations from/to the bus stop opposite City Square at Jalan Wong Ah Fook or Jalan Tun Abdul Razak: Danga Bay 1.60 or 1.70/1.60 or 1.70RM, Larkin Bus Terminal 1.70RM, Plaza Pelangi or Plaza Sentosa 1.20 or 1.30/1.20 or 1.30 RM, Hospital Sultanah Aminah (5 minutes walk from or to Mawar Complex) 1.20 or 1.30RM/1.00 RM, Johor Bahru Zoo 1.20 or 1.30RM/1.00 RM

However, if you are coming from Singapore and want to go to Larkin terminal straight away, you can board any of the buses (bound for Larkin) waiting downstairs in the Johor Bahru CIQ after clearing customs and immigration. The bus bays are about 50m beyond the tourist office.

The frequency of the buses is not consistent, especially for the buses that do not leave from the Bus Terminals. There are generally more buses in the morning and there are fewer buses as it gets later into the day. A word of caution while waiting at a bus stop. Keep a look out for suspicious characters/groups who wait at the bus stop and pay more attention to the people waiting at the bus stop rather than the buses on the road. Walk into a nearby shop if you feel that something is amiss.

By car

There's little point to renting a car for touring JB alone, but it can make more sense to rent a car here to explore the rest of Malaysia as car rentals and fuel costs are at least 30% less than that of neighboring Singapore.

On foot

JB is a remarkably pedestrian-hostile city, although the city core is now mostly navigable via underpasses and walkways and the recent beautification effort has seen the canal turned into a pleasant, if still somewhat whiffy, park for pedestrians.

If you planning to go from City Square to any of the hotels just southeast of the Johor Bahru CIQ (e.h. Naza Hotel, Grand Blue Wave Hotel, Suria City Hotel) or beyond, you will have to walk down Jalan Tun Abdul Razak (Jalan TAR) as far as the police station (it has white walls with blue columns). Just underneath the newly constructed flyover on the left side of the road, you will see a blue sign in English and Malay (Lorong Pejalan Kaki/Pedestrian Walkway) indicating the start of a pedestrian walkway. Walk along this narrow walkway - it is sandwiched between the flyover and a metal fence that encloses a construction site - for about 50 meters until you see a staircase on your right. Climb up this staircase to the edge of the flyover. Without crossing the road, walk along the edge of this flyover towards the Johor Bahru CIQ (it is a massive structure and is clearly visible) or away from the Causeway for about two hundred meters until you see another staircase. Descend this staircase and you will find yourself at the intersection of Jalan Tanjung Puteri and Jalan Lumba Kuda, about 300m from the modern Grand BlueWave Hotel.

See

Historical and modern landmarks

Other

Do

Golf courses

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.

Water sports


Cinemas

There are three major cinemas in Johor Bahru, Tanjung Golden Village located in Jusco Tebrau City, Golden Screen Cinemas in Pelangi Leisure Mall and Cathay Cinemas located in City Square, Johor Bahru. Although Pelangi Leisure Mall's cinematic technology isn't the best it is still considered acceptable. Most of all, it offers the cheaper tickets among the three. Cathay is the state of the art cinema in the city but experiencing that technology in the center of the city will set you back at least 40% more than other movie theaters. There is also a Tamil movie theatre in the city centre, close to the Hindu temple.

Others

Buy

JB is full of shopping malls catering mostly to local and Singaporean shoppers. Selections are somewhat limited when compared to the island state's offerings, but prices for Malaysian-produced goods can be half price or less.

Eat

JB is a popular destination for budget-conscious gourmands from Singapore, as most dishes are half price at this side of the border. Most of the food stalls and dining spots come alive when night falls over the city. Common dishes include seafood and some Johor specialities like laksa and mee rebus. The adventurous can head for the stalls at Lido Beach and Stulang Laut to try the local favourites and hawker fare.

Do beware of menus without prices, especially when ordering seafood, or you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Budget

Hawker Centers ('Pusat Penjaja' in Malay)

There are quite a number of hawker centers across Johor Bahru. Hawker centers are basically a collection of pushcart, van or fixed stall vendors selling food or drinks in one particular area. Food and drinks are sold cheaply in these areas. Among the more well-known hawker centers are as follow:

Mamak Food

There are three relatively large chains of Mamak restaurants across Johor Bahru, namely Ayub, Sri Alam and Habib. They serve similar food, in particular their roti canai, which is made of flour. Other dishes like Nasi Lemak, Mee Goreng can be found in these restaurants. In general they are located all across town. Just ask a local person, and they will gladly point you to the right direction.

Malay Food

If you can get up early in the morning there are 2 different types of 'roti canai' that you may try out in Johor that should not be available in other states. 'Roti canai' is a flat piece of fried dough that is served with different types of curries depending on your mood. One is located near the new Complex Immigration and Quarantine building near Kim Teng Park. This version is very thick and extra crispy and the chili paste that comes with it is to die for. It is advisable to ask for directions first as it is only accessible by car. The other 'roti canai' is located at Century Garden near the Honda showroom in front of the MAA building. These are tiny, light and fluffy versions of the original 'roti canai' and it comes with a small bowl of savory sardine-mixture to go with it. Both are reasonably priced and you should not miss it.

Chinese Food

Indian Food

Others

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Note that some pubs, discotheques and karaoke lounges around Johor Bahru are owned or frequented by Chinese gangs, and may not take kindly to foreign visitors. Exercise caution, and if you don't feel welcome, take the hint.

Sleep

There is plenty of accommodation in JB, just look for signs that say Hotel, Chalets, Budget Accommodations or Rumah Tumpangan. The cost of a room in a budget hotel in the city center starts from around RM50 per room per night. In general, the budget hotels outside the city center are cheaper. However, you will not find any of the backpacker hostels that are commonly found in Melaka, Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown. There are currently eleven hotels clustered around Jalan Meldrum - this street runs parallel between Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and Jalan Wong Ah Fook between the police station (it is a white building with blue columns) and City Square. All of them [Hotel Dragon Inn (formerly known as Top Hotel), Gateway, Grand Paradise (formerly known as Causeway Inn), Hanyasatu (formerly known as Fortuna Hotel), Hawaii, Hong Kong, JB, Meldrum, A Vista Melati], except for the high-rise J.A. Residence Hotel (formerly known as Compact Hotel) and the Central Hotel (inside Merlin Tower), have rooms that cost less than 100RM per double room per night.

Budget

Mid Range

Lot 101375, Jalan Masai Lama, Mukim Plentong, Johor Bahru, Johor 81750, Malaysia. Telephone: +607 360 1000 Fax: +607 360 5000


Splurge

Stay safe

Safety precautions

Tourists should practise some common sense when walking around. A guideline would be as followed:

  • Do not show off your money and valuables in crowded areas. If you do so, expect to get robbed.
  • Try to use small change when purchasing merchandise, etc.
  • Do not follow anyone to any unlit lanes.
  • Do not get down from your car should you be involved in a road accident. Stay in your car and call the police or your friends for assistance. There are cases where muggers create freak accidents and rob their victims afterwards.

Singaporeans like to tell horror stories of crimes in the "wild, wild North" and its former Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew once claimed that Johor Bahru is crime-ridden. As a result of the high crime rate, the number of tourists from Singapore has dropped drastically over the past few years. This could partly be due to the high profile that the Singaporean press gives to crime committed in Johor Bahru against its citizens. Even Johor Bahru citizens took to the streets in September 2007, asking for the city to take action against crime. Although the crime rate in Johor Bahru is still higher than in Singapore and elsewhere in Malaysia, things have become better since the Johor Bahru administration took action to increase the police presence and initiate several anti-crime measures - including the creation of a hotline for tourists to call should they require urgent police assistance. The number is +6072212999.

However for safety reasons, these tips are advisable to be taken:

In the event that you DO get robbed, it is likely that the robber would be armed with a parang, a long Malay sword. You are advised to give up most, if not all, of your valuables to avoid putting your personal safety in jeopardy.

Tap water should be boiled before drinking. As a rule of thumb, the general hawker food scene in Johor Bahru is hygienic though certain areas are less so. So keep an eye out for those dirty hawkers who pay very little attention to hygiene.

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