Welcome to Johor Bahru, Malaysia!
On the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia is a thriving city that is overshadowed by its sophisticated neighbor separated by a causeway. Johor Bahru is fast becoming Malaysia’s top city destination, and while Singapore gets all the attention, Johor Bahru is a vibrant metropolis with a plethora of hidden gems to see. Previously known as the industrial hub of the country, Johor Bahru has become a city that is a worthwhile destination. This is a worldwide local’s guide to Johor Bahru.
Where to Begin
Once you’ve checked in at your hotel, Johor Bahru is calling! Embark on a heritage trail of the city’s colorful past through Jalan Tan Hiok Nee. Wander through the downtown’s oldest streets, named after a Chinese merchant who brought textiles and spices to the region. You can see the strong Chinese influence, with distinct architecture and locals with roots tracing back from mainland China. Stop by for a cup of tea at the bright Red House with its gorgeous facade, built during the 19th-century, which has been included as a heritage site in 2013. For a quiet neighborhood, it has a myriad of dining options, with highly rated restaurants and the city’s oldest bakery that locals from all over the city frequent to get their bread fix.
Worldwide Local Tip: Don’t be fooled by the constant, sweltering heat of the Johor Bahru weather, as thunderstorms and torrential downpours can occur without warning. It’s advisable to bring an umbrella with you at all times to avoid getting soaked in the middle of the city.
Shopping at Pasar Karat
If you are looking for the ultimate local vibe and a bargain, head to Pasar Karat (“Rusty Market”) on Jalan Segget. Around 7 pm, the roads around the City Square close, allowing the sea of stalls to begin setting up. This bazaar is filled with a peculiar variety of second-hand items. Be prepared to lose yourself in the never-ending maze-like paths of the most interesting items for sale. From previously owned oil lamps to vintage traditional clothing, you’ll find just about anything in Pasar Karat. Remember to politely bargain with the friendly vendors to ensure that you get the best deal!
Worldwide Local Tip: Don’t miss trying out a unique dish at one of the good restaurants in Johor Bahru. Each city has its own favorite dish, and when in Johor Bahru, it’s a sin not to try the Assam fish curry. A delicious blend of spices with a great balance of flavor complementing the taste of the delicious fish head. It may not sound appetizing, but it has a cult local following with various Chinese restaurants seeing their customers coming back for more.
Enjoy the Outdoors!
Escape the hectic streets of Johor Bahru and head to Danga Bay, the largest recreational park in the city. With an expansive 450-acre area, there are lots to do from high-end shopping, exhilarating theme parks, or absolutely nothing. You can make your trip as lavish as you want it to be with luxury dining and accommodation, or simply laze away by the marina with a book soaking the sun and enjoying the laid back vibe.
Worldwide Local Tip: Enjoy a unique cinema experience and head to Beanieplex where you can watch the latest releases on the comfort of a beanbag. Tickets come in pairs making it ideal when you are traveling with someone, or why not have the whole beanbag to yourself!
Make the Most of Your Stay!
A city off the beaten path and away from the crowds of Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru possesses a small city vibe, begging to be explored by worldwide locals. With the ever-growing infrastructure and the rapid expansion of the city, now is the best time to visit Johor Bahru and experience its unmistakable character.