Johor Bahru (also Johor Baru or Johore Baharu, but universally called just 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 hub and manufacturing hub.
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 suffers from unavoidable comparison with its more squeaky-clean 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 when 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 manufacturers have at least one plant in Johor Bahru. Prior to the crisis, it was a magnet for foreign investments particularly those from Singapore, United States and Japan. The recent new port at Tanjung Pelepas has stirred the economy a little.
DIRECTIONS TO JOHOR BAHRU
Senai International Airport (JHB), formally Sultan Ismail International Airport (Malay: Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Sultan Ismail), is located 28 km to the north-west of JB. Senai has expanded aggressively and flights to most Malaysian and Indonesian destinations are considerably cheaper than from Singapore. The airport is compact but recently renovated and 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 (Suite 1.1, Level 1, Menara Pelangi, Jalan Kuning, 80400 Johor Bahru. Tel: +60-7-331 0036) with direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, and the low-cost carrier AirAsia (Call centre Tel: 1-300-88-99-33) which provides cheaper direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuching, Sibu, Miri, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau.
Riau Airlines (Office at the airport. Tel: +60-7-599 4500 Ext 1113) has flights to/from Palembang in Sumatra, Indonesia every Saturday, RM304 one way before taxes. The flight leaves Senai at 1520. It also flies to/from Batam every Friday and Sunday, RM76 one-way. The flights departs for Batam at 1315.
Kartika Airlines (Office at airport. Tel: +60-7-334 4170, +60-7-662 4095) has two weekly flights (Monday and Thursday) to Surabaya, Indonesia.
- To/from Johor Bahru:
- Causeway Link Express (Tel: +60-7-3582244) operates airport shuttle buses between the airport and the City Airport Lounge at Kotaraya II bus terminal in Jalan Trus. Tickets cost RM8 one-way and journey time is about 40 minutes. From the airport, buses depart at 0610, 0745, 0835, 0925, 0940, 1030, 1150, 1315, 1350, 1510, 1600, 1715, 1815, 1905, 2020, 2135, 2220 and 2330. From the City Lounge, buses depart at 0530, 0700, 0745, 0845, 0930, 1055, 1155, 1250, 1400, 1440, 1620, 1700, 1805, 1930, 2000, 2115 and 2235.
- SPS Coach (Ticketing at airport Tel: +60-7-5993976; City Lounge Tel: +60-7-2217481) operates buses between the airport and Plaza Seni as well as the City Airport Lounge. Tickets cost RM4.
- Maju no. 207 and GML Line GI operate local buses between the airport and the Larkin bus terminal.
- Besides the bus, taxis are also available.
- To/from Singapore: The airport's transport links to Singapore are rather poor, since Singapore has blocked all attempts to provide direct service to what it views as a competitor.
- The only direct bus link is provided by SPS Coach (Ticketing counter at airport Tel: +60-7-5993976; Singapore ticketing Tel: +62-62503333) and is only available to Malaysia Airlines ticket holders. It runs between Senai airport and the Copthorne Orchid Hotel on Dunearn Road, Singapore and costs RM 12 or S$12 depending whether you are leaving from or coming to Johor Bahru. For flights and the corresponding bus schedules, check Malaysian Airlines' Singapore website.
- The cheapest option is to travel from Singapore to the City Airport Lounge at the Kotaraya II terminal (S$1 on Causeway Link buses) (see By bus below) on Jalan Trus and transfer to a Causeway Link Express airport shuttle bus. See the "To/From Johor Bahru" section above for details of buses between City Airport Lounge and the airport. Direct buses from the airport to the Second Link stopped running in June 2006.
- If you're in a hurry, you can take an ordinary Malaysian taxi for RM35 or so after crossing the Causeway. From JB to Senai takes around 30 minutes in good traffic, but schedule in some leeway as rush hour traffic can be quite bad.
If you plan to take an early morning flight, bear in mind that the earliest bus leaves the City Lounge at 05:30 and reaches the airport around 06:10. You have the option of staying in JB for the night. You also have the option of booking 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.
Most visitors to JB arrive from Singapore via one of two land links.
- The Causeway linking Malaysia and Singapore is a very popular and thus terminally congested entry point connecting directly into the heart of JB. While congestion isn't as bad as it once was, the Causeway is still jam-packed on Friday evenings (towards Malaysia) and Sunday evenings (towards Singapore). The Causeway can be crossed by bus, train, taxi, car or foot.
- A second crossing between Malaysia and Singapore, known imaginatively as the Second Link, has been built between western Singapore and Malaysia. Much faster and less congested than the Causeway, it is used by some of the luxury bus services to Kuala Lumpur and is strongly recommended if you have your own car. There is no public transport across the Second Link, and only Malaysian "limousine" taxis are allowed to cross it (and charge RM150 and up for the privilege). Walking across is also not allowed, not that there would be any practical means to continue the journey from either end if you did.
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. If you are too lazy to fill the form, usually there is an old guy sitting nearby offering help for S$1.
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 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. You will need to purchase a S$10 AutoPass (AP) card and use it to pay a Vehicle Entry Permit of S$20 per day (weekdays only) and either rent an In-vehicle Unit (IU) for payment of road pricing charges or pay a flat fee of S$5 per day. See the LTA's Driving Into & Out of Singapore guide for the today's bureaucratic 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 Baru exits.
JB is also at the southern extremity of the Federal Route One, the main trunk road 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.
The following are options to cross the Causeway to/from Singapore by bus:
|Line||Stops in Singapore||Stops in Johor Bahru||Price|
|Causeway Link CW-1||Kranji MRT only||Larkin via Kotaraya||S$1.30, S$1.00 from Singapore
RM1.30, 1.00 from Malaysia
|Causeway Link CW-2||Queen Street only||Larkin only||S$3|
|Causeway Link CW-3||Jurong East MRT / 2nd Link||Tampoi / Tmn Perling / Bt Indah /Gelang Patah / Kotaraya||S$3.50 Adult , S$1.50 Children|
|SBS 170 (red plate)||Queen St via Kranji MRT||Larkin only||S$1.30 (EZ-Link OK)|
|SBS 170 (blue plate)||Kranji MRT||Kotaraya only||S$1.00 (EZ-Link OK)|
|SBS 160||Jurong East MRT via Kranji MRT||Kotaraya only||S$1.50 (EZ-Link OK)|
|SMRT 950||Woodlands MRT via Marsiling MRT||Kotaraya only||S$1.20 (EZ-Link OK)|
|Singapore-Johor Express||Queen St only||Larkin only||S$2.40|
There's a pattern to the madness: Singaporean-operated buses (SBS, SMRT, SJE) can only stop at one destination in Malaysia, while the Malaysian-operated Causeway Link buses can only stop at one destination in Singapore. Terminals aside, all buses make two stops at Singapore immigration and at Malaysian immigration. At both immigration points, you must disembark with all your luggage and pass through passport control and customs, then board the next bus by showing your ticket. On the Malaysian side, the bus stop is to your left as you exit the immigration post. Figure on one hour for the whole rigmarole from end to end, more during rush hour.
From other parts of Malaysia
Long-distance buses from JB to other points in West Malaysia depart from Larkin Bus Terminal, located some 4 km north of the Causeway. You can connect to or from the city center with local buses or taxis.
Only some Singapore-bound services, Senai Airport Express and some local bus services use the Kotaraya 2 Bus Terminal on Jalan Trus in the city centre.
Normal Singaporean taxis are not allowed to cross into Malaysia (and vice versa). Specially licensed Singaporean taxis permitted to go to a single point in JB can be booked by phone (Johor Taxi Service from Singapore, tel. +65-6296-7054, S$ 45.00 one way to fixed point in JB, Kotaraya), while Malaysian taxis (which can go anywhere in Malaysia) can be taken from Rochor Rd at premium rates. A combination ride from anywhere in Singapore to anywhere in Malaysia can also be arranged, but you'll need to swap cabs halfway through: this will cost S$40 and up, paid to the Singaporean driver. In the reverse direction towards Singapore, you can take taxis from Kotaraya to any point in central Singapore (S$30) or Changi Airport (S$40).
You can also opt to share taxis from Rochor Rd, which usually works out to around S$8 per person with four people (or pay S$32 for the whole car). The main advantage here is that you don't need to lug your stuff (or yourself) through Customs at both ends; you can just sit in the car.
The most expensive option is to take a limousine taxi specially licensed to take passengers from any point to any destination, but only a few are available and they charge a steep RM150 per trip. Advance booking is highly recommended, tel. +60-7599-1622.
The KTM Johor Bahru railway station is located about 5 minutes walk directly north from the Malaysian checkpoint. Train tickets leaving from JB are half price those leaving from Singapore.
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, Malaysian immigration is conducted at the Tanjong Pagar station in Singapore, but 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 very infrequent with only half a dozen services daily, but at RM2.90 one way to central Tanjong Pagar the price can't be beat.
A long-awaited project to construct a new integrated terminal to replace the old, dilapidated train station is scheduled to be completed in 2006.
JB's ferry terminal is called the Johor Bahru International Ferry Terminal and is located in "The Zon" duty free complex (locally referred to as "Duty Free") in Stulang Laut, 2 km east of the Causeway. Ferries go to Batam and Bintan in the Riau Islands of Indonesia. There are also domestic ferries to Tanjung Belungkor which is located at southeastern Johor where there are transport connections to the Desaru resort area, as well as Changi Ferry Terminal in Singapore. Getting there/away: Causeway Link bus No. 22. They can be caught at the Komtar Shopping Complex in the centre of the city.
To Batam: Ferries depart almost hourly to Batam Centre. RM60/95 one-way/return. Journey takes 90 mins.
To Bintan: Around seven ferries daily to/from Tanjung Pinang. RM75/125 one-way/return. Journey takes 90 mins.
To Tanjung Belungkur: Two ferries daily at 0945 and 1945. RM34/44 one-way/return. Journey time 30 mins.
For information on all three services, you can also call Tenggara Senandung (Tel: +60-7-2211677).
The 700 metre Causeway can also be crossed on foot in about 15 minutes. This can be a very useful shortcut when the Causeway is jammed, at least if you have only a small amount of luggage and you're on the move either very early in the morning or late in the evening (when it's not so hot).
Be careful at the Malaysian end of the Causeway, you will have to cross the traffic to get to the immigration/customs building. There is a set of traffic lights that is supposed to stop the traffic to allow you cross, but these are generally ignored by drivers. It's very hazardous, and best attempted in rush hour when everything is jammed to a halt.
GETTING AROUND JOHOR BAHRU
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.
Traveling by taxi is a fairly cheap alternative, although the drivers don't use meter so you have to negotiate the price with them. Trips in the downtown shouldn't and mustn't cost you anything more than RM5. For instance, a trip from the Malaysian custom to Holiday Plaza cost around RM5 or could be less depends on your skill, however, a trip like this cost less than RM5 would probably upset the driver.
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.
Bus fares vary according to the distance traveled. A trip from the Larkin bus terminal to city center will cost RM1.30 per person. The trip ends at the bus stop located at the opposite of City Square mall. (ie. Jln Wong Ah Fook). A trip to Plaza Pelangi and the surrounding Pelangi vicinity with the starting point being the Larkin bus terminal will cost approximately RM2.10 per person.
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 roughly half that of neighboring Singapore.
- Hawk Rent A Car, No. 50C, Bangunan KPMNJ, Jalan Segget (two blocks west of the Causeway), dial 07-2242849 /54. A basic manual Proton Wira starts from RM140.00/day, offices throughout the country for easy dropoff (extra charges apply).
JB is a remarkably pedestrian-hostile city, although the city core is now mostly navigable via underpasses and walkways.
THINGS TO DO
- Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque. A Mosque built in the royal British architecture style, that is a reminder that Malaysia was once a British colony.
- Sultan Abu Bakar Royal Palace Museum. Located on Jalan Skudai, it has a sea frontage. Built in the mid 19th century it served as a Grand Palace until Johor's present day ruler, Sultan Iskandar converted it into a museum. Housed within its compound includes the many treasures of the Johor Sultanate.
- Foon Yew High School. The largest private chinese school outside China. Located on 59-C, Jalan Ibrahim Sultan, it has a sea frontage face to Johor Straits. The oldest building build in 1912. The school compound includes many historical document and building of the Earlier Johor Bahru. It is also one of the symbol of Johor Bahru Chinese.
- Danga Bay. The latest addition to Johor Bahru's tourist attraction. Located at Lido beach, along Jalan Skudai, it has fine dinings to modern food court to even the street side hawkers vendors. It has a new shopping mall located within its confine. Its grand masterplan would include a marina, future housing residential developments, hotels and a theme park.
- Johor Zoo. Located across from the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque. A run down zoo that provides a dismal diversion to western tourists.
- Saleng Zoo Located in Kulai along the way from Jalan Skudai all the way past Senai town, this is a private zoo which surprisingly has been reasonably well maintained.
- Orchid Valley Located in the Pulai area along Jalan Johor-Pontian road, it has been relatively run down.
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 accesible by Singaporeans via the second link.
- Pulai Spring Resort Partly owned by a Singapore company and hence a popular joint among the Singaporeans.
- 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.
- 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.
There are three major cinemas in Johor Bahru, Tanjung Golden Village located in Jusco Tebrau City, Golden Screen Cinemas in Pelangi Leisure Mall and Mega Pavillion located in City Square, Johor Bahru.
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.
- AEON Tebrau City, The largest mall in JB, with a sprawling supermarket and numerous international retail franchises like Giordano's, MNG, Esprit, Dorothy Perkin's, and the list goes on. All ranges of food available, from Italian fine-dining to fast food joints like Pizza Hut to local favourites at the food court on the 3rd level. Upmarket shopping, mid-range goods, food, departmental store, movies, karaoke and entertainment all under one roof. There are town buses to JUSCO albeit sparse. Taxi rides from the Malaysian customs should not cost more than RM20.
- City Square, Jalan Wong Ah Fook (just across from the train station) JB's most accessible mall, an easy walk from Malaysian customs. Has a good range of shops, with a Singapore run Cathay Cineplex on the fifth floor. There is also a foodcourt run by Singapore-based Food Junction.
- Holiday Plaza, Jalan Dato Sulaiman (Century Garden). A three-storey shopping mall. Take a taxi usually not more than RM5 or bus to get here from Malaysian customs. This is the place to buy electronics, DVDs, VCDs, CDs, PS2 games, Xbox games, Nintendo games and PC games at slightly cheaper price than those shops near the custom.
- Komtar, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, located just next to City Square. An old shopping mall featuring some Malay shops and a supermarket. An overhead bridge connects City Square with Komtar.
- Plaza Kotaraya, within walking distance from Malaysian customs. It is relatively old shopping centre compared to the nearby City Square. Visit the supermarket to find Malaysian products and groceries.
- Plaza Pelangi, Jalan Kuning. An upmarket shopping mall. It has a supermarket (Cold Storage) and a wide variety of branded fashion shops and nice restaurants/cafes like McDonald's, and Coffee Bean.
JB is a popular destination for budget-conscious gourmands from Singapore, as most dishes are half price across the border. Most of food stalls and dining spots come alive when night falls over the city. Common dishes include seafood and some Johor specialities like Johor laksa and mee rebus. The adventurous can head for the stalls at Lido Beach and Stulang Laut to try the local favorites and hawker fare.
Do beware of menus without prices, especially when ordering seafood, otherwise you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
There are quite a number of Hawker centres across Johor Bahru. Hawker centres are basically a collections of pushcarts vendors plying their trade in one area. Food and drinks are relatively cheap in these areas. Among the more well known Hawker centres are as follows:
- Taman Sri Tebrau Hawker Centre
- Johor Jaya Hawker Centre located across the road from Daiman Bowling mall.
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 plata 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, they will gladly point you to the right direction.
- Restoran ZZ. 20 Jalan Sungei Chat (off Jalan Mahmoodiah, behind Sultanah Aminah Hospital), tel. +60-7224-0417. Popular low-key Malay eatery with a daily-changing buffet, particularly known for their Johor-style laksa and ikan bakar (grilled fish), two can eat until stuffed for RM10. Open daily for breakfast and lunch only. Located a fair distance from the center, so take a taxi.
- Taman Pelangi Satay. One of the Malay hawkers at the small hawker center opposite the Pelangi Mosque/Caltex Petro kiosk/Pelangi Leisure Mall. Only RM0.40 per stick!!
- Kolam Air Laksa, Jalan Kolam Air (same road as Hyatt). This is the best Laksa in JB/Singapore.
- Mee Rebus Stulang Laut, Stulang Laut. The original mee rebus is located at the now Open University facing the straits. It has an alfresco type dining as well.
- Nasi Lemak Senibong Located in Kampung Senibong, it has been serving one of the best Nasi Lemak in Johor Bahru. Costing RM4 per plate, it costs of coconut flavoured rice, chicken (comes in three flavours), an egg and sambal (traditional malay chili sauce).
- Restaurant Singgah Selalu Located across the road from Danga Bay, it has quite a fair bit of food selections on its menu.
- Warisan Anjung Seri A popular joint for the local. More well known for its concept of tree top dining experience. There is even a nightly angklung performance. Must book in advance to get a sitting on top of a tree.
- Yi Bao Restaurant. Located along the main road in Taman Maju Jaya and within walking distance from Plaza Pelangi, this humble eatery offers one of the best 'mee hoon kueh' in town. 'Mee hoon kueh' is a popular Chinese delicacy where pieces of flour are cooked in a thick, tantalising soup consisting meatballs, mincemeat, vegetables, fragrantly deep-fried anchovies and egg, all cooked to perfection. Noodle version also available. Expect large crowds of office-going workers during lunch hours. Non-halal.
- Sentosa Mee Hoon Kueh. Probably one of the earliest vendors in promoting the Mee Hoon Kueh dish. It is located along Jalan Sutera in Taman Sentosa. It has been the subject of many Singapore based food shows which came into Johor Bahru for a review of local delicacies. Non-halal.
- Bamboo Restaurant. It is located in Jalan Sutera 1, Taman Sentosa. Most well known among the Singaporeans and outstation travellers who come to specifically sample the "Paper wrapped Chicken". It is a dish which is filled with chinese herbs and then baked in oven. Costs about RM12 per chicken.
- Sing Kee Restaurant. Located in Jalan Meranti, Taman Melodies. It has been serving the local community for nearly 20 years. It has a few signature dishes such as claypot lamb and curry fish head.
- Tapai Tang Restaurant. Located in Jalan Meranti, Taman Melodies. It is a well known eatery for small dishes and pretty good food. A must try.
- Pekin Restaurant. Located in Taman Sentosa. It is probably the cheapest among a chain of restaurants owned by the same owner. It has been around for more than 20 years. It still serves up piping hot chinese food which has been favoured by both local and Singaporeans.
- San Lou Restaurant. Located in Taman Pelangi. Famous for its fried bee hoon. Also serves seafood.
- Roti Boy, City Square. Famed for its eponymous light brown buns similar to Mexican bun, served fresh from oven. Eat the bun while it is hot. The bun is popular in Malaysia and Singapore, so expect a long queue during certain times.
- Sosaku Japanese Food Restaurant*. Opening hours 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10pm (Mon-Fri) 12pm-10pm (Weekends and PH). Located along Jalan Serampang in Taman Pelangi, this restaurant is among many other famous bistros, pubs and mid-range eateries along this road popular among JB food connosieurs. The buffet (served after 6pm) is highly recommended for enthusiastic foodies with a humungous appetite. Sashimi is served fresh and cold, with every springy bite leaving you wanting for more. Try all the tempura and the ramen. Fantastic ambience, excellent personalised service. Phone Number : 07-333 6368
- Chimosa Jalan Kolam Ayer. Fusion restaurants which serves both local delights and western fares. There are even some mediterranean dishes. Extremely good atmosphere.
- New Hong Kong Restaurant, Located at 69-A Jalan Ibrahim Sultan, it has been serving the local community for over 50 years. Probably one of the best chinese restaurants in Johor Bahru.
- Chez Papa, Jalan Maju. French cuisine and a fine selection of wines and cheese. The restaurant also offers a cosy and intimate wine bar with music.
- Ros Marino Ristorante, Jalan Damai. Authentic Italian dishes like osso bucco.
- International Restaurants Danga Bay, A collection of three restaurants, Italian, Asian Fusion and Chinese restaurants can be found here. Free parking are readily available here. Expect RM30 (less than US$10) upwards per person.
- Meishan Szechuan Restaurant, Located within Mutiara Hotel, along Jalan Dato' Sulaiman, it has been serving the local community for over 20 years. Probably one of the best chinese restaurants in Johor Bahru.
- Bert's Keller, Century Garden, Jalan Pelandok. A cosy and intimate, no-nonsense pub with great food, serving the best ox-tail stew in the city and live music on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
There is plenty of accommodation in JB, just look for signs that say Hotel, Chalets, Budget Accommodations or Rumah Tumpangan. The cost of an average room is around RM50/night, you may get more value for your money outside JB though (e.g. in Johor Jaya, Skudai or Kulai)
ADVICE FOR TRAVELERS
Singaporeans like to tell horror stories of crimes in the wild, wild North, and its former Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew once famously claimed that Johor Bahru is a den filled with thieves and robbers - and was forced to apologize. But in reality, you're unlikely to be a target of violent crime unless you owe large debts to the local drug-dealing syndicates. Petty theft is, however, more of a problem than in Singapore.
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 pays very little attention to hygiene.
JUST OUTSIDE JOHOR BAHRU
- Mersing, Located on the north eastern part of Johor, it is about 2 1/2 hours drive away from Johor Bahru. It is the gateway to the beautiful island of Tioman.
- Sea Gypsy Village Resort & Dive Base on Pulau Sibu. The Sea Gypsy boat departs from Tanjong Leman, 2 hours north of Johor Bahru on the Mersing Road. Pulau Sibu Besar is a beautiful undeveloped island. Sea Gypsy is a well established and popular eco resort catering for all pockets that thrives in harmony with the natural surroundings, which makes it well worth a visit. It is nestled in 5 acres of jungle with a pristine sandy beach completely devoid of any hawkers. Diving and snorkeling from Pulau Sibu are excellent as the whole area was turned into a Marine Park in 1993.
- Desaru. A seaside resort town located on the eastern part of Johor. It takes about 2 hours by car to get to this sleepy town. It was much hyped in the 80s with quite a few mega projects which have since been abandoned. The federal government is currently building an expressway from Senai cutting across Ulu Tiram and Pasir Gudang directly to Desaru. It will cut travelling time by half when completed.
- Kukup - a seaside town along the western part of Johor, well known for its water village which can be rented relatively cheap, and its good and reasonably priced seafood.