The Best Things To Do in Johor Bahru, Malaysia by

Discover The Best Things To Do in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

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Johor Bahru, which is situated along the Malaysia-Singapore border, boasts a handful of sights, a flavorful gastronomic scene and enormous shopping malls. Although not originally a destination on our itinerary, we were lured to Johor Bahru, Malaysia by the affordable luxury accommodations and proximity to Singapore. What we discovered, however, is that there are an incredible number of things to do in Johor Bahru!


Top Things To Do in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

During our stay, we discovered historic attractions, delicious food and endless air-conditioned shopping centers. Fellow travelers can follow in our footsteps to seek out the top Johor Bahru things to do – like sightseeing, eating and shopping!

Start by seeing the many historic sights in JB that are found along the main street, Jalan Trus – and seek out more landmarks, which are just steps away. Then, eat the most famous food in Johor Bahru at the best restaurants in the historic district.  

Finally, go on a shopping spree at the best shopping malls in Johor Bahru, or just go to cool off in the air conditioning!



Statue of Mary at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

We think the most interesting places in Johor Bahru are the historic buildings in the old center. One of our favorite things to do in JB was to walk the old city area and seek out the ancient structures. Fellow travelers can use our list of historic attractions in Johor Bahru to create their own self-guided Johor Bahru tour. 

Save, Pin or Bookmark our Johor Bahru Travel Guide to plan your trip to Malaysia!


#1 Old Chinese Temple

The Old Chinese Temple in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Built in the 1870s, the JB Old Temple is one of the top Johor Bahru places to visit. The temple houses five deities, uniting five Chinese ethnic groups in one temple (although each ethnic group worships their own deity). The Old Temple is easy to spot with its bright red gate and vivid exterior. The temple’s bronze bell is more than 100 years old.


#2 Raja Mariamman Hindu Temple

Raja Mariamman Temple in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

The Arulmigu Raja Mariamman Temple was built in 1911. The intricately decorated Gopuram tower features pastel-painted deities from Hindu mythology. Visitors are allowed inside, but only if dressed appropriately.


#3 Gurdwara Sahib

Gurdwara Sahib is the house of worship for Sikhs. The first temple was built in 1916, but it was completely rebuilt in 1957 and again in the 1990s.


#4 Church of the Immaculate Conception

Church of the Immaculate Conception in JB, Malaysia

The Catholic church in Johor Bahru, the Immaculate Conception, was built in 1921. The statue of Mary that stands in the front of the church was donated by Sultan Ibrahim.


#5 Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple

Dating to 1922, the Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple began as a simple hut. However, in 2008 the building was renovated with glass mosaics. There are now more than 300,000 pieces of glass decorating the interior. The temple is a top Johor Bahru tourist attraction, but visiting hours are limited to 1pm-5pm daily.


#6 Zaharah Botanic Gardens and Royal Quarter

Visiting the Zaharah Botanical Gardens is one of the unique things to do in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The expansive gardens (which are sometimes called the Taman Istana) is where visitors will find the Istana Besar Grand Palace of Johor and the Johor Zoo.

The palace was built in 1866 and the lush grounds that surround it once belonged to the royal family. In the 1980s, the palace was renovated into the Royal Sultan Abu Bakar Museum, but it is no longer open to tourists. 


#7 VOA Monument

Sitting adjacent to the botanical garden is the small and tidy Sultan Abu Bakar Memorial Park. The highlight of the park is the VOA Monument and fountain – a top Johor Bahru sight. The exquisite garden also hosts a number of artistic metal works. 

After dark, the park is illuminated with an LED light display. Watching the light show is one of the top things to do in Johor Bahru at night. The nearby Zero Kilometer monument is also worth checking out while visiting the area.


#8 Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque

Located on a hill overlooking the Johor Strait, Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque features numerous architectural styles, including English Victorian, Moorish and Malay. The mosque, which was built in the late 1800s, is big enough to hold more than 2,000 people.

Note: The mosque is located outside the city center, but can still be reached on foot. We suggest walking through the Zaharah Botanic Gardens. 


#9 Sultan Ibrahim Building

The Historic Sultan Ibrahim Building in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Completed in 1940, the Sultan Ibrahim Building is a JB landmark. It ranked as the tallest building in the city until the Merlin Tower was built in the 1970s. Featuring a blend of native and colonial-style architecture, the Sultan Ibrahim Building was built to house the offices of the State Administration, which have since relocated.


#10 Chinese Heritage Museum

The small Johor Bahru Museum of Chinese Heritage is housed in a lovely historic building. The museum details the history of Chinese immigrants. The exhibits and artifacts tell the story of the Chinese and how they contributed to the development of the city. Note: There is a fee to enter this Johor Bahru tourist spot.  


#11 Top Streets in Johor Bahru

One of the fun things to do in Johor Bahru is to discover the city on foot – and there are two streets that are well worth strolling down. 

Jalan Tan Hiok Nee is a historic street lined with old-fashioned storefronts and modern cafes. The street is known as a cultural point of the city and boasts a multitude of eateries. Jalan Tan Hiok Nee is also where to go in JB for authentic kopitiam coffee houses. 

Running parallel to Jalan Tan Hiok Nee is the fashionable Jalan Dhoby. Some of the best restaurants are found on Jalan Dhoby – like Flowers in the Window and The Replacement Lodge.

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Eat the Best Food in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

A plate of local food from a hawker stall in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Johor Bahru food might not have the same stellar reputation as other Malaysian cities (like Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Melaka), but visitors have several choices when it comes to good food in Johor Bahru.


Johor Bahru Hawker Centres

Hawker Stall on Jalan Trus in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

We were most enthralled by the local food scene at hawker stalls. Joining in – but not blending in – with the lunchtime crowd at the open-air food markets was one of our best JB experiences. The helpful locals were kind enough to guide us, letting us know what each dish was called and how spicy they were. We piled our plates high with the best, classic flavor combinations!


Where and What To Eat in Johor Bahru

Platter of Chicken Satay in JB, Malaysia

Although we thoroughly enjoyed our adventurous introduction to Johor Bahru food at hawker stalls – and we highly recommend it as one of the top JB things to do – the experience may not be for everyone.

The following list of restaurants are consistently rated by both locals and travelers as must-eat in Johor Bahru. Note: Expect a queue, as these are the most popular places to eat in Johor Bahru!


Hua Mui

The old-school Hua Mui restaurant is a local favorite for their signature dish: Hainanese Chicken Chop. For more than 70 years, the family-owned restaurant has prepared meals for hungry patrons using fresh ingredients and traditional cooking methods. Reviews


It Roo Cafe

A classic diner, It Roo Cafe is also famous for Chicken Chop. In fact, they claim to serve the ‘Best Chicken Chops in Town’ – a title awarded to them by The Star newspaper. Reviews


Kam Long Curry Fish Head

For the past 30 years Kam Long has done one thing – Curry Fish Head – and they apparently do it well. Restaurant patrons start lining up for a clay pot of steaming Curry Fish Head from Kam Long early in the morning. Reviews


Hiap Joo Bakery

In business since 1919, the Hiap Joo Bakery is well-known for their banana cakes (they usually run out by noon!). All of their products – including buns, breaks and cakes – are cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven…and they are incredibly inexpensive. Reviews


Salahuddin Bakery

Opened in 1937, Salahuddin Bakery is another cake shop in Johor Bahru using traditional methods. The family-run establishment churns out 50 types of authentic pastries and breads.  Reviews


Looking for Fine Dining in Johor Bahru? Check out reviews for the best upscale restaurants on TripAdvisor

Johor Bahru Malaysia What To See Do and Eat


Johor Bahru Shopping

Mall in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

One of the top Johor Bahru activities is shopping! In addition to two city center shopping malls (which are top places to go in Johor Bahru on hot afternoons), the city also features a local night market.


Johor Bahru City Square

City Square mall ranks as the best shopping mall in Johor Bahru city center. The 7-story mall is comprised of more than 300 shops, featuring designer fashion brands, boutiques and electronics.

Additionally, the mall hosts both restaurants and hair salons, making it easy to spend an entire day here. However, one of the top things to do in JB City Square is to head to the on-site cinema, which is the top place to watch movies in Johor Bahru.


Komtar JBCC Mall

Located right next to City Square, Komtar JBCC Mall offers a variety of shopping and dining experiences. Those looking for bargains can find them at one of the outlet stores and the popular Daiso dollar store.

For practical purposes, there is a grocery store inside Komtar, as well as numerous hair and nail salons. The Komtar JBCC Mall is a one-stop shopping bonanza! 

The mall is also home to a top attraction in Johor Bahru: Kidz Republic Activity Park (formerly known as the Angry Bird Johor Bahru Park). The indoor playground is the best place to visit in Johor Bahru for kids and families.


Bazar Karat Flea Market

Bazar Karat – also called the JB Night Market or Pasar Karat – is the bustling local market and one of the best Johor Bahru attractions. Located on Jalan Segget Street, this market doesn’t open until 7pm (often later on weekends).

Vendors at Bazar Karat sell various goods – from souvenir trinkets to apparel to street food. There is often live music at the Johor Bahru street market – and it’s highly rated for being the place to go in JB at night!


Johor Bahru Map

Use this Google Map for our Johor Bahru city center map online and create your own tour of JB. Travelers can also purchase a Johor Bahru tourist map prior to their trip. 

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More Things To Do Johor Bahru

Looking for more tips of what to do in Johor Bahru? These sights are outside the city center and are places we did not visit ourselves – but they come highly recommended by fellow travelers!


Johor Premium Outlets

Located 18 miles north of Johor Bahru, the Johor Premium Outlet Mall is a favorite place for bargain shoppers. The outlet space has more than 150 stores, including top brands – like Coach, Salvatore Ferragamo and Timberland. Travelers without a car can get a taxi (one-way fare is about 50RM).


Paradigm Mall

A retail and entertainment complex that is just 8 miles from the JB Old Town, Paradigm Mall hosts a range of retailers – from department stores to boutique shops. The food court is said to be fabulous – and many visitors go to Paradigm for the on-site movie theater. 


Danga Bay Johor Bahru

Located to the west of JB, Danga Bay offers something for everyone! Kids can get a thrill on the rides at Danga Bay Attraction Theme Park, families can enjoy a seafood meal near the shore and couples can set sail on an evening cruise. The Danga Bay Beach is one of the popular beaches near Johor Bahru.


Stulang Beach in Johor Bahru

Close to the city center, the Stulang Johor Bahru Beach is a nice waterfront area with a few food options. However, swimming at the beach is not recommended.


Istana Bukit Serene

The Royal Palace, Istana Bukit Serene, is the official residence of the Sultan of Johor. The palace is not open to the public, but visitors can view the complex, tower and replica crown from the outside.


LegoLand Malaysia

The Malaysia Legoland resort is an adventure theme park for Lego lovers! In addition to the rides, there is a water park, shows, hands-on activities and an on-site hotel. Buy Tickets!


Kota Tinggi Firefly Park

The Kota Tinggi Firefly Park is a unique Johor Bahru attraction. The land is a breeding ground for thousands of twinkling fireflies. Park visitors step aboard a river cruise after dark in search of the twinkling critters. Find out more!


Planning a Singapore and Johor Bahru Trip

Foreign travelers visiting Johor Bahru often combine the trip with Singapore Sightseeing. The close proximity, many JB attractions and cheap hotels make Johor Bahru a great base for Singapore adventures. 

Eager to take advantage of affordable accommodations, we opted to stay in Johor Bahru rather than Central Singapore…and then make the commute south for Singapore sightseeing.


Getting from Johor Bahru to Singapore

Our decision to stay in JB meant that our day trips to Singapore included a border crossing. The immigration checks and transport transfers made the 35-mile trip a two-hour journey. For many locals, it was their mundane daily commute, but for us taking a day trip to Singapore from Johor Bahru was fascinating.

To travel to Singapore from Johor Bahru, there are direct buses between the cities (eliminating the need to ride the MRT as was previously necessary). Visitors can also opt to take a Singapore to Johor Bahru taxi; it’s a pricey trip but only takes about 45 minutes.

Want to take a hassle-free trip to Singapore? Join an organized tour where a guide in Johor Bahru plans all the details for you! 


JB Day Trip from Singapore

Those staying in Singapore who want to visit Johor Bahru can easily plan their own 1-day trip to JB. First, determine how to get to Johor Bahru – either the inexpensive bus or fast taxi. Then, use our guide of what to see in Johor Bahru on a day trip from Singapore!


Travel Tips for Johor Bahru

We shared the top attractions in our Johor Bahru guide, but we have some additional advice for your trip to Malaysia.


Johor Bahru Walking Tour

On our trip to Johor Bahru, we were content to trek around the city on foot to see the highlights – but would have joined a guided walking tour had we found one. Instead, we created our own self-guided walk through the city. To create your DIY walk, use our list of the top places to visit in Johor Bahru. 


Johor Bahru Religions

In our list of What To Do Johor Bahru, we feature several houses of worship. Johor Bahru Temples, churches, mosques and other religious buildings reside together in harmony. Which is why we think they rank as top things to see in Johor Bahru.

Although the official religion of Malay people is Islam, the JB population of more than 500,000 citizens is a little more diverse. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs have resided in JB for decades, with several historic houses of worship located in the city center.


How To Get To Johor Bahru

The best way to get to Johor Bahru is by plane. The Johor Bahru Senai International Airport (JHB) is located north of the city. It is served by AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines and a few other carriers. While most flights are within Malaysia, their are direct services from Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.

Travelers can also fly to the world famous Singapore Changi Airport (SIN). There is a convenient Express Bus to get to Johor Bahru from Singapore Airport. 

Use our guide to Finding the Best Airfare for money-saving tips – then start your search for cheap flights on Skyscanner.


Where To Stay in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Rooftop pool at Doubletree by Hilton Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Travelers have a choice of hotels in Johor Bahru that cover a range of price points. We think the best place to stay in JB is near the city center – and close to the bus terminal to take DIY day trips into Singapore.

When we started our search for Johor Bahru Accommodation, we were looking for a hotel near JB Sentral (the Johor Bahru bus terminal) and CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine). We weren’t necessarily looking for a budget hotel in Johor Bahru – as the rates were almost all half what we were finding in Singapore. 

Read our article, Booking the Best Hotels for Cheap for our top tips on scoring a deal for your stay!


The Doubletree Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru

Room at Doubletree by Hilton in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Since the hotels in Johor Bahru near Singapore were so affordable, we decided to book luxury accommodations at the Doubletree by Hilton.

The Doubletree is a modern 4-Star hotel in Johor Bahru that offers spacious rooms, quality furnishings, a rooftop pool and fine dining – at an affordable price. In our opinion, it is the best place to stay in Johor Bahru! 


Where To Stay in JB on a Budget

If you are looking for even more affordable places to stay, there are plenty of options. We recommend starting your search for affordable JB hotels on – like we do!


Malaysia and Singapore Travel Guides


Start planning your trip to Malaysia! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel advice? Head over to our Travel Planning Page for tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides Page!


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