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Johor Bahru

Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in johor baru

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Johor Bahru, also spelled Johore Baharu, is the capital of the state of Johor in 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.

johor baru Travel Guide :

Johor Bahru


Declared a city only in 1994, Johor Bahru — universally called just JB — 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. Due to its proximity to Singapore, it suffers from unavoidable comparison with its more squeaky-clean neighbour. Recent cleanup initiatives like greening the city and covering the open sewer that until a few years ago ran through the center of the city have made it a more pleasant place to live in. Though appreciably less organised and more messy when compared to glitz of Singapore, eating and shopping in the city can be an adventure with a wide variety of food establishments offering budget to fine dining and many shopping complexes.

Johor Bahru

Get in

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. If you are too lazy to fill the form, usually there is an old guy sitting nearby offering help for S$1.

Most visitors to Johor Bahru 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 Johor Bahru. 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.
Johor Bahru

By plane

Senai Airport ( (JHB), formally Sultan Ismail Airport (Lapangan Terbang Sultan Ismail), is located 28 km to the northwest of Johor Bahru. Malaysia's only privately operated airport, Senai has expanded aggressively and flights to 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.

However, 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 exception is Malaysian Airlines, which has a direct bus service which runs from the Copthorne Orchid Hotel (214 Dunearn Road) to the airport. The bus fare to Senai Airport is S$12 and the bus ride is approximately 2 hours; note that this service is available only to MAS ticket holders, and you have to call Malaysian Airlines at +65-63366777 to book a seat on the bus. For the flight and corresponding bus schedules, check Malaysian Airlines' Singapore website (

For other travelers, the cheapest option is to travel to the Kotaraya terminal (S$1 on Causeway Link buses) and transfer to a shuttle bus (45 minutes, RM4, leaves every 30 minutes) via the Senai Airport City Lounge ( Alternatively, 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 from Senai and you are travelling from Singapore, things can get tough as the earliest bus leaves the City Lounge at 5:30 AM and reaches the airport around 6:10 AM, just in time for the early 7 AM departures. 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.

Johor Bahru

By train

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 1 ( to construct a new integrated terminal to replace the old, dilapidated train station is scheduled to be completed in 2006.

Johor Bahru

By bus

Johor Bahru

From Singapore

The most popular option of all is to cross the Causeway on one of the following buses:

Buses between JB and Singapore
Line Stops in Singapore Stops in Johor Bahru Price
Causeway Link CW-1 Kranji MRT only Larkin via Kotaraya $1.30, $1.00 from Singapore

RM1.30, 1.00 from Malaysia

Causeway Link CW-2 Queen Street only Larkin only $3
Causeway Link CW-3 Jurong East MRT / 2nd Link Tampoi / Tmn Perling / Bt Indah /Gelang Patah / Kotaraya $3
SBS 170 (blue plate) Queen St via Kranji MRT Larkin only $1.30 (EZ-Link OK)
SBS 170 (red plate) Kranji MRT Kotaraya only $1.00 (EZ-Link OK)
SBS 160 Jurong East MRT via Kranji MRT Kotaraya only $1.50 (EZ-Link OK)
SMRT 950 Woodlands MRT via Kranji MRT Kotaraya only $1.20 (EZ-Link OK)
Singapore-Johor Express Queen St only Larkin only $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.

Johor Bahru

From Malaysia

Long-distance buses from Johor Bahru to other points in West Malaysia depart from Larkin Bus Terminal, located some 4 km north of the Causeway. Some local services, as well as the Senai Airport shuttle, use the Kotaraya 2 Bus Terminal on Jalan Trus, near the heart of the city.

Johor Bahru

By taxi

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. +656296-7054, SG$ 45.00 one way to fixed point in Johor Baru, 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$7 per person with four people. 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. +607-5991622.

Johor Bahru

By car

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.

Johor Bahru

On foot

The 700-meter 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.

Johor Bahru

Get around

Johor Bahru'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.

Johor Bahru

By taxi

Traveling by taxi is a fairly cheap alternative, although you are likely to encounter some difficulty in convincing your cabbie to use his meter. With metered starting fares around RM 2, trips around town shouldn't cost much more than RM 5 (A trip to City Plaza costs less than RM 3 using the metered rate. Some drivers who do not use the meters charge about twice the amount).

Johor Bahru

By bus

You can take a bus to move around the city, e.g. to Holiday Plaza or Plaza Pelangi shopping mall. However, there is no clear sign of the bus stops. Just follow the crowds and wait alongside the locals for the bus. Look at the direction sign in the bus and don't hesitate to ask the bus driver directly. Usually the driver asks RM 1 for a trip, although I feel the locals pay less than that.

Most buses in the city centre depart from the Post Office on Jln Ibrahim, from the marked stop on Jln Wong Ah Fook (for Larkin Terminal - very frequent) and from opposite the train station on Jln Tun Abdul Razak (for Holiday Plaza). Fares out as far as Larkin are generally RM 1. Fares further out run up to about RM 1.80. Buses are not very frequent (except to Larkin) but are safe.

Johor Bahru

By car

There's little point to renting a car for touring Johor Bahru 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), tel. 07-2242849/54, email, 2 ( A basic manual Proton Wira starts from RM140.00/day, offices throughout the country for easy dropoff (extra charges apply).
Johor Bahru

On foot

Johor Bahru is a remarkably pedestrian-hostile city, although the city core is now mostly navigable via underpasses and walkways.

Johor Bahru


  • Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque. A Mosque built in the royal British architecture style, that is a reminder that Malaysia was once a British colony.
  • Johor Zoo. Located across from the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque. A run down zoo that provides a dismal diversion to western tourists.
Johor Bahru


  • The Johor Society for the Performing Arts (J.S.P.A.). The J.S.P.A. is a non-commercial Society dedicated to the advancement,promotion and development of the performing arts in Johor Bahru. All profits made from any of its programmes are ploughed back to further the aims of the Society. It was started by a group of performing arts lovers and became an official organization in February 2000. The J.S.P.A. has regularly brought in world class acts such as the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. In March 2004, the J.S.P.A. organized the first ever Johor Arts Festival.
  • Massage Gallery Home Spa 07-2352369 or 019-7292369 Taman Perling,. A transformed single storey terrace house with two small but clean and comfortable massage rooms and a semi-open body scrubbing area. Male masseurs only.

Johor Bahru


Johor Bahru is full of shopping malls catering mostly to 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.

  • City Square, Jalan Wong Ah Fook (just across from the train station) 3 ( JB's largest and glitziest mall, an easy walk from Malaysian customs.
  • Holiday Plaza, Jalan Dato Sulaiman (Century Garden). A three-storey shopping mall. Take a taxi or bus to go here from Malaysian customs. This is the place to buy electronics, DVDs, and CDs at slightly cheaper price than those shops near the custom.
  • Plaza Pelangi, Jalan Kuning. An upmarket shopping mall. It has a wide variety of branded fashion shops and nice restaurants/cafes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Johor Bahru


Johor Bahru 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.

Johor Bahru


  • Kolam Air Laksa, Jalan Kolam Air (same road as Hyatt). This is the best Laksa in JB/Singapore.
  • 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 RM 10. Open daily for breakfast and lunch only. Located a fair distance from the center, so take a taxi.
  • 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.
  • 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!!
Johor Bahru


  • Eden Floating Palace Restaurant, anchored off the Johor Duty Free Complex. Serves Malaysian Chinese food where diners can pick their choice of seafood and vegetables from a market style setting have it cooked for them. The restaurant can accommodate up to 1,100 guests. (Permanently closed 2004)
  • Peach Garden, Melodies Garden. Value-for-money Western dining, especially the lamb shanks. Closed on Sundays.
Johor Bahru


  • Chez Papa, Jalan Maju. French cuisine and a fine selection of wines and cheeses. The restaurant also offers a cosy and intimate wine bar with music.
  • Ros Marino Ristorante, Jalan Damai. Authentic Italian dishes like osso bucco.
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.
Johor Bahru


There is plenty of accommodation in Johor Bahru, just look for signs that say Hotel, Chalets, Budget Accommodations or Rumah Tumpangan. The cost of an average room is around RM 50/night, you may get more value for your money outside Johor Bahru though (eg. in Johor Jaya or Kulai).

Johor Bahru


  • Hyatt Regency, Jalan Sungai Chat, tel. +60 0 722 21 234, 4 ( Aging and poorly located. Rooms from RM300 up.
  • Puteri Pan Pacific, Jalan Abdullah Ibrahim, tel. +60 7 223 3333, 5 ( Probably the best of JB's hotels. Rooms from RM300 up.
Johor Bahru

Stay safe

Singaporeans like to tell horror stories of crimes in the wild, wild North, but 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.

Johor Bahru


  • JOTIC. Jalan Ayer Molek, tel. +60 72251387. The official Johor tourism information center is a tiny office in a sprawling, empty building, a fair hike from the city center. Closed Sundays.
Johor Bahru

Get out

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