The capital of Johor in southern Malaysia, Johor Bahru, is located just an hour by bus from Singapore. A bustling metropolis in its own right, Johor Bahru may seem a strange place to seek respite from the skyscrapers and congestion of Singapore, but it’s primed and ready to become a cosmopolitan giant and shouldn’t be written off.
Declared a city as recently as 1994, the area has a surprising number of culturally significant sites and modern entertainment to offer travelers willing to venture from one “temple of capitalism” to another. The city isn’t all that attractive to pleasure-seekers and casual tourists, but students of phenomenology and the genuinely curious will find the day trip from Singapore worthwhile.
Whether you find yourself there on business, or out of simple curiosity, the following list of places of interest should keep you entertained.
The Danga World Theme Park and Danga World Petting Zoo (part zoo, part animal circus) are advisable destinations for travelers with children to entertain. Also suitable for families is Taman Merdeka, a public park next to a large lake with pavilions, an open-air theater, sculptures, cannons and a clock tower (the good news is that admission is free).
There are numerous excellent golf courses in and around the city, as well as a profusion of paddle boat recreation outlets, malls, cinemas, and a dizzying array of religious sites, temples and shrines.
If none of the above whets your appetite, then you may not find Johor Bahru particularly appealing. But if you’re in the area and looking for some fun, then maybe, just maybe, my efforts won’t have been in vain.