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Malaysia’s up and coming city of Johor Bahru
The city of Johor Bahru lies at the south of Peninsular Malaysia, just across the causeway from Singapore and thusly the closest Malaysian city to its neighbouring nation state. This location has therefore seen Johor Bahru become a large hub with significant ties to Singapore in almost every sector. However, in recent years Johor Bahru has grown in popularity as visitors enjoy the more spacious layout of the city as well as many of the area’s surrounding facilities. Families now head to the region for attractions such as Legoland, whilst tourism numbers coming from Singapore have also increased.
A growing destination in its own right
Known by locals as JB, this once small town grew significantly in the past three decades to emerge as Malaysia’s third largest city. Whilst much of this growth came from its strategic location to Singapore, there was also a large spill-over effect which has greatly benefited the wealth of Johor Bahru. Infrastructure has been improved and thousands of jobs created and thus a consequent effect has been the emergence of leisure facilities and activities throughout the city. Logically, there has also been a vast rise in accommodation to meet the extra demand and thus finding a hotel in Johor Bahru offers more choice than ever. JB does however maintain a distinctly different atmosphere to Singapore and thus it is not simply another Singaporean suburb of the ever-growing nation state. Thus, visitors to the city consist of both domestic Malaysians and Singaporeans but also a growing number of international tourists, not just those coming for business purposes. Accessibility has continued to improve and the new border facilities make it quicker and easier than ever to connect to Singapore, whilst infrastructure projects have ensured that Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur is less than a four-hour drive away.
The cultural heart of JB
Central JB is commonly divided into four simple districts, North, South, East and West, all of which contain their own points of interest for visitors. The South contains the main city centre and where much of the historical aspects of Johor Bahru are located. It is also the closest district to Singapore and thus sees most of the day-trip tourism coming to see attractions such as The Grand Palace or the Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque. Indeed, the South excellently depicts both Johor Bahru’s historical development and cultural diversity; mosques, churches and temples sit alongside colonial British architecture and administrative buildings. These include the Masjid India Mosque, The Vicar Church of Immaculate Conception and the Old Chinese Temple. Close to the causeway linking to Singapore, also lies the JB Sentral Train Station and the majority of large chain hotels. As a result, this is the ideal spot for visitors looking to stay in a JB hotel but have the quickest access to Singapore. Other points of interest in the South district include the Zoo Johor and Zaharah Botanic Gardens.
Exciting suburbs spreading in several directions
As the city grew it spread north and to the east and west, incorporating smaller villages into what is now the metropolitan area of JB. The North is centred around Taman Johor Jayam, a district with many hotel options that are conveniently located for quick access to the highways exiting Johor Bahru. Whilst much of the area is residential, it is also home to one of the largest shopping centres in the state, the AEON Mall Tebrau City. Heading west of JB city centre there are also a host of residential estates spread across a vast area ensuring it is much more spacious than the centre. The West is also home to several high quality golf resorts, plus green areas of parks and marshland. East of the centre is more industrially focused with an array of factories and manufacturing plants, but it also home to some of Malaysia’s newest theme parks and leisure complexes. For instance, Legoland Malaysia is situated in this direction; formed of an enormous complex of rides and attractions, it is a very popular destination with domestic and international tourists.
Quick access to Singapore and beyond
Although Singaporeans head to Johor Bahru to take advantage of cheaper prices and more spacious land, there are plenty that head in the opposite direction. Thus many of the guests staying at a hotel in JB also head across to Singapore at some point. Central Singapore can be reached easily by public bus or the metro train line which links straight into Singapore’s mass transit system. The northern suburbs of Singapore are mostly residential but there are also nearby attractions such as Singapore Zoo which located less than ten kilometres from Johor Bahru. The zoo is extremely popular due to its unique night safari’s, one of the only such facilities in the world. There are also an assortment of points of interest in JB’s outskirts on the Malaysian side of the border which make for excellent day trips. The seaside fishing village of Kukup on Malaysia’s very southwestern point is a quaint spot to enjoy local seafood and views of the Malacca Strait.