Guide: 48 Hours In The South (Johor Bahru)
Off We Go.
Road trips can be quite an adventure especially if you have no specific weekend plans after breakfast. Some time this year, that’s exactly what I did with my good friend Jard. We were heading south bound and what better way to do it then to bring along another good friend of mine Laicii who knows Johor Bahru very well. She had agreed to be our local guide during this 48 hour trip. Did I mention that this adventure took place during the Ramadan fasting month?
Time Check: 1200 hours
After driving for almost 4 hours, we finally entered Johor Bahru (JB) town which had changed tremendously since I last came here in 2011. There were new highways linking the town to Nusajaya City where all the upcoming tourist attractions were being built. Laicii also updated us that Danga Bay had been demolished to make way for renovations and improvements. This surprised me a lot because I thought Danga Bay was doing quite alright but I guess at least they acknowledge how the improvements would make way for a better city. We drove around a bit more and cruised up to Serene Hill to see the Royal Palace which overlooks JB city and the ocean. How nice to have such a beautiful mix of green and blue from the window.
Time Check: 1300 hours
Since Laicii is heading back to her parents for iftar, she dropped us off at Suria City Hotel Johor Bahru so that we could check in, have a look around the hotel, catch a short nap before getting ready for the Ramadan Buffet spread in the evening. The hotel is strategically located near the bridge to Singapore and quite a lot of people stay here due to convenient reasons. It’s pretty basic but has a nice view of the city with a glimpse of the blue sea. I was looking forward to the spa but it was closed during Ramadan month and so we just opted to take a short nap before walking around the hotel area. According to the Reception, the hotel is within distance of local attractions such as Stulang Laut & Lido Beach, Johor Zoo & Art Gallery, all major shopping complexes & Duty Free Zone as well as the Serene Hill Palace & Royal Mausoleum.
Time Check: 1900 hours
Time for food. I had already figured that we’ll be eating most of the time but at least it will consist of awesome local dishes. The Ramadan Buffet was spread out both indoors and outdoors with food ranging from hawker style, desserts to a variety of main courses, all for us. Well not exactly just for both of us but for all the patrons that night and it was a full house too. Whenever there’s too many food choices, I get confused and try my best to listen to my mind instead of my growling tummy. It often ends up with me taking too many food and not being able to finish it in the end. I think the tummy won this round but it’s only because there was such a long queue for the food! (Excuses I know. Haha.) Well if you saw the huge grilled lamb, authentic laksa Johor, durian crepes, ulam, fried kueh teow and Briyani rice, you would understand my growling tummy. Bon apetit!
Time Check: 2030 hours
Laicii is back and she took us to the local Pasar Karat @ JB (Night Market @ JB) where locals sell first hand and second hand items just like the one in Damansara Uptown only this is bigger. It took some time for us to get here because of the traffic jam but once we parked our car, we walked around the many stalls that was set up for the night. There were shoes, pets, books, bags, accessories, souveniers, toys and everything else you could think off can be found here. I wanted to get a pair of shoes but there doesn’t seem to be a size 4 anywhere so I opted for other things instead. Jard managed to get a bagpack for a fraction of the original price, perhaps due to her amazing bargaining skills. This is the part where I mention how bad I am at bargaining prices and would often get schooled by my friends for not even trying to bargain. I end up choosing an item and getting my friends to bargain it on my behalf.
Time Check: 2200 hours
I heard about JB having quirky indie cafes in town from friends who often come here for a visit and tonight we managed to hit a local favourite place called The Roost which can be found at the row of shophouses behind the Night Market @ JB. Laicii called up a few of her friends and we headed up to the top floor, ordering our drinks from the balcony stationed with cute chairs and cosy sofas. The floors were Retro tiled and the interior decorations were very vintage. There were old Robot toys, TV sets, Ultraman dolls and other items from the past which juggled my childhood memories. Most importantly I loved how the drinks came in colourful plastic pails instead of the normal drinking glasses. If only our tummies had room for more food that night, we would definitely have ordered some before we headed back to the hotel.
Time Check: 1200 hours
Check out time but we’re not ready to leave JB just yet. Curious on the upcoming development of Legoland, we drove there to Nusajaya to check out this attraction which will have visitors flocking in from around the region. We were not able to enter beyond the entrance as there was still a lot of construction going on. The main signage was already up along with the a few iconic landmarks around the world. We also took a tour inside Nusajaya City and stopped at the Tanjung Puteri Harbour where all the fancy yachts were parked. Opened to the public, we were allowed to roam around inside near the yachts and have coffee at the club, pretending to be wealthy business owners. It’s always nice to dream isn’t it? As we drove out from Nusajaya, we saw banners announcing the opening of Hello Kitty Town and it’s just nice to see how Johor will have a string of attractions for locals and tourists alike.
48 hours completed.
If we had more time there would definitely be more places for us to visit in JB but since 48 hours was all we had, this was still a satisfactory journey with friends. I realised also that there are many places in Malaysia that I have yet to explore and the best way to do this is with friends in those places, cities or states. It’s always nice to get away from the city once awhile and hang out with the locals to observe their daily lives. Have you ever done a similar trip like before and did you encounter any interesting sights along the way? I hope you have but if you haven’t, there’s always this weekend. 🙂
About Yafieda Jamil
A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.