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Your guide to Johor Bahru
All About Johor Bahru
Located on the Straits of Johor, the city of Johor Bahru is home to two bridges that link Malaysia with the island state of Singapore. Malaysia’s southernmost city and the second largest after the capital Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru is a modern, vibrant metropolis that regularly draws Singapore locals across the border to shop and dine in its city center and suburbs. Johor Bahru was primarily a fishing village 150 years ago, but now is Malaysia’s leading technology and financial center.
More than one million people call Johor Bahru home, and to get a sense of the history and cultures represented here, you can take the Johor Bahru Heritage Trail, a self-guided walking tour of the city’s historical and cultural sites. Along the way, you’ll pass the gleaming white towers of the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque and the sunshine-yellow facade of the 1930s Old Johor Bahru Railway Station. Another stop on the trail, the Johor Bahru Chinese Heritage Museum, explores the history of the Chinese community’s impact on the city, while the Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam Temple is an all-glass Hindu temple at the center of Johor Bahru’s Indian district.
Soak up the cafe culture in Johor Bahru over a warming cup of teh tarik (tea with condensed milk), take a dip under the rushing Kota Tinggi Waterfalls nearby, or cruise down the river spotting fireflies in the balmy evening air.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Johor Bahru
As Johor Bahru has an equatorial climate, you’ll find consistently warm temperatures throughout the year. However, humidity is exceptionally high in the rainy months of April, November, and December. June is the most popular time to visit the city, which is also when temperatures are at their peak.
You might want to book a vacation rental in Johor Bahru when one of the many festivals takes place in and around the city. Every August, there’s a festival to celebrate kuda kepang, a traditional Javanese dance featuring intricate woven horse puppets. In February, participants from more than 40 countries take part in the Johor Bahru kite festival, which includes enormous kites depicting animals and cartoon characters. For two days in July, the city holds the Bon Odori festival, with martial arts, dance demonstrations, and traditional Japanese dishes.
Top things to do in Johor Bahru
Grand Palace of Johor
The Istana Besar Palace, once home to the Sultan of Johor, is close to the city center on the waterfront. The palace has a fascinating mix of European and Asian architecture, and the building is still used for official functions. The palace also houses the Royal Abu Bakar Museum, where you can see antique furniture and heirlooms from the time of the royal family.
The picturesque hiking area around the Tasik Biru — the Blue Lake, which formed in a disused copper mine — is just a short drive from the shopping malls of Johor Bahru. The easy trails take you around the edge of the stunning aquamarine water, the hue transforming with the changing light. However enticing it may seem, swimming and fishing in the lake are not permitted due to its arsenic content.
Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple
One of the most unusual structures you’ll find in Johor Bahru is the Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple. It’s the world’s first Hindu place of worship made of glass and is an integral part of the community. People of all denominations come here to admire the kaleidoscopic interior as more than 300,000 pieces of multicolored glass catch the light.