The first time I visited Johor was nearly twenty years back. At that time, my dad used to go to Malaysia frequently for work and on one such trip, my mom and I tagged along. I was in the capital city of Johor Bahru only for a day and did not get time to see much. A few days back, I got the opportunity to visit Johor once again and this time, I spent four days exploring the beautiful state with Air Asia and Tourism Johor.
Johor is located in the southern part of Malaysia. It is surrounded by Pahang in the north, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan in the northwest, and the Straits of Johor in the south, which separates Johor and Singapore. Because of its location, Johor is an excellent holiday destination. If you want a beach holiday, head to one of the many islands off the coast. If nature and wildlife is your thing, Endau-Rompin National Park offers a brilliant experience. And if the city life attracts you more, head to Johor Bahru for shopping, amusement parks, sightseeing, and only a 5 minute shuttle train ride to Singapore!
How to get to Johor? If you are in Kolkata, there is very good news. You no longer need to go via KL because Air Asia is starting direct flights from Kolkata to Johor Bahru from the 28th of November, five times a week at very reasonable prices.
What to do when you come to Johor? Continue reading to find out..
Top Ten Things To Do When You Visit Johor
1. Stay at Legoland Hotel and enjoy the Legoland Malaysia Resort Experience – If you have kids or even if you don’t, this should be on your agenda while visiting Johor. Legoland is Malaysia’s first international theme park and the first Legoland in Asia. There are more than 70 rides, slides, shows and attractions for families and children of all ages.
Legoland Malaysia Resort has a Legoland Park with Lego Technic, Lego Kingdoms, Imagination, Land of Adventure, Lego City and Miniland, where miniature replicas of Asia’s popular landmarks made with more than 30 million Lego bricks can be seen. The resort also has the Legoland Water Park with the Lego Wave Pool, Slides and other ‘splashtastic’ rides and the Legoland Hotel, the ultimate staycation destination for your holidays. From the spectacular dragon guarded entrance to interactive Lego features to the fully Lego-themed bedrooms and lobby complete with Lego pirate ship and Lego castle, the hotel is packed with Lego-awesomeness in every nook and corner.
Legoland offers a number of packages that you can book online to suit your needs. Check out their website for details.
2. Say Hello to Hello Kitty at Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and Play with the Angry Birds at The Angry Birds Activity Park – Sanrio Hello Kitty Town is a treat for Hello Kitty fans. It is the first Hello Kitty theme park outside Japan and the park’s highlights include Black Wonder, a state-of-the-art interactive experience and Kitty House, filled with everything Hello Kitty from top to bottom. A must-do here is to watch a live performance by Hello Kitty and friends at the Town’s Purrfect stage.
One of the most downloaded games of all time, has come to life at the Angry Birds Activity Park in Johor Bahru. The indoor park covers 26,000 sq.ft. and is located in the premises of Komtar JBCC, Johor Bahru City Centre’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination. The activity park offers a wide variety of fun games and attractions suitable for toddlers, kids, youth and adults alike. I did not try any of the games here but few of my friends were brave enough to try the Space Drop Airbag where you have to jump off from a platform onto an airbag below. Other interesting attractions here are the Laser Maze Spaceship where you have to manoeuvre through lasers without touching them, Angry Birds GO! Kart Track, Birds Nest Climbing Track, Air Parkour Track and many others.
3. Shop For Less at Johor Premium Outlets – Want to buy from luxury brands like Gucci, Coach, Furla, Michael Kors, Aigner etc at low prices? Johor Premium Outlets is where you must go then. JPO is a huge shopping centre and consists of all the premium luxury brands along with a few Malaysian brands as well. The reason why JPO is so popular is because you discounts at all the stores throughout the year. Everywhere I went, I saw boards with 50% off, 70% off etc hung outside.
4. Enjoy the sights of Johor Bahru on a Trishaw – Possibly the best way to roam around the city centre. Hop into a trishaw and enjoy a 2.2 km journey through the Street of Harmony, where several places of worship are located, JB bazaar, a museum and Sungai Segget.
5. Eat Traditional Malay Food At Dapor Warisan – Dapor Warisan is located inside the Sultan Abu Bakar Heritage Complex and if you want to get a taste of authentic Malay food, this is where you should go. The restaurant offers a selection of traditional food like Nasi Ambeng, Tenggiri, Laksa, Mi Kolok etc. Try and go during a weekend for dinner because then you will also get to see cultural performances as well.
6. Experience Johor’s History, Heritage, Culture and Nature at Kota Iskandar – Kota Iskandar is the Johor state administrative centre and one of Malaysia’s iconic landmarks. It is said to represent many things about Johor – ‘the heart of its politics, a storybook of its heritage, a thriving tourist hub, and the pride of its people‘.
At Kota Iskandar, you can pray or marvel at the architectural brilliance of the Kota Iskandar mosque that serves as a visual gateway to the administrative centre. You can watch democracy in action at the State Legislative Assembly Hall, Malaysia’s first parliament that’s open to the public. You can relax in the many lush gardens, such as the fragrant Laman Kasturi (Musk Lime Garden) and Laman Bunga Rampai (Potpourri Garden). You can read about the state’s rich history at the Heritage Wall or take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the scenic views of the surrounding attractions.
7. Get Back to Nature At Desaru Fruit Farm – Situated on 100 acres of land, Desaru Fruit Farm is a one of a kind experience. Packed with over 100 varieties of tropical fruits, plants, a petting zoo, koi fish pond and other attractions, a visit here promises an interesting experience for the whole family. Here, you get to know about different fruits, herbs and plants, get a crash course on all things honey, feast on fresh fruits from the farm, enjoy a buffet that includes dishes made with fruits and indulge in outdoor activities like paintball and dirt kart ride.
8. Play a Round of Golf at The Els Club Desaru Coast – Take the exhilarating natural setting of the Desaru Coast and the South China Sea, add the golfing mind of Ernie Els and the result is The Els Club Desaru Coast.
I know nothing of golf but I can tell you that if I played the game, I would love to come to The Els Club to practice my swing. The three nine hole loops – The Lakes, The Coast and The Ridge, make up the distinct course layout. The 45,000 sq foot clubhouse overlooks the golf course and academy and offers plenty of comfortable corners to relax, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy service from the two casual dining restaurants. The Els Club also includes a fully stocked golf shop, practice areas for chipping and putting, private golf lessons at the EPGA Par 3 Academy and offers various corporate and golf packages.
9. Soak up the Sun at the Beaches of Desaru Coast – Located on the south eastern tip of the Malaysian Peninsular, Desaru’s sandy white beaches are said to be amongst the best in Malaysia. The beaches are clean, lined with casuarina trees and stretch 17 kilometres long. The coast is lined with plenty of hotels and the Malaysian Govt has big plans of developing the Desaru Coast. Westin, Anantara, Aman and Hard Rock are scheduled to open resorts next year and there are plans of building a waterpark and a retail and lifestyle village. This area will be the next big thing in Malaysia very soon!
10. Stay in a private island owned by the Sultan of Johor – No, you don’t need to be friends with the Sultan to go to Rawa Island. It is open to everyone except on days when he decides to visit.
The highlight of my trip to Johor was definitely the stay at Rawa Island. To go there, you need to get into a ferry at Mersing Jetty and the ride takes about 30 minutes. Rawa is a small island and there are limited options for accommodation but the beauty of that small island will take your breath away. Think soft white sand and clear azure water. In terms of activities, you can go for snorkeling, swimming, beach volleyball, windsurfing, sailing and fishing. For people seeking a relaxed holiday, you can’t find a more idyllic location than this one.
From a bustling city life with swanky malls and amusement parks to breathtakingly beautiful postcard-perfect islands with white sand and azure water beaches, Johor is an excellent holiday destination that must be explored. It is wonderful that Air Asia is making it so much easier to visit Johor from Kolkata this month onward. I had one of my best holidays there recently and I really recommend you to visit as well. In my next post, I will share details of some of the places where you can stay in Johor. Stay tuned!
I was invited to visit Johor as part of the media FAM trip organised by Air Asia and Johor Tourism. If you are planning a trip to #Johor, check out AirAsia for the best deals.