Malaysia’s border town of Johor Bahru, a causeway ride away from Singapore, is a convenient destination for Singaporeans looking for budget deals on everything from eating out to jazzing up their wheels. We spoke to our in-house JB expert Tzyy Chinn from BankBazaar who tells us all about the place and what it has to offer. Tzyy Chinn heads Business Operations & Customer Service at BankBazaar, and has been a JB frequent traveller since a kid. Here are some top tips, choices and more.
Top 5 recommended family fun activities in JB
1. Laser Battle:
Just after you cross immigration is JB City Square where you can hop in for a game of laser tag at Laser Battle. The game must be pre-booked if you plan to visit on the weekends.
“It is suitable for all ages and it’s not physically strenuous, as the not-so-fit adults can choose to walk and hide behind walls but do watch out for the young ones. They are so nimble, that they come sneaking in, tag you and run off! You can choose to pay for one, two or three games, and each game is around 10 mins. For a set of three games, the price for each person is RM 50. Each game allows 15 persons. You can choose to split into 2 or more groups, or you can even go on an individual battle,” says Tzyy Chinn.
2. Angry Birds Activity Park:
Right next to City Square is the Angry Birds Activity Park at Komtaar JBCC. With weather concerns out of the equation at this indoor playground, the family can run wild at its many attractions.
A huge indoor theme park, Fanpekka is located in AEON shopping mall at Tebrau City. It is divided into 6 play zones and can keep the kids occupied for the whole day! “There is a Funpekka cafe next to the playground, where you get to buy coffee at a discounted price. You also enjoy 10% off on lunch/dinner (using the coupon),” adds Tzyy Chinn.
4. Austin Heights Water and Adventure Park:
This adventure park is located on Mount Austin and is a combination of indoor and outdoor activities. You can choose from drift karting, a trampoline park, a water park, a skating rink, or get a combo ticket at a discounted rate. Costs across activities range from RM 20- RM70 (per hour or round). “However there is no combo tickets for all five activities, except for a combination of the Jump street, Waterpark and Adventure park, that comes for around RM 78.”
Some restaurants use karaoke to keep you busy and entertained as you eat. A large group of people are very often offered a KTV room where you can sing karaoke free of charge.
Related: 52 Ways to Save Money in Singapore
Top things to buy from Johor Bahru
- Books and stationery from Popular Bookstore are must buys. Use your SG Popular Member card for a 10% off on the bill.
- Top up your grocery supplies at AEON or the TESCO supermarket.
- Take back some pastry from Lavender. Tzyy recommends the egg tart and their Kueh Lapis. Also, don’t miss the delicious banana cake from Hiap Joo Bakery.
- Stack your dressing table with L’Oreal hair care products; the brand is much cheaper this side of the causeway.
- Dress up your gadgets – buy iPad covers and headphones.
Top services in JB: Things to get done here rather than in Singapore
- Give your wheels some TLC. Get your car washed, polished and jazzed up at a fraction of the price in Singapore.
- While the car is being dressed up, get a makeover yourself. Pay less for haircuts, styling, pedicures and manicures in JB.
- Plan a movie marathon in JB. Catch back to back shows and stay updated with all the action on the big screen.
- Are you a durian lover? Dig into top grade quality fruit at season time, and pack some to go!
- Looking to relax a little? Book yourself a massage!
Places to eat at in JB
- Tzyy Chinn recommends Ah Soon Bak Kut Teh. “I have been eating here since I was little. My father loves the food. I now bring my family here on every visit to JB.”
- Waraku Japanese Restaurant is another favourite. It has a number of branches in JB. Tzyy Chinn prefers the one on Mount Austin where you can belt out a few numbers in the complimentary KTV room as you are having your meal. “Treat yourself to good and cheap oyster and fresh raw sashimi sets here.”
- Chakra is another place for a great meal in JB; dig into delicious Indian cuisine at this restaurant located in a classic pre-war colonial house. Give the Mediterranean cuisine at Sweetwater Restaurant a try; or experiment with Italian at Gianni’s Trattoria.
Recommended hotels to stay in with kids
- Tzyy swears by the DoubleTree by Hilton JB, which is located a short 15-minute drive after you clear Woodlands immigration. The hotel is centrally located and is near the City Square, Komtar JBCC, Mount Austin and Taman Sentosa, and it helps that they serve yummy cookies and have a great breakfast buffet spread!
Here are some other hotels that you can look at while deciding where to drop anchor with the family in JB. LEGOLAND Malaysia is an absolute treat for the kids, so you might want to consider the LEGOLAND Hotel. Other options include Somerset Medini Iskandar Puteri and Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour (which is conveniently located near the Hello Kitty and Thomas Town theme park).
Tips and things to keep in mind when travelling to JB from Singapore:
- Self-drive is the best way to get around JB if you are travelling with family.
- A minimum of 3 days and 2 nights is the ideal stay duration for a trip to JB.
- You must park in lots that are near the entrance of shopping malls. These are brightly lit and safer, especially if you are travelling with kids.
- Buy a data SIM card for RM 3 a day or get data roaming on your SG phone plan. This comes in handy if the GPS fails.
- Download an app named ‘Beat the Jam’ to monitor causeway traffic.
- Store food and water in the car for kids in case of a jam on the causeway.
- Bring your own recyclable bag, especially if you are there over the weekend. Stores in JB do not give plastic bags for your purchases, and this is especially important if you intend to grocery shop.
- Use credit cards that still give you rewards when you travel overseas. For example, the Citi Cash Back Card continues to give you 8% cashback on your dining, groceries, Grab rides and petrol even in JB!
Are you a huge fan of Johor Bahru as well? Let us know your best tips!