Whether you are crossing the border from Singapore or heading down from Kuala Lumpur, there is always another reason to return to Johor. In and beyond the state capital of Johor Bahru, this Southern jewel is filled with attractions that are largely under the radar, each with their own distinct flavour of fun.
If you’re planning a trip to Johor, here are 11 lesser-known destinations for your next family vacation. Some may not be popular tourism sites yet, so it is recommended to join a tour led by a local who knows the ins and outs of the area.
1. Yong Peng
Fondly coined Little Fuzhou, Yong Peng had a large Fuzhou Chinese population back in the early days. This influence shows in its local cuisines, particularly the traditional noodles, bread, fermented red rice wine chicken and egg soup. Give these a try when you have the chance! In fact, you could take a step further into the local scene by visiting the noodle making factory, bakery and agricultural farms.
The dazzling centrepiece of Yong Peng is the Che Ann Khor Fortune Dragon, a colourful tiled structure that remains the longest fortune dragon in Southeast Asia.
Find an experience in Yong Peng:
A day in Yong Peng
This small village of Bekok is tucked at the entrance to the Endau Rompin National Park, a lush tropical rainforest popular among nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Within the town itself, the streets are adorned by quaint murals and local kopitiams. Check out the vintage knickknacks in its only museum, learn to do rubber tapping, visit Bekok’s first farm or watch the stars shine at night.
Bekok is also one of the up-and-coming villages in Malaysia, so you may want to pay it a visit before more people find out about it. You can get to Bekok by car or by train (roughly 4 hours from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore).
Paloh is located 30km from Yong Peng and a stop away by train from Bekok. It is a good stopover for travelers, but you can easily spend a day here exploring the old-world town.
Heritage buildings, an age-old theatre, and street art draw visitors to the three main streets. A walk along the Goddess of Mercy Road leads you to the town’s four ancient wells. Have a local to bring you around and you could even meet a local shoe maker at an over 90-year-old shoe shop.
Find an experience in Paloh:
Half Day Tour in Paloh
4. Rainforest Tree House
Imagine waking up in a treehouse, cradled by the sound of rustling leaves and the gentle breeze – such an idyllic sight! The Rainforest Tree House sits at the heart of Gunung Pulai Recreational Park, welcoming those who want a carefree retreat within nature.
Throughout the day, you can hike in the forest, swim in the waterfall or try bird-watching. By night, you can chill in the comfortable treehouse while taking in the beauty of the rainforest.
Find an experience at Rainforest Tree House:
Staying on a tree for 2D1N
5. Labis Sunrise Farm, Segamat
If the idea of living on a fruit farm and experiencing nature sounds great to you, plan a stay at the Labis Sunrise Farm, Segamat. This 150-acre hillside fruit farm doubles as a bed and breakfast with villa-style chalets, boasting golden twilights against the misty mountains and undulating greens.
A four-wheel drive takes you into the orchard, where you can understand the process of planting and harvesting a variety of tropical fruits – from jambu air (rose apple) to guava, jackfruit, watermelon and durians. And you get to taste them too, of course!
Find an experience at Labis Sunrise Farm:
2D1N Labis Sunrise Farm Package
It’s easy to mistake Kluang for Klang, since the century-old town had gone into decline at some point. Over the past few years, however, it is slowly reaffirming its place on the map thanks to the organic farms, jungle trekking routes, the imposing Gunung Lombak and signature coffee. Be sure to try the town’s coffee at Kluang Rail Coffee at the Kluang station.
For a local insight of Kluang’s food culture, you can join a day tour that takes you behind the scenes of all its famous products, including the coffee and handmade bean paste pastry.
Find an experience in Kluang:
Local Food Tours Around Kluang
7. Simpang Renggam
Within the district of Kluang, the once sleepy town of Simpang Renggam has been awaken by the construction of the North-South Road. Most people come here to see the 6,500-acre pineapple plantation, which turns into a spectacular affair during sunset.
Apart from learning about its planting and harvesting methods, those with a liking for this tangy fruit can try the pineapple nasi lemak and pineapple fried noodles.
Related article: 21 places in Malaysia to bring the family during the school holidays
8. KOREF Eco Farm & Endou Rompin
Roughly 6km from Kahang Town, KOREF Eco Farm Resort attracts nature lovers with its picturesque lakeside chalets and eco facilities. You get to experience the simple life in a farm through activities like rice farming and fishing.
Want your family to take part too? There is bamboo rafting, jungle trekking, cycling and fireflies watching along Sungai Tambang.
Wrapped by Malay legends and folktales, the royal town of Muar remains one of Malaysia’s historically intriguing towns. Dating beyond the era of the Malacca Sultanate, the town centre is a cultural convergence of pre-war buildings, religious structures and low-key kopitiams.
20 minutes away, the liveliness of Muar juxtaposes with the relaxing ambience of Parit Jawa. Within this classic fishing village, the locals relish their simple life, untouched by urbanity. It is a passageway for migratory birds, so photographers tend to flock here during high season from June to August as well.
10. Sungai Temon
Located at the southern end of Johor, Kampung Sungai Temon is a fishing village inhabited by the Orang Seletar, one of the 18 Orang Asli groups in Peninsular Malaysia. Sungai Temon consists of different wetlands such as rivers, mangrove forests and estuaries.
Their primary source of livelihood is the fishing industry, so if you do join a tour to Sungai Temon, you will have the opportunity to learn shell harvesting.
Find an experience in Kampung Sungai Temon:
Sungai Temon Mangrove Eco Day Trip
11. Pulau Rahsia
If you enjoy trips to the beach, this secret island is an ideal getaway for you in Johor. If you decide to join this 2D1N private island getaway, you can spend a night at the beach, enjoy the sunset and snorkel in the ocean.
Find an experience in Pulau Rahsia:
Chill and Rest at Pulau Rahsia [The Secret Island]