Johor is the southern gateway to Malaysia, and in the past decade it has risen to prominence due to its growing economy. Its name is derived from the Arabic word ‘Jauhar’ meaning jewel, and it certainly has its share of cultural treasures.
Its capital, Johor Bahru is rife with a range of attractions, from its historical buildings and old-school bakery, to theme parks and modern shopping centres. Nature takes hold at the gazetted Endau-Rompin National Park, a treat for anyone who loves the great outdoors.
That is just scratching the surface of this beautiful state. Beyond the city are the charming small towns and idyllic villages, each offering a glimpse of authentic local life and local food.
There is no missing the second largest city in Malaysia on your trip to Johor. Graced by the likes of Sultan Ibrahim Building, Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque, LEGOLAND and Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park, there are activities here for every kind of traveller. Head to the Old Chinese Temple during Chingay to witness the grandest festival in the city.
Behind all the glitz of Johor Bahru is an old city with narrow alleyways and hidden gems. One such gem is Hiap Joo, the oldest and most traditional bakery in Johor. It is famous for its malt-flavoured pastries and fragrant banana cake, all baked in an over 100-year-old wood-fired oven. Most heritage tours in Johor Bahru would make a stop at this bakery!
Named after two rivers that run through it, Endau-Rompin National Park is a protected national park that contains some of the world’s oldest rainforests. Visitors often come to the park to indulge in adventurous packages, visit Orang Asli tribes, or trek to some of its magnificent waterfalls.
Bekok is a small village in Johor where you can still see old buildings from the 1980s and kopitiams frequented by locals enjoying cups of kopi. Tucked next to the national park, people often come here to escape the concrete jungle. City-goers can experience what it is like to live in a kampung, such as rubber tapping, visiting a farm, and stargazing. Durian is also plentiful in Bekok, which no doubt ses a surge of hungry visitors during the durian season.
Located in Kulai, the Rainforest Tree House is an eco-retreat that lets you sleep amidst the wilderness of the tropical rainforest. Furnished with basic facilities, the cooling water comes directly from the neighbouring Mount Pulai. You can enjoy outdoor activities, cook using wood fire and learn about nature conversation here.
Chee Ann Khor Fortune Dragon is a 107m fortune dragon and most significant landmark in the town of Yong Peng. Crafted with vividly coloured tiles, the inner hallway showcases paintings of Chinese cultural and religious teachings. According to folklore, entering a dragon through the head and exciting through its tail can bring a person good fortune.
The Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple is the first and only glass temple in Malaysia. Designed with coloured glass chips on the outside, and Hindu deities on the inside, many people come to visit this temple for worship or simply to admire the unique glass-like decoration.
Johor is the third largest state in Malaysia. With plenty of small town dotted across the state, you’ll need more than a few days to explore the rest of Johor’s jewels. Simpang Renggam is well-known for its pineapple plantations, while the Bat Town of Kluang reigns supreme when it comes to coffee. Muar is popular for its local food culture, and Pontian for its fishing village vibes. Along the railway, you can hop off at Bekok or Paloh, each with their own unique traditions.
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