Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple
Explore the city’s heritage through the old town, where you’ll find the Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple, a Hindu temple that’s decorated with glass both inside and out.
On sunny days, light plays with the glass and splashes across the temple in an ethereal, charming way.
Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple
Around Chinese New Year, every year, celebration and cheer fill the streets around the Johor Bahru Chinese Temple as people gather for the Chingay Parade, which involvoes cultural performances like lion dances, martial arts troupes and more.
Ashoka Curry House
For lunch, fill up at the popular Ashoka Curry House, which specialises in indian dishes like mutton varuval (mutton stir-fried with chilli and spices) — and serves them on banana leaves.
After 8pm, brave the crowd in the massive maze of stalls at Pasar Karat to uncover quirky bits and bobs, fashion deals, second-hand antiques and more.
Translating loosely to “rusty market”, it’s not only a must-go for retro and second-hand goods, but also street snacks, souvenirs and more.
Restoran Todak (Orang Asli)
Or, tuck in to tze-char (cooked-to-order) faves like butter crayfish and salted egg yolk crabs at Restoran Todak.
Complete with a scenic view of the ocean!
Taman Sri Tebrau Hawker Centre
Alternatively, nearer to the city centre, Taman Sri Tebrau Hawker Centre is best for dishes like sambal stingray and bak kut teh.
Now that you’ve had your fill, spend the day at Legoland Malaysia, where you can race in special LEGO cars and zoom down water slides in a log boat.
Zenxin Organic Park
Or, your the Zenxin Organic Park, the largest open-to-public organic farm in Malaysia.
Here, join the “be an organic farmer” programme to cultivate your green hands, or feed the cuddly animals and go fishing in the farm’s special, old-time drain.
The Replacement Lodge & Kitchen
The cafe scene in Johor Bahru is showing no signs of stopping.
You’ll love the cafe cluster around the hipster Jalan Dhoby, including minimalist cafe The Replacement Lodge & Kitchen.
Don’t be surprised if you run into tons of hungry Singaporeans here.
Sugar On Top
Away from the crowd but worth the travel: Asian fusion cafe Sugar on Top.
Come for the creative mains like the rich Mentaiko Spaghetti, and stay for the mind-blowing lava cakes.
You’ll love Eco-Shop, where everything, from snacks to toys and household items, goes for RM$2 — that’s S$0.65!
Johor Premium Outlets
With that money you’ve saved, splash out — but not too much — on designer threads at discount prices at Johor Premium Outlets, which houses the factory stores of Burberry, Levi’s and more.
Johor Premium Outlets also offer Shop & Stay packages at their nearby partner hotels.
Still hungry? Nosh on cheap lok lok (skewers of boiled meats, seafood and vegetables) from vans stationed along the streets till late.
Dip them into the addictive satay sauce.
And after all that action, don’t leave Johor Bahru without indulging in a Thai massage at the 24-hour Bangkok Spa.
Tip: Book ahead even if you’re planning to visit in the wee hours of, say, 1am.
They’re that popular.
Get a new look
Why settle for a basic snip in the most expensive city to live in, when you can be treated like royalty for a fraction of the price in JB?
While you’re there, you can make your Princess Diaries dreams come true and go for the whole makeover shebang.
Yes, we’re talking nails, eyelashes and the works. There’s no lack of grooming centres near the Causeway so stretch your dollar by getting it done there instead.
Pimp your ride
If you’re not afraid of driving into JB instead of taking public transport, consider getting a makeover for your ride while you’re having one yourself.
A quick paint touch-up? Or perhaps a simple wash and polish? It’ll be much cheaper to get one done in JB compared to Singapore, at least in my experience.
That being said, we’re not outright recommending you do repair or maintenance services to your car in case you break your warranty. Nor are we condoning illegal modifications to make your car go faster or “look better”.
Stay on the correct side of the law, people.
Watch a cheap movie
Hate getting stuck in the Causeway jam back to Singapore? Us too.
Here’s a trick a friend taught me to get around it.
Instead of waiting it out and torturing your bladder, catch a late night movie instead and snooze comfortably in the cinema while the checkpoint line dissipates.
Movie tickets at City Square Mall’s mmCineplexes go as cheap as RM6 (S$2) if they’re on promotion and weekend prices for shows are almost the same as weekday prices in Singapore.
Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park
Ready for an adventure with friends that won’t break your bank?
Less than half an hour away from Woodlands checkpoint is a three-in-one adventure park that will satisfy even the biggest thrill seekers.
Say yes to giant water slides, a suspended obstacle course (with 51 elements!), a trampoline park, an ice-skating rink and even a drift cart race course at Austin Heights Water and Adventure Park.
O.L.A Park Tebrau
Looking to relieve some stress and address some grievances between friends? What about letting it all out over a little paintball competition?
Next time your boss suggests a team-building activity, try O.L.A Park Tebrau. Choose from a ton of activities including paintball, orbing, archery and more at this outdoorsy adventure park.
IKEA Tebrau City
Unleash your inner domestic goddess at the biggest Ikea store in South-east Asia, which opened last November in Tebrau, Johor Baru.
Spanning 502,815 sq ft, the store has 54 Swedish-inspired showrooms and sells about 8,000 types of Swedish home furnishings.
Some items found there are also sold at a lower price than in Singapore.
The store does not offer delivery to Singapore, so Singaporeans who want to shop there will have to transport the items back home by themselves.
This story was updated on August 3, 2019.