Attractions near to Johor Bahru are varied and it is worth getting out when you tire of the city. The most obvious nearby attraction is Singapore. It is very close and an absolute must if you have never been, or even for those who have already visited before, since it is constantly evolving.
Also nearby is the town of Kota Tinggi, amidst its charming surroundings, and the coastal towns of both Desaru and Kukup – located to the east and west respectively. In addition, Johor Bahru also has many golf courses or you can take a cruise of the bay.
Going for a cruise around Danga Bay is a good way of escaping the city and seeing it from the water. There are a couple of options – including a speedboat from the Marina Club to the Causeway and back every hour, and the triple-deck cruise ship trip. The latter is known as the Danga Cruise 8 and takes in the Straits of Johor, whilst offering a buffet dinner.
Desaru lies on the coast in south-eastern Johor and is a popular day trip place. This resort boasts a wide beach with shallow water that is good for swimming, as well as several hotels. The public beach also offers some surf in season. Further attractions in the area include the family friendly Desaru Fruit Farm, as well as Ostrich Wonderland and a fishing museum, which is known locally as the Muzium Nelayan.
Endau Rompin National Park
Endau Rompin National Park lies on the border of Pahang and Johor, where it covers an area of almost 900 km² (350 mi²). Boasting some of Malaysia's most ancient lowland forests, the park is home to some rare wildlife attractions, such as the Sumatran rhino, as well as a small population of tigers. However, you are more likely to see exotic birds as you trek, such as jungle fowl and hornbills. Most visitors come here as part of a formal excursion package, although if you have camping equipment, it is possible to arrange your own visit and itinerary. Notable hiking trails include those leading to the Kuala Barat Plateau and the Buaya Sangkut Falls.
Gunung Ledang National Park
Gunung Ledang National Park provides a real escape to nature and is rather dominated by Mount Ophir, which is generally referred to by the Malaysians as the 'Gunung Ledang'. This giant mountain measures in at just over 1,275 m (4,183 ft) in height and its jungle slopes feature a number of scenic treks and waterfalls. The park has a small entrance fee, as well as an additional charge for hiking. Of note, at the base of Mount Ophir is a camping site with basic facilities.
Kota Tinggi is 40 km (25 mi) north of Johor Bahru and although the town is nothing special, it resides near intriguing scenery. The Kota Tinggi Museum is a favoured cultural attraction and the waterfall in the Lombong area is particularly popular, and you can also get on a cruise of the mangroves from the town. Just north of Kota Tinggi is the Gunung Panti Recreational Forest, which has excellent walking and rock climbing.
The traditional seaside water village of Kukup is located off to the south-west of Johor Bahru, on the Strait of Melaka, being just over an hour away by car. The main attraction of Kukup comes in the form of seafood restaurants, which are traditional eateries perched on stilts over the water, serving tasty crab and prawn dishes. The food is delicious, although Kukup does get busy with tour groups from Johor, Singapore, and Tanjung Balai in Indonesia.
The relaxed riverside town of Muar is known for its Chinatown atmosphere and elegant colonial district, where a number of interesting sights reside, such as both the Courthouse and the Customs House. The Masjid Jamek Mosque is also in this part of town and dates back to 1914. Muar is well connected by buses, which travel here in approximately two and a half hours.
Singapore is the main reason people ever see Johor Bahru in the first place. The super-modern city-state is just across the water (Straits of Johor) and couldn't be more different. It is the quintessential Asian tiger, with glitzy shopping malls, spotless streets and numerous attractions, and offers some of the world's best shopping and hotels.