- Johor Bahru & Nearby: Cheap things to do with Kids Part 1 – Forest City, Kukup, Pontian.
- Johor Bahru & Nearby: Cheap things to do with Kids Part 2 – Kluang
- Johor Bahru & Nearby: Cheap things to do with Kids Part 3 – Batu Pahat, Yong Peng
- Johor Bahru & Nearby: Cheap things to do with Kids Part 4 (Dim Sum, Durian, Porridge, Chee Cheong Fun)
Johor Bahru & nearby: Cheap things to do with Kids Part 1
Johor Bahru is an multi-hyphenate destination in Malaysia. It has shopping, eating, city, nature, new towns and old towns within a short drive.
We planned a relatively relaxed family trip over the weekend to Johor Bahru and the South-western part of Johor.
Apps we used to get to Johor Bahru:
1. Booking.com – for a condo apartment (with swimming pool and playground located across the road from Paradigm Mall, one of the newest malls in Johor Bahru)
3. Grab – for transport when we didn’t want to drive out because Paradigm Mall’s carpark is apparently a driver’s nightmare
4. Google maps – to search for places of interest, save the best ones and navigate the roads in Johor
5. Qoo10 – to buy a Malaysian international SIM card
So where did we go?
The causeway usually jams up earlier than Tuas Second Link, so we planned to travel by Second Link and arrange to visit nearby attractions.
Forest City (30 min-1h drive from Johor Bahru)
It was by chance when exploring Google maps that we stumbled upon Forest City having a free water playground and swimming pools.
Forest City is also super near Second Link so we went straight there after clearing the Malaysian customs.
There is an international school and some kind of a wetland park. Just drive straight in and follow the signs to the carpark. Once in the carpark just park as far in as possible where you see an air-conditioned lobby.
Parking was free and we walked towards the seafront to look for the water playground.
If you and your child plan to swim at the water playground or swimming pool, you’ll have to approach the counter next to the toilets/shower inside the shopping mall to get your ticket (adult RM4, child RM2).
If you just plan to walk around, you don’t need a pass (but all these are subject to change).
Kids can play at a dry playground.
There is a watersports centre at the swimming pool.
You can also walk to the beach and take photos with the various installations.
There wasn’t much shopping here when we visited. There was a popup booth selling swimwear and water-related accessories.
For eating/food, there aren’t a lot of choices but we saw a cafe, MarryBrown and a bird’s nest company selling products.
2. Kukup (1.5-2h drive from Johor Bahru)
We didn’t have much time at Kukup so we decided to make a quick pitstop to see what we could do.
The weather was also super hot so we weren’t keen on walking through the small lanes to see Kukup Laut Village.
A note to people driving to Kukup. If you don’t want to pay RM10 for parking at private carparks, you have another option to park at properly marked parking lots (with white diagonal paint lines) around this shopping area.
DO NOT attempt to park the parallel parking along the main Kukup road as you may end up getting fined especially if you’re driving a Singapore-registered car.
We walked to the ferry terminal to enquire how to take a local ferry to Pulau Kukup.
It turns out that you have to walk along a side walkway on the right side of the ferry terminal (if you’re facing the entrance of the ferry terminal) until you reach an unmarked docking point of the local ferries.
Sometimes the local ferry will detour to pick tourists up from several homestays and send them back to the main docking point before proceeding to Pulau Kukup. The ferry ride costs RM5 per person.
Do take down the contact number of the ferry operator especially during low seasons or timings such as weekdays or weekend afternoons as the frequency of service may not be as regular.
Once you have finished walking through the mangrove park you can contact the ferry operator to inform him you would like to take his ferry back to the mainland.
We spent about an hour or so walking through Pulau Kukup Johor National Park.
Entrance fees for foreigners are RM20 (adult) and RM10 (child aged 6 to below 17 years old, and seniors over 60 years old). Malaysians pay RM5 and RM3 respectively.
It is free for children below 6 years old.
The park is open from 9am to 5pm with the last entry at 4pm.
There are no cafes on Pulau Kukup so bring your own water and food, but beware of the monkeys. We chose to have a quick bite at the top of the mangrove tower where the views and wind were great.
There is one toilet near the mangrove tower but it may not be working so try to visit the toilet near the mangrove park entrance instead.
You can enjoy a nice drink and some food at mainland Kukup itself. There are several coffee shops along the main Kukup road. However, we didn’t visit any of them as we were saving our stomach for the famous eggs, toast and coffee in Pontian!
3. Pontian Kechil (1h drive from Johor Bahru)
Pontian Kechil is a town that you can visit on the way to Kukup.
There are several famous Pontian wantan noodles and roast meat destinations there, plus a few supermarkets which are apparently cheaper than those in Johor Bahru.
This is my favourite Pontian food reference blogpost with Google map markers included.
We were so hot and hungry, we didn’t even bother taking photos of the food at Kheng Guan Hiong kopitiam. The eggs and coffee are amazing, and we had seconds for the kaya toast.
The only photo I have to share with you is the price list.
We also wanted to visit Noah’s Ark Sanctuary which requires a prior appointment. However when we enquired, the sanctuary would not be open, so we may plan a trip there next time.
Things to pack
These are some things we packed for our road trip besides our passports, ringgit, clothes and toiletries.
- Water bottles (as the weather is very hot)
- Insect repellent and/or mosquito patches
- Plastic bags to store extra food or as a temporary rubbish bag
- Touch N Go card
- Car sunshade
- S hooks because you never know when you need them