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Johor - Malaysia

Local diet resembles the location

Johor is one of Malaysia's thirteen states. It is located on the southern tip of the East Malaysian Peninsula. Johor has land borders to three other Malaysian states; namely Pahang to the north, Malacca and Negeri Sembilan to the northwest. In the south the Straits of Johor form a natural border to the nearby Republic of Singapore. In addition the state shares two maritime borders with Indonesian territory. Johor is also known by its Arabic name, Darul Ta'zim ("Abode of Dignity").

Etymology

The name "Johor" is said to originate in the arabic word "Jauhar" which means "gem" or "jewel". Yet before this name change the area was known as "Ujong Tanah" ("land's end") which was pretty befitting as Johor is indeed the southernmost point of the asian continental mainland.

History

Johors history is pretty boldly influenced by the Sultanate of Johor which was established in the early 16th century. After being defeated by the Portuguese in 1511, Alauddin Riayat Shah of the former Malacca empire retreated inland and established a monarchy in what is today Johor.
Over the coming centuries there were clashes with the Portuguese and treaties with the Dutch until in 1885 a treaty between Johor, Singapore and Britain aknowledged the ruler of Johor as Sultan.
During the time of the second World War, Johor's capital, Johor Bahru was the last Malaysian city to fall to the Japanese invaders after a four day skirmish known as the "Battle of Gemas".
Even though the war swept through the area, Johor is Malaysia's second most populated state by today. It also is among the country's top producers of rubber and palm oil since about 1900.

People and Beliefs

Modern day shopping street in Johor's capital, Johor Bahru

There are now roughly 3.3 million people living in Johor. This workforce and the proximity to Singapore have helped to transform Johor into the industrial and transportation hub it is today. This bustling development also attracted illegal immigrants over the years and so Johor has a wide mix of Malays, Indonesians, Philippinos, Vietnamese, Burmese, Bangladeshi, Indians, Pakistanis, and Chinese.

At current the population of Johor is roughly 60% Muslim, 30% Buddhist, 6% Hindu, 3% Christians and 1.3% Taoist with the rest follwing either other religions or being non-religious.

Geography and Climate

Johor is the 5th largest Malaysian state, covering a land area of 19,210 km2. This includes the eight large islands along the coast of Johor: Pulau Aur, Pulau Besar, Pulau Dayang, Pulau Lima, Pulau Pemanggil, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Sibu, Pulau Tengah and Pulau Tinggi. The states coastline on the western and eastern Malaysian sides is about 400km on both sides. The landscape is mostly flat with the highest peak of Johor reaching 1276 metres (Gunung Ledang).

As it's proximity to the equator leads to believe, Johor features a tropical rainforest climate dominated by the two Monsoon seasons.The temperature averages between 26° and 28° Celsius with a permanent humidity of about 82-86%. Rainfall averages 1770mm per year.

Things to do in Johor

Take a trip to Singapore

Johors excellent connection to Singapore provides easy access for day-trips or longer holidays. Two roads and a railway line stretch over the Straits of Johor towards the mighty city of Singapore.
Be advised to buy your needed back-and-forth tickets in Johor, as the prices will change to Singapore Dollar once you cross the border - yet the number will stay same.
Example: Should you pay 23 RM for the trip to Singapore by train - the same ticket in reverse will set you back 23 Singapore Dollar if purchased in Singapore. An easy way to save on your budget.

Have a culture day in Johor Bahru

Not that this is the oldest place in Johor, nor the one with the most history, it's just awefully convenient to jet around Johor Bahru. You will get a fair share of culture, shopping, sightseeing and culinary pleasures while touring the streets of Johor Bahru.
Read more about Johor Bahru

Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque

Constructed between 1892 and 1900 this is Johors state Mosque. It is located in Johor Bahru and features the unique construction style of English Victorian architecture. The Mosques minarets will remind you of 19th. century british clocktowers rather than a Muslim house of worship.

Tebrau – Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple

The world's first Hindu glass temple. Originally constructed in 1922, a later chairman of the temple was responsible for it's reconstruction during the 90's into an artwork of intricate glass details. Inspired by a buddhist temple in Bangkok, the rebuilding Guru wanted a similar attraction for the worshippers at the temple he was responsible for.
And sure enough, since the rebuild the temple has become on the major tourist attractions in Johor.

Endau Rompin National Park

Located in the northeast of Johor and continueing into the state of Pahang this national park is the second largest within Malaysia (870km2). The park houses some of the oldest rainforest on earth and it's rock formations are almost 250 million years old. This will almost certainly be the most pristine piece of rainforest that you will ever be able to admire. The park has been established in 1993 and is governed by the Johor Park Corperation. However, the efforts to protect the forest in this area reach back to 1933. The endangered Sumatra rhinoceros can be found in this park and was also a major help in obtaining the national park status as discourse between governmental bodies delayed the project.

Kota Tinggi

Kota Tinggi is the town in which the Sultanate of Johor was originally established. Old tombs remind of the long gone past. About sixteen kilometres north of the town you will find the Kota Tinggi waterfalls. The falls are 36 metres deep and the pools at their bottom allow swimming. The nature may not be as unspoiled as in other places due to resort development in the area, yet this means convenience for visitors.

Tangkak

Tangkak is the district capital of Ledang (which is something like a subdistrict within Johor). Located at Johor's western outskirts it is just a few kilometres towards Malacca. One possible reason why you probably come by here is to climb the moutain Gunung Ledang. Others include the legendary Tangkak beef noodles, the many fabric shops and their unbeatable prices and the popular climbing mountain Gunung Ledang just an hours drive from the city.

Gunung Ledang

Also known as Mount Ophir this moutain stands at 1276 metres tall and is a popular climbing destination for amateurs just 17 kilometres outside of Tangkak. A long clear trail leads up to the moutains peak, making this the probably most frequently climbed moutain in Malaysia. A waterfall allows for a quick swim or cooling off (Ayer Panas Waterfall). The mountain also has a legend to it about a magical pricess which is said to reside in the mountain. She is said to have been forced into becoming the Sultans wife and thus set seven impossible conditions as her means of rejection. There are many versions about how the story played out, but they all have in common that the Sultan ruined Mallaca in trying to the demanded gifts instead of reading the objection between the lines.
Gunung Ledang is found in the northwest of Johor surrounded by the Gunung Ledang National Park.

Ayer Panas Waterfall

Running from the moutain of Gunung Ledang this waterfall invites you to refresh in the crystal clear waters.

Legoland Malaysia

This was not only the first of its kind theme park that opened in Malaysia, it was the first international park to open in the whole of Malaysia. Legoland Malaysia is situated in the Nusa Cemerlang industrial park in the city of Nusajaya in Johor. The park features Lego themed attractions on half a million square metres and is open throughout the whole year.
Prices are around 200 RM for adults and 160 RM for children. Restricted access passes are also available at a discounted rate. You may also check their website for current offers as they grant discounts for online bookings.

Hello Kitty Town

Well what to say? This is actually the first Hello Kitty Town outside of Japan. Though strangely lacking any kind of tentacle porn. Just a feeling of obligation to mention this theme park here.

Angry Bird Theme Park

And now, the next extreme. A theme park modelled after one of the most successfull video games of all times. And no we're not talking Tetris - that's Legoland. Also not Minecraft. That's Legoland too. And surely not World of Warcraft, that's probably also Legoland. But Angry Birds!
With 12 million copies this game has earned a decent 4th place in the all-time mobile game statistics and now you can visit a place that looks just like it and buy things that are just like it and do a lot of activities that have nothing to do with it whatsoever but look like incredible fun for kids.
The theme park is located in the Bukit Chagar district in Johor Bahru and opens daily from 10am to 10pm.

Pulau Kukus

A piece of unspoiled beauty, even used in swedish television, this island is the depiction of what most of us picture as tropical dreamland. Gradually sloping white sandy beaches allow watery fun to every age and snorkel experieces the farther you go out. Lush vegetation allows for plenty of shade to rest and local tour companies will arange for your transportation. The island is located about 10 kilometres southwest of Pulau Tinggi and 10 kilometres of the Malysian peninsula's east coast.

Pulau Dayang

Pulau Dayang is a mjor diving attraction in the area. Sixty kilometres of the east coast of Johor it is reachable from Malaysia as well as Singapore. Whales, sharks and rays of various kinds can be seen here at lots of geographically differing dive sites. Dive courses are offered here so beginners to prefessionals are welcome.

Kukup

Kukup is one of Johors fast growing port towns on the western coast. It's charme is mainly due to the older parts of town which are still built on stilts over the river delta. Many good seafood restaurants are said to reside here and the town is particularly famous among tourists from Singapore. Having said that, just avoid the weekends and it should not be too crowded.

Danga Bay

Danga Bay is the largest recreational park area in Johor's capital Johor Bahru. Twentyfive filometres of scenic waterfront property were converted into the largest residential-commercial development in Johor. Danga Bay is located in Istana Bukit Serene district of Johor Bahru.

Seribuat Archipelago

A beautyfull group of 60+ islands allowing for excellent dives. During the monsoon (Nov.-Dec.) the ferry connection may be interupted as the sea gets quite rough. Be advised that the archipelago is is a declared marine reserve area and you will need to pay an entry fee at the ferry access point in Mersing.
The largest of the islands is Tioman island which features plenty of accommodation and dive offers.

Tanjung Piai

This is the southernmost point of the Malaysian peninsula and the asian mainland. Singapores skyline may be observed from here across the Starits of Johor.