The most significant city in southern mainland Malaysia, Johor has a diverse range of adventures on tap for those who are willing to step off of the beaten path. There is a handful of moderate mountain hikes, proximity to some alluring island locales, rainforest waterfalls, and a chance to encounter the gamut of Malaysian wildlife. So what if Johor Bahru is that less attractive half sister to the lovely Singapore, one of the world's most incredible international cities? That doesn't mean you have to settle for sulking in your hotel room the whole time.
Most people who find themselves in Johor Bahru are either there on business or are taking a day trip from the exceedingly popular destination across Johor Strait, Singapore. The thing is that you'll have plenty to get you out and traveling if you choose to make Johor Bahru your temporary home base. In town there are a few great parks, including Taman Merdeka and Taman Rekreasi Hutan Bandar. Taman Merdeka is your usual public park surrounding a lake, with a few monuments and some open space for recreation, while Taman Rekreasi Hutan Bandar is much larger, containing numerous lakes and some natural rainforest just outside of the city.
For hikers and climbers, there are a number of recreational areas within a day trip of Johor Bahru. There are forested areas around modest hills like Gunung Belumut and Gunung Lambak near Kluang, and treks that are somewhat lengthier up mountains like Gunung Panti and Gunung Pulai. All of these rainforest areas have a great range of animal species (monkeys, elephants, and more), but the best park to explore within a manageable distance to Johor Bahru is Endau-Rompin. Volcanically created waterfalls, rare frogs, and indigenous peoples all share the same forest space, making it a premiere adventure spot.
Then again, an island getaway is at the top of many a bucket list; cross it off when you head to Pulau Tinggi, Pulau Aur, Pulau Tioman, Pulau Sibu, and Pulau Besar; all of these may be accessed from the east coast port of Mersing. Although they vary by resident population and tourist popularity, all of these islands are great for scuba diving and snorkeling, as well as the usual umbrella in the sand. Tioman is arguably the most famous, ever since it was labeled one of the most beautiful places on Earth by Time magazine way back in the 70's. For someone looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience though, we suggest the diminutive Pulau Rawa or the aquatic adventures of Pulau Sibu. For further information, take a look their dedicated activity pages.
There are also hot springs like Pekan Air Panas (just northwest of Johor Bahru) and Sungai Gersik (up the west coast), lengthy stretches of palm tree-laden sand (Pantai Desaru on the east coast), and the southernmost point in Eurasia (Tanjung Piai). If you'd like to know more, look through our adventure activities listings; who knows, Johor Bahru may surprise you in becoming your next sought after destination.