Located at the southern tip of the Peninsular, Johor has always been considered a stopover state for most Malaysians travelling to and from Singapore. Due to its close proximity to its neighbouring country, Johor is perhaps most popular among Singaporeans as it is the nearest for them to travel for their leisure breaks and shopping escapades. While Johor may be considered by many to be an industrialised and rapidly growing state instead of a tourist destination, one might just be pleasantly surprised with the wide range of attractions it has to offer. From the exciting hustle and bustle of the city life, historical and architectural landmarks, natural attractions, to the beautiful remote islands in the South China Sea, Johor promises a whole new and exciting travel experience every time you visit!
Island Paradise in the South China Sea
While Malaysia boasts of many beautiful islands and pristine beaches in other states such as Pulau Pangkor, Pulau Tioman, and Pulau Langkawi, many have forgotten the beautiful remote islands by the South China Sea such as the Sibu Island. This unspoilt paradise with fringing coral reefs and white sandy beaches is the ultimate island destination for travellers seeking a peaceful and relaxing holiday in solitude.
Sibu Island forms part of the Seribuat chain of islands, and is located 12 kilometres off the east coast of the West Peninsular of Malaysia. Made up of a chain of other islands such as Pulau Sibu Besar, Pulau Sibu Tengah, Pulau Sibu Hujung, Pulau Kukus, and Pulau Tinggi, this Sibu archipelago shares the same magical charm as all the other celebrated islands in Malaysia.
Being rich in marine life and beautiful fringing coral reefs makes this island an excellent spot for scuba diving and snorkelling excursions. Other activities that can be enjoyed on the island includes angling and water sports such as canoeing, windsurfing, sailing, yachting, cruising and island hopping. For nature lovers, there are pathways for jungle trekking as well as pathways that lead to the nearby fishing villages on the island. Sibu Island is also especially popular for its abundance of lush tropical vegetation, untouched nature and exotic bird population.
Trekking the Legendary Mountain – Gunung Ledang
Even before the film ‘Puteri Gunung Ledang’ became a blockbuster hit in Malaysian cinemas, Gunung Ledang or otherwise known as Mount Ophir has long been hailed as one of the most popular attractions in Johor. This legendary mountain is most famous for its challenging mountain trails, cascading icy waterfalls, amazing flora and fauna and diverse bird population aside from the mysticism, folklore and legends that have been talked about for generations.
Gunung Ledang is suitable for beginners who want to experience mountain climbing in Malaysia. Because the place is so accessible, most climbing groups have often opted to use this mountain as their training ground for more challenging routes in other mountains. Although trekkers need not be specially trained or skilled to be able to climb this mountain, the trail up to the summit is physically demanding nevertheless. Trekkers need to be in a very fit and healthy condition as it takes at least 12 hours to reach the summit.
The trail from Johor begins near Sagil village beside a cascade of waterfall within the grounds of the Gunung Ledang Resort. Along the way, trekkers will be treated to rich and exotic wildlife, beautiful waterfalls, picnic base and campsites for you to rest and relax while enjoying nature before continuing the climb up the summit.
Vision City of the South – Danga Bay
Danga Bay started off as a project by a local real estate company to transform the bay into becoming Malaysia’s premier integrated waterfront city. With a spread of over 1, 850 acres and 25km of waterfront, the bay utilizes the waterways at the mouth of Sungai Skudai, Sungai Danga and Sungai Melayu and straits that separates Johor from Singapore. This integrated development became the perfect setting to encompass residential, commercial, recreational and social amenities designed to become a city within a city. It is for this reason that the bay has often been coined as being the ‘Vision City of the South’.
The Danga Bay Recreational Park, the largest in the city is also fast becoming the most popular tourist destination and a ‘must see’ attraction in the state. Danga Bay offers visitors a variety of activities and things to see and do. It is the venue for many interesting events such as concerts and other festivals making it one of the most exciting places to visit in the city.
Danga Bay also offers visitors a vast range of mouth-watering cuisines from Malaysian to Thai, Italian, Japanese and Chinese food in the many restaurants and food courts available at the park. After a sumptuous meal, take a leisurely walk along Lido walk while enjoying the nice sea breeze coming from the bay. Alternatively, you can also opt for the Tram ride which operates every 8 to 10 minutes taking visitors to places of interest around the park area. For those who enjoy water sports, the bay also offers a variety of rides such as Jet Ski, banana boat, kayaking, water skiing and knee boarding.
The attractions that are mentioned in this article are merely just a piece of the big pie on what Johor truly has to offer as a potential tourist destination. For those with a thirst for nature and adventurous at heart, there are just so many beautiful islands and attractions in the state still waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. With the perception of Johor being more of a busy metropolitan and industrialised state instead of a potential tourist destination, Johor certainly deserves more credit than it is getting.