Today, Johor Bahru (or JB as it is known among locals) is a fast-growing manufacturing, financial and tourism hub.

Yet this modern city has never lost its unique charm and cultural character.

Marvel at an iconic landmark

Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque is one of the most architecturally unique structures in the country.

Perched on a hill overlooking the Straits of Johor, this beautiful mosque, with its distinctive architecture, was constructed between 1892 and 1900.

Built under the direction of Sultan Abu Bakar, the mosque mirrored his fondness for England, with Victorian design fusing seamlessly with Moorish and Malay elements.

Hailed as the Father of Modern Johor, the sultan spared no expense on building the mosque for his subjects.

Its interior is as majestic as its exterior, with grand Roman columns, a palatial minbar from Turkey, Italian marble floors and opulent chandeliers from Czechoslovakia.

Explore the old streets

Encompassing the neighbourhoods of Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Jalan Ibrahim, Jalan Trus and Jalan Dhoby, Johor Bahru Old Town is the cultural heart of the city.

Many of the British colonial era shophouses that line these streets have been converted into chic cafes, museums, art spaces and kopitiam (coffee shops) serving heritage eats.

Snap a selfie in front of a street mural or learn about the city’s Chinese community at the Johor Bahru Chinese Heritage Museum.

Foodies can gorge on traditional Hainanese fare at Hua Mui, grab Bengali puffs at the 84-year-old Salahuddin Bakery or snack on banana cakes and other pastries from the century-old Hiap Joo Bakery.

Get enlightened

Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple is said to be the first and only Hindu temple in the world to be made out of glass.

Inspired by the glittering facade of Bangkok’s many temples, chief priest Sri Sinnathamby Sivasamy transformed the humble temple built in 1922 into a fascinating structure.

Large chandeliers within the temple reflect the dazzling sparkle of over 300,000 pieces of multi-coloured glass that deck the temple’s interior.

It is also the only Hindu temple in Malaysia that’s adorned with 300,000 pieces of Rudraksha beads brought in from Nepal.

But it isn’t just the embellishments that make this place of worship one of a kind.

This Hindu temple is also a symbol of religious unity and harmony, with white marble statues of the Buddha, Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, Sai Baba and Mother Teresa dotting its grounds.

Get up close with nature

Johor’s hilly terrain attracts avid hikers of all levels, and a great option for a day trip is a trek up Mount Pulai.

Sitting just over an hour’s drive away from Johor Bahru, Mount Pulai is considered one of the state’s best and most accessible treks.

Hikers favour this 654-metre high mountain for its lush surroundings that abound in towering, centuries-old trees, wild ferns and pitcher plants, among others.

There are also a few cascading waterfalls along the trek, perfect for a quick dip if you need to cool off.

And since Mount Pulai encompasses 80 square kilometers of vast forest reserve, you might even catch a glimpse of monkeys and gibbons.

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