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Family-friendly Guide to JB: Things To Do, JB Hotels & Best Cafes

things to do in jb
TravelPost Category - TravelTravel

Planning a trip to Johor Bahru, Malaysia with the kids? Here are all the best things to do in JB, from visiting Austin Heights Adventure Park and dog cafes in Mount Austin to the best family JB hotels, and tips for the journey from Singapore to JB

There are so many fun things to do in Johor Bahru (JB) with kids that it’s no wonder so many families head here for the school holidays or for a long weekend! Plus the ease of getting to JB from Singapore (if you time it right!) feels almost like a staycation. Add in the enticing exchange rate and amazing food scene and you’ll want to make getaways to JB a regular thing. But toss a baby into the equation, and suddenly, what should be a breeze can feel like a puzzle. Think extra baggage, fretting over potential diaper dilemmas at customs (or worse, in the middle of a traffic jam!), not to mention battling the heat and all its associated irritations.

Our recent 2D1N excursion to JB with our 5-month-old was nothing short of an adventure! If you’re gearing up for a similar journey with your little one – we’ve got you covered with an authentic, tried-and-tested guide to JB. From accessible, family-friendly things to do in JB to must-eat local delights and hip JB cafes, consider this your roadmap to fuss-free travels in JB with your kids in tow.

Read more: Desaru Coast Family Travel Guide: Things to Do, Where to Stay & What to Eat

Things to do in JB with kids

Water parks in JB

things to do in jb
Image credit: Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast

Water parks such as Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park and Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast are great for beating the heat. While they are a bit of a drive if you’re residing in JB city centre, these parks house a whole load of activities for big and small kids, easily making up for your long ride.

Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park, 10am – 6pm (Thursday – Monday), 71, Jalan Austin Heights 8/1, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, website

Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast, 10am – 6pm (Wednesday – Monday) 82200 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia, website

Indoor playground in JB: Kidz Republic in Komtar JBCC

things to do in jbkidz republic
Image credit: Kidz Republic via Facebook

For families not wanting to travel far, head to Kidz Republic in Komtar JBCC, featuring slides, trampolines, ball pits, foam pits, and more. This indoor playground boasts unlimited playtime at budget-friendly rates starting from just $2.89 per adult and $7.19 per child. Plus, Holiday Inn Johor Bahru City guests receive an added perk with a 10% discount on entry fees!

Kidz Republic in Komtar JBCC, 10am – 10pm daily, Lot No. 308, 3rd Floor, Komtar JBCC, City Centre, 80000 Johor Bahru, website

Legoland Malaysia

Legoland Malaysia

However, JB’s biggest attraction would have to be Legoland, which consists of exciting Lego-themed rides, a water park and even a Legoland hotel. While it’s more suitable for little kids, this amusement park guarantees fun for the whole family, especially if you’re fans of Lego. Read our full Legoland guide here.

 LegoLand, 7, Jalan Legoland, Bandar Medini, 79250 Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia

Best malls in JB

things to do in jb
Image credit: Blue Ice Skating Rink

Johor Bahru’s malls are convenient one-stop destinations offering great shopping and many amenities, from dining options to entertainment and of course essential facilities like bathrooms. Malls closer to JB customs, such as City Square Mall and Komtar JBCC, boast diverse offerings, where you’ll find everything from convenience stores and indoor playgrounds to trendy restaurants, ice cream cafes, cinemas, and bookstores, all within easy reach.

For those willing to travel a little further, larger malls like Paradigm Mall and Mid Valley Southkey await, where you can find an array of entertainment options, including family-friendly cinemas, go-kart arenas, arcades, indoor playgrounds and even an ice skating rink at Paradigm mall! Their popular ice-skating rink sees large crowds especially during the peak periods but its sizeable space ensures your little ones can skate safely. You can also rent the skating aid, socks and gloves from just RM 7 (~ $2)!

JB malls are also where you can get items much cheaper compared to Singapore. Personally, I love getting my beauty and skincare essentials at stores such as Watsons, Guardian, Bath and Body Works and even Keihl’s! Items such as cleansers, moisturisers and even shampoo are cheaper, with a difference from $5 to $50! Household, baby and kid items are also cheaper in JB. For example, Little Genius in JB is a one-stop centre for all baby items. Think diapers, apparel, toys, snacks and even formula milk!

Blue Ice Skating Rink @ Paradigm Mall Johor Bahru, 3F-30, Paradigm Mall, Skudai Hwy, Taman Bukit Mewah, 81200 Skudai, Johor, website 

City Square Mall, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, website 

Komtar JBCC, City Centre, 80000 Johor Bahru, website 

Little Genius JB, 6, Jalan Kencana Emas 2/3, Kawasan Perindustrian Tebrau 3, 81100 Johor Bahru, website 

As Clouds Cafe: Alpaca Cafe in JB!

things to do in jbalpaca cafe jb
Image credit: As Clouds Cafe

JB’s first alpaca cafe lets you enjoy pretty desserts in the company of adorable alpacas! As Clouds Cafe, a relatively new spot that opened its doors this year, has been drawing crowds from day one thanks to its two resident alpacas. There’s no entry fee, and the staff even provide carrots for you to feed the alpacas!

As Clouds Cafe, 11am – 9:30pm (Tuesday – Sunday), 32, Jalan Nakhoda 2, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah, 81300 Skudai, Johor, Tel: (+60) 11-2669 8262, website

Cat cafes in JB

things to do in jb cat cafe in jb

While cat cafes are increasingly popular in JB, families seeking a nearby option need look no further than Chucky Cat Cafe. Conveniently situated at Komtar JBCC (just across from Kidz Republic!), it offers a perfect afternoon activity with the kids without requiring extensive travel. Home to stunning long-fur felines, including the namesake Chucky, a Maine Coon orange cat is an ideal spot for a laid-back afternoon, paired perfectly with a slice of cake and an iced drink. Guests of Holiday Inn Johor Bahru City also get to enjoy 15% discount here!

 Chucky Cat Cafe, 10am – 10pm daily, Lot No. 302, 3rd Floor, Komtar JBCC, City Centre, 80000 Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 12-425 9302, website

   Read more: Cat cafes in Singapore

Dog cafes in JB

things to do in jbdog cafe in jb
Image credit: Chow Q 2.0

Similarly, dog cafes are a must-visit when in JB. One of the biggest and most popular dog cafes in JB would have to be Chow Q 2.0 at Mount Austin, which is home to over 40 adorable doggos in this massive 2-storey cafe. Located in Mount Austin, the space also houses a swimming pool (more for the dogs!), a pet store and an outdoor playground. This dog cafe also serves hotpot and bubble tea!

things to do in jbdog cafe jb
Image credit: shibaindahouse via Instagram

If you’re a fan of Shiba inus, head to JB’s first-ever Shi-ba Cafe, where adorable shibas, Alaskan Malamutes and corgis await. Shi-ba cafe is also a pet hotel and offers pet grooming under one roof. Entry to Shi-ba cafe is RM10 (~ $2.90) and will give you an hour of cuddle time with the doggos accompanied by free soft drinks. You can also treat the dogs to dog treats at just RM2 (~ $0.57)

 Chow Q 2.0, Thursday – Tuesday: 1pm – 12am, 2, Jalan Mutiara Emas 5/3, Taman Mount Austin, Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 11-3668 7479, website

Shi-ba Cafe, 10am – 3pm & 4pm – 10pm daily, 12-01, Jalan Austin Heights 8/4, Johor Bahru 81100, Tel: (+60) 19-960 1040, website

Adventure parks and theme parks in JB

things to do in jb
Image credit: X Park Malaysia

JB has an array of indoor and outdoor theme parks, promising fun for all age groups. The Danga Bay Theme Park is popular among the locals, with rides starting as low as RM2 (~S$0.57)! This JB theme park also closes at 2am daily, and in the evenings, it transforms into a whimsical wonderland with beautiful carnival lights and bright rides, perfect for a night activity. There are over 18 rides to choose from, including its iconic merry-go-round. While Danga Bay Theme Park is currently permanently closed, there are several other parks that you can visit. Some of our favourites are EnerG X park (Sunway Big Box), X Park Sunway Iskandar and more!

EnerG X park (Sunway Big Box), 10am – 10pm daily, Persiaran Medini 5, Sunway City, 79250 Iskandar Puteri, Johor, website

X Park Sunway Iskandar, 2pm – 12am daily, Jalan Medini Selatan 2 Medini Zone F, Bandar Medini Iskandar, 79250 Iskandar Puteri, Johor, website

Best food in JB: Cafes, Restaurants & More

Just like us, our friends across the causeway are major foodies too. In recent years, there’s been a noticeable rise in stylish and uniquely themed cafes popping up around JB’s city centre. It could be driven by the sharp increase in tourism since the pandemic. JB offers a wide variety of cafes, from those serving delicious pastries and hearty meals to adorable animal cafes. Dedicating one full day of just cafe-hopping sounds like a plan!

The Cool Cat Ice Cream

things to do in jbjb cafe
Image credit: The Cool Cat Ice Cream via Instagram

This relatively new JB cafe is located in the Tunku Mahkota Ismail Youth Centre. While its location is a bit out of the way, its charming and relaxed aesthetic more than makes up for it. With a mini skate park nearby, this JB cafe is perfect for cooling off with some delicious ice cream after spending some fun time under the sun!

The Cool Cat Ice Cream, 1pm – 9pm daily, Jalan Yahya Awal, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80200 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia, Tel: (+60) 13-812 3452, website

Lazy Monday HQ

things to do in jb
Image credit: Lazy Monday HQ

Conveniently nestled just a stone’s throw away from JB customs, Lazy Monday is a halal cafe in JB known for its oversized burgers and loaded fries, which are ideal for satisfying those burger cravings. Boasting ample indoor and outdoor seating, this JB café offers a charming ambience, with the outdoor area adorned with fairy lights and vibrant music setting the perfect vibe.

 Lazy Monday HQ, 3pm – 3am daily, FP5W+W2, 71A, Jalan Abdul Samad 1, Sri Gelam, 80100 Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 16-666 0604, website

K Fry Urban Korean

things to do in jb
Image credit: K Fry Urban Korean

Another halal eating spot in JB, K Fry Urban Korean is a popular Korean food eating place located conveniently opposite KSL City Mall. You can find delicious Korean fried chicken here, a variety of Korean dishes such as Jjigae, Dosirak, Jjajang, sides and also Bingsoo!

 K Fry Urban Korean, 11am – 11pm daily, 260, Jalan Dato Sulaiman, Taman Abad, 80250 Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 7-266 0902, website

Onn Kitchen

things to do in jb
Image credit: Onn kitchen

If you’re up early and craving local classics, head over to Onn Kitchen. Opening as early as 7 am, this spot serves a variety of delicious local favourites including Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai, Lontong, and more!

 Onn Kitchen, Saturday – Thursday, 7am – 11am & 12.30pm – 12am, 29A, Jalan Tarom, Kampung Bahru, 80100 Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 19 799 9588, website

Warong Tokyah @ The Kuarters

things to do in jb
Image credit: Warong Tokyah @ The Kuarters

This halal cafe in JB offers a wide array of dishes, desserts, traditional kueh, and snacks starting as early as 8 am, resembling a hotel breakfast buffet. Be sure to try the Satay and the traditional Kueh, especially the Nona Manis! Additionally, they have a selection of delicious cakes and pastries that you can have for takeaway.

 Warong Tokyah @ The Kuarters, Tuesday – Sunday, 8am – 5pm, The Kuarters, JKR 2384, Jalan Pahlawan, Yahya Awal, 80100 Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 12-794 8091, website

Space Cafe JB

things to do in jbjb cafe
Image credit: Space Cafe JB via Instagram

Space Cafe JB is conveniently located near KSL City Mall, just a few steps away from K Fry Urban Korean. If you’ve saved some room after your Korean fried chicken feast, you can head here for dessert! Space Cafe JB features minimalist interiors and serves gorgeous pastries and delicious coffees. Must-try menu items include the signature Caramel Biscotti Coffee and the Viennois Red Bean Butter.

Space Cafe JB, 8am – 9pm daily, G11, Space cafe, 260, Jalan Dato Sulaiman, Taman Abad, 80250 Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 17-663 7562, website

Flowers in the Window

things to do in jbjb cafe
Image credit: Flowers in the Window via Instagram

Flowers in the Window is a stunning cafe conveniently situated on Jalan Dhoby, just a short stroll from City Square Mall. This JB cafe is halal-certified and boasts beautiful interiors and a nutritious menu featuring plenty of dishes infused with superfoods. Additionally, they offer fresh pastries, including croissants and country sourdough loaves.

Flowers in the Window, 9am – 4pm (Wednesday – Monday), 9, Jalan Dhoby, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 7-222 7489, website

It Roo Cafe

It Roo Cafe is conveniently located near the JB customs and serves up delicious Hainese-style western cuisine since 1961. A standout on their menu is the Malaysian-style chicken chop, which is best paired with their rich mushroom sauce.

 It Roo Cafe, 11am – 8:30pm daily, 17, Jalan Dhoby, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 7-222 7780, website

Where to stay: JB hotels

Holiday Inn Johor Bahru City: family-friendly JB hotel

things to do in jb
Image credit: Holiday Inn Johor Bahru City

Holiday Inn Johor Bahru City is perfect if you’re looking for a family-friendly hotel offering convenience and comfort. Located just a 5-minute walk from JB customs and connected to Komtar JBCC, this hotel ensures a swift and sheltered transition from travel to relaxation. Plus, as it is connected to Komtar JBCC and just a walking distance from City Square Mall, you’ll have easy access to a variety of shops, restaurants and entertainment!

Our family’s stay here was seamless, with a quick check-in process and spacious, modern rooms equipped with all the necessary amenities. The hotel provides a cot in the room upon request for those travelling with a baby. The hotel’s restaurant, Dine@Eight, offers delectable buffet spreads for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Kids will especially love the themed stations, including a chocolate fondue station, a cotton candy station, and a donut station. Be sure to visit the rooftop pool, where you can enjoy a bird’s eye view of JB city and even catch a glimpse of Singapore in the distance!

things to do in jb
Image credit: Holiday Inn Johor Bahru City

This June holiday season, Holiday Inn is launching its Family Fun Retreat – School Holiday Package, perfect for a delightful family stay. The package features a range of activities for kids, with the highlight being the Junior Chef Competition led by the hotel’s chefs, where kids can learn to make dishes and compete for a voucher for an English Tea Set for two. This competition is held every Friday and Saturday, and the kids will also receive a certificate of participation. Kids staying at Holiday Inn Johor Bahru City can enjoy free ice cream during their stay (limited to two children per room). A stay at Holiday Inn Johor Bahru City also entitles you to exciting discounts at partnered attractions. Simply present your keycard to enjoy up to 15% off entry fees at family-friendly spots such as Kidz Republic and SkyScape by Menara JLand.

Holiday Inn Johor Bahru City, Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 7-207 8888, website

St. Giles Southkey: New JB hotel with excellent location

things to do in jbjb hotel
Image credit: St. Giles Southkey

Located just above the megamall Mid Valley Southkey, St. Giles Southkey is a relatively new JB hotel situated a short drive from JB customs. The hotel features a stunning infinity pool and a children’s pool, and its spacious rooms offer beautiful river or city views. Its prime location above Mid Valley Southkey provides families with easy access to a variety of activities and attractions. There are also popular restaurants like Din Tai Fung and must-visit dessert cafes such as Dip n Dip!

St. Giles Southkey, Mid Valley Southkey, 1, Persiaran Southkey 1, Kota Southkey, 80150 Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 7-336 8888, website

Capri by Fraser JB: hotel near JB customs

things to do in jbjb hotel
Image credit: Capri by Fraser JB

Capri by Fraser JB is just a 6-minute drive from JB customs, perfect for families who don’t want to travel far for accommodation! This 40-storey hotel is renowned for its spacious rooms, with its Studio Executive King featuring a fully furnished kitchenette – perfect for catering to the tastes of picky little eaters!

Capri by Fraser JB, Menara Tiga Serangkai, Jalan Tengku Azizah, Kim Teng Park, 80300 Johor Bahru, Tel: (+60) 7-277 0888, website

Travelling from Singapore to Johor Bahru (JB)

There are plenty of transportation options from Singapore to JB. Although, your journey is almost always accompanied by notorious traffic jams. But before diving into the journey, the crucial decision lies in selecting your entry checkpoint.

Tuas VS Woodlands Checkpoint

things to do in jbcustoms
Image credit: Immigration & Checkpoints Authority via Facebook

To start your journey, you have two entry points into JB: the Tuas Checkpoint and the Woodlands Checkpoint. Opting for the Tuas Checkpoint, also dubbed CIQ 2nd Link, typically means smoother traffic flow and faster customs clearance. However, keep in mind that choosing Tuas Checkpoint will place you farther from the city centre, AKA where all the best restaurants, cafes, and hotels in JB are!

On the other hand, Woodlands Checkpoint directs you straight to the heart of the city, which is also why it is the more popular choice for travellers. Additionally, Woodlands Checkpoint has a cheaper toll fee for cars and offers more spacious facilities, making it convenient for travelling with bulky luggage or needing currency exchange.

Transport from Singapore to JB: By Car

Driving into JB with the kids means they can relax in the cool comfort of an air-conditioned car, armed with snacks and entertainment to keep them occupied. Of course, there’s always the hope for a tantrum-free journey and a respite from the inevitable “Are we there yet, Mama?” inquiries. One crucial item to have on hand is the Touch ‘n Go Malaysia card for smooth toll payments.

Transport from Singapore to JB: By Train

Travelling from Singapore to JB by train is undeniably the most comfortable, quickest, and cost-effective option – that is, if you manage to snag a ticket! Train tickets from Singapore to JB are in high demand and tend to sell out rapidly. You’ll have to book as early as a month in advance. However, if you’re fortunate enough to secure tickets, the boarding process at Woodlands Checkpoint is seamless, and the journey itself takes a mere 5-10 minutes. Plus, you’ll breeze through JB customs with significantly shorter queues.

Transport from Singapore to JB: By Public Transport

things to do in jb
Image credit: Singapore JB Checkpoints Live Traffic Updates

If you’re like me, where last-minute plans leave you without comfortable private transportation options, you can enter JB via public transport as your Plan B.

You can take a bus to the checkpoint, where you’ll pass through Singapore customs first before boarding a bus to JB. For families with young children or babies, queueing at the manual counter can take 20-30 minutes. Once you go through customs, you’ll queue for the bus to go to JB customs. In my experience, buses arrive swiftly, with conductors often prioritising families with little ones. However, be prepared for potential traffic jams on the causeway and long queues at JB customs, especially during peak periods, where wait times can stretch from a mere 10 minutes to a staggering three hours. Try to arrive early, like really early, if travelling during peak times.

Tips for a fuss-free family trip to JB

  • Always budget extra travel time during your journey to and from JB (and mental readiness) for any potential tantrums or diaper mishaps. If you’re travelling with a baby, ensure you have a bottle of milk on hand for feeding time emergencies. For older kids bring snacks and be prepared with books or a screen to keep them busy.
  • Tune into live traffic streams of the causeways before hitting the road to gauge the expected duration of your journey to JB from Singapore.
  • Some malls in JB do not have baby rooms and even changing tables. It’s always good to research the place you’re going to prevent last-minute franticness!
  • Given Malaysia’s scorching weather, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, don’t forget to pack a fully charged portable fan and hats to keep cool and comfortable.

You’re all set! Now you’re all ready to have a fun trip with the fam to JB!

Lead image: Holiday Inn Johor Bahru City; As Clouds Cafe, Cool Cats Cafe; PlacesMalaysia via Instagram

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