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1-Day JB Itinerary – Mount Austin Cafes, Massage & Next-Level Cinemas For A Classic Weekend Trip

1-day Johor Bahru itinerary 

Some of us might be looking for a man in finance, others might be looking for a BTO reinforced with galvanised square steel. But really, when we talk about what a Singaporean really wants, it’s a trip across the border to Johor Bahru.

For all the Singaporeans out there dreaming of their next trip across the border, here’s a 1-day Johor Bahru itinerary packed with plenty of classic activities from eating dim sum to karaoke. You don’t even have to worry about paying for a hotel to stay the night.

How to get around JB without a car?

While JB has a public bus network you can use, the easiest way to get around JB is by car.

For non-drivers, JB has private car hire applications like Grab you can easily use to get around town. Ride services there are generally inexpensive and you can get from one end of the city to another for around RM30-40 – that’s about S$8-12.

To book these rides, you’ll need to have mobile data so don’t forget to purchase a tourist SIM card or eSIM. Hot tip? Try to avoid purchasing them near the checkpoint – such as at JB City Square – as they’re sold for more affordable prices elsewhere. Check out our article breakdown of JB SIM cards and eSIMs.

Johor bahru itinerary - infographic

View the full route on Google Maps.

8.30am – Leave Singapore

Cross the causeway in 5 minutes by KTM Shuttle Tebrau

Johor bahru itinerary - KTM exterior

The KTM Shuttle Tebrau train from Singapore to JB departs at 8.30am so of course you’re going to catch that if you make the most out of your time. Priced at S$5, KTM trains are arguably the best way to get across the border since you won’t have to deal with traffic jams.

After a 5-minute ride, whiz through the separate immigration channel, and you’ll be in the land of lok lok.

Johor bahru itinerary - KTM interior

Tip: Tickets are released 6 months ahead of time, on the 30th of every month. Book your train as early as possible since they sell out fast.

Read our full guide to taking the KTM Shuttle Tebrau.

Address: 11 Woodlands Crossing, Singapore 738103
Contact: KTM website 

9.15am – Restoran Meng Xiang 

The “Swee Choon” of JB

Restoran Meng Xiang - dim sum
Image credit: @charredspoon via Instagram

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and in Johor Bahru, your awakening digestive system will be spoiled for choice. Restoran Meng Xiang is a good place to start – think of it as a budget-friendly alternative to Swee Choon in Singapore, with all the dim sum we know and love on the menu.

Johor bahru itinerary - Restoran Meng Xiang
Image credit: @twotastingspoons via Instagram

The usual suspects like Shrimp Dumplings (RM6.80, ~S$2), Siu Mai (RM5.80, ~S$1.70), and Shanghai Xiao Long Bao (RM7.50, ~S$2.20) are some of the must-trys. They also serve up a mean carrot cake and chee cheong fun. As testament to their popularity, the queue starts to build up after 9.30am on weekends – it’s a good thing you’re here before that!

Address: 115, Jalan Mutiara Emas 2A, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: 7am-12am, Daily
Contact: +60 7-361 4848

Getting there: Take a 40-minute Grab ride from JB Sentral.

10.30am – Toppen Shopping Centre

IKEA, movies & an indoor theme parks

Johor bahru itinerary - Toppen
Free rock climbing at the rooftop.
Image credit: Toppen

Ask any regular JB visitor and they’ll probably agree that Toppen Shopping Centre is one of the coolest malls you can find in the city. KSL City Mall and JB City Square are by no means mid, but none of them have an IKEA store, next-level cinema, and not just one but 2 indoor theme parks.

Johor bahru itinerary - Toppen
Image credit: JumpLah via Facebook

JumpLah Playground and Game On are both relatively new additions to the mall, featuring games such as The Floor Is Lava and Flying Fox respectively.

Johor bahru itinerary - TGV toppen

If you’re planning to catch How To Make Millions Before Grandma Dies like everyone else, TGV Cinemas at Toppen has a wide variety of halls to choose from. This includes a family-riendly hall with lounge beds and massive sofas that can fit up to 4 pax.

You could spend a full day in Toppen if you wanted to. If only we had a whole article on it – oh wait: Toppen Shopping Centre guide.

Toppen Shopping Centre
Google Reviews
Toppen Shopping Centre, No. 33A, Jln Harmonium, Taman Desa Tebrau, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours:
Wednesday 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM Show More Timings
Contact Information

Getting there: Take an 8-minute car ride from Restoran Meng Xiang.

2.30pm – Principle Cafe

Aesthetic ambience with legit good food

Johor bahru itinerary - principle cafe
Image credit: @yennetin via Instagram

You can’t call it a trip to JB without having stuffed yourself silly so it’s a good thing the cafes around Mount Austin are perfect for lunch. With both great ambience and actually good food, Principle Cafe is perfect for coffee lovers, matcha fans, and anyone who appreciates a good bowl of pasta.

They have a no pork no lard menu, and a display of baked goodies you can wrap up your meal after. At just under ~S$20 for food and drinks, this isn’t the cheapest cafe in town but the food’s worthy of a chef’s kiss. Try the aromatic  Wild Mushroom & Truffle Pasta (RM37.80, ~S$11.10) and you’ll understand why.

Address: 51, Jalan Austin Heights 3, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 12pm-8.30pm | Fri-Sun 10.30am-9pm
Contact: +60 18-203 2803 | Principle Cafe website

Getting there: Take a 10-minute car ride from Toppen Shopping Centre.

Cuddle Chow Chows at an affordable dog cafe

Johor bahru itinerary - chow chow cafe
Image credit: @eternalieswme via Instagram

This may surprise you as much as it did us: dog cafes in JB can get pretty expensive, especially if you’re looking at places with great publicity. Chill N’ Chow in Mount Austin is a relatively hidden gem, perfect for anyone who just wishes to cuddle some fluffy pups without dropping big bucks.

Johor bahru itinerary - chill n chow cafe
Image credit: Kezia Tan

After paying an entry fee of RM23 (~S$6.80) per person, we were provided with a scoop of coconut ice cream and had 1 hour to play with 4 lazy Chow Chows. They’re pretty low-energy in nature so don’t expect the fluff balls to be leaping all over you. These under-1-year-old pups, however, are very willing to be pet and are generally happy to pose for a picture.

P.S. It definitely doesn’t hurt that cult-favourite bubble tea store Chagee has an outlet right next door. Queues get pretty long so do yourself a favour and order via their app ahead of time.

Chill ‘N Chow Cafe By Ng Kitchen
Google Reviews
16-01, Jalan Austin Heights 8/4, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening Hours:
Wednesday 11:00 AM - 09:00 PM Show More Timings
Contact Information

Getting there: Walk 10 minutes from Principle Cafe.

5.30pm – Bangkok Spa

Indulge in affordable & non-lupsup Thai massage 

Johor bahru itinerary - bangkok spa
Image credit: Bangkok Spa

You and I are both no strangers to the name “Bangkok Spa”. It’s after all one of the most popular massage parlours in Johor Bahru known for exceptional value and service. With Thai massages priced from RM66/hour (~S$19.40), this pre-dinner activity will leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed to continue your long day trip.

Johor bahru itinerary - Bangkok spa - jacuzzi
Image credit: Bangkok Spa

As someone who’s not a fan of ticklish massages, I was glad to see that there are alternative options such as the Jacuzzi Spa & Sauna VIP Room (RM118, ~S$34.70 per room), perfect for couples.

There are 3 outlets of Bangkok Spas, all within the vicinity of the KSL area – at Taman Pelangi, Sri Tebrau, and Taman Sentosa. They’re well-maintained and not the type to offer “extra services”.

Tip: Make prior reservations via Whatsapp before visiting any of them during the weekends to avoid long wait times.

Bangkok Spa Taman Pelangi
Address: 58 Jalan Abiad, Taman Pelangi, 80400 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours:
11am-5am, Daily
+60 17-338 2277 | Bangkok Spa website

Getting there: Take a 25 minute car ride from Chill N’ Chow to get to Bangkok Spa (Taman Pelangi).

7pm – Restaurants around KSL City Mall

Stuff yourself silly with bak kut teh, beancurd & affordable sashimi

The KSL area is a treasure trove of food options. There’s no shortage of delectable restaurants that sell everything from the famed bak kut teh, to affordable Japanese food to dive into.

bao bei
Image credit: Anne Hui Ni via Google Maps, @yennetin via Instagram

Apart from popular picks like Warakuya Japanese Restaurant, repeat visitors may want to try exploring hidden gems like Bao Bei Japanese Ramen, with budget-friendly ramen bowls in a quirky Japanese village-inspired setting. Their flavourful ramen broths priced from RM11.70 (~S$3.40) with smokey cha siew will leave you coming back for more.

Address: 19, Jalan Kebun Teh Lama, Taman Abad, 80250 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: 12pm-11pm, Daily
Contact: Bao Bei Japanese Ramen Facebook

Getting there: Take a 10-minute car ride from Bangkok Spa Taman Pelangi.

K Fry Urban Korean.

Other great options we’ve tried include K Fry Urban Korean, with Korean fried chicken served warped in a generous layer of Mozzarella cheese. If you’re looking for western food, Nimmies has spruced up local food, and western fare and is less-crowded in the evenings.

yamada beancurd
Image credit: @yamadabeancurd via Instagram, WJ Heng via Google Maps

If you still have space for desserts, I highly recommend swinging by Yamada Beancurd, an unassuming food truck store with a perpetual line of hungry locals. Grab a bowl of traditional bean curd (from RM3, ~S$0.90) and find a seat at one of their stools to enjoy the roadside meal.

The super-soft beancurd is scooped straight out of wooden barrels and served with toppings like pure gula melaka and sweet potato balls.

Address: Jalan Sri Pelangi 3, Taman Pelangi, 80400 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: Wed-Sun 6pm-10pm (Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)
Contact: Yamada Beancurd Facebook

Getting there: Yamada Beancurd is a 10-minute drive from Bao Bei Japanese Ramen.

8.30pm – Queen Karaoke 

Located near the causeway & opens till as late as 3am

Queens Karaoke
Image credit: @hey.minahere via Instagram

A belting session at Queen Karaoke can easily be squeezed into your itinerary before you head back. With its convenient location at level 5 of JB City Square mall, this karaoke bar has a wide range of both Chinese and English songs, and room packages that come with drinks and snacks.

Prices start from RM78/2 hours (~S$22.90) for a small room for 2 people, which is pretty value for money considering the central location and complimentary perks. It’s worth noting that they also have promotions such as student deals and midnight discounts you can take advantage of for cheaper rates.

Read our guide for more karaoke joints in JB.

Address: Lot No. m5-01, Level 5, Johor Bahru City Square, No. 106, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 11am-1am | Fri-Sat 11am-3am | Sun 11am-2am
Contact: +60 7-291 9969 | Queen Karaoke Facebook

Getting there: Take a 15 minute car ride from Yamada Beancurd.

10pm – Return to Singapore 

Take the 24-hour CW2 bus

Image credit: Bus Interchange

No matter what time you end, rest assured there’s going to be transport back to Singapore. Bus Causeway Link 2 (CW2) runs between JB CIQ and Singapore Queens Street Terminal 24 hours daily. Buses come once every 15-45 minutes, depending on time of the day, and tickets are priced at an affordable RM4.80 (~S$1.40).

Some other useful buses you can take to return home include CW5, SMRT 950, and SBS Bus 170, with various drop-off points around Singapore. However, these buses do not run round the clock – you can check out our full guide to Singapore-JB buses for the low-down.

The ultimate 1-day Johor Bahru itinerary

Johor Bahru is a whole new world to explore and you’ll be surprised at the number of people that choose to swing by monthly – or even weekly. A trip across unveils plenty of new food and activities and there’s many more you can do if you do choose to extend your stay, from thrilling outdoor activities like go-karting to unique indoor activities at other malls in the city.

For more JB guides:

Cover image adapted from: Kezia Tan, @yennetin via Instagram