Road trips from Singapore to Malaysia
Since the Singapore-Malaysia land border reopened, most of us have gotten excited about day trips to JB. Beyond our neighbouring city, there are plenty of road trip destinations in Johor you can drive to for a weekend getaway. Hikes in the rainforest, historical architecture and delicious local food are just a few of the things to look forward to.
All you need now is your passport and the MySejahtera app. So pack your bag, get in the car, switch your Google Maps and head to these Johor destinations.
P.S. For comparison, we’ve included Woodlands Checkpoint as the starting point. However, the time it takes may vary depending on traffic conditions.
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1. Desaru – Adventure waterpark & ostrich farm
Image credit: @al_fadil1
An easy road trip destination in Malaysia is Desaru, slightly more than an hour away from immigration. Since the pandemic, it’s seen a revival with a bunch of new resorts and exciting activities to do.
The kids will love spending the day at Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark, a massive themepark with 5 different zones with wet and dry rides. Get an adrenaline rush at Kranken’s Revenge, a roller coaster and splashing flume ride packed into one, or float on buoys in a looping lazy river at Penawar River.
Image credit: Desaru Ostrich Farm
There’s plenty to do like Desaru Fruit Farm, which has more than 120 species of tropical fruits. You can also join an educational tour at Desaru Ostrich Farm, where you can get close to the world’s largest birds and even try an ostrich egg omelette.
If you’re staying the night at Desaru, check into two of the seaside resorts that have opened up over the past 2 years. Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is well known amongst music lovers for its rock and roll lifestyle; or treat bae to a luxurious stay at The Westin Desaru Coast.
Book a trip to Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark.
Time from Woodlands Checkpoint: 1 hour 13 minutes
2. Kota Tinggi – Cascading waterfalls, fireflies & cycling tracks
Those who love the outdoors should drive down to Kota Tinggi, located slightly more than an hour away from Singapore. Avid cyclists will find that there are various nature trails they can conquer here, especially near the famous Kota Tinggi waterfalls.
Kota Tinggi Waterfalls is actually made up of 2 waterfalls – with the bigger one standing 36m tall.
Image credit: @amirulmuhaiminn
You can take a dip in both pools, but be careful not to dive into the water as it’s said that the bottom of the waterfall is quite rocky.
The source of the waterfall is Gunung Muntahak, a hill that stands at 634m. While there used to be a hiking trail that passes through an old tin mining land, it’s currently not accessible to the public.
The tough hike up will be worth it once you reach the summit at Gunung Panti.
Image credit: @koksinchia
There is, however, another hike you can do: Gunung Panti. It’s a 531m-tall mountain with an elevation of 1,684ft where you’ll traverse through small creeks, gradual inclines, fallen tree trunks and even a challenging 90-degree rock wall to the peak – which requires you to hoist yourself up with a rope. This is best saved for experienced hikers.
Embark on a boat ride and see the fireflies in their natural habitat.
Image credit: @story.of.ace
At night, head to Firefly Valley Leisure Park, where you can get on a 20-minute boat ride to the mangroves to see fireflies in their natural habitat. Tickets cost RM18 (~S$5.63) for adults and RM12 (~S$3.75) for kids.
Time from Woodlands Checkpoint: 1 hour 21 minutes
3. Tanjung Sedili – Seaside dome glamping under the stars
Image credit: @pangeranfies
Not far from Kota Tinggi is Tanjung Sedili, a coastal town which embraces a slower pace of life. It’s a fishing village, the perfect destination to drive to if you’ve been missing the kampung lifestyle. Rent a boat and embark on a fishing trip or simply join the locals at the numerous fishing spots along the bank of Sungai Sedili Besar.
Image credit: @album_aidil_abdul_manap
If you’ve ever romanticised sleeping under the stars but cannot tahan spending the night outdoors, go dome glamping at Sea Horizon Resort. The resort offers various room types, but its Stargazer Dome is the most popular amongst tourists.
Image credit: Sea Horizon Resort
You can get a unique glamping experience complete with views of the sea at RM780/night (~S$244). The dome also comes with an en-suite bathroom, so you don’t have to worry about running outside in the dead of the night to use the loo. There’s only 2 of the glamping suites in the entire resort, so make sure to book early.
Book a stay at Sea Horizon Resort.
Time from Woodlands Checkpoint: 1 hour 48 minutes
4. Kukup – Offshore national park & mangrove forest
Image credit: @agneschew23
Another seaside destination you can drive to from Singapore is Kukup in Pontian. It is home to one of the biggest mangrove forests in Malaysia, Pulau Kukup National Park. To get to the national park, you’ll have to take a boat from the ferry terminal at Kukup town, which costs about RM10/person (~S$3.13).
Bird-watching enthusiasts should consider a visit from September to April. This is because the park is a stopover site for migratory waterbirds. At all times of the year, you’ll get to spot wildlife such as monkeys, crabs, and mud skippers – and if you’re lucky, endangered wildlife such as the flat-headed cat and the bearded pig.
Check out more activities and packages at Pulau Kukup National Park.
Image adapted from: @jit.yan
A trip to Kukup would be incomplete without dining in at one of the local seafood restaurants. New Kukup Restaurant is one of the oldest floating seafood restaurants in town – but still a go-to spot for both locals and tourists. Alternatively, go straight to the source and visit one of the floating fish farms in Kukup.
Time from Woodlands Checkpoint: 1 hour 48 minutes
5. Kluang – Kopi factory and cafe at a railway station
Kluang used to be the administrative capital of Johor, especially with the main railway line that passes through it. You’ll find that Kluang Railway Station still functions to this day. Right next to the railway track is the iconic Kluang Rail Coffee, a traditional coffee joint that’s been open since 1938 – so it retains its retro vibe.
Image credit: @iam.suraya
It’s a fuss-free eatery where you can order a kopi from RM1.80 (~S$0.56) and enjoy it with nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaf from RM1.20 (~S$0.38), the quintessential Malaysian breakfast.
Another stop for caffeine lovers is Kluang Coffee Powder Factory, which manufactures a popular Malaysian brand, ‘Television Brand’ coffee. Sultan Iskandar is even rumoured to have it delivered to the palace monthly.
The coffee is made using the traditional roasting method with a unique blend of 3 different coffee beans: Arabica, Liberica, and Robusta.
Image credit: @calvin_oky
But coffee isn’t everything Kluang is known for. It’s also the gateway to Gunung Lambak, a hill you can hike up relatively easily. The Lambak Trail takes you up to the summit and back in just 4 hours – which is perfect if you’re just spending a weekend in town.
Time from Woodlands Checkpoint: 2 hours
6. Pengerang – WWII battery & a cafe that looks like Santorini
If you can’t make a trip to Bali just yet but craving for a short trip by the sea, hit up Pengerang. It’s an up-and-coming town with cafes such as Yard & Co, a cafe by the sea with chio aesthetics – giving us Santorini vibes.
Image adapted from: @cloeeecloe
But what’s Pengerang without seafood? Another pit stop for foodies is Salsabilas Cafe, an open-air eatery serving seafood dishes right by the water with views of – wait for it – Singapore. If you prefer chicken, the nasi lemak kukus with fried chicken is chef’s kiss according to Google Reviews.
After a 2-hour drive up from Singapore, it’s worth spending at least a night here. Golf lovers can check out Sebana Cove Resort, a resort with its own private marina and an 18-hole golf course. Live the atas life and book a suite room for RM400 (~S$125.35).
Image credit: Lakeview Terrace Resort
For those who are always dreaming of staying in cabin-style rooms next to a lake, Lakeview Terrace Resort is a cosy retreat that is a great place to slow down amidst nature. Rooms start from RM160/night (~S$50.16).
Image credit: @aidaazmannn_
You know what they say, the early bird catches the worm. Get up for a sunrise hike at Bukit Belungkor Kechil, an easy 238m ascend. Else, history buffs will love the Pengerang British Coastal Battery, a WWII site hidden amidst shrubbery next to Tanjung Pengelih Jetty located a 36-minute drive away.
Time from Woodlands Checkpoint: 2 hours 8 minutes
7. Batu Pahat – Artistic town with colourful bridge & street murals
Image credit: @mata_mudayow
Batu Pahat may be a small town, but it deserves a spot on your road trip itinerary. Artsy souls will love wandering about the vibrant town which is peppered with colourful street murals and buildings that tell stories of the town’s past.
Culture vultures can also take a walk around Batu Pahat Town and hunt for hidden murals before stopping by Swee Kee Tonic Soup, a #health eatery famed for their black chicken and kampung ginseng soup.
Head to Pantai Minyak Beku for your wanderlust shot.
Image credit: @sairanajib
Lovers of history can check out an ancient well in Minyak Beku before stopping by Pantai Minyak Beku for your IG-worthy sunset shot.
Image credit: @wenhui_yeoh
Some other attractions visitors to Batu Pahat shouldn’t miss are the colourful lovers’ bridge. It is actually a jetty for fishing boats – but has become a romantic date spot by the sea.
Time from Woodlands Checkpoint: 2 hours 20 minutes
8. Mersing – Beach destination for island hopping & hiking
What some people tend to overlook is that Malaysia has some seriously beautiful tropical islands a la Phuket. They’re accessible from Singapore, too. All you have to do is drive up to Mersing, where you can get on a boat to islands like Tioman and Pulau Harimau.
The waters around Tioman are popular with divers.
Image credit: @tsuiyl
After all, the area is home to an abundance of marine life such as reef sharks, turtles, rare fish species and even elusive dugongs. Is it any wonder then, that Mersing and its neighbouring islands are popular destinations for those looking to dive and snorkel?
If you prefer to just lounge around on a hammock while gazing out at the sea, Alang’s Rawa is an off-the-beaten-track beach resort on a private island. The clear turquoise waters and white sand beaches almost make you forget you’re still in the state of Johor.
The rooms at Alang’s Rawa are located right on the beach.
Image credit: @miiistry
Most rooms, like the Jungle Side Rooms and Beach House Rooms, take up to 5 people – so it’s a great resort to book if you want to gather a group of friends for the weekend. Room rates start from RM700/person (~S$218.91) and are lower on weekdays – so it’s time to use up your remaining annual leave and jio your friends for a short getaway.
Image credit: @wilson_leng
If you choose to stay on the mainland and want to soak up the views, hike up Gunung Arong, located 40 minutes away from Mersing town. It’s a leisurely hike suitable for beginners, and you’ll take about 2 hours to get to the peak.
Time from Woodlands Checkpoint: 2 hours 30 mins
9. Muar – Mythical mountain with a 4-hour hike up
Muar is often referred to as Johor state’s royal town. So if you’re heading there, mark out various sites like the Palace of Muar, home to the Johor Royal Family, and the historical Masjid Jamek Sultan Ibrahim Muar on Google Maps.
Image credit: @ssy.428
A famous legend has it that there was once a beautiful fairy princess staying at the peak of Gunung Ledang National Park, which also goes by the name of Mount Ophir. The name might be familiar to seasoned hikers. After all, it is the highest mountain in Johor, standing at 1276m high.
You’ll get sweeping views of palm oil plantations in the distance across 2 states, Johor and Malacca. But be warned, it’s a demanding 4-hour hike with steep climbs, and it’s mandatory to have a local guide.
You can ride a horse at HS Farmstay.
Image credit: HS Farmstay
For a more family-friendly activity, round up the kids and stay overnight at HS Farmstay. The young ones will get their first authentic experience in nature – whether they’re petting sheep and raccoons at the mini zoo, going horse riding, or getting a catch at the fishing pond.
Time from Woodlands Checkpoint: 3 hours 6 minutess
Plan a road trip to Johor
There’s so much to do for every type of traveller in Johor. The best part is you don’t even need to take a flight, perfect for those who are time-starved or trying to stick to a budget.
With these road trip destinations in Johor located less than 4 hours away, you can even squeeze in quick weekend trips with your family.
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