A short getaway to Johor Bahru could be just the thing you (and the kids) need this school holiday!
In the relatively new city of Iskandar Puteri in Johor Bahru, Puteri Harbour has all you need for an enjoyable time with the family during this school holidays. Other than housing the marina for docking boats and yachts, this marina waterfront development is also where you will find a comfortable 4-star hotel, fun theme parks and fantastic restaurants. And should you stay longer than a day or two, nearby attractions just minutes away will keep you busy, or you could always hop on a bus that takes you straight to Singapore, or on the ferry to Batam island! Going Places visited Puteri Harbour and its surrounding areas recently, and here’s what we were up to.
How To Get There?
Drive down to this southern city via the North South Expressway, Federal Route One if you’re from the West Coast of Peninsula Malaysia or Federal Route Three if you’re coming from the East Coast.
Stay: Hotel Jen
For our first night at Puteri Harbour, we were checked into Hotel Jen, under management of the Shangri-La hotel group and rebranded from Traders Hotel to better serve vacationing families while still catering to the needs of business travellers.
We stayed in the Deluxe Harbour View Room but because it was spacious and had extra bedding in the form of a day bed as well as a pull out bed underneath that, it was more than enough for a family of four. Lunch was had at the hotel’s Harbour Café, where the delicious buffet spread featuring an array of Malaysian food, a selection of Western and Japanese offerings and an extensive dessert counter had us well satiated after the drive from Kuala Lumpur.
Later in the evening, we did a spot of swimming at the hotel's rooftop infinity pool, overlooking a gorgeous view of the harbour at sunset.
Explore: Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and Thomas Town
After lunch, it was time for fun for the kids at Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and Thomas Town, two indoor themed parks based on the popular Japanese character Hello Kitty and kids’ television show, Thomas & Friends, respectively. The main draw at Sanrio Hello Kitty Town would be the life-size Hello Kitty House featuring everything Hello Kitty in its interior decorating. A newer attraction here is the Hello Kitty In Oz: The Lost Chapter walk-through with four challenges in the form of arcade games to complete. The games are fairly easy yet challenging enough for kids aged 4-10 – much better than the previous walk-through that was more adult-level and had you searching for clues high and low. This afforded us more time to enjoy Hello Kitty Town including getting on the rides and doing the hands-on activities in the studio where we got to decorate Hello Kitty cookies and DIY button badges, and bring them home, too.
Meanwhile, Thomas Town has more kiddy rides such as those you would find at an amusement park including a train ride, a windmill ferris wheel, an airplane merry-go-round and a sort of free-fall drop ride for kids (read: not very scary or dangerous). There is also a big play area at Thomas Town with slides, foam blocks, and a few jungle gym areas. Look out for different shows throughout the day on all the different floors – check the schedule way in advance so that you won't miss out on the kids' faves, especially the ones with mascot appearances.
Feast: Dinner In The Sky
As part of Puteri Harbour's latest attractions, the much-talked-about Dinner In The Sky is in town until 19 June 2016. Hoisted 150 feet in the air on a special dining deck where diners were safely strapped to their seats while wait-staff on safety harnesses served the 4-course meal provided by Tosca Trattoria Italiana of DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Bahru, everyone enjoyed an amazing view of the marina and the Straits of Johor at sunset. Food portions were big and well-worth the price.
Stay: Somerset Medini Serviced Residence
After breakfast at Hotel Jen's Harbour Cafe, we checked out and adjourned to Somerset Medini Serviced Residence, only a 5-minute's drive away. If you can't check in at Legoland Hotel for some reason or other, this is the perfect alternative. It is only a 5-minute walk away from Legoland, but shuttles are also available to and fro. The residence unit comes with separate bedroom and living areas, and is well-equipped with cooking and dining utensils, which you might want to utilise for the time being since the F&B establishments aren't quite ready yet at this very new property under the Ascott group.
After checking in, it was on to the wonders of Legoland! The park is basically split into two – the theme park and the water park, and you can get tickets for either one or for both at a reduced combo price. You can also get tickets for just one day, or for two days, which is recommended to truly enjoy everything the park has to offer at a leisurely pace. There are 13 rides and activity stations at the water park, including seven water slides, while the theme park has more than 30 rides and activity stations. This includes Miniland featuring miniature scenes of famous places around South East Asia, Johor and Kuala Lumpur, as well as an indoors Star Wars Miniland.
Feast: Nusa & Khao
At night, we went back to Puteri Harbour for a sumptuous Thai dinner at Nusa & Khao. We tried the crispy egg rolls with mango salad, fried sea bass, soft-shell crab curry, tom yum soup and green curry chicken with pineapple fried rice, and as anyone might imagine, sleep came easy that night.