Sunday, February 28, 2016

List of Hotels and Homestay to stay in Johor Bahru (Malaysia)

For the past 2 years, our family has been frequent go-ers to Johor Bahru. We enjoyed our short trips across the border and recently we have been hopping between hotels, boutique hotels and home-stay.

If you are considering a staycation with your family in JB Malaysia over the long weekends or during the school holidays, and thinking where to stay in Johor Bahru, here are some recommendations that we have collated (based on area) that is affordable, family-friendly, and conveniently located to eateries/shopping areas/fun places.

We are constantly updating this page to bring you insight of the accommodation options in Johor Bahru. Do drop us a note or email us if you like to share or have recommendation on where to stay.

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Johor Bahru City is always vibrant day and night. It is close to the Woodlands checkpoint and there are many shopping malls, hotels and eateries around. Komtar JBCC, City Square Johor Bahru, KSL City, Danga City Mall, Holiday Plaza and Plaza Pelangi are sure to satisfy your shopping needs. Do not miss taking a walk through Tan Hiok Nee Cultural Street where you can find good food and experience the heritage and cultural activities within the local Chinese community. Looking for fun and excitement? Check out Angry Bird Activity Park or engage in a game of Laser Battle.

1. KSL RESORT
AREA: CITY CENTRE


The first hotel that we stayed in when we first began venturing in Johor Bahru. Strategically located in the city center and near the causeway, it is a favourite pick among Singaporeans as KSL Resort is within KSL City Mall where you can find shopping, food and fun all under one roof. Price may be a little steeper but it is family friendly and more convenient for first timers who wish to complete their Eat.Shop.Play experience. Most importantly, do not miss the Pasar Malam (night market) which opens every Monday outside KSL City!

Facilities within the room is complete and the room is clean and neat. We stayed in the Triple room which provides a Queen and Single bed. A little squeezy for our sizes but it was compensated with easy access to the swimming pool, cinema, indoor playground, KTV and the kiddos' favourite Popular Bookstore.

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Triple Room without breakfast) : ~ RM290 (non peak)

Hotel Website: http://www.kslresorts.com.my/

2. GRAND PARAGON
AREA: CITY CENTRE


We got to learn about Grand Paragon Hotel when we walked through the Pasar Malam, which stretches from KSL City to Grand Paragon. Located only 5 minutes walk away from KSL City, it offers bigger room, beds and bathroom at a slightly cheaper rate than KSL Resort. Their deluxe room comes with 2 super single beds (almost a queen size) which is suitable for 4 pax to stay in. Grand Paragon has a smaller pool on its 11th floor where you can catch a good view of the city landscape.

If you are feeling hungry, Cedar Point Food Centre is located at the back of Grand Paragon hotel which offers a variety of local delights that will fill your tummy!

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Deluxe Room inclusive of breakfast for 2 pax) : ~ RM260

Hotel Website: http://www.grandparagonhotel.com.my/

3. BLISS BOUTIQUE HOTEL
AREA: CITY CENTRE


If you are looking for cheaper accommodation options within the City center area, do check out the boutique hotels. Bliss Boutique Hotel is one that offers travelers affordable and comfortable stay. The Designer Family room that we stayed in has 2 Queen beds and it takes on a bold, modern yet sleek and simple design. The minus points is the room does not comes with any windows and is a little further away from KSL City. However, Bliss is only 5 minutes walk away from Pelangi Mall and there are many cafes, restaurants and eateries around the area within walking distance. KSL City is also a few minutes drive away.

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Family Room inclusive of complimentary breakfast for 4 pax) : ~ RM241 (Weekday rates)

Hotel Website: http://www.blissboutiquehotel.com/

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Permas Jaya is a residential and light industrial area located between Johor Bahru City Centre and the key manufacturing and port facilities of Pasir Gudang. Although it is slightly further from the city, about 15 to 20 minutes drive from Woodlands Checkpoint, you can find shopping (AEON and JUSCO), food, swimming pool, golf course, go kart within the district. Visit Senibong Malay Village and enjoy the scenic view of the Straits of Johor as you tuck in to your seafood dinner. If you are looking for some thrills, Go-Karting in Permas Jaya is sure to raise your adrenaline levels. Our favourite activity is visiting the Pasar Malam along Jalan Permas 10/10 which opens on every Sunday evening. 

4. 8 DAYS BOUTIQUE HOTEL
(Area: PERMAS JAYA)


Our first complimentary stay in Johor Bahru was with 8 Days Boutique Hotel (Permas Jaya branch). Our primary concern then was safety. Thanks to our host, we had a wonderful experience and that began our adventurous journey to explore for more fun places, good food and affordable accommodation.

We love the platform beds in their Premier 4-in-1 tatami room. No worries about falling off from the bed if you have younger toddlers and you have the entire stretch of space to lie down. The minus point is the lack of walking space within the room but we are happy with the bigger sleeping area. Most importantly, we feel secure as 8 Days is located along the same shop row as the police station and there is a security guard keeping watch of the cars in the night. It is also 3 minutes walk to AEON Permas Jaya.

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Tatami Room) : ~ RM155

Hotel Website: http://www.8dayshotel.com/

5. PALM TREE HOTEL
(Area: PERMAS JAYA)


With the attractive pricing and bigger bedding options from the boutique hotels, we decided to experience other accommodation alternatives. Palm Tree Hotel's Family room not only has 1 Queen and 2 Single beds, it also comes with 2 toilets/shower rooms. No fighting over toilets and our boy and girl can sleep separately on their own bed. About 10 minutes walk to AEON Permas Jaya and it is surrounded by many eateries.

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Family Room) : ~ RM188

Hotel Website: http://www.palmtreehotel.com.my/

6. GRAND WORLD HOTEL
(Area: PERMAS JAYA)


Grand World Hotel is located opposite Palm Tree Hotel. We wanted to compare the pricing and room and decided to hop to Grand World on the second night of our trip. Sounds crazy to move our luggage from one hotel to another which is just across the road, but it was pretty fun and exciting. The Family Suite is spacious and comes with 2 Queen beds. I like the full length window view which is not commonly seen in the other boutique hotels.

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Family Room) : ~ RM189

Hotel Website: Not found

7. YANGTZE HOTEL
(Area: PERMAS JAYA)


Formerly known as Great Wall Hotel, it has been renamed to Yangtze Hotel. Located next to Grand World Hotel, it has a covered car porch which can accommodate up to 12 cars (parked in a straight line). The Family room is rather clean and neat and it has 2 Queen size bed. 

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Family Room) : ~ RM180

Hotel Website: http://www.greatwallhotel.com.my/

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Taman Mount Austin is located further up from Permas Jaya and the city district and is about 45 minutes drive from Woodlands Checkpoint. Despite the distance, it is a stone throw away to fun places, great food and shopping. Mini Kuso Trick Art and the recently opened Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park will bring hours of fun entertainment and excitement. It is also a few minutes drive to AEON Tebrau City Shopping Centre (one of the largest in JB), Tebrau City Jusco and Taman Johor Jaya. 

8. 8 DAYS BOUTIQUE HOTEL
(Area: Taman Mount Austin)


We continued to stay with 8 Days Hotel (Mount Austin branch) when we started exploring the area around Taman Mount Austin. Love the platform bedding and the room layout is similar to the ones at Permas Jaya branch. About 10 - 15 minutes walk to Mini Kuso Trick Art and there are a few eateries near the hotel. 5 - 10 minutes drive to AEON Tebrau City and Jusco Tebrau City if you wish to shop. 

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Tatami Room) : ~ RM160

Hotel Website: http://www.8dayshotel.com/

9. PRINCE33 HOTEL
(Area: Taman Mount Austin)


If you wish to visit Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park, Prince33 Hotel is only 5 minutes walk away from the theme park. In addition, it is also walking distance to cafes, restaurants and eateries and a few minutes drive to Mini Kuso Trick Art and AEON Tebrau City. Prince33 is a new hotel which opens its door in 2015 and the room is clean and neat. Their Family Suite room offers 2 King beds which is very suitable for bigger families. 

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Family Suite) : ~ RM180

Hotel Website: http://prince33hotel.com/

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Taman Desa Tebrau always reminds us of AEON and JUSCO. However, if you are looking for Thai food or an interesting and uniquely different place to stay, there is a Container Gardenstay and Bangkok Village in the area as well. 

10. JS HOTEL
(Area: Taman Desa Tebrau)


Many times, we do not wish to drive out in the nights, yet we wanted to go for movies or do some late night shopping. Staying near bigger shopping malls allows us to have that flexibility and convenience without worrying where to park our car and the safety of our vehicle. JS Hotel is only 5 minutes walk to AEON Tebrau City where we can access to Tesco Hypermart, cinema, retail outlets and restaurants.

Opened in August 2015, JS offers a variety of room types. Unfortunately, we were not able to book their family/tatami room then due to the peak Christmas period. Nevertheless, we stayed in their Deluxe King room (plus an additional bed) and it was comfortable for our family with ample walking space. 

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Deluxe King) : ~ RM130 (Additional bed - plus RM30)

Hotel Website: http://www.jshotel.com.my/

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Taman Sutera Utama is one of our favourite district in JB mainly because there are many boutique hotels surrounding the popular Sutera Mall, plus the area has a wide range of F&B outlets and it comes alive in the night. It is also an area frequently visit by locals and Singaporeans. 

11. AVANTGARDE HOTEL
(Area: Taman Sutera Utama)


There are many boutique hotels around Taman Sutera Utama and it is quite competitive in terms of pricing, room types, location and parking. Avantgarde Hotel has the advantage of being closest to Sutera Mall, with only a few minutes walk away, parking lot reserved for guests and there is a security guard looking after the vehicles in the night. Room is clean and neat and the Family room has 2 Queen beds which is comfortable for 4 adults. Do make your reservation early as Family rooms tend to be very popular and gets filled up very fast. 

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Family Room) : ~ RM208

Hotel Website: http://www.avantgardehotel.com.my/

12. J HOTEL
(Area: Taman Sutera Utama)


Stepping into J Hotel feels refreshing and hip. The chic-looking hotel is about 5 minutes walk to Sutera Mall and is surrounded by over 70 F&B outlets. It has a security lock on its entrance, limiting public from accessing the boutique hotel easily, giving extra security. The minus side is the lack of parking lots especially during peak period (e.g weekends and public holidays). The Family room has 2 Queen size beds and sleeping on the slumberland beds felt extremely comfortable (in my opinion). 

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Family Room) : ~ RM170

Hotel Website: http://jhotel.my/

13. AMPLE HOTEL
(Area: Taman Sutera Utama)


If you are travelling with a bigger family cluster and needed more bedding at an affordable rate, you can consider staying with Ample Hotel (formerly known as Kingston Hotel). We stayed in 2 different Family rooms. Family Room 1 has 1 Queen and 3 Single beds which can accommodate 5 - 6 persons. Family Room 2 has 1 Queen and 2 Single beds which can also fit 4 - 5 persons comfortably. Although the decoration and amenities of the room looked old and worn off, it is clean, spacious and bright (thanks to the full length windows). 

About 8-10 minutes walk away to Sutera Mall, Ample Hotel is next to and food centre and near to 7-eleven and other cafes and restaurants. It's a pity that no reservation of parking lots for guest during our stay but there is an open carpark in front of the hotel. 

Learn more on our experience here.
Price (Family Room 1) : ~ RM180 (1 Queen, 3 Single beds)
Price (Family Room 2) : ~ RM170 (1 Queen, 2 Single beds)

Hotel Website: Not found


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14. ECO BED & BREAKFAST
(Area: Taman Setia Tropika)


Want to experience a different type of stay in Johor Bahru? How about Home Stay? We were invited for a complimentary stay with Eco Bed & Breakfast and till now, our children still speak fondly of it. Located within the premium guarded residential estate - Setia Tropika, it is about 20 minutes drive from KSL City. Eco B&B is tucked quietly away from the buzzing city, where you can rest your body and mind.

Within the little white house, you can sit at the swing, enjoy alfresco dining and admire the little garden with homegrown tomatoes, chilli and basil, handmade crafts. Every furnishing around the house is a piece of art and Keith (co-owner of Eco B&B) puts in a lot of effort to ensure that it is eco-friendly to reduce the carbon footprint.

Learn more on our experience here.
Price : Enquire with Eco B&B


*Note: Hotel rates are approximate and based on the time during our stay. Prices may defer. Please refer to respective hotel's website for updated rates. All opinions are on my own based on our family's experience. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Yueh Hai Ching Temple (粤海清庙) - UNESCO Heritage Award Winner

During the Chinese New Year period,  my in-laws shared with us that there was one temple located within the city that they wished to visit but has forgotten its name. Based on their description and with the help of images from Google search, we managed to locate the temple that they were referring to.

Yueh Hai Ching Temple (粤海清庙), located in Raffles Place is one of Singapore's oldest Chinese temples. In the 1820s, many from the Chaoshan (Teochew and Swatow) region of Guangdong province of China travelled to Southeast Asia by sea. To express gratitude for their safe journey, a shrine was set up dedicated to the deity Mazu - 妈祖 (Goddess of the Sea). Subsequently, the Lao Ye Temple (Lau Ya Keng), dedicated to Xuan Tian Shang Di - 玄天上帝, the ancestral deity of the Teochews was set up. The two temples were believed to have been merged in 1826 and this twin temple was named Yueh Hai Ching Temple.

Over the years, Yueh Hai Ching has undergone expansion and renovations. The recent restoration works was completed and it reopened its door to the public on 31st March 2014.

I was fascinated by the craftsmanship that can be seen around the temple. The dragons and human figurines on the rooftop, sculptures of phoenix, dragons and tiger on the walls, and other engravings on the timbers and murals. No wonder it has won the UNESCO Heritage Award and URA Architectural Heritage Award!


Despite being enclosed by the modern skyscrapers, Yueh Hai Ching temple stands out distinctively. The wide, front courtyard gives a sense of peace and serenity upon entering. To me, it is indeed quite rare to have such space in the central district.


"风调雨顺" meaning favourable weather (for good harvesting) crafted on its front door.


Front courtyard

My in-laws were definitely delighted to be back here once again after many years, and we offered our prayers to the deities. 

The 45 craftsmen from Shantou has definitely put in much effort in restoring the temple. Every piece of murals and sculptures is with such detail, telling a story of its past and leaving a part of the history for the next generation.




A strong contrast between modern and history. Am loving the sculptures on the rooftop against the city backdrop.

If you wish to witness it's rich heritage values, Yueh Hai Ching temple is located along Phillip St (opposite Tan Ean Kiam Building) and about 5 minutes walk away from Raffles Place MRT.

Yueh Hai Ching Temple (粤海清庙)
Address: 30B Phillip St, Singapore 048696
Opening hours: 8am to 5pm daily

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Dahlia Dreams @ Gardens by the Bay

Visiting the Flower Dome @ Gardens by the Bay during the Chinese New Year period has become an annual affair for our family. We love to see the floral display during the festive period which brings us much joy. This year, we were a little late, but am happy that we didn't miss the first floral exhibit for 2016!

Before entering the dome, we were captivated by the bronze cast bull which looked extremely magnificent with the golden necklace around its neck!


As we entered into the Year of the Monkey, the flower dome has transformed into the "Flowers & Fruit Mountain" (花果山) where the legendary Monkey King lived.

The center floral piece at the entrance showcase "The Four Gentlemen", which are four plants representing the seasons. Plum Blossom (梅) for Winter, Orchid (兰) for Spring, Bamboo (竹) for Summer and Chrysanthemum (菊) for Autumn. Each plant is associated with qualities such as integrity, resilience, honesty and courage.



Every year, when I looked back at the photos taken in the previous years, it amazes me how much our kiddos have grown. From children to teen. Give Gladys a few more years and she will be taller than me!

Our turn to take selfie!

It's great to bring my in-laws to the Flower Dome as they enjoy looking at the floral display. Take a slow and leisure walk around the Flower Dome, or sit down to rest within the air-condition conservatory when the folks are tired. This is also a precious moment where we see three generations spending time to interact and learn from each other.


Apart from admiring the flowers, taking pictures is also an important agenda on our list. I wonder if Hubby was trying to act like a monkey in front of the "Water Curtain Mountain" (水帘洞). Our girl definitely didn't seem to find her daddy hilarious and did not join him in the act.


This year, we were able to take pictures with our Chinese Zodiac animals smoothly. I'm definitely enjoying my walk through the exhibit without feeling the crunch from the crowd.





It's great to see Dahlia (大丽花) flowers back in action! Do you know that the Dahlia depends on its bright colours and sweet nectar to attract pollinators as it does not produce any scent!  No wonder the flowers are always so colourful and captivating.


Apart from the Dahlia flowers, Begonias, Pineapple Lily, Tangerines and other exquisite blooms are some of the floral you can expect to see.




Since we are being brought into the Flowers & Fruit Mountain, many monkeys can be seen hanging around. I thought the wooden crafted monkeys looked a little intimidating, but it is indeed a work of art. It seems the sculpture came from the same hands that did for the Year of the Goat. I am wondering if we will be seeing similar wooden sculpture for the Year of the Dog, and maybe when one cycle is completed, all the 12 Chinese Zodiac can be seen roaming around the Flower Dome!


Wooden Goat Sculpture


Hubby asked if I noticed one of the monkeys has golden eyes while the rest don't. Could it be that he is the Monkey King with fiery eyes!?

Special thanks to Gardens by the Bay staff who helped us to take our family shot on our visit. We would not be able to have such lovely pictures to take home without your help!




To satisfy my little crave for photo taking, we took more selfie together!




Dahlia Dreams is currently on until 28 February 2016. If you have not make a trip down to Gardens by the Bay, try to catch it before it ends this weekend! Admission charge to the Flower Dome applies.


For more information, visit Gardens by the Bay Website.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hot Melt Glue Art on Daiso Canvas Board

Recently, I bought a hot melt glue gun from Spotlight. The idea of doing a canvas artwork using my new toy came straight to my mind and I can't wait to start on my project! I was deeply inspired after watching the Youtube video on how you can create texture stripes using hot glue and decided to give it a try!


Using the canvas board from Daiso, I made strips of glue on it. It does not have to be perfect straight lines. Just go with the flow as you move your glue gun across the board. You can make the lines thicker by adding more glue. To create droplets effect, hold the glue gun longer at a spot before gliding it away.


This is how it looks like after you applied stripes of hot glue on the canvas. The glue dries very fast and we are ready to paint!


You can choose the colour of your choice for your artwork. I decided to start with a lighter shade - yellow.


The stripes of glue looks like raindrops and I could imagine myself standing by the window on a rainy day, looking out at the field. The colours probably did not blend in as well as I like it to be but I guess it is not too bad for a newbie.

Gladys thought it is a corn field while Denver felt that it resembles the yellow poppy field. What do you think?


I love the texture which stood out against the plain wall. It looks pretty at the sides as well. This art project is really easy to do and you can create nice artworks for your home or even send it as a unique gift for a special friend.


Like to create other artworks using the canvas board from Daiso? Check out my DIY links here.
- Mandala Dot Painting

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