It is hard not to fall in love with the capital of Malaysia: one of the youngest capitals of Southeast Asia wins hearts with its bold youthful and cosmopolitan character. The rich colonial heritage coexists in harmony with state-of-the art skyscrapers, lush parks are a welcome oasis of tranquillity to escape to after the world-class shopping marathons, and ethnic dishes of Chinese, Indian, Muslim and Western cuisine make your mouth water. The Petronas Towers, the highest twin towers in the world, rise proudly in the heart of the capital, commanding views over the modern bustling city.
How to get from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur
There is no much sense in making a stop in Johor Bahru on your way from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur as there are plenty of direct options. That said, Johor Bahru remains one of the most popular weekend destinations for Singaporeans who come to the city to shop and dine at more bargain prices than could be found anywhere in their country-state. You can put yourself in their shoes and look at Johor Bahru through their eyes – just for fun. You will not avoid passing through Johor Bahru if you take a train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, though. Whichever the reason you find yourself in Johor Bahru, transport options to Kuala Lumpur do not lack, though the length of your journey will depend on the means of transport you prefer: trains take over 7 hours, while buses are quicker (4½ hours).
From Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur by train
There are no more direct trains between Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur. From May, 2016, a rail journey between the two cities involves two separate trains. A shuttle train from Johor Bahru Sentral to Gemas covers 230 km in about four or five hours (MYR21) and a high-speed ETS train travels the remaining 170 km from Gemas to Kuala Lumpur Sentral in two hours (MYR31). Both provide quite a comfortable way to travel, but as is the case with many countries in Asia, trains bring you to your destination slower than buses do. Expect the whole journey from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur last over seven hours.
The most useful pair of trains is train #42 from Johor Bahru at 10.10am connecting to train #9202 from Gemas to Kuala Lumpur at 3pm. The latter arrives to the capital by 5.15pm leaving you with enough time to get to your accommodation or to find one before it gets dark.
Other Gemas-bound trains from Johor Bahru include #40 at 8.45am, #26 at 7pm and #44 at 11.40pm. #40 can connect with #9202 as well, but you will need to spend one and a half hour in Gemas which is actually only a transportation hub with nothing to do and to see. #26 and #44 connect with train #9220 which leaves Gemas at 4.30am and arrives to Kuala Lumpur early in the morning by 7am. If you do not mind travelling by night to save your daytime, this is a good option to consider. Buy separate tickets for each leg of this journey.
From Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur by bus
The two main bus terminals in Johor Bahru serving Johor–Kuala Lumpur route are Larkin bus terminal and TUTA, or Taman Ungku Tun Aminah. Larkin is conveniently located in the city and is easily reached by several public bus routes from the main hotel areas in Johor Bahru. There are budget options from Larkin to TBS, or Terminal Bersepadu Selatan, in the southern part of Kuala Lumpur, operated by Maju Express, S&S International Express and Konsortium Bas Ekspress, all at a similar rate (MYR35).
Tip: Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) is the main transportation terminal in the southern part of Kuala Lumpur. There are information kiosks and counters to help you find your way around Kuala Lumpur, free Wi-Fi at Level 4, ATMs, convenience stores and a large food court at the terminal. The most convenient way to reach the city centre from the bus terminal is to get to Level 3 and walk over the link bridge to the main lobby of TBS-BTS (Bandar Tasik Selatan), from where KLIA transit, LRT and KTM Komuter bring passengers to the city.
From Johor Bahru to KLIA and KLIA2
It is possible to travel from Johor Bahru directly to the both airport terminals in Kuala Lumpur. The service is provided by Yo Yo Express and originates from Taman Ungku Tun Aminah bus terminal, located 13 km northeast from Larkin bus terminal. There are local buses plying the route between the two bus terminals. Tickets to the airport cost whooping MYR100, but you pay not only for comfort but for speed: it takes only four hours to get from Johor Bahru to KLIA or KLIA2 with Yo Yo Express. It saves you an unnecessary trip to Kuala Lumpur and a trip back to the airport which sits 50 km to the south of the city – you pass it on your way to Kuala Lumpur from the south.
In case you still decide to go from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur first and then come back to KLIA or KLIA2 in order to save a couple of ringgit, there are cheap Aerobus shuttle buses (MYR9) departing from Kuala Lumpur Sentral every half an hour round the clock with a short four-hour break around midnight.
Activities in Kuala Lumpur
With an endless list of museums, churches, mosques and temples, historical buildings, shopping opportunities and natural attractions in and around the Malaysian capital, the time spent in Kuala Lumpur is never enough. You can make your visit as diverse and busy as you wish but by all means try to find some time for a very special experience which visiting of any of the following places can enrich you with:
Petronas Twin Towers are easily a whole-day destination. From getting up to the Skybridge on the 41st-42nd level and to meditating to the intricate dance of the fountains at the foot of the towers after dark, you will hardly find a moment for boredom.
Menara Kuala Lumpur may seem just a humble relative of its more famous counterparts elsewhere but it definitely offers the best view of the city with Petronas Twin Towers right in front of you. The revolving restaurant is a great place for an elegant lunch or diner, too.
Kuala Lumpur boasts many green areas and zoos, but Kuala Lumpur Bird Park located in the scenic Lake Gardens is an absolute stunner, especially if travelling with your little ones in tow. The natural aviary with freely flying birds transports you right in the heart of a rain forest.
Batu Caves with the iconic image of Lord Murugan look cheerful and colourful from outside with all those Hundu deities meeting visitors at the entrance gates just at the foot of the stairs, but the system of million-years caverns at the top does impress even more.
Central Market is every shopping lover’s start destination which combines food venues, shops, entertainment programs all under the same roof of an amazing art deco masterpiece. Central Market gives you a real taste of KL shopping which goes far beyond the exquisite boutiques of Suria KLCC next to Petronas towers.
Your onward travel from Kuala Lumpur
Venturing further north from Kuala Lumpur, popular destinations which can be reached overland from the Malaysian capital, include Penang and the southern Thai city of Hat Yai where you can catch a train heading to Bangkok.