When it comes to taking a break from Singapore's frenzied pace of life, we often turn to neighbouring Johor Bahru for a quick and easy getaway.
After all, not much planning is involved, especially if you're going to the usual haunts to shop, eat or get that much-needed massage to treat yo'self.
But if you find yourself frequenting the same malls, cafes or massage parlours, things might start to get a little boring even if you're going to different places all the time.
And if you're one of those who think those three things are all JB is good for, you'll be in for a surprise.
Next time you decide to cross the border, here are eight activities you can consider doing to spice up that quick jaunt.
FUN INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS
Need a breather from the daily chaos at home? A good way to keep your high-energy kiddos entertained while you take a break in JB is by bringing them to massive indoor playgrounds.
Most of the malls in JB have playgrounds that have various themes and challenges where they can solve puzzles while going through obstacle courses.
Though not free, it's a small price to pay — fees would be slightly less than what it would normally cost in Singapore, and guaranteed to make both parents and kids happy.
VISIT THE FARMS
In land-scarce Singapore, there aren't many farms to visit. Thankfully, we can cross over to our neighbouring city to experience the farm life, just a little under two hours from the checkpoint.
One of them is the UK Farm Kluang, which has unending fields where sheep freely roam about and graze on the grass.
There's also a lavender field to spruce up your Instagram feed.
Where: Address: Plot 8, Project Pertanian Moden Kluang, KM13 Jalan Batu Pahat, 86000 Kluang, Johor, Malaysia
Belt out to the latest tunes at a KTV sesh that will cost you a fraction of the price in Singapore. The song selections are sometimes more updated than at Singapore's KTV joints and you can expect better service and amenities too.
Neway Karaoke Box, located in City Square Mall, is a family-friendly chain that offers singing and lunch packages from as low as RM19 (S$6.38).
The Rhythm in Mount Austin offers hot pot in the KTV rooms to satisfy both your tummy and love for singing for just RM32 per pax.
- Neway Karaoke Box: Johor Bahru City Square, Lot M5-01, Level 5, 106-108, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, City Square, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
- The Rhythm: Johor Bahru City Square, Lot M5-01, Level 5, 106-108, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, City Square, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
GET A NEW LOOK
If you're living in Singapore, here's a bonafide lifehack: taking all your grooming needs across the border may aid in keeping your bank account numbers looking healthy.
Flip your luscious locks as you exit the salon without making a dent in your wallet, thanks to our currency being three times as strong.
Also, why settle for a basic snip in the most expensive city to live in, when you can be treated like royalty for a fraction of the price in JB?
While you're there, you can make your Princess Diaries dreams come true and go for the whole makeover shebang.
Yes, we're talking nails, eyelashes and the works. There's no lack of grooming centres near the Causeway so stretch your dollar by getting it done there instead.
PIMP YOUR RIDE
If you're not afraid of driving into JB instead of taking public transport, consider getting a makeover for your ride while you're having one yourself.
A quick paint touch-up? Or perhaps a simple wash and polish? It'll be much cheaper to get one done in JB compared to Singapore, at least in my experience.
While you're giving your four-wheeled baby some love, why not buy a few car accessories to zhng or upgrade the interior as well?
That being said, we're not outright recommending you do repair or maintenance services to your car in case you break your warranty. Nor are we condoning illegal modifications to make your car go faster or "look better".
Stay on the correct side of the law, people.
WATCH A CHEAP MOVIE
Hate getting stuck in the Causeway jam back to Singapore? Us too.
Here's a trick a friend taught me to get around it.
Instead of waiting it out and torturing your bladder, catch a late night movie instead and snooze comfortably in the cinema while the checkpoint line dissipates.
It's unlikely that the queue to go back at 2am will be as bad compared to going home in the evening and getting caught with the after-dinner crowd.
Movie tickets at City Square Mall's mmCineplexes go as cheap as RM6 (S$2) if they're on promotion and weekend prices for shows are almost the same as weekday prices in Singapore.
If you're going over to JB soon, you can check out some deals at mmCineplexes here.
HAVE AN ADVENTURE
Ready for an adventure with friends that won't break your bank?
Less than half an hour away from Woodlands checkpoint is a three-in-one adventure park that will satisfy even the biggest thrill seekers.
Say yes to giant water slides, a suspended obstacle course (with 51 elements!), a trampoline park, an ice-skating rink and even a drift cart race course at Austin Heights Water and Adventure Park.
The park is open daily but if you're short on time, passes for each park can be bought individually from RM25 to RM80. If you're saving money though, consider getting an annual pass instead and bring your friends or family in whenever you like!
Where: Austin Heights Water and Adventure Park
Address: No. 71, Jalan Austin Heights 8/1, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
TAKE "REVENGE' ON YOUR FRIENDS
Looking to relieve some stress and address some grievances between friends? What about letting it all out over a little paintball competition?
Next time your boss suggests a team-building activity, perhaps you'll want to consider getting down and dirty with your colleagues as a way to bond? No? Just me? Okay.
In case you're the boss and looking for an outdoor-sy place to t̶o̶r̶t̶u̶r̶e foster teamwork among your employees, here are two places that will fit the bill.
Where: O.L.A Park Tebrau
Address: PTD 114143 Jalan Desa Tebrau Taman Desa Tebrau 81100 Johor Bahru Malaysia
Where: Dynamic Paintball Johor
Address: jalan lengkok resak, UTM SKUDAI, 80990 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Do call ahead or drop them a message online to confirm your arrival beforehand -- we read that walk-ins are on a "try your luck" basis as they may be shorthanded.
So there you have it. Here are five things to do in JB that you can slot in between your shopping, eating or massage sessions.
Know of any interesting spots in JB or fun things to do? Let us know!
This article was first published in July, 2019.