Early last week, we went for a three-night staycation in Johor Bahru, Malaysia with Baby J. This was the first time we took him to JB overnight. While planning for the trip, we were stressing over what to bring and how long to stay, as first-time parents do. In our previous visits, we had excellent experience with Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel, so we booked it at a super reasonable price for a 5-star hotel. I’ll talk more about the hotel later, and how awesome it really is! We also decided not to drive in, since it’s the holiday season and traffic will be rough.
Day 0: What We Packed for Baby J
For a three-night stay, we did not want to overpack, since we were not driving. However, there’s this fear of underpacking as well. Well, at the end of the trip, we realised that the only thing we underpacked on was Baby J’s diapers. But we had the intention to buy a pack in JB anyway.
So here’s (most of) the list of stuff we packed for Baby J:
- Baby Wearables:
- 2 sets of pyjamas
- 5 sets of clothes
- One baby jacket
- 8 baby diapers (in total, we used about 12 during this trip)
- 2 pairs of baby socks
- A pair of baby shoes
- Baby Bath/Cleaning Stuff:
- Diaper change mat for going out
- Baby body wash (we used the same for Baby J’s hair)
- Baby body lotion
- One huge pack of baby wipes (100s)
- Baby Food Essentials:
- Small travel mug to keep porridge warm for Baby J’s lunch
- One set of baby bowl + spoon
- 2 different baby cereal flavours, 3 servings each (Baby J loves HIPP Milk Pap, like this one)
- Baby J’s favourite snacks
- Formula milk powder
- One baby milk bottle + one water bottle
- One flask to store hot water + one flask for normal temperature water
- Miscellaneous Stuff:
- Baby J’s favourite toys to keep him entertained in the room
- Baby J’s favourite chou chou bolster
- 3 pacifiers + one clip
Day 1: The One Mistake We Made With Our Travel Though…
I mentioned above that we did not intend to drive in, which was the correct decision! Traffic is always crazy during the holiday season! We decided to take the bus instead. The travel time for the bus beats that of the car, hands down, provided we travel at the right timing. We left home around 9am, reached the Woodlands Checkpoint around 9.30am. The queue was manageable, but because we were travelling with a baby, we could not use the automatic clearance system that uses thumbprints.
While queuing, the hubby suddenly said, “Oh, I met a friend a few days ago, and he suggested we could take a train in.” My first reaction was, “Why did you not mention it before??!” And he had to add, “There’s only one checkpoint for passports too!” WHAT??! We could have skipped the queue! And why did we not think of that? So anyway, we could’ve booked train tickets in advance, and shaved off a ton of waiting time!
HOWEVER, train tickets should be booked wayyy in advance, especially during the holiday season. In fact, do it as soon as you’ve decided when you’re going to travel into JB. They cost SGD5 per person. You book the tickets through this website; it seems more user-friendly than the official KTM train website.
Total travel time crossing both customs by bus: About 1.5 hour. Like I said, the queue was manageable.
Yeay! Done With Customs. Now What?
If you have 4G access, great! Order a Grab or Uber from JB CIQ; prices are fixed and are usually lower than the normal taxi fare. Otherwise, just grab a normal taxi. It’s not easy (nor safe) to hail one at the taxi stands, especially when you have a baby. So we normally go to a small (and almost insignificant) taxi booking stand just outside CIQ (gotta go down the first escalator upon exiting CIQ, without crossing over to City Square and turn to the left of the exit). It may be hard to notice the little stand, but there are many taxis parked there waiting for business. Prices are fixed, so you don’t have to haggle with taxi drivers, and it’s much safer because you’re not exposed along the main road.
We actually have a car in JB, so we went to my mum-in-law’s by taxi to collect it.
Lunch @ Taman Sentosa!
Before we headed to our hotel, we went to one of our favourite haunts in JB: Restaurant Ah Koong @ Taman Sentosa! But we went during peak lunch hour, so it was crowded. We got a seat pretty quickly though, as people usually leave as soon as they finish eating.
Very quickly, Baby J met an 80-year-old friend! This sweet grandma is from Singapore too, so it shows how popular this restaurant is among our locals!
The fishballs and yong tau foo selection are super fresh and yummy! It may seem pretty chaotic, but most of the time, they have things in order. We usually order dry noodles, and pick our own custom yong tau foo to go along. My hubby enjoys the laksa soup base for his yong tau foo!
Off to the Hotel!
I mentioned above that we only pick this one five-star hotel whenever we plan for our staycations in JB. This time, it’s no exception. So we booked Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel, located at Permas area. We even upgraded our room to the Club Room. The Club Room comes with access to the club lounge. On top of the breakfast buffet, they provide afternoon tea from 2.30pm to 5pm, and evening buffet with free flow cocktail (yeay wine!) from 5.30pm to 7.30pm in the club lounge. Outside these hours, we may enter the lounge to chill with a nice cuppa from the coffee machine, or some juice. How awesome is that!
For the breakfast buffet, we prefer the usual area on level 1 as the variety is larger. They do offer breakfast in the club lounge as well, but the choices are limited, even though some may prefer the peace and quiet there. We indicated a king-sized bed as it’d be easier for us to take care of Baby J together.
During check-in, if you are a Malaysian citizen, do show your IC, so that the RM20 per day tourism tax will be waived. Otherwise, there’s not much choice there. We love this hotel because the rooms are quite sound-proof. Their service is also good, as long as they are not overloaded.
Baby J was ecstatic and fascinated by their decoration the moment we stepped in! The new environment excited him as he screamed once we entered the lift and our room.
We also took him to the pool to play, and had our buffet dinner at the club lounge. We paired our dinner with a nice glass of wine to end our tiring day!
Day 2: Shopping for Baby J’s Stuff
After our buffet breakfast at the hotel, we decided to get diapers for Baby J.
I know that many parents (like us) enjoy entering JB to grab good deal, especially for baby stuff. We headed to Giant @ Pelangi Leisure Mall, on the way to my mum-in-law’s, to purchase Baby J’s diapers. A pack of L62 Drypers was selling at RM33+ at their promotional price. While we were there, we spotted many deals; looks like they’re doing quite a huge clearance sale now! We resisted buying too much, as we had to consider our return journey by bus! So if you are coming in by car, then by all means, shop till you’re satisfied! 🙂 The parking at Pelangi Leisure Mall costs only RM1 for the whole day, which is great! There’s also a Watson’s on the 2nd level, where I purchased my contact lens solution. It’s usually very quiet there, as people normally only shop at Giant.
Afternoon Tea @ Hotel Club Lounge + Nap + Buffet Dinner
After shopping, we had afternoon tea in the club lounge of the hotel. They served sandwiches and cakes, which were good enough to fill our tummies. There’s also a coffee machine and a variety of juices to choose from. Baby J enjoyed the cakes too, while he watched his cartoons!
After that, we went back to our room to let Baby J have his afternoon nap. He rolled around on the bed and eventually fell asleep on my arms. 🙂
After he woke up from a 2-hour nap, we went for our buffet dinner at the club lounge again. And in case you’re wondering, yes, they change the variety of food every day! That’s what we love about the club lounge! 🙂 And yes, we had wine again! Mmm yumz!
We then went to the nearby Aeon Permas to shop around. The Aeon supermarket carries a few variety of baby food and cereal not found locally. Special mention to Heinz cereal: Some flavours are cheaper, like the Creamy Oat and Fruit & Yogurt, while we found one flavour, i.e. Summer Fruit Multigrain, that is not found in Singapore. Many of the baby snacks are also cheaper than in Singapore. We bought two packs of the Summer Fruit Multigrain for Baby J!
After that, we retired for an early night.
Day 3: A Super Fun Visit to Fänpekka @ Aeon Tebrau City
As usual, we went for our buffet breakfast at the first floor of the hotel. Since we had some time to spare, we went to the club lounge to chill for a while with coffee. Baby J was a little tired after our visit to the club lounge, so we let him take a nap back in the hotel room. He definitely would need the energy for where we were planning to take him that day!
Once he woke up, we fed him some lunch and prepped him up, then left for Aeon Tebrau City! Our friend had recommended Fänpekka, which is a super fun indoor playground for kids 12 years and below. It is also suitable for babies who are able to crawl around and stand up with support.
Did I also mention that it is FREE for babies and toddlers 2 years old or younger? 🙂
So Baby J went in free of charge! Yeay!
Going into Fanpekka
Some important stuff to note at Fanpekka:
- When purchasing tickets, staff will require some form of validation that your child is 2 years old or younger. So remember to bring along your child’s passport or a digital copy of his/her birth certificate/passport for proof of free entry! We showed them Baby J’s digital copy of his birth certificate because we left his passport in the hotel safe.
- Bring socks! Yes, including adults. Anyone who wants to enter the playground should wear socks. You will be made to buy a pair at the counter for RM6 if you do not have one.
- For children older than 2 years, price is RM55. Each child must be accompanied by an adult or guardian 18 years or older. The accompanying adult must pay RM11. Every additional adult needs to pay RM11 as well, and there is a limit of two guardians per child.
- Keep your receipt for re-entry! Every ticket can last you a whole day of play, so you may decide to head out for a while and return later on. If you lose the receipt, you may not be allowed back into the playground without having to purchase another ticket.
If you’re new to the playground, they will issue you a Fanpekka passport. You need to use the same passport for your subsequent visits. If you collect enough chops from each visit, you will get some privileges.
We were accompanied by Baby J’s cousin, who is 4 years old. He totally enjoyed the playground!
Fun at Fanpekka!
I’ll just let the pictures (and a video) speak for themselves from here onwards!
Check out Baby J having fun in the huge ball pit area! This area is popular with kids, so we picked a spot that is quieter.
Love how some parts of the playground were actually pretty educational! Children get to assemble their own houses with the help of their guardians and decorate them with stuff. The result? A sense of pride! 🙂 Baby J actually crawled up to one of the houses, and this little girl told us very proudly that she built it herself.
There’s also the grocer and the flower shop, where children can act like they are buying or selling stuff!
The weighing scale actually works, and the cash register is a real calculator which goes ‘Kaching!’ every time someone opens it!
We also spotted children doing role-playing, like dressing up as postmen delivering letters to each different stations within the town. Super cute!
We didn’t get to explore the entire playground, but it was already lots of fun for little Baby J and his cousin. Baby J started to get tired, so we went to the SDS cafe for some coffee and food.
Check out sleepy Baby J! He’s so adorable when he’s snoozing!
Evening at Danga Bay
Our friend had suggested that Danga Bay Park would be interesting for Baby J because of the lights from the fun fair, so we wanted to check it out too. Despite our many past visits to the area, it never crossed our minds to head to Danga Bay before. Cruising along the Danga Bay stretch, we eventually found the car park closest to the fun fair, and entered the park. It’s free entrance and we only have to pay for the rides we pick.
We chose the carousel and the train ride, RM4 for each person (free for baby) per ride. Baby J loved the lights!
Phew! What a day! After that, we left for a nice dinner at a cafe/bar called UFB (Union Fashion Bar), one of our frequent haunts in JB. They serve a large variety of food that is value for money!
Day 4: Checking Out and Back to Singapore!
Yeap, so the usual drill. Went for buffet breakfast, let Baby J nap awhile in the room, and back to Singapore we go! Like I mentioned, we did not book train tickets, which would have helped A LOT, but what’s done is done.
This time, with Internet access, we managed to order a Grab to CIQ. Super convenient and efficient! And thank goodness, because we reached customs at about 1pm, the crowd heading towards Singapore is not too bad. The crowd entering JB on the other hand though… We cleared JB customs within 15 minutes!
This is us at the bus terminal after getting through JB customs.
Daddy Sean had to carry all our barang, while all I had to take care of was protect Baby J. Teehee!
We eventually cleared Singapore customs at about 2.20pm. HOME AT LAST! 🙂