Johor Bahru 2017 Day Trip – Thomas Town, Hello Kitty Town and Puteri Harbour

It was a typical weekend but we decided on impulse to visit our neighbor Malaysia for some getaway fun for our boy, specifically Thomas Land. After spending some time online to compare the various deals (online promo was RM88 for Hello Kitty and Thomas town but earliest tix available was the next day, Klook was slightly cheaper than a day tix, Mileslife only had Hello kitty in return for giving more miles on top of card miles and finally Maybank had one promo till end of the year, 30% off 2 parks tickets), we were on our way. Went over to forex for some SGD$100 at 3.07 rate at the market, we drove to the 2nd link after topping up my petrol to 3/4 tank.

The Singapore checkpoint at the 2nd link was slightly busy but we managed to clear in about 15mins. It was about 1215pm then, when we met with a massive jam, apparently so many people were going to Malaysia at this time (and it wasn’t even the long weekend). We had stayed on the no mans land for some 2hrs, reaching the immigrations at past 2pm. While on the way struggling towards the checkpoint, to save us some time, K had his lunch in the car.

GPS indicated 29mins additional – understatement!
Traffic jam.
All the way till the Johor checkpoint.

Because I didn’t have the Touch N Go card with me, I had to purchase one as there was a VEP fee to pay using that card. The officer at the counter told me to get out of the car and walk to VEP counter to buy the card. Leaving the car (which felt a little awkward and a little sorry for the car behind me), I went to the VEP counter where there were a few people who was at the auto machine, either buying a card or topping up. I bought the card for RM10 and topped up another RM50 at the same machine that luckily had English and a staff there to help, I hurried back to the car where the officer was done with our passports, tapped for a RM20 VEP fee before driving on.

The drive was the same route to Legoland and it was a short 15mins to Puteri harbour, passing one toll gantry where we had to pay RM7.50 toll before exiting at 312. Further down the road past Legoland, we soon arrived at a building where hotel Jen and Thomas town was. Drove down two levels and parked there, apparently without a need for carpark tickets or fees (at our time of visit).

At Puteri Harbour
At the theme park entrance

While mommy visited the toilet after holding it in for the whole journey, I went to the ticketing to get the tickets, a Maybank promo of RM175 for 2 adults for 2 parks as K was under 3 and thus free. There was a Safra card promo too but since I didn’t have it with me and was there for the Maybank promo (which the staff didn’t know about and thankfully I screen shot it).

The ticketing counter inside the building
Two tickets for the adults
Giant Hello Kitty design

We were given the wrist band and after a bag check, we took the lift to the 3rd floor. Thomas Town occupied the entire 3rd floor with a cafe and the rests were rides and a huge indoor playground. K got on top of the Bertie the bus ride before taking a Thomas train then went round the small track 2 times before indulging in the huge indoor playground (it was meant for 4 and older but I followed closely) for a good half an hour of climbing and sliding while mommy went for lunch.

Bertie Bus ride that went round and round
Thomas Town Panorama
Knapford station, all aboard Thomas the train
Thomas the train ride
Parent’s lounge area, to take a break from all the fun
Thomas and the other trains within the indoor playground
Obstacles in the playground
And tight lanes that were sometimes difficult to squeeze pass, as an adult
Slides of course
Game coupons for Hello Kitty town

When mommy came and took K to rest at the parents lounge and have milk, I went to the cafe there for some Mee Goreng for RM17, and proceeded to 2nd floor to see what’s there. To my surprise, there were many other playground there meant for K’s age and even a small stage for shows. At that time, Bob the builder was also having a show where parents and kids all gathered in front of the stage to watch sitting on comfy bean bags. There was also an arcade area.

Mee Goreng plus egg lunch
Bob the builder show
At the 2nd level
Indoor playground meant for smaller kids
Pingu the penguin
Arcade inside
Mini maze at Barney’s

I proceeded to the first floor and walked around the Hello Kitty Town. By comparison, it was a lot quieter in the sense of the activities, where it was more suited for kids preferring less physical activities. There was a Hello Kitty photo session ongoing and a show about to start with a queue forming. There was a cafe there too. I didn’t spend a lot of time there before joining the sleeping duo at the third floor. I managed to get online for awhile with my phone catching a whiff on hotel Jen wifi signal (no free wifi in Thomas town) before ending up on the couch back at Thomas town, typing this note while waiting for K to finish napping.

Hello Kitty Town entrance
Hello Kitty Town engulfed in pink
Indoor playground in Hello Kitty Town
Cinnamon roll cafe in Hello Kitty Town

A quick 1.5 hrs nap and he woke up. A little dazed, his little engine kickstarted quickly when I mentioned that there is more to see one level below. After changing out his diapers in public, we went down one level where the assorted characters of Bob the builder, Barney and Pingu could be found. With only 45mins to closing, we went to the indoor playground of Bob the builder, a playground meant for 3 to 12, more suited to K’s age. He immediately went for the ball pool, moving half submerged through and climbed for the slides. A couple more times at the slides and he had enough. There were giant puzzles to play with but he wasn’t interested. Barney characters were out and about for photos and we took a family pic before having a go at Barneys maze. The last stop at this level was at Pingu arcade where the games were for free. K wasn’t interested in most, though the parents had a little fun with the basketball while he was trying to do the rolling bowling.

Barney the mascots

10mins left and we went to level 1 where Hello Kitty town was. Almost everything was close and K was disappointed not being able to go to the indoor playground there (again!). We lined up at the shooting game in the last bit to utilize the coupons (using a toy gun to shoot at targets and win some stuff) but was too late as they had to do a hard stop at 6pm. We pleaded for the staff to let K shoot one shot as he was looking forward to it and cried when we said the game stall had closed. He did shoot once but it wasn’t on target.

We got to the ground floor and walked through the souvenir store, again being rushed to leave the place. There was quite a big section of Hello Kitty merchandise and a small section of Thomas the Train but we didn’t had much time anyway to shop, not to mention buy.

Thomas the train section in the store
The much bigger Hello Kitty section

Outside, there seemed to be programs of some sort going on but we weren’t participating due to the Mid-Autumn festival. Walked to the waterfront where rows of stalls were put up for bazaar but really not much to see. The view was also a typical yacht harbour.

Puteri Harbour panorama
Right next to the harbour
Bazaar stalls with lanterns for the mid-Autumn festival

Before leaving, I took some photos, bought a white coffee from Old Town white coffee, used the hotel Jen free wifi to load the map before we headed for home. Going home was rather easy and quick, the only grouse (due to my stupidity) was I missed the petrol station to fill up, not realizing that the R&R sign was the point to turn in from the highway.

Clearing the immigrations was fast, compared to the jam in the morning, and while we were traveling through the no mans land, we saw the morning jam extended till now! What’s with the traffic I wondered. Clearance was fast at Tuas since there weren’t many cars returning.

It was a really long day trip even though the theme parks were only opened for a mere 8hrs (10am-6pm). The fatigue came from the long wait at the queue going into Johor coupled with lotsa climbing inside the indoor playground. Overall it would be worth it to just pay for a single park with the Safra discount as we didn’t have time for the Hello Kitty town. Anyhow, it wasn’t that expensive to begin with (compared to places like Pororo park) just that it would have been better if we had left early and took in the whole 8hrs. There were quite a bit of games and entertainment ongoing other than the rides on offer. Those who preferred creative activities would prefer the Hello Kitty town since there were crafts rooms and cookies baking rooms, all were missed due to lack of time. In consideration of the jammed up nonsense going in, maybe a staycation at hotel Jen might not be a bad idea.