Singapore-Malaysia high speed rail: A quick guide to what to eat and see

How would you like to travel by rail from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in just 90 minutes?

You might say that a flight to Singapore only takes 45 minutes. But then you have not factored in the time to get to the airport, check in and wait at the gate before departure, and also when you reach Singapore, the time spent on claiming your luggage and so on.

A memorandum of understanding was signed in July between the Malaysian and the Singaporean governments for a 350km high-speed rail (HSR) link between KL and Singapore (Jurong East). Such a link would be most welcomed by people on both sides of the Causeway. If all goes as planned, it is expected to be operational in a decade.

There are six stops on this link between KL and Singapore - Putrajaya; Seremban; Ayer Keroh in Malacca; Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri, all in Johor.

If you plan to get off at any of the stops in search of some delicious local food and to visit some attractions, here are our suggestions.

Putrajaya

It is the administrative capital of Malaysia, where the government administrative buildings, including the Prime Minister's Department, are located. There are some architecturally interesting and impressive buildings here, making it a popular place for photo-taking among sightseers and even for wedding photography.

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Putra Mosque

Photo: The Star/Mohd Sahar Misni

Of the most imposing and distinctive structures here is the Putra Mosque. Located next to Putra Square and on the banks of the scenic Putrajaya lake, and with the Prime Minister's Department Complex in the background, it is the go-to spot among visitors. The mosque, constructed out of rose-tinted granite, is modelled after the Persian Islamic architecture of the Safavid period.

Putrajaya's Bridges

Seri Wawasan Bridge is one of the many beautiful bridges in Putrajaya. Photo: The Star/Mohd Sahar Misni

As it is surrounded by the Putrajaya lake, Putrajaya has several bridges crossing this man-made lake in various locations - nine to be exact. But the more stunning ones are Seri Gemilang, Seri Wawasan and Seri Saujana. Visitors usually make it a point to stop by at least one of them for photos.

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Food

Ayer@8

Head to Ayer@8 for plentiful food choices. Photo: The Star/Mohd Sahar Misni

Located in Precinct 8, Ayer@8 at the Promenade, Jalan P8G, is the latest popular hangout spot for coffee or dinner in Putrajaya. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, and they serve a variety of food, from local Malay food to Western and Middle Eastern cuisines. Most of the shops have a fantastic view of the Putrajaya Lake, too.

Ikan Bakar Seri Empangan

This open-air food court in Precinct 5 (3, Jalan Lebuh Gemilang, Taman Empangan) also boasts a splendid view of a lake, which can be quite spectacular during sunset. Besides their signature grilled ikan bakar, there are many other kinds of seafood dishes available.

Seremban

The capital of Negri Sembilan, this town used to have a sleepy vibe. However due to its proximity to KL (70km away) it has almost become an extended suburb of it. Many stay in Seremban and commute to places in the Klang Valley for work. As a result, it has awakened from its slumber, and the town is bustling these days.

Labu, located some 15km from central Seremban, is proposed to be the location for the HSR stop. The state authorities are also asking for a connecting rail route to be built from there to the KL International Airport and KLIA2.

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Centipede Temple

If you spot or get bitten by a centipede at the Centipede Temple, you can definitely expect some good fortune. Photo: The Star/S.S. Yoga

Also known as the Then Tze Khoon, this colourful 153-year-old Taoist temple is perched atop a rocky hill known as Bukit Jung along Jalan Temiang. To get to the top, one needs to walk up a flight of 264 steps. However, visitors can also drive all the way to the top from where they can enjoy a panoramic view of Seremban. Although this is a Taoist temple, there are also colourful and embellished sculptures of Buddha, Guan Yin the Goddess of Mercy and Yue Lao the God of Marriage. There are also statues of the monk Xuanzang and his three disciples, the Monkey God, as well as the Eight Immortals of the Taoist legend.

Ulu Bendul Recreational Park

The Ulu Bendul recreational park is popular with both local and out of town picnickers. Photo: The Star/Uu Ban

The park (20km from town), located in the Angsi Forest Reserve is a popular destination for families looking for a splashing time. Cool and refreshing mountain water flows through the park from Gunung Angsi located upstream, favoured by hiking aficionados. Those not wishing to stay in the reasonably priced chalets here can opt to camp out in the open. There is also an observation tower for bird-watching enthusiasts. Also located here is a Python Park where one can see and touch many species of the snake.

Port Dickson

Located about 30 minutes' drive from Seremban, PD has cleaned up its act and the beaches are pretty decent these days. The resort town is also home to the Armed Forces Museum as well as the Kota Lukut Fort and Museum as well as the Tanjung Tuan light house.

Food

Top Curry House

As its name suggests, the Top Curry House in Seremban is to most, the best banana leaf restaurant in town. Photo: The Star/Uu Ban

Located at 15&19 Jalan Dato' Abdul Rahman, this restaurant has been serving spicy South Indian fare and Andhra-style dishes for over two decades. Its banana-leaf rice is arguably the best in town.

Diners can order these side dishes - delicious chicken perattal (dry chicken curry) and fragrant fish head curry - to go with their banana leaf rice that is accompanied by a free flow of vegetable dishes and sambar (lentil curry).

Yi Poh Restaurant

Yi Poh Restaurant located at Jalan Seng Mee Lee is said to serve the best wan tan mee and loh shi fun. Photo: The Star/Uu Ban

Many claim that the best wan tan mee and lou shi fun in town are served here. It is located at 26 Jalan Seng Meng Lee. Although the restaurant has been serving many other mee-based dishes for several decades, the two certainly stand out as its signature dishes. The wan tan mee comes with neatly sliced char siew and wan tan made of delicious soft minced pork served in peppery soup and served with red chilli paste.

The same soup is also served for those having lou shi fun served in soy sauce.

Ayer Keroh

It is the administrative hub of the state and located 15km away from the city centre. It has theme parks, a zoo and wildlife attractions, a botanical garden and an Orang Asli Museum. So many places of interest to keep you occupied for more than one day.

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Mini Malaysia And ASEAN Cultural Park

The Mini Malaysia and ASEAN Cultural Park is worth checking out. Photo: The Star/A. Malex Yahaya

This theme park in Lebuh Ayer Keroh showcases traditional houses from every state in Malaysia and from the countries in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), many which might vanish from the landscape. Here, you can also learn how to play congkak, a traditional Malay two-player game involving a wooden board with stones. Other activities include cultural shows, batik painting, Malay kueh-making demonstrations and horse-riding.

Malacca Zoo and Night Safari

This zoo spread over 22ha was previously run by the Wildlife Department but was privatised a few years ago and has undergone a face-lift. Besides the popular night safari, it has evolved into a more open concept of housing the animals. There is also a 480m raised platform to view the animals, many of which are rare, including the Red Panda! The zoo also organises many different activities for visitors.

A' Famosa Resort

The opening ceremony of the Freeport A' Famosa Outlet. Filepic

This is a multi-variety theme park that offers experiences for the whole family. It covers the gamut, from water and entertainment activities, to animals, a golf course and shopping. Next to the resort is the Freeport A' Famosa Outlet, which offers discounted prices for branded retails goods.

Food

Ikan Bakar Malim Restaurant

Get grilled mackerel (ikan kembung) or torpedo scad fish (cencaru) at this restaurant in Jalan TU40, Taman Tasik Utama Ayer Keroh. Wash it down with laici kang drink, which contains lychees, peanuts, cendol, red dates and grass jelly.

Brother John Kopitiam

Offers a variety of local dishes, including Malaysian favourites like Mamak mee goreng and nasi lemak. There is brewed coffee to go with that. The shop is situated at Jalan TU42, Taman Tasik Utama, MITC.

Muar

Also known as Bandar Maharani because of its royal status, it is the fourth largest town in Johor. The town centre still has many pre-war commercial buildings that are still well-preserved. The town has a few places of historical interest and is noted for a few local delicacies, including the famous snack called mee siput.

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The Loving Sisters Mural

The Loving Sisters mural makes for a great photo op in Muar town. Photo: The Star/Kathleen Ann Kili

Listed in The Malaysia Book of Records as the largest portrait mural in the country, it depicts two sisters - Nur Najwa Aliesya Abdul Rashid hugging Nur Najiha Amani. Painted on a four-storey building near Jalan Bulatan Bakri here, it has attracted visitors from near and far.

Heritage buildings

A row of Dutch houses built in 1928 are still well maintained along Jalan Othman in Muar. Photo: The Star/Kathleen Ann Kili

The town has rows of well-preserved heritage buildings built between 1900 and the 1950s, with Chinese, English and Malay architectural elements, including the Abu Bakar Building (housing the town's administrative offices) completed in 1929, the Customs buildings in 1909, Sultan Ibrahim Jamek Mosque in 1927, Muar High School in 1915 as well as a row of Dutch houses built in 1928.

Nasuha Herbal Farm Resort

Said to be the largest farm for herbs and spices in Asia, it has over 6,000 organic plants and trees spanning some 1,295ha. Guests can opt for a day tour of the farm by tram to learn about the various species. Patrons can also enjoy a healthy organic meal at its restaurant and purchase a wide range of herbal products at its store. There are wooden cabins for those wishing to spend the night at the farm which is 19km away from town.

Food

Dataran Tanjung Emas Food Court

Patrons enjoying local dishes at the Dataran Tanjung Emas Food Court in Muar. Photo: The Star/Kathleen Ann Kili

Indulge in an array of local delicacies, such as rojak, yong tau foo, asam pedas and Muar's famous mee bandung by the park. The food court along Jalan Puteri is popular with locals from all walks of life, for its affordable yet delicious dishes.

Mee Bandung Abu Bakar Hanipah

The famous mee bandung being prepared at the Mee Bandung Abu Bakar Hanipah restaurant. Photo: The Star/Kathleen Ann Kili

The quaint restaurant, which has been delighting customers since the 1930s, is located along Jalan Abdullah. A Johor speciality, the mee bandung is considered a must-try for both locals and tourists.

Batu Pahat

This town of 300,000 is a relatively big town, with reportedly 400 temples in the district to cater to its mainly Chinese population. Its main economic activities are agriculture (plantations and orchards) and manufacturing. A lot of the fruits grown here are for the export market.

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Pantai Minyak Beku And Perigi Batu Pahat

Visitors checking out the historical Perigi Batu Pahat near Pantai Minyak Beku in Batu Pahat. Photo: The Star/Kathleen Ann Kili

The beach is located at the mouth of the Batu Pahat River. Visitors can park their cars right by the seaside and enjoy the view and breeze. They can also indulge in a cooling coconut drink and savour some local snacks at the row of stalls nearby. Don't miss the historical Batu Pahat Well, said to have been dug by fleeing Siamese troops after a failed attack in Malacca during the reign of Sultan Mansur Syah, the third sultan of Malacca who ruled from 1446 to 1459.

Tua Pek Kong Chinese Temple

A popular place of worship and tourist stop just along the Minyak Beku Beach in Segenting fishing village. It houses various deities such as Mazu (Goddess of the Sea), Da Bo Gong (Grand Uncle) and Hai Long Wang (Dragon King of the Sea). Devotees also believe that gently touching the arapaima fish in the pond brings good fortune.

Wet World Batu Pahat Village Resort

Enjoy the interactive water play elements, such as the fun slides and wave pool at the child-friendly park. End the day with dinner at the first and only Glow Park in Johor, where diners can feast amid a unique installation of colourful lights.

Food

Asam Pedas Stalls

Asam Pedas Tambak stall along Jalan Rahmat in Batu Pahat. Photo: Kathleen Ann Kili

Batu Pahat is the place to go to for the popular Johor dish known as asam pedas. Plenty of choice here, as there is a slew of restaurants offering their version of the dish on the road leading to town. They are situated just beside the Post Office along Jalan Rahmat.

Mee Racun Tulang Batu Pahat 

Mouth watering mee racun being prepared for customers. Photo: The Star/Kathleen Ann Kili

Mee racun means "poison noodle" in English but, as scary as it sounds, the dish is typically noodles served with a tangy sour and spicy sauce. Among the most popular stalls offering this mouth-watering dish is the Mee Racun Tulang restaurant along Jalan Rotan Tungal in Taman Sri Jaya.

Iskandar Puteri

Formerly known as Nusajaya, it underwent a name change in January, being the name of the then administrative centre of Johor in 1855. It houses the current administrative centre Kota Iskandar. It complements the waterfront development of Puteri Harbour. With the tagline "The World in One City", it has many commercial, residential, educational, entertainment and sports facilities, many of them world-class.

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Puteri Harbour

You can enjoy the sunset and the evening breeze while having dinner and drinks at the many F&B outlets here. And you can enjoy views of the many yachts and boats docked at the Marina. Many make a beeline to the Sanrio Hello Kitty Town here and do all the cutesy stuff, rides and games for both kids and adults. Hang out with animated characters such as Angelina Ballerina, Barney, Pingu, and Thomas and Friends. There's also Thomas Town for more fun activities.

Legoland Malaysia Resort

It is home to Asia's first Legoland themepark and the sixth in the world, after Denmark, Britain and Germany as well as California and Florida in the United States. Besides Lego-themed rides and a miniland where iconic world buildings are constructed entirely out of Lego bricks, visitors can also expect a splashing good time at the largest Legoland Water Park in the world with more than 20 water slides and over 70 Lego models among its attractions.

Kota Iskandar

Check out the architectural-style of the buildings in Kota Iskandar. Photo: The Star/Yee Xiang Yun

An administrative centre might sound boring. But these buildings are interesting, inspired by Malay and Moorish architectural elements. With a pretty garden and a fountain, they make for a popular backdrop for photoshoots.

Food

Nasi Kukus Ayam Dara Gp

The glorious spice-ladden fried chicken at Nasi Kukus Ayam Dara GP. Photo: The Star/Yee Xiang Yun

Head to this makeshift stall at Jalan Medan Nusa Perintis 4 in Gelang Patah for lunch and you will be greeted with enticing wafts of juicy ayam goreng rempah (spiced fried chicken). The stall is easy to find as there is always a queue. It will be moving into a corner shop lot at the end of the road in September.

Kampung Pendas Floating Restaurant

Enjoy a meal on a floating restaurant in Kampung Pendas, Gelang Patah near Iskandar Puteri. Photo: The Star/Yee Xiang Yun

A bit out of the way is a small fishing village called Kampung Pendas, where visitors can sample fresh seafood on a floating restaurant overlooking the sea. There is also the Pendas Fresh Fish Market nearby for those who prefer their seafood fresh but be sure to head there early before stocks run out.

Jurong East

The area has a good mixture of industrial, commercial, residential and recreational development in the south of Singapore. Malaysians would be familiar with the area because of the Bird Park and the Science Centre.

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Jurong Bird Park

The bird park is the largest in Asia-Pacific and houses an impressive variety of avian species. Together with exhibitions, shows and huge aviaries, the birds are sure to satisfy your fancy for a fun and educational day out for both adults and children.

Science Centre Singapore

You are sure to walk away from this place having learnt something new. Promoting scientific and technological education for the general public, the centre offers over 850 exciting and fun exhibits in eight exhibition galleries.

Chinese Garden

The serene Chinese Garden, a park in Jurong East, Singapore. Photo: The Star/Yee Xiang Yun

Escape from the concrete jungle for a respite in this park designed and built by a Taiwanese architect in the 1970s. The concept is obviously Chinese-inspired so expect majestic stone lions, tall pagodas, brick archways and a calm and serene lake. Entry is free.

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Food

Yuhua Village Market And Food Centre

The Yuhua Village Market and Food Centre located at Jurong East offers a wide range of street fare. Photo: The Star/Yee Xiang Yun

Those looking for street fare can make a pitstop at this food centre and try some of Singapore's popular dishes, such as boneless chicken rice, beef hor fun, fishball noodles and laksa. Situated in the middle of an HDB area, it is also surrounded by sundry shops and fruit stalls for visitors to stock up on supplies.

The Usual Place

Enjoy some waffles and drinks at an affordable price at a hipster cafe called The Usual Place. Photo: The Star/Yee Xiang Yun

Since the hipster cafe trend started, Jurong East has jumped on the bandwagon - and The Usual Place is one of such cafes that have mushroomed in the area. This cafe is run by a friendly family serving no-frills simple Western comfort food like pastas, finger food and desserts. It is quite easy to find, located at #01-73, 346 Jurong East Street 31, about a 10-minute walk from the Chinese Garden MRT station.