Muar may be quite small, but great things do come in small packages!
If you’re driving into Muar from the north, you will need to cross the Sultan Ismail Bridge. Driving through this stretch, you may opt to stop at the foot of the bridge to admire its unique architecture. Completed in 1967 and opened to the public during the time of Almarhum Sultan Sir Ismail Al-Khalidi ibni Al-marhum Sultan Sir Ibrahim Al-Masyhur, the bridge was initially built as a toll bridge but after public objection, the toll idea was abandoned, allowing the public to travel freely by road between the District of Tangkak Ledang and the District of Muar.
Tanjung Emas Park is one of the most famous attractions in Muar, and the best time to visit is during the weekend. There are plenty of activities to do while in Tanjung Emas. One may take a stroll in the park, enjoy a picnic or exercise along the river bank. Enjoying the scenic view of the Muar River while taking snapshots of the surrounding area and the sunset is also wonderful. A trip to Tanjung Emas will not be complete without taking a boat cruise along the river, or tasting the famous Muar rojak sold at the food stalls.
Next, one may visit the Sultan Ibrahim Jamek Mosque, constructed between 1925 and 1930. This is the oldest mosque in Muar and again, you will be amazed by its intricate architecture. The minarets are truly a sight to behold, while the porticoes and balconies are beautifully adorned too. There is a fountain right outside the mosque that displays magnificent fountain artwork. So, take some time to walk around the mosque and take all the sights in.
Muar is also famous for its many colonial buildings located around town. The Chiang Chuan Association is a two-storey building with a mixture of Indo-Islamic, Chinese and European influences. The whole structure is topped with a three-tiered pagoda, which itself is topped with a Mughal-style onion dome. The upper floor has European-style balconies divided by fluted columns and is decorated with Chinese red lanterns and a mosaic of a qilin. When you are at the top of the building, you will have a bird’s-eye view of the whole Muar town. A small museum has been set up in the building for the benefit of both Muarians and tourists alike.
Mural art found in Muar is considered among the best in Malaysia. Displaying convincing cultural influences, it attracts lots of foreign and local tourists who come over just to capture these outstanding artworks (on camera). There are many murals in Muar but the most significant would be The Loving Sisters. Painted on a four-storey building, it is at present the largest mural in Malaysia. Muar also boasts the Bangsa Johor mural, which depicts the unity among the different races in Malaysia.
If you are planning an overnight stay, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the hotels or homestays available here. There is also a petting zoo-cum-homestay recommended for those who would like to go back to nature. You will find accommodation suitable for all types of travellers here.
Muar is famed for its wide array of good food, at a very reasonable cost. No trip to Muar would be complete without food-hopping from one famous food shop to another. You will find food ranging from fine dining to roadside hawker stalls across the town. It’s best to try out a variety of local delicacies and allow your taste buds to be taken on an amazing journey you will not regret.
Sai Kee Kopi 434 Muar is one place to get yourself a cup of local coffee. Try asking any local around town, and they will likely recommend this coffee shop. Famous for its Elephant Bean coffee, it is located opposite the Muar Bus Station and is normally packed during the weekends.
Otak-otak is a delicacy of Muar, with many stalls across town selling this famous dish. Muar mee bandung and Muar satay are also foods you should not miss during your time in Muar. The list of local delicacies goes on and on. Muar is certainly a food haven not to be missed!
— As told to Anandhi Gopinath
This article first appeared on Aug 24, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.