The modern, outward-looking city-state of Singapore is well acquainted with its neighbors. Looking south, it faces off islands of the Indonesian archipelago, while to the north, a causeway connects the island with the teeming jungle and equally teeming cities of the Malay Peninsula.
Malaysia makes a great side trip for a day or longer from the island and, like Singapore, it is a fascinating mix of ethnic groups and religions.
Malay mosques, Hindu shrines and the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia all testify to Malaysia’s multi-ethnic patchwork and engrossing history.
Just across the strait from Singapore, is the city of Johore Bahru. This booming frontier town offers a taste of authentic Southeast Asia. The familiar jumble of influences continues: one of the city’s main sites looks at first like a colonial English administrative building, but Moorish flourishes inside reveal its true function as a mosque.