Muar does not take up much space in travel guide books, so welcome to Malaysia Traveller’s self-guided Muar Walking Tour, the best way to experience the highlights of Johor’s royal town.
Just because a place does not have major tourist attractions, does not mean there is nothing worth seeing. Take some time to walk around and explore and you will see that Muar is a pleasant town with many things to see.
The walking tour begins at Tanjung Emas, a park on the western end of Jalan Peteri, alongside the mighty River Muar where it reaches the sea. There is plenty of free parking here and a relaxing walkway along the bank of the river.
This walkway passes Dataran Tanjung Emas, an open padang area with a fancy grandstand at one end which is probably used at ceremonial occasions, Merdeka celebrations and so on.
Next is the imposing Masjid Jamek Sultan Ibrahim, a sky-blue coloured mosque built in 1927. There is an identical mosque built on the opposite bank of the river. This twin is much newer, having been built in 1999.
Continuing along Jalan Peteri, you will pass in front of a Royal rest palace, a building which looks like it was built in the 1960s in what was no doubt at the time, a state-of-the-art and futuristic design.
Today it looks a little dated, like something out of an old James Bond film, but still a design classic all the same.
Muar is also known as Bandar Maharani or Town of the Empress. Across the street is an old secondary school, a heritage building with the date 1915 inscribed over the entrance.
Nearby stands Bangunan Sultan Abu Bakar, painted in blue and white with the Johor state emblem and the date 1921 above the entrance. It houses local government offices.
Opposite is the former courthouse, built in the 1920s in classic colonial style. It is currently vacant. Next door is the Muar police station, another heritage building that is still in use by the police.
Turning into Jalan Othman, there is another white colonial-era building in a compound used by the telephone company. It used to be a post office.
Also on this street are a row of terraced houses known as the Old Dutch Houses. They are dated 1928.
Around the corner, on Jalan Ibrahim stands the Little Café, a cosy eatery in an old wooden house serving a range of western and Malaysian dishes (with free Wi-Fi).
The route then takes you through a busier commercial area where you can admire the Sri Murugan Temple on Jalan Meriam with its ornate and colourful gopuram (tower).
Reaching Jalan Maharani you will pass the Royal Customs and Excise Building, another heritage building dated 1909. Sadly, its facade is no longer original with the installation of modern windows.
There are a number of interesting old shop houses on this street selling a wide range of produce including dried seafood.
The jetty for the Muar River Cruise boat is located here with another cruise pick-up point back at Tanjung Emas where the walk started.
The Sultan Ismail Bridge spans the river at this point and here you can see the brightly painted yellow Muar clock tower, one of the town’s most famous landmarks.
Close by, opposite the Bentayan Bus Terminal is a small Chinese temple, Nan Fei Lai Goddess of Mercy, said to be the oldest in Muar.
Nearby is Café 434 with its bright yellow exterior and huge advert for Elephant Bean coffee which is a speciality of the house. Inside, the café has a Swiss chalet feel to it. Very unusual and unexpected in a place like Muar. The Elephant Bean coffee has a strong, rich taste.
This old part of town features streets of shop houses painted different colours, so there are pink streets, yellow streets, blue, green and so on. The effect of this colour coding is to give the streets a neater, more uniform appearance and helps to mask the mish-mash of architectural styles.
Your final stop must be to see the area around Jalan Ali/Jalan Haji Abu known as Hunger Street, with its wide variety of restaurants and food stalls serving all kinds of Malaysian food, especially Chinese, including all the dishes for which Muar is famous.
From here you can either take a taxi, bus or trishaw back to where you parked your car. If you follow the route marked on the map, the total distance covered by the Muar Walking Tour is about 7km.
This article first appeared in malaysia-traveller.com