The Danga City Mall is my favorite mall in JB. It has several very nice small restaurants and a high number of technology stores. The top floors also include a bowling alley, paintball arena and archery range. Unfortunately the mall also has quite a few empty shops. At least for now it also has my favorite store, the Treasure Store (which has lots of great used english language books): the Treasure store is moving to Permas Jaya next month.
The IT valley has the richest collection of technology stores in Johor Bahru including Samsung, Sony, HP, and Ascentouch (Authorized Apple reseller) used computer stores, computer repair, computer equipment stores. They have the normal assortment of phone stores and internet providers.
The restaurants offer some really good food very inexpensively. Two of my favorite are JB Station Kopitiam and Agena Sea (which moved next to the exhibit hall recently). On the lowest level there are about 8 good restaurant choices including Hokka Hokka Japanese Food, A1 Cafe. And there are probably about 8 more upstairs, including a small Italian restaurant which is decent (and better than I would think it could be for such a small location) though the seats are not very comfortable (more suited to drinking than eating). There is also a small grocery store that has some things but it would be better if it were a bit larger.
A large MetroJaya department store anchors the mall. There are quite a few fashion stores and some beauty and health care stores.
I really hope to see more of the spaces for stores fill up. I think the problem is that Johor Bahru keeps building new malls but the shopping traffic doesn’t justify the amount of mall space in the city. I think there are at least 4 completely closed malls (and one downtown, is being renovated now). And, of course the super large discount premium outlet is opening (likely this will be largely frequented by Singaporeans – all malls in JB are actually but this one probably to an even larger extent).
Danga City Mall is convient to the causeway and busses run from City Square to Danga City Mall. Danga City Mall is one of 5 fairly large malls in downtown Johor Bahru. The others are KSL Mall, Plaza Pelangi, City Square (right next to CIQ) and Holiday Plaza Mall. The S1 bus will take you between all the malls and runs about every 20 minutes between 10 AM and 8 PM (and less frequently earlier and later in the day). Plus there is free parking (I think).
Hopefully more shoppers can be attracted and bring more stores to the mall, which can attract more shoppers. But if the urban planning creates too many new malls to sustain the existing malls the existing malls will just implode creating bad urban scenes that do not help promote the vitality of Johor Bahru and Iskandar. A bus system that matched Singapore’s would also help.
The convention hall has events every weekend that are often extremely popular.
Johor Bahru would be better served optimizing the existing malls (better mass transit, refurbishing the malls, better planning) and directing real estate investment to more office (or health care or education) jobs – I think. Littering the city with obsolete malls creates real and perception problems (a bunch of crumbling buildings does not project a positive image for a city). I know the Iskandar plans are focused on creating jobs (but the urban planning aspects to optimize the land use seems to be lagging behind new construction). This urban planning is difficult but doing this well is what results in cities like Singapore, London, New York City instead of all those cities that have dreams of being the next world class city but never make it.