Putrajaya, an "Intelligent Garden City" and the federal administrative capital of Malaysia, is a showcase city under construction some 30 km south of the capital Kuala Lumpur. Her adjacent sister city, Cyberjaya, is built along the same lines, but is aimed at attracting the IT industry. The area used to be known as Prang Besar.
Putrajaya covers a vast sprawl of 4,931 hectares, which were mostly palm plantations before the federal government purchased the lot from the surrounding state of Selangor. The city's masterplan is designed along an axial tangent which runs from the northeast to southeast, with gently undulating terrain. About 40% of Putrajaya is natural, but the landscape has been extensively reworked by man: lush greenery and botanical gardens are spread across the landscape, crisscrossed by large bodies of water and wetlands. Five confluences meet at the north forming a main waterway, the Putrajaya Lake, which flows across the city area.
The project was started in 1993 and the federal capital officially moved in 1999, although the site is still far from complete. Putrajaya became a self-governing federal territory (wilayah persekutuan) in 2001, the third in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur and the little oddball island of Labuan.
The name literally means "princes' (putra) success (jaya)". Officially, the site is named in homage to Malaysia's first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, but odds are it's also a tip of the hat towards the "princes of the soil" (bumiputra), a euphemism for ethnic Malays (as opposed to the richer Chinese minority) and one of the key concepts of Malaysia's affirmative action program.
Ever since the Asian economic crisis of 1998 development has slowed down markedly, and while there aren't any of the rusting half-built concrete shells that still litter KL and Bangkok, the careful eye will spot more than a couple of once cleared and dug-up but now abandoned fields (often with a crane or two stuck in the mud too). Basically, the infrastructure is largely in place but the buildings and occupants aren't, leading to the impression of a giant swath of hilly jungle crisscrossed by 8-lane highways with no other cars on them, and the occasional beautifully sculpted lake garden with no people in sight.
That said, the area remains under heavy construction and both people and companies are slowly moving in. As of 2009, the population has surpassed 50,000, although there's still a long way to go to the targeted 300,000. Inevitably, development isn't always occurring in expected ways: Cyberjaya has to date mostly succeeded in attracting call centers and data warehouses, not R&D laboratories. The new twin cities may look very different in 5-10 years' time.
By planeThe nearest airport is Kuala Lumpur International Airport. A coupon or metered budget taxi to or from KLIA will take 30 minutes and cost around RM60. Alternatively, you can take the KLIA Transit from the airport to Putrajaya station and transfer to a taxi.
For public transport the fastest choice is the KLIA Transit connecting Kuala Lumpur's Sentral train station to its airport, which stops halfway in between at Putrajaya. Trains run every 30 minutes, take 20 minutes and the list price is RM 9.50 one-way. Putrajaya tour return tickets are no longer available.
"KLIA Ekspres" is a special service route of KLIA Transit. It does not stop at Putrajaya, but normal KLIA Transit trains stop at Putrajaya.
You can board a Rapid KL Bus from Putrajaya Sentral to KLSentral. It's the easiest way to reach Kuala Lumpur City from Putra Jaya.
Coupon taxis from Kuala Lumpur's KL Sentral cost a fixed RM 45, but otherwise you'll have to try out your bargaining skills - figure on RM 40-50, and expect to pay more at night.
Bus service is provided from 6:30AM until 10PM to and from Cyberjaya, Putrajaya, Serdang commuter station, Sinar Kota and Pasar Seni LRT station in Kuala Lumpur. The bus fare for one-way is around RM 3.50 and takes about 30 minutes-one hour, depends on the traffic flow. Usually, on non-working days the time the buses take to arrive at Putrajaya will be much faster, but the frequency of the buses will be accordingly reduced.
The new Express network by Rapid KL links KL Sentral to Putrajaya with only RM 5 for an unlimited daily pass.
All public buses from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya drop and pick up passengers from the bus terminal beside the train station (Putrajaya Sentral), which is at least 5 km from the core district.
Shuttle buses to/from KL are provided by some hotels for guests, such as Shangri-la.
Public transportation within Putrajaya is woefully inadequate, as distances are long and you need wheels to get around. Occasional Nadiputra buses putter about from the train station at random times in random directions. These buses charge a flat fare of 50 sen.
Tours from Putrajaya Central run every day at 11AM and 3PM at a cost of 20 RM (the 11AM trip is not available on Fridays). This takes 2½ hours and covers most of the main sights within Putrajaya. Alternatively, tours are run from KLIA for about RM 30 all-in.
Coupon taxis from the Transit station charge RM 8-10 to most points in Putrajaya. Other taxis are limited and it's best to book by phone at +60 3-5512-2266. Other taxi hotlines include: Putrajaya Cyberjaya Radio Taxi at +60 3 8888 4000, which operates 24 hours. The meter starts ticking from RM 4, but many cabbies are reluctant to use theirs. Chartering starts from RM 30/hour, negotiable downwards.
Construction of the Putrajaya Monorail has been halted until the occupancy of the Core District becomes higher.
Putrajaya's main sights are the colossal showcase buildings put up in this future capital, all in the central Core District.
Note that a dress code applies to Perdana Putra, Seri Perdana and Putra Mosque, meaning no T-shirts, shorts, singlets, sandals, or "indecent" wear for ladies. The mosque lends out shocking pink robes for free, but the rest do not.
Perdana PutraPresint 1. The gargantuan complex of the Prime Minister's Office. Open to the public M-F 8AM-12:30PM, 2-4PM, plus every 2nd and 4th Sat in the morning only. Free entry, but ID is required (passport for non-Malaysians).
Putra Mosqueaddress: Presint 1Pretty in pink, this mosque has a capacity of 15,000 worshippers and its 116-meter minaret is the tallest in Southeast Asia. Non-Muslims may not enter the mosque building itself during prayer hours.
Putrajaya International Convention CenterPresint 5. At the end of the Putrajaya Boulevard, this showcase squashed UFO of a building, designed to resemble a Malay belt buckle, was built for the Organization of Islamic Countries conference in 2003.
Seri PerdanaEnormous official residence of the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Has been open to visitors in the past, but as of 2009 is closed to the public.
- Wisma Putra. Houses the Malaysian Foreign Ministry.
- Istana Melawati and Istana Darul Ehsan, the official residences of the Paramount Ruler of Malaysia and the Sultan of Selangor respectively. Not open to the public.
- The Diplomatic Enclave, housing foreign embassies and missions — at least in theory.
- The Perdana Leadership Foundation, holding the offices of previous Prime Ministers.
Gardens and monuments
- Taman Putra Perdana, Presint 1. Pleasantly landscaped (and usually very quiet) hilltop park connecting the Shangri-La towards the Putra Perdana building, with some of the best views in town. At the center of the park is the Putrajaya Landmark (Mercu Tanda), which resembles a wizard's hat rolled from tinfoil.
- Millennium Monument, Presint 2. 68-m pillar in the shape of a hibiscus flower, with a walkway around it documenting the history of Malaysia.
- Putrajaya Boulevard, a 100-m wide, 4-km long boulevard flanked by government offices and the mainstage for National Day parade.
phone: +60 3-8888-5539address: Jeti Putra, Jambatan Putra Presint 1Offers cruises around Putrajaya with sightseeing stops (RM 30/person), both in small 4/6-seater gondola-like perahu boats and a large 76-seater air-con boat. On weekends only, dinner cruises depart from Jeti Putra at 8PM and cost RM 120/head (reserve one day in advance).
Botanical Gardensaddress: Precinct 1The Botanical Gardens has been designed as an Arcadia or a national sanctuary for the Malaysian living collection of plant taxonomy as well as a centre for education and research. The garden is divided into 5 different themes. They are the Explorer's Trail, Palm Hill, Floral Gardens, Sun Garden and the Lakeside.
Taman Ekuestrian Putrajayaphone: +60 3 8888 6080address: Precinct 5The Sport and Recreational Precinct of Putrajaya, this equestrian centre takes advantage of the 70 acres of lush greenery to provide an attractive location and facilities for riders to experience a new environment and sporting background for equestrian competitions. The Taman Ekuestrian Putrajaya has been conceptualised to become a full-pledged equestrian and country club and future development plans have already been set in motion towards enhancing the park’s equine and recreational facilities to include a riding school, family restaurant, swimming pool, tennis courts and a multipurpose hall.
Putrajaya is a well lit city. One of the attractions, the Seri Wawasan Bridge, has a breathtaking view overlooking the Putra Mosque. Park by the roadside and enjoy the night view. Alternatively, drive to Putra Mosque square and go down the escalator to the food court overlooking Putrajaya Lake.
AlamandaAs indicated by the logo, alamanda is a type of flower commonly found in Malaysia, Putrajaya's premier (and only) shopping center.
- Medan Selera, Presint 8. An open air and spacious food court catering to the residents of the community and government staff offering mostly local dishes at a fairly cheap price. You can also try the western menu at Harris's Bistro on the upper level of the food court. At RM 9 for a plate of chicken with black pepper or barbecue sauce and served with fries and coleslaw, it is enough to satisfy your hunger pangs. Harris's Bistro is open daily from 12:30PM till 10:30PM.
Night Marketaddress: Persiaran Perdana, Presint 2Every Tuesday and Friday there is a nice night market with aisles of fresh foods, prepared foods, and household goods. Like Putrajaya itself, it is slightly less multi-cultural than many Malaysian night markets. Prepared food ranges from RM 1 to 10. Fried mushrooms are a must try with many different seasonings available.
- Taman Warisan, an agro-based food stop where you can dine and shop for fresh fruits at the same place.
- Azur, Shangri-La 2F. Cobalt blue restaurant offering an improbable menu of "Mediterranean-Asian" food from Italy to India. It's surprisingly good stuff though and not too unreasonably priced, with appetizers RM 15-20 and mains RM 30-40.
Aside from some rather comatose hotel bars, nightlife in Putrajaya is basically non-existent.
There are no budget or midrange options in town, but suffering from acute overcapacity, Putrajaya's luxury hotels offer some of the best deals on the planet. All the hotels are brand new and near-empty, unless there happens to be a big convention in town.
phone: +60 3 8312-7000address: Persiaran Multimedia, CyberjayaDespite the faintly ridiculous name, this is a well-regarded resort-style spa hotel in neighboring Cyberjaya.
Equatorial Bangi-PutrajayaPersiaran Bandar, Bandar Baru Bangi, RM 300. A "business resort" on the grounds of a 27-hole golf course. Built in the style of a gigantic eight-story Spanish villa.
Marriott PutrajayaA stupendously huge 500-room hotel with a grandiose marble-columned lobby, out in the middle of nowhere at the rather lacklustre IOI Resort. Best quick description: "Looks like Saddam Hussein's palace". Maybe not bad for a cheap round of golf, as room rates go as low as US$25 (green fees not included).
Palm Garden HotelFormerly Renaissance, also in the IOI Resort, is a slightly more humanely sized hotel and probably a better choice than the Marriott.
phone: +60 3 8887 8888address: Taman Putra Perdana Presint 1, Wilayah PersekutuanNo doubt the pick of the pack. In the Core District (next to the King's palace) and features Shangri-La's renowned service and an Infinity Edge pool looking out over the best parts of Putrajaya. Free shuttle service to/from KL twice on weekdays and three times on weekends. Also provides shuttles to Cyberjaya and Alamanda, the nearby shopping centres. Advance booking of shuttle required.