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 was formerly 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.
The 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.
Note: KLIA Ekspres services which is a special service route of KLIA Transit do not stop at Putrajaya. But normal KLIA Transit trains stops at Putrajaya.
One can Board a Rapid KL Bus from Putrajaya Sentral to KLSentral. Its the easiest way to reach Kuala Lumpur City from Putra Jaya
Coupon taxis from Kuala Lumpur's KL Sentral cost a fixed RM45, but otherwise you'll have to try out your bargaining skills - figure on RM40-50, 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. Your best bet is probably to enquire at KLIA or KL Sentral about organized tours. There are also public two-hour tours at 11.30 AM and 3 PM on Saturday and Sunday only, departing from the information centre at Selera Putra adjacent to the Putra Mosque, that charge only a token RM 1 for the bus.
Coupon taxis from the Transit station charge RM8-10 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 03 8888 4000, which operates 24hours. The meter starts ticking from RM4, but many cabbies are reluctant to use theirs. Chartering starts from RM30/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 Putra. Presint 1. The gargantuan complex of the Prime Minister's Office. Open to the public Mon-Fri 8 AM to 12:30 PM, 2 PM to 4 PM, plus every 2nd and 4th Sat in the morning only. Free entry, but ID is required (passport for non-Malaysians).
- Putra Mosque (Masjid Putra), Presint 1. Pretty in pink, this mosque has a capacity of 15,000 worshippers and its 116-meter minaret is the tallest in Southeast Asia. Free entry, open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM. Non-Muslims may not enter the mosque building itself during prayer hours.
- Putrajaya International Convention Center. Presint 5. Dominantly located 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 Perdana. Enormous 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; as of 2008, only the Iraqis have even started construction here.
- The Perdana Leadership Foundation, holding the offices of previous Prime Ministers, currently occupied by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
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-meter pillar in the shape of a hibiscus flower, with a walkway around it documenting the history of Malaysia.
- Putrajaya Boulevard, a 100-meter wide, 4-kilometers long boulevard flanked by government offices and the mainstage for National Day parade.
- Cruise Tasik Putrajaya, ☎ . Offers cruises around Putrajaya with sightseeing stops (RM30/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 8 PM and cost RM120/head (reserve one day in advance).
- Botanical Gardens, Precinct 1. (Weekdays) 10am - 6pm (Weekends) 10am - 7pm. The 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. RM 5 (RM 3 for students).
- Taman Ekuestrian Putrajaya (Putrajaya Equestrian Park), Precinct 5, ☎ (603) 8888 6080. Located at Presint 5, the 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. Operation hours: 7:45am - 1145am, 4:15pm - 7:15pm (Closed on Mondays)
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.
- Alamanda. As indicated by the logo, alamanda is a type of flower commonly found in Malaysia, Putrajaya's premier (and only) shopping center.
- Selera Putra. Dataran Putra (next to Putra Mosque). Popular (for Putrajaya) air-con food court offering various Malaysian eats. Try the nasi kerabu at Kelantan Delight. Open 10 AM to 7 PM weekdays, 9 PM weekends.
- 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 Market (Pasar Malam), Persiaran Perdana, Presint 2 (Across from Ministry of Finance). 6-10 Tuesday and Friday. Every 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 1 to 10 RM. 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 RM15-20 and mains RM30-40.
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.
- Cyberview Lodge and Resort, Persiaran Multimedia, Cyberjaya, ☎ . Despite the faintly ridiculous name, this is a well-regarded resort-style spa hotel in neighboring Cyberjaya. US$100.
- Equatorial Bangi-Putrajaya. Persiaran 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 Putrajaya. A 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 Hotel. Formerly Renaissance, also in the IOI Resort, is a slightly more humanely sized hotel and probably a better choice than the Marriott.
- Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside, No. 2, Jalan P5/5, Presint 5, ☎ . Opened March 2009, this lakeside showpiece hotel is right next to the convention centre. If there's no convention going on, expect the hotel to be rattlingly empty, with most restaurants and even the pool closed. Regular RM600, promo rates from RM200.
- Shangri-La Putrajaya, ☎ . Taman Putra Perdana, Presint 1. Undoubtedly the pick of the pack, centrally located in the Core District (right next to the King's palace!) and featuring Shangri-La's renowned service and an Infinity Edge pool looking out over the best bits of Putrajaya. Free shuttle service to/from KL twice on weekdays and three times on weekends. Also provides shuttles to Cyberjaya and Alamanda, the shopping centre nearby. Advance booking of shuttle required. Rates US$70 and up, a steal for a place like this.