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 master plan is designed along an axial tangent which runs from the northeast to southeast, with a 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 the 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 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.
How to get to Putrajaya?
There are several ways to get to Putrajaya. The quickest way to get to Putrajaya is to get a ride on the KLIA Transit train. KLIA Transit provides two-way high-speed train service from KL Sentral station to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). The train frequency is 30 minutes and its service hours start at 5.30am to 1.00am the following day. Putrajaya Sentral Station is one of the transits, other than Salak Tinggi Station and Bandar Tasik Selatan Station.
I’ve listed some of the common ways to get to Putrajaya from Kuala Lumpur below.
Putrajaya is surrounded by federal highways 29 on the western side and 30 on the eastern side. The South Klang Valley Expressway E26, connecting Pulau Indah to Kajang, runs through the northern end of Putrajaya. ELITE E6 exit 607 serves Putrajaya and also nearby Cyberjaya. Highway 29 interchanges with Damansara–Puchong Expressway (LDP) E11 in the northwestern corner of Putrajaya, linking the city with Puchong, Subang Jaya, Kelana Jaya and all the way to Kepong.
Route 1 – From Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya Toll using Kuala Lumpur-Putrajaya Expressway (MEX)
Route 2 – From Kuala Lumpur to Kajang Toll using Utara-Selatan Plus Expressway (E2)
Route 3 – From KLIA to Putrajaya Toll using Utara-Selatan Hubungan Tengah Expressway (ELITE)
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 14 one-way (as of Nov 2016). Using a credit card to book the ticket on the kiosk can get you a 10% discount (RM 12.6). Putrajaya tour return tickets are no longer available.
Note: The high-speed KLIA Express is not to be confused with KLIA Transit. KLIA Express, unlike KLIA Transit, goes from the KL Sentral train station to KLIA and vice versa non-stop, which means the train just goes past by the Putrajaya train station. Do not ride KLIA Express if you’re heading for Putrajaya.
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.
Some bus services from the popular hubs for tourists are – Nadiputra 500 from Kotaraya (besides Mydin mall) and RapidKL 506 from Bandar Utama. Both of these Kotaraya and Bandar Utama are popular bus-terminuses, which are well connected by other buses and trains. However for both the cases, the frequency is typically one in every hour.
Also, bus service is provided from 6:30 AM until 10 PM 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.
How to get around Putrajaya?
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 for adults and 30 sen for child below 12. 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 Putrajaya Sentral station that charge RM 20 per person (as of Nov 2016). Ticket counter opens 30 min before departure. You can buy the ticket at the counter or the in the bus itself.
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.
A bike share system is being planned for the city. There is already an effective network of bicycle lanes.
Putrajaya Main Tourist Attractions
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 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Malaysia).
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.
The Justice Museum Putrajaya.
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 centre 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 main stage for National Day parade.
What to do in Putrajaya?
- Cruise Tasik Putrajaya, tel. +603-8888-5539. Offers 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 8 PM and cost RM 120/head (reserve one day in advance).
- Botanical Gardens, Precint 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), Precint 5, (603) 8888 6080. Located at Presint 5, the Sport and Recreational Precint 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: 7:45 a.m. – 1145 a.m., 4:15 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. (Closed on Mondays)
Putrajaya is a well-lit city. One of the attraction, 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.
Where to go Shopping?
- Alamanda. As indicated by the logo, Alamanda is a type of flower commonly found in Malaysia, Putrajaya’s original shopping centre.
- IOI City Mall. The newest addition to the Putrajaya shopping scene, IOI City Mall, located just outside Putrajaya proper, offers an additional shopping experience in this burgeoning city. Complete with an ice rink, theme park, cinema, 350 stores, and a plethora of dining choices including al fresco options. Anchors include Parkson, Tesco, Index Living Mall, Golden Screen Cinemas, and HomePro. IOI City Mall is absolutely family friendly; however, it does offer non-Muslim patrons opportunities to purchase alcohol, assuming that they will consume responsibly and discreetly, at several restaurants located on site.
Where to Eat?
- Ayer @ 8, Jalan P8H (From Jambatan Seri Wawasan (the sail-shaped bridge) with the Ministry of Finance building behind you, take the first left, and then left again. Go on till you see the Ayer @ 8 sign). Breakfast till midnight. A lakeside complex with open-air spaces, you can choose to dine indoors or outdoors. Many restaurants serve local food, but there are also Thai, Arab, Indian, and Western restaurants. The restaurants facing the lake have amazing views, especially of the Sultan Mizan Mosque. RM 7-30.
- Sri Teja Food Court Precinct 9, Putrajaya’s popular food court. Dishes such as Mi Rebus from Johor are popular as the taste is authentic along with the large portion and thick gravy. Another crowd favourite is the Nasi Lemak Anak Dara, served with your choice of side dishes such as fried chicken and shellfish.
- 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 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 9 p.m. weekends.
- Taman Warisan, an agro-based food stop where you can dine and shop for fresh fruits at the same place.
- 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 12:30 p.m. till 10:30 PM.
- 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.
Hotel, Resorts and Accommodations
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, +60 3 8312-7000. Despite the faintly ridiculous name, this is a well-regarded resort-style spa hotel in neighbouring 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,+60-3-88900000. Opened on 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, tel. +60-3-8887-8888. 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.
- The Everly Putrajaya, No. 1, Jalan Alamanda 2, Presint 1 (next to Putrajaya’s only shopping centre. To reach there, you can ride the Nadi Putra bus no. L01, L02, L05, L07 or L11 during the day, and N02 around 10 pm till 12 am from Putrajaya Sentral. If you’re at P&R Presint 14, you can ride there by Nadi Putra bus no. L02, L05, L06 and L10 during the day also N05, N06, N07 and N08.), +60-3-8892-2929 (fax: 60-3-8892-2928). The hotel has 382 hotel rooms, a banquet hall, a swimming pool and a café. around US$250 and up.