An eye-catching array of monumental architecture amid manicured greenery is on display in Putrajaya, 25km south of KL and 20km north of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Covering 49 sq km of former rubber and oil-palm plantations, the federal government’s administrative hub (almost exclusively Muslim in population) was but a twinkle in the eye of its principal visionary – former prime minister Dr Mahathir – as late as the early 1990s. It’s still a long way off its envisioned population of more than 300,000 and can feel eerily quiet at weekends.
From marbled minarets to the trim gardens, it's immediately clear that Putrajaya is a planned city – a marvel of engineering that is rather missing a soul. At its heart is a 6-sq-km artificial lake fringed by landscaped parks and an eclectic mix of buildings and bridges, best viewed when illuminated at night.