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Magnificent mansions: five of Southeast Asia's most opulent residences

Kick off your sandals and poke around some of the region’s most lavish mansions, from the enviable to the ridiculous

Razak’s Residence: situated on a sprawling 17-hectare estate in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Seri Perdana is a visiting dignitary’s dream. Although most heads of state enjoy the comforts of relatively grand homes, the Malaysian prime minister’s official residence cost $48m to build in 1997 and features a 60-guest dining hall plus an exhibition gallery. According to Seri Perdana’s website, it “belongs to the people”, and never was this more evident than in 2013 when taxpayers had to foot a $500,000 power bill. “How to avoid such expenses?” pondered the current PM, Najib Razak. “That is not my residence, but the prime minister’s residence. If heads of government come, are we supposed to dine in the dark? If the Chinese prime minister comes, are we to dine by candlelight? I would say that is romantic.”. Photo: EPA/Ahmad Yusni

Pacquiao’s Estate: Despite losing the ‘Fight of the Century’ to US boxer Floyd Mayweather last year, Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao is still sitting fat and happy on a reported seven homes, with his General Santos City estate being arguably the most famous. Featuring a seven-car garage and a swimming pool shaped like a boxing glove, it also includes an indoor basketball court engraved with Pacquiao’s parliamentary logo. “The building is defined by the clean, streamlined lines and the white walls, floors and ceilings. Inside, it is furnished with modern pieces and tropical touches like wooden and woven details,” says Real Living magazine. And with Pacquiao’s earnings from the Mayweather fight estimated at $100m, it doesn’t look like the Pacman’s going to be downsizing any time soon.

Sultan’s Palace: The Sultan of Brunei’s palace is an experiment in unbridled excess. Completed in 1984 at a cost of $1.4 billion, Istana Nurul Imam holds the Guinness world record for the world’s largest residential palace. At 200,000 square metres, it makes Versailles and Buckingham look like cramped university dorm rooms. According to the book The Richest Man in the World: Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah’s home contains an astonishing 1,787 rooms, including 257 bathrooms, a 5,000-guest banquet hall, an air-conditioned stable for the sultan’s 200 polo horses and five swimming pools. Bolkiah, who has been prime minister since 1967, has occupied the palace since it was built, but compared to his brother, he is a self-effacing puritan. Prince Jefri reportedly has a personal harem numbering about 40 women, 2,500 luxury cars and a 55-metre yacht called ‘Tits’. Photo: Reuters/Bazuki Muhammad

Jakarta’s Static House: Perhaps ‘minimalist’ is not the most appropriate word to describe a house that must have costs millions to build. Yet in Jakarta’s Static House, every angle, window and wood panel appears to have been allocated with total aesthetic utility in mind. At 800 square metres, this privately owned residence is not the largest, but it certainly is among the most impressive homes dotted around the region. With two courtyards and an indoor reflecting pool that casts natural light into the open-air layout, the spartan use of glass and wood gives merit to the idea that, under the right direction, less is more. According to the designers behind the project, the idea was to create an ultra-modern pad with classic furnishings and cutting-edge interiors.

Bangkok’s Vimanmek Mansion: Billed as the world’s largest teakwood structure, the Vimanmek Mansion in Bangkok was originally built for King Rama V but only saw a few years of royal occupation. The King inhabited the house briefly in the early 1900s as he waited for construction to finish on the Amphan Sathan Villa, his preferred residence. The Vimanmek Mansion contains 81 rooms, hallways and antechambers, and is said to have been built without the use of a single nail. After Rama’s departure, the palace was largely used as a glorified storage shed for the Thai royal family’s knick-knacks. In 1982, however, the estate was formally transformed into something of a shrine to the memory of Rama V, and visitors can now view his photographs, art collection and handicrafts there.

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