You cannot go to Kuala Lumpur and leave without visiting the Batu Caves. Found just outside the city center in the suburb of Selangor, the Batu caves are one of the biggest tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On our recent one month stay in the city of diversity, we had plenty of time to explore. We did just about all of the recommended “touristy” things – there are many places to visit in Kuala Lumpur. But visiting the Batu caves was one of our highlights.
If you’re wondering what are the Batu Caves, you’re not alone. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I also didn’t know much about this national treasure, except for the fact that I had seen some really cool photos from here on Instagram! Turns out there’s so much more to this tourist hotspot than a few pretty photos.
Rising hundreds of metres above the ground, the monument is basically a series of caves and cave temples that were discovered within a massive limestone hill. Incredibly, it is believed that the limestone formations are about 400 million years old! Naturalists and explorers have been fascinated by the sight and written about it since the 1800s. Visiting the Batu caves is a beautiful and intriguing experience. If you’re in Kuala Lumpur, you should definitely make a trip here.
If you plan to explore more of this incredible country, check out this 2 week Malaysia itinerary.
Everything there is to know about visiting the Batu Caves
Back in the day, the mouth of the Batu Cave was said to look like the head of a spear. This is why it’s dedicated to Lord Murugan, who is the Hindu God of war. Today, the Batu Caves are the center of Hindu pilgrimages and rituals.
But, if like plenty of other tourists – myself included – you’re not interested in praying at the temples, you can visit the Batu caves for the monkey’s, photos, and, of course, because it’s a top bucket list item in Kuala Lumpur.
From the entrance fees to the dress code, the opening hours, and the resident monkey’s, here’s everything that you need to know before visiting Batu Caves.
What to expect at the Batu Caves
As you arrive at the main entrance, the first thing you will see is the large golden Lord Murugan statue. At 42.7 meters high, it’s the largest Murugan statue in the world. On the left of the statue is the 272 colourful steps that lead up to the caves where the temples are found (Temple Cave). It’s probably worth noting that there are a total of five Batu caves. You can read more about the other caves here. Temple cave is the “main” attraction and the one that I’m focusing on.
In case you’re wondering, yes, you will have to walk up all 272 stairs to reach Temple Cave. Plenty of resources online claim that it’s quite a strenuous activity. But we didn’t find so at all. If you do struggle a bit, you can stop along the way for a breather. You’re probably going to want to stop to snap a few photos anyway.
Once you reach the top you can explore the Temple cave which is well lit up. The main cave consists of an entrance area with a shrine, one very lofty chamber with a temple, and at the back of the cave is an “atrium chamber” with the original temple from 1890. In this part of the cave the roof has collapsed and you can see the sky far up.
Walking through the cave was a very interesting experience. But I have to be honest, I was rather distracted by the monkey’s. They are everywhere and really stole the show for me. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not too much of a hassle, but you do need to watch out for them. As an animal lover, I was intrigued – the cave was full of monkeys.
Batu Cave Monkeys
From the moment you hit the stairs, you will find monkey’s everywhere. I had read about them online, but there were far more than I could have imagined. They’re likely to be the first thing to catch your eye when visitng the Batu caves.
Officials advise that you don’t walk in with any food or drinks because they will get stolen by these cheeky creatures. Unfortunately, due to human activity they have become quite brazen and won’t think twice about snatching things from you. In fact, it’s best you keep your eye on all your belongings. We saw one monkey running around with a bluetooth speaker. Crazy, I know.
We also saw one monkey snatch a string of flowers from a girl. You can buy some beautiful fresh flowers at the entrance – I assume some people buy them for cute photos. However, it’s probably best that you don’t take them up to the caves with you. These monkeys are hungry and they will take anything that they think may be food.
I was wearing a long, flowy skirt and they tried to grab it a few times. Eventually I was holding it up so as not to entice them, haha. For the most part though, the monkey’s were not a hassle at all. They put on such a show and we got so many cute and funny videos of these entertaining macaques.
I realize that some people are afraid of them, and there have been a few “incidents” involving the monkeys. Unfortunately, because some irresponsible tourists do feed them, they have become “unnaturally” tame over the years. This means that they are now fearless. They are not afraid of humans and this leads them to being somewhat aggressive at times. It’s not their fault – it’s our fault! We should let them live in their own habitat without interfering, i.e. feeding and touching them. So ultimately, you should be weary of them and keep an eye on your belongings.
It’s absolutely free to visit the main cave and the Lord Murugan temples. However, you will walk past a few other caves with admissions fees, including the Dark Cave. We didn’t have much interest in visiting any of the other caves so we stuck to Temple cave.
Here’s the important part. There are various tour operators in and around Kuala Lumpur who offer half-day trips for those who want to visit the Batu caves. However, there is no need to waste around 50 USD on a tour that you can take yourself. We really couldn’t find any reason that you would need a tour guide for Temple cave. Perhaps if you wanted to gain more insight and are there for educational reasons, then a tour would be worthwhile.
The Dark cave is more of an adventure cave and is for those with scientific and educational interest. This is the second main attraction, and can be found halfway up the flight of stairs to Temple cave. There are two guided tour options; the basic tour which costs RM35 and an adventure tour which costs RM80. The Dark cave isn’t always open – it was closed when we were visiting the Batu caves. According to online sources tours here depend on the availability of a guide. You cannot enter the Dark cave without a guide so you have to do a guided tour. Just be sure to check if it’s open if you plan on visiting this one.
If you’re not keen on climbing the 272 steps up to Temple cave and the Dark cave isn’t your thing, then you can instead visit Cave Villa. This one can be found at the foot of the limestone hill and has an entrance fee of RM15.
Dress Code for visiting the Batu caves
Since the Batu caves are a religious site, there is a dress code for visitors. It’s a little more strict for women than men. However, it’s not as strict as some other religious places that we’ve visited. I wore a long skirt and the one top that I have with sleeves. I took a shawl with because I thought that my top might still be too revealing. But there were plenty of girls wearing vests.
Turns out your shoulders can be showing – just don’t wear anything too short and revealing. Short pants, mini skirts, and short skirts are not allowed as per the rules. So it’s best to make sure that you are covered at least to below the knee.
As for men, t-shirts and shorts are fine, but shorts need to be below the knee. Men also shouldn’t wear tank tops and flip flops.
If you don’t meet the dress code, you can rent clothes at the entrance for 5RM.
How to get to the Batu caves
On our visit to the Batu caves, we used GRAB. In fact, we used this taxi service throughout most of our stay in Kuala Lumpur. Uber is not allowed in most of Southeast Asia, but GRAB is a great alternative. You can simply download the app and used it in the same way that you use Uber.
We stayed on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur so the Batu caves weren’t too far away. The taxi ride only cost about 16 RM. If you’re coming from the city center, a taxi will probably cost closer to 30 RM. The taxi will drop you off at the entrance where you will have a clear view of the golden statue of Lord Murugan.
You can also visit the Batu caves by train. The most convenient way is to get on at KL Sentral. Go to level 1 of KL Sentral main concourse and look for KTM Komuter. You will find the ticket counters just beside the entrance to the platforms. Here you can buy a ticket directly to Batu caves. Make your way to the correct platform following the electronic sign boards. You will exit the train at Batu Caves KTM Komuter Station. From here you can follow the signs that will point you towards the entrance of Batu caves.
The Batu caves are open daily from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. I had read somewhere online that they opened at 10:00 am, so we arrived just before 10. I often don’t read properly – hopefully I’ve learned my lesson. Turns out, it’s the Dark caves that open at 10:00 am. As you can imagine, Temple cave was already very busy by this time.
If you’re visiting the Batu caves and want a little peace and quiet and are looking to capture some beautiful photos, it’s best to go just before 7:00 am or much later on in the afternoon. The Dark cave is open from Monday to Friday between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. On Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays it’s open from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm.
Is a trip to Batu caves worth it?
I have to admit that part of the fun of visiting the Batu caves was observing the monkeys. Take that away and it loses some of its allure. We are of the Christian faith so I guess that does play a part. It’s great to see these beautiful religious monuments, but we don’t explore the religious side of things.
While we did have a great time here, it’s by no means a jaw-dropping experience. It’s a great way to spend a few hours, and of course, it’s one of the top things to do in Kuala Lumpur. Since it’s free it’s definitely worth checking out. But don’t go here expecting to have your mind blown.
On a side note, I’ve seen a few articles describing birds being locked up in cages to feed and snakes on display – that aren’t well looked after. I’ve also seen someone mention that the monkeys seemed to be starving or sick. We didn’t see any of this when we were visiting the Batu caves. These articles are quite outdated, and I think officials have changed a few things since then.
Ultimately, yes, if you’re looking for things to to in Kuala Lumpur for 2 days, then visiting the batu caves is certainly recommended.
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