Shooting hundreds of feet into the air, above the ground, are limestone cliffs covered in delightful green vegetation. Throughout the face of the cliffs are a series of limestone caves and colorful temples. We will teach everything you need to know about visiting Batu Cave and the colorful temples and steps.
The more spectacular sight that will instantly catch your eye is the gold Statue of Lord Murugan and the rainbow-colored staircase that leads to the largest cave on the cliffs.
Find out everything you need to know about visiting Batu Cave below, including opening hours, how to get there, dress code, cost, how long you need for a visit, and some history/education on this wonderful Malaysian treasure.
There’s no mistaking it, you know that you have arrived at Batu Caves. A temple complex that is religious by nature, but preserves the natural beauty and embraces tourism.
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1st Things – What and Where is Batu Caves?
Batu Caves are located in Malaysia, just outside the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. The limestone formations that embody Batu Caves are believed to be around 400 Million years old. The site is named after the Sungai Batu river that runs past the mount.
Besides its natural beauty and formation. Batu Caves is first a Hindu religious site. It is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India and is dedicated to Lord Murugan.
Lord Murugan is the Hindu god of war. An important deity around South Asia since ancient times. Lord Murugan is particularly popular and predominantly worshipped in South India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia from the strong Tamil influence.
The religious focal point
The religious focal point is on Thaipusam or Thaipoosam. Everything you need to know about visiting Batu Cave at Thaipusam. This is a festival that is celebrated by the Hindu Tamil and Malayali communities on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (normally January or February). This is a national holiday in Malaysia as well as other countries.
This religious event is attended by thousands of devotees and others. The Thaipusam festival takes place over a period of 3 days. Starting early on the first day in the morning at 4:00 am.
It starts with a procession from Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur (close to Central Market). Sri Mahamariamman is Kuala Lumpur’s oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur and one of the oldest in Malaysia.
Many of Thaipusam festival devotees pierce their bodies or wear painful kavadis (burdens). Some pierce their faces or drag sleds of fruit, attached to their bodies with hooks.
If you get to experience the Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves it might seem like something from another world or from far in the past.
When to Visit Batu Caves
There she stands, tall, strong, draped in gold, as to protect the rainbow-colored staircase. The tallest statue of Hindu deity in Malaysia and the 3rd tallest in the world.
Lord Murugan, stands at the base 272 steps that lead to a large cave system. The steps are now painted in beautiful vibrant rainbow colors. In past history, they have been painted red and white.
The new vibrant colors have made for some viral photos. If you want to capture a great photo with not many people on the steps you will have to arrive early.
The cave grounds open at 6:00 am. But sunrise in Kuala Lumpur isn’t until around 7:00 -7:30 am. Tour buses begin to arrive around 9:30 or 10:00 am, and by 12:00 pm it is busy.
So if you want to get the coveted picture alone on the steps, it’s best to arrive between 7:30 am and 9:00 am.
There is no entry fee to the steps and the main cave.
Everything you need to know about visiting Batu Cave and another great reason to arrive early is to beat the heat. Malaysia is in the tropics and it gets hot. If you know me, you know I do not like the heat. So we have always visited Batu Cave early in the morning.
In Malaysia, it doesn’t really matter what time of year you visit, it will be hot. Since Malaysia is so close to the equator, the weather never really changes. It is around 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit all year. However, October and November tend to be slightly cooler.
What to wear to visit Batu Caves
Before you begin to hike the 272 steps of Batu Caves, make sure that you have dressed appropriately. Proper dress requirements for the temples that are fairly common around the world.
Long dresses or pants for women, longer shorts to the knee are widely accepted. For men shorts or pants, and a shirt with sleeves. It doesn’t need to be long-sleeved, but no tank tops or cutoffs.
If you wondering if you are covered up enough, you’re probably not. Maybe take along a sarong to wrap around your waist or a silk scarf to put over your shoulders.
Batu caves will allow you to climb the steps and into the caves without your shoulders covered or your legs fully covered. However, if you plan on going into the temples it’s a good idea to use your scarf or sarong to cover your shoulders.
You might want to consider wearing a hat for sun protection. Especially if you visit the caves in the afternoon when the sun is fully shining. Make sure to remove the hat when entering the temples.
For more do’s and don’t in the temples, check out this post by Bev and Sham, they’ll tell you everything you need to know about temple etiquette.
Get to know the Batu Caves monkeys
The Macaque monkeys make Batu Caves and the surrounding areas home. The monkeys at times can be docile and fun to feed, but at other times they can become aggressive.
Practice caution when approaching them and feeding them. They are still wild animals and they can and have been known to bit, or steal your belongings.
Keep your belongings in a bag or fanny pack. The monkeys are known to grab anything they think they can eat. This includes your phone, cameras, and even sunscreen bottles.
Never make eye contact with the monkeys, they see this as a sign of aggression and they will hiss and become aggressive.
We have found that the monkeys at the bottom of the steps are more comfortable with people feeding them. Usually, there is a guy there selling food or nuts for the monkeys.
Give him a ringgit or two for a handful of food. The guy giving the food will also scare any of the aggressive monkeys away.
We do love watching the monkeys at Batu Caves. It is still neat to see a mother monkey carrying its baby clinging to its stomach, jumping around. Inside the cave, you will see many monkeys climbing up and down the limestone cliffs.
What you need to know about the Climb to the main Cave at Batu Caves
The 272 steps to the top are not as bad as it sounds. No matter what your fitness level, you can do the climb. You can go at your own pace and you will make it!
They do have signs posted and do advise caution for anyone that has heart problems. Know your limits and take your time. In fact, as you climb, stop and enjoy the scenery along the way.
If you have done the Tiger Temple in Krabi – Thailand, this will feel like a walk in the park compared to the 1,237 steps to the top. 🙂
Reaching the top and entering the Cave
The cave its self is not the temple. There are a series of temples inside the cave. I was surprised the first time I visited the cave at how GIGANTIC the cavern of the cave was.
First, you will enter the main cave also known as the Temple Cave or Cathedral Cave. This is the largest and most popular of the caves. It is home to several Hindu Shrines that you can visit and also watch as worshipers will be attending.
Everything you need to know about the Additional Caves at Batu Caves
Batu Caves is actually made up of a series of caves. There are multiple caves around the shrine and the infamous steps, such as the Dark Cave, Cave Villa, and Ramayana Cave.
If you were to take the commuter train to Batu Caves, Ramayana Cave and Hunuman Statue is the first thing you will notice. Standing close to the commuter station, this 15-meter high statue with brightly colored green is the monkey god. The decorations worn are from scenes from Ramayana. Ramayana is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India.
Ramayana Cave has a small entry fee of RM5.00 ($1.25). There are many displays throughout the cave depicting scenes from battles.
This cave is by far the most impressive cave. It is covered in colorful walls and statues. Beware, there are no signs explaining the symbolism behind the statues. I wish I knew more of the stories as I walked through the cave.
But even still, the cave is worth your visit. The statues and colors are spectacular. You will not be disappointed.
You will see the Cave Villa as soon as you start to head to the rainbow stairs. It is surrounded by a pond and waterfalls. On the outside, there are beautiful murals that you shouldn’t miss on your walk to the stairs.
The Cave Villa is actually made up of 2 caves. There is a separate entrance fee for these caves as well. Their entrance fee is 15 Ringgit ($3.70).
This cave is by far the best for learning more about the religion behind the caves. It is very informative on the Hindu religion and the caves’ focus Thaipusam.
If you are interested in learning more about the Hindu religion I would recommend this cave. If you are with kids I would not recommend going through this temple.
In my opinion, it is overpriced if you are traveling with kids. My kids wouldn’t allow me to read any of the signs because they were running through the cave.
As you climb up the stairs towards the main Temple Cave, you will pass the Dark Cave on your left-hand side. This cave is not for the faint of heart as it is home to many bats. In fact, there are over 10 different species of bats living in the cave.
You can not go into this cave unless you go on a tour. You can book your tour here. So that you don’t have to deal with haggling or cash at the entrance. Just search for “Kuala Lumpur Batu Caves.” I have not been into the cave personally. But I have heard great things about it. The World Ahead of Us wrote a great post about the dark cave. From what we have heard and read about the dark cave it is not recommended for small children.
How to get to Batu Cave
The easiest way to get to Batu Cave is by taking the KTM Komuter (commuter) train from Sentral (Central) Station. This is different than the MRT or transit line.
The commuter line has fewer stops and travels further outside of the city center. The ticket from the Sentral station to Batu Caves is relatively cheap. It is RM2.60 ($0.60USD) each way, or around $1.20USD round trip.
If you prefer to take a car but do not have your own, use GRAB or MyCar apps to pick you up and drop you off at the caves. The caves are only 11 kilometers from the city and will take about 20-30 minutes depending on the time of day and traffic.
Grab car and MyCar apps are eHailing apps like Uber and Lyft but widely used in South East Asia. Uber will not work in South East Asia. You can also prebook a car or van to pick you up from the airport here. It will cost you around RM 90.00. That’s about $20.00USD.
Coming from outside of Malaysia
We recommend flying Malaysia Airlines when flying into Malaysia. We have found that Malaysia airline prices are usually competitive with discount airlines like Air Asia (once you add in all the extra fees that discount airlines charge).
Malaysia Air is not a discount airline so their plane seats are better and their service is way better. Plus you don’t have all the extra hidden fees. Depending on where you are coming from or having to transit. From Europe, Malaysia Air has a direct from London. KLM has a direct from Amsterdam. These are the only 2 direct flights that I know of from Europe.
Coming from the US you will most likely have to transit in Narita Japan, or Incheon South Korea, Hong Kong, or Singapore. We have done Korean Air. They are rated the highest for the best economy class in the world. ANA and JAL airlines have direct flights from Tokyo.
When you are flying in and out of Kuala Lumpur’s international airport, most of the discount airlines fly through KLIA terminal 2. This terminal is busier and more difficult to get through.
So when flying in and out of KLIA, try to fly an airline that flies through terminal 1. Malaysia Air does fly through terminal 1.
Once you arrive at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport you can take the KLIA Express Train or hail a car. Here is how to get out of the Kuala Lumpur International airport and to the city center or to Batu Caves.
Everything you need to know about visiting Batu Caves and what to take with you
Water: Water is probably the most important thing to take with you. You can take either a bottle full of water or they do sell bottles of water and other food and treats at the base of the steps.
We always recommend taking your own water bottle to help cut down on the use of plastic. While traveling in South East Asia we recommend using Life Straw waterbottles.
The water in Malaysia, even at most hotels, is not potable from the tap. But this bottle will filter any water for you. You can easily buy it from Amazon here.
Bug Spray and Mosquito Stickers(Mozie Sticker): As a mother, I am in love with Mozie Stickers for my kids. They help to repel mosquitos and they are non-toxic to the skin. The best part is that they don’t even touch your skin.
Put one or two of these stickers on your kids before you head out. Mosquitos are prevalent in humid climates like Malaysia. The easiest place to buy them is on Amazon.
Everything you need to know about visiting Batu Caves wrap up
Finally, please be respectful of this place and religion. This is not just a tourist attraction but a sacred place for worshipers. You will see people carrying their offerings and dressed in traditional clothes to pay their respects and to pray.
Please be reverent and respectful as you approach the shrines. If you happen to visit during Thaipusam it will be crowded but please stay out of the way of those making the pilgrimage. They are already suffering from the piercing and the last thing they need is a tourist bumping into them to get their next Instagram post.
We still enjoy visiting Batu Caves from time to time as we live here in Kuala Lumpur. The kids love seeing the monkeys and they still do enjoy asking questions about the Hindi temples.
The experience of outdoors and religion make this a great place to visit. It combines history, religion, culture, and adventure all into one place. If you are in Kuala Lumpur or Malaysia Batu Caves is a must to see.