MalaysiaKuala Lumpur Free All Year Mostly Outdoor
Cave

Batu Caves

This national treasure of Malaysia is one of the 10 most holy Hindu sites in the world. Batu Caves comprises a series of natural caves inside an ancient limestone hill. The caves originally served as shelters for Malaysia's indigenous population before becoming a sacred Hindu site, housing a series of shrines.

The main 'Temple Cave' (or Cathedral Cave) is located at the hill's peak, only accessible by climbing 272 steep rainbow-painted steps. Perhaps the bright rainbow colors are intended to distract visitors from the burning climb. Naughty Macaque monkeys accompany climbers along the journey, keenly watching for tasty snacks to steal.

Inside the Temple Cave is a spacious, mystical cavern with moss-covered walls and gently dancing sunrays. Large Hindu shrines tended by priests are sectioned off inside the cavern. Half-way up the staircase is the Dark Cave, also accessible to visitors but for a small fee. Other temples open to visitors include the Ramayana Cave and the Art Gallery Cave.

The caves are guarded by a 42.7-meter-high golden statue of Hindu god of war, Lord Sri Murugan - the largest Hindu statue in Malaysia.

During the annual Thaipusam festival (January/February) thousands of Hindus from across the globe flock to Batu Caves on a pilgrimage and conduct a grand procession carrying colorful "kavadi" and containers of milk as offerings to Lord Murugan.

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Price

Free

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Time Spent

1.5-3hours

Fitness level: Significant effort

Hours

6am-9pm7 days

Look Around

Iconic view of staircase and the golden statue of Hindu deity Lord MuruganIconic view of staircase and the golden statue of Hindu deity Lord Murugan
Climbing the crowded staircaseClimbing the crowded staircase
Looking down from the top of the staircaseLooking down from the top of the staircase
Staircase at Batu Caves
Hindu priest prayingHindu priest praying
Wooden sculpture inside caveWooden sculpture inside cave
Ornate wooden carving with vivid colorsOrnate wooden carving with vivid colors
Innermost limestone cave with open rooftopInnermost limestone cave with open rooftop
Climbing (more) stairs to the innermost cave and templeClimbing (more) stairs to the innermost cave and temple
Inside the caves
Monkey watching climbing touristsMonkey watching climbing tourists
Cheeky monkey on top of wooden gatewayCheeky monkey on top of wooden gateway
Wild monkeys are comfortable around tourists, but exercise cautionWild monkeys are comfortable around tourists, but exercise caution
Wild monkeys on Batu Caves staircase

Who Will Like Batu Caves

Culture Buff

Climb the artistic staircase designed to resemble a peacock, which has religious significance in Hinduism. Slowly rotate your gaze inside the Temple Cave, focusing on the cavernous ceiling, and visit several shrines to learn about Hindu culture.

Nature Lover

Escape busy KL to check out the ancient, moss-covered caverns and admire cheeky monkeys from a safe distance. Also visit the Dark Cave for a closer representation of the caves’ natural ecosystem, complete with sleeping bats and buzzing insects.

Photography Whiz

Snap an iconic shot of the caves’ golden guardian, or capture a monkey in action with a telephoto lens. Wait for the sun to come out for an exquisite sunray shot inside the Temple Cave.

Recreational Athlete

How fast can you climb the 272 steps leading to the Temple Cave? Combine your daily workout with a cultural icon.

Insider Tips For Batu Caves

  • The site gets very crowded and hot by 10am. Visit early in the morning to avoid crowds and heat.
  • The climb to the temple cave is very steep and made even more difficult by Kuala Lumpur's humidity and heat. Take your time and drink plenty of water.
  • A drink stand is located just inside the Main Temple Cave at the top of the steps for those needing to buy more water.
  • Entrance to the Dark Cave costs RM33 (USD$7.86) per person including a guide, flashlight, and helmet. The Dark Cave is frequently closed and only opens when demand is high and tour guides are available. If you wish to enter, bring a change of clothes as crawling is required.
  • Entrance to the Ramayana Cave and Art Gallery Cave cost RM5 (USD$1.19) each.
  • Locals may be seen feeding monkeys or selling tourists peanuts to feed the monkeys. However, feeding monkeys is not encouraged as they get aggressive over food and even climb up you to steal food from your hand or bag.
  • A vague, loosely-enforced dress code applies. Men can wear t-shirts and below-the-knee-shorts. Women must wear modest clothing that covers their knees. The dress code is more strictly enforced for women than men. Suitable clothing can be rented from stalls at the hill's base for those unprepared. Rental costs RM5 (USD$1.19) with RM2 (USD$0.48) refunded upon return.

Video

Where Is It

68100 Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia

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How To Get There

Rideshare

Drop-off in the main carpark.

Walking directions from rideshare...

Train (KTM Komuter LineBatu Caves Station)

Walk 5 minutes east from the train station.

Walking directions from train...

Car

RM2/car (USD$0.48 / car) • Large public carpark available.

Driving directions...

What To Bring

Do:
  • Water. Climbing the stairs is thirsty work.
  • Comfortable shoes for climbing.
  • Modest clothes that cover knees. 
  • Cash for donations, snacks, and entry to smaller caves.
  • Camera.
Don't:
  • Snacks or flavored drinks that could be stolen by monkeys.

Tech & Photography

Wifi

Public wifi access: None

Photography

Photography allowed: Yes

Tripod allowed: Yes

Selfie sticks allowed: Yes

Best time to shoot: Early Morning

Tips: Use a high shutter speed to capture a mid-flight shot of mischievous monkeys. It helps to switch between a wide-angle lens inside the cave and a zoom on the stair climb to get a tightly cropped shot of the monkeys without getting too close. Depending on the time of day and cloud conditions, shooting down the stairs from the top often results in a large range of bright light and dark shadows. For those shots use a bracketed exposure for a later HDR merge.

Drones

Drones allowed: Yes (subject to national/regional rules)

Bags

Backpacks allowed: Yes

Secured bag lockers available: No

Food & Drink

A handful of food stalls selling traditional Indian meals, snacks, and spices (including fresh coconuts and roti canai) are located at the base of the hill, between the main entrance and the car park. Remember to eat your food away from the monkeys so it doesn't get stolen.

Backstory

The 110-meter-high limestone hill with its many caves, believed to be 400 million years old, has housed revered Hindu relics since 1893. Batu Caves was named after nearby river, Sungai Batu ("Batu" means "stone", or "rocky" in Malay). A nearby village also shares the name Batu Caves.

The first known historical use of the caves is as a place of shelter and for the collection of guano (fruit bat) droppings to use as fertilizer. Current use as Hindu shrines and places of worship were initiated by Indian trader and follower of the Hindu faith K. Thamboosamy Pillai.

In 1891, Pillai dedicated three of the caves to the Hindu god of war, Lord Murugan, and refurbished other caves as temples to various Hindu gods. The main Temple Cave was devoted to Lord Murugan as its entrance resembles the shape of the god of war's spear.

Pillai also instituted the annual Tahaipusam festival which continues today, attracting 1 million visitors for an 8-hour procession. The 272 very steep steps to the upper caves were constructed in the early 1900s to assist pilgrims. The stairs were painted rainbow colors in 2019 as part of the renovation works to the Temple Cave.

The statue of Lord Murugan is the tallest statue of a Hindu deity in Malaysia and the third tallest statue of a Hindu deity in the world. It took 3 years to construct and cost approximately RM2,500,000 (USD$595,167.10) consisting of 1,550 cubic meters of concrete, 350 tons of steel bars, and 300 liters of gold paint.

Etiquette

Monkey reaching for peanutsMonkey reaching for peanuts
Monkeys grabbing nuts off the groundMonkeys grabbing nuts off the ground
More aggressive monkey climbing in search for foodMore aggressive monkey climbing in search for food
Feeding monkeys at Batu Caves
Do:
  • Be respectful to Hindu monks and worshippers. 
  • Dress appropriately with covered knees and shoulders.
  • Plan an early morning visit to avoid competing with other visitors climbing and descending the steps. 
  • Remove shoes before entering temples.
Don't:
  • Spit on the site.
  • Smoke inside the caves.
  • Wear shorts or skirts above the knees.
  • Eat food climbing or descending the stairs.
  • Feed monkeys. Keep all food and drinks (except water) in closed bags so they can not steal it.

Scorecard

Best Parts:
  • Religious significance. Opportunity to see Hindu cleansing rituals and stories from Hindu folklore.
  • Natural beauty of the caves and caverns.
Could Be Better:
  • Taxing climb up the steep steps.
  • Troublesome monkeys with no personal boundaries.
My itinerary Save View

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