Complete Guide: Visiting Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Batu Caves are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Malaysia – and with good reason! The Batu Caves are an incredible limestone hill scattered with 4 different caves. Tourists flock to this interesting sight from all over the world each year (5.000 per day!) and, if you’re going to be one of them soon, this complete guide is here to help! In the post below I will tell you literally EVERYTHING you need to know about visiting Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur.
Are you ready?
First of all, why should I visit the Batu Caves?
The Batu Caves are one of Malaysia’s national treasures, hosting the tallest statue of a Hindu deity. I recommend this site to ANYONE visiting Kuala Lumpur, as it’s a real highlight. And this is not even an overstatement!
Sure, Kuala Lumpur by itself is pretty cool and there are countless things to do, see and eat here, but your trip just won’t be the same without seeing the beautiful Batu Caves on the outskirts of the city. They’re full of history, they’re super interesting and they provide countless photo opportunities. Plus, visiting Batu Caves can be as cheap as 5 US$, so why not?!
RELATED READ: In case you’re curious to find out about some other unmissable places in KL, I recommend checking out my dedicated article full of precious info: Complete Guide: 12 Things to Do in KL
Everything you need to know about visiting the Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
Quick info about the Batu Caves
The bright rainbow stairs of the Batu Caves are fast becoming one of the modern wonders of the world ever since its colourful renovation in 2018. With 272 steps leading up to the 4 limestone caves, this place of Hindu worship is more than just an Insta-famous tourist attraction, trust me! Oh, and did I mention the limestone formations are 400 million years old?!
In fact, the Batu Caves are one of the most important Hindu shrines outside of India, especially during the festival called Thaipusam, which sees over 1 million visitors every year.
The caves are dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Murugan. An impressive 50-meter golden statue of him stands guard at the bottom of the Batu Cave stairs. During Thaipusam, Lord Murugan is celebrated with offerings and acts of penance. These are carried out in order for the worshipers to receive forgiveness and relinquish their negative traits.
About the 272 Batu Cave steps: Hey, don’t get discouraged! Although there are 272 stairs until you reach the main temple (Batu Caves Temple Cave), the climb itself isn’t so bad. 272 steps might seem like a lot but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to pretend to check out the view while you take a break. The perfect excuse to catch your breath!
Where are the Batu Caves located?
The Batu Caves are located in Gombak Selangor, around 13 km north of the centre of Kuala Lumpur.
Check out the map below for a clearer idea of where to find them:
How to get to Batu Caves
There are various ways you can get to the Batu Caves from central KL, but the two easiest, most direct methods are definitely by taxi or train:
TAXI OR GRAB. 30 minutes from the city centre. This is probably the easiest way to get to the Batu Caves, especially if you are hoping to get there early. You can hail a cab for around 20-30 RM (4.90 US$) from central KL or order a Grab (the Asian equivalent of Uber) which is a bit cheaper. If you decide to get a taxi, make sure you ask the driver to turn on the meter to make sure you get the correct price at the end.
TRAIN FROM KL SENTRAL TO BATU CAVES. The most direct journey by public transport is with the KTM Komuter train (the Batu Caves is the last station on the line). The journey will take a bit less than 45 minutes and the ticket costs 2.60 RM (0.60 US$) one-way. Running from 6:45 AM to 11:46 PM, every 30 min – 1 hour. I recommend checking the KTM Komuter timetable here. The caves are only 5 minutes by foot from the Komuter train station.
BUS. You can also take a bus, but I don’t really recommend it – the trip will take close to one hour and the train is way faster and more comfortable than the bus.
TIP: If you are planning to use public transport around Kuala Lumpur a lot, I recommend getting the KL TravelPass which gives you unlimited rides around the city for 2 consecutive days. The pass also works to and from the airport and will save you a bit of cash if you’ll be using it lots! You can buy it at KLIA Ekspres Ticket Counters. Or you can buy it online here. You can find more information about it on the official website here.
Best time to visit Batu Caves
Batu Caves opening hours: The Batu Caves are open every day, year-round from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
AIM FOR: If you want to get photos on the stairs without the crowds, you’ll have to get there early, close to the opening time. However, you won’t have it completely to yourself. Hindu monks will be making their way to worship and sleepy monkeys waking up for the day. For me, this is the perfect time to see something authentic. By 9:30 AM the tour buses will start to arrive and the entire place will begin to get crowded.
Also, if you arrive early and want to visit the Dark Cave, you will need to wait as it only opens at 10:00 AM. Alternatively, you can also visit late in the evening, near the closing time.
AVOID: Visiting on weekends or public holidays. During Thaipusam Festival – that’s when Batu Caves are most crowded, but you’re bound to have a special experience.
HOW LONG SHOULD I SPEND AT THE BATU CAVES: Around two hours for the entire temple complex. I recommend reserving a half-day for this experience if you consider the travel time as well.
What can you see at the Batu Caves, Malaysia
There are 4 beautiful caves on-site and one giant statue of Lord Murugan, as follows:
TEMPLE CAVE / CATHEDRAL CAVE
This is the main cave and it can be reached by climbing the 272 steps (beware of the monkeys! – more info below). Its ceiling is vaulted and it’s over 90m tall. The entire cave is devoted to Lord Murugan. This one’s free to enter, but you can leave a donation at the entrance if you wish.
Halfway up the stairs, you’ll find the Dark Cave, also known as the wildest of the 4 caves. This one is full of limestone formations and cave animals (spoiler alert: the rarest spider in the world can be found here!). The Dark Cave can only be visited with a tour. There are two types of tours available – the Educational Tour (shorter, good for kids) and the Adventure Tour (3-4 hours, a bit more hardcore), both of them are very interesting. I’m mentioning the fee for each tour below. If you take a tour, expect to do some crawling, so I recommend you bring some fresh clothes to change afterwards.
NOTE: Sadly, the Dark Cave has been closed since January 2019 until further notice. I recommend checking out their official Facebook page for further info, maybe they’ll open the tours again soon!
The Cave Villa is probably the easiest cave to access, as it’s located right at the foot of the hill. No stairs needed here! To access it, you’ll need to pay a cost of 15 RM (3.60 US$) and cross a crooked bridge. There you’ll find not one, but two illuminated caves with statues and Hindu paintings.
The Ramayana Cave is located on the left side of the hill, near a tall, green statue depicting a monkey god (Hanuman). This cave is filled with statues and paintings showcasing different scenes from the Ramayana, as well as a light show. The entrance fee for this one is 5 RM (1.20 US$).
TIP: Make sure you don’t miss the five-legged bull statue in the courtyard right outside the caves, it’s a sight to see!
Batu Caves price and tickets
Below you’ll find all the information you need about the entry cost for tourists for each of the temples (spoiler alert: the main temple is free to enter!):
Main Batu Caves Temple (Temple Cave / Cathedral Cave): Free, but you can leave a donation in one of the boxes at the entrance if you want to.
Cave Villa: 15 RM / 3.60 US$
Ramayana Cave: 5 RM / 1.20 US$
Dark Cave – Educational Tour (currently closed): 35 RM / 8.50 US$
Dark Cave – Adventure Tour (currently closed): 80 RM / 19.50 US$
Best Batu Caves tours
In case you don’t want to spend precious vacation time organising your trip to the Batu Caves, I recommend booking an organised tour. These are usually organised by knowledgeable local guides who can also provide you with some interesting information about the site’s history, along with some fun facts along the way. There are also combined tours available, which I think are VERY good if you want to save some time.
Here are my hand-picked Batu Cave tour recommendations below:
Batu Caves dress code
Batu Caves are a place of worship, so please remember to dress respectfully on your visit. The dress code is quite relaxed up until the main entrance to the temple. Here they request women to cover their chest, shoulders and knees and if men are wearing a shirt, for it to be buttoned up.
Don’t worry too much if you don’t have anything that meets the criteria of the dress code. You can cover up with a sarong or scarf before you enter. If you don’t have something that you can use, there are people at the entrance that rent covers for around 5 RM (1.20 US$).
Also, remember those 272 bright and colourful steps? Make sure you wear comfy shoes to help you manage them and remember to remove them when prompted to in certain parts inside the temple.
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Be prepared to make some new friends on your adventures to the Batu Caves, as you’ll find the area surrounded by ‘mischievous’ macaque monkeys. I know what you’re thinking, aww cute, Monkeys!, but think less Curious George and more Donkey Kong on this one! The monkeys here are pretty fearless with humans, after all, you’ve come to visit them on THEIR turf. Keep your valuables out of sight as they’re known to grab and dash with your wallet, sunglasses, phone, keys… I think you get my gist. Just keep a good hold on the things you want to keep! And make sure you don’t feed the monkeys unless you want to pestered for your entire visit!
Rock climbing at Batu Caves
If you’re feeling adventurous, you’ll be happy to find out that the area around the caves and the limestone hills can be climbed. The area is called Gua Damai and it is said to be the best rock climbing experience in Southeast Asia!
There are more than 150 routes to choose from, rated from 5A to 8A+ and you can find something for any skill level. No need to be a pro, you can simply do some hiking or bouldering if you want to. I recommend this Guided Gua Damai Rock Climbing & Batu Caves Visit.
Packing list for Batu Caves, Malaysia
Don’t forget to bring:
BONUS #1: My best tips for visiting Batu Caves
Of course, I just couldn’t let you leave without sharing some of the most precious tips I found out after going there myself. Sharing is caring!
- Beware of the monkeys. As I mentioned above, make sure you keep your valuables and any food you may carry out of sight. They can be quite annoying, but they provide awesome photo opportunities;
- Don’t forget to bring a couple of water bottles with you, so you won’t get dehydrated while climbing the stairs and walking around the temples. It can get hot!
- Make sure you bring a change of fresh clothes with you, especially if you want to visit the Dark Caves as well. And don’t forget about the dress code for the Hindu temples!
- If you get hungry, you can get some Indian food at the site from the food stalls at the entrance. They offer pretty okay food for a (still) affordable price – around 30 RM for a meal (4.90 US$);
- Don’t forget to bring cash for the entrance fees to the various temples!
- The area is not handicap-friendly because of the stairs, especially if you want to visit the two main temples (and I’m assuming you want to);
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BONUS #2: Recommended camera gear for Batu Caves
The Batu Caves provide amazing photo opportunities. If you want to make the best of them, make sure to pack your best camera and lenses. Here is what we have in our gear:
- Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
- Everyday lens: Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens
- Portrait lens: Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Lens
- GoPro camera: GoPro HERO8 Black
- Tripod: Benro Mach3 Tripod Ser 2 Alum 4 Sect
- NV filter: Hoya 82mm Variable Density Screw-in Filter
- Camera bag: Manfrotto MB MA-BP-BFR Advanced Befree Camera Backpack
- Hard Drive: LaCie 4TB
This was my complete guide for visiting the Batu Caves temple complex!
Get ready to climb the colourful stairs, to see the giant statue of Lord Murugan, the unique Dark Caves and some unique light shows at the most famous Hindu temple complex outside of India. And don’t forget, the Batu Caves are a must for all tourists visiting Kuala Lumpur.
If you need more help in planning your trip and itinerary for Kuala Lumpur or Malaysia, I recommend clicking here to find all my articles and tips about this wonderful country!