Located in Gombak Selangor, just north of Kuala Lumpur, the Batu Caves complex is an iconic and popular tourist attraction and one of Malaysia’s national treasures.
Rising precipitously, hundreds of metres above the ground, the complex is essentially a series of caves and cave temples discovered within a massive limestone hill. The limestone formations are thought to be over around 400 million years old.
The site takes its name from the Sungai Batu river which flows past the hill.
[Updated 2019] Editor’s note: This post was originally posted in 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
It is also one of the most revered Tamil sites outside of India, attracting thousands of pilgrims and tourists for over 120 years, especially throughout the annual Hindu festival of Thaipusam which is usually held at the end of January each year.
Related reading: best views in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
The structure of the Batu Caves
The compound comprises three major caves and a number of smaller ones.
The largest and most popular, called Temple Cave or Cathedral Cave features various ornate Hindu shrines under the 100-metre-high ceiling.
To reach this opening and the ensuing view of the city centre skyline from the top, you first need to work your way up a steep flight of 272 steps.
But before starting your climb into the high caverns, take a moment to marvel at the impressive golden structure of Murugan alongside. The statue is huge! Standing tall at just under 43-meters, it is the second tallest statue of a Hindu deity in the world.
On the way up, be greeted by mischievous little Macaque monkeys as they frolic around the caves.
At the base of the hill on ground level, are two more cave temples, Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave, both of which are full of Hindu statues and wall paintings depicting mythology and deities.
Three quarters of the way up, below the Temple Cave, is what is referred to as the Dark Cave. Access to this part is restricted to protect the cave’s ecology and can only be visited as part of a guided tour with the Malaysian Nature Society.
Here you will find stunning limestone formations and other cave structures the likes of cave pearls and cave curtains formed over thousands of years. Be sure to keep an eye out for the range of insects and bats as you manoeuvre yourself through the 2-kilometre long passageway within the cave.
The Malaysian Nature Society organizes two types of tours for visitors to the Dark caves—the educational tour and the adventure tour.
In under an hour, the Educational tour will provide everything you need to know about the bionetwork, ecology, history and formations of the Dark Cave. No booking is required for this tour.
The Adventure tour, which lasts three hours, includes the educational tour followed by further exploration of the Dark caves venturing off the beaten track. Expect to get wet and constrained as you crawl and climb through curious rock formations and interesting organisms. A booking is required for this tour.
My personal impression of the Batu Caves
Before visiting, it’s important to have your expectations in check. The cave complex and surrounding structures are intriguing… But once inside, the cave area is just ok, a little underwhelming even. I also thought the area could have been better maintained.
Geologically speaking, there is nothing special about the caves and not a lot to see inside. The cave formations themselves are interesting with small openings in the limestone rocks allowing seams of light into the floor below.
I found the horde of Macaque monkeys located throughout the complex to be highly entertaining. Quite possibly my favourite part of my visit here. But do note that they are particularly cheeky and wild and are not afraid of grabbing anything that even remotely looks like food out of your hands or bag.
The Batu caves received a whole new look in August 2018 with the 272 steps painted in a complementary colour scheme, and each set of steps painted in a different range of colours.
Maybe yet another reason to go and take a look?
The Batu Caves — Frequently Asked Questions
So given all of this information, you’ve decided to make the trip to Batu Caves
There are numerous tour operators offering a guided visit to the Batu Caves, but it’s so simple and cheap to do, that I would recommend doing this independently.
Continue reading for some essential information:
Batu caves operating hours
07:00 – 21:00 daily
How far are the Batu caves from KL
The caves are located 13km, or 30 minutes, north of Kuala Lumpur.
Address: Gombak, 68100 Batu Caves, Sri Subramaniam Temple, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Directions: How to get to the Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur
— Train service
The KTM Komuter train service is simple and easy, taking you from KL Sentral, passing 7 stations along the way, to Batu caves, in 35 minutes.
The interior compartments are clean, modern and air-conditioned with separate room for those females who chose so.
An adult single fare is RM2.60. Trains depart every 45 minutes.
The taxi fare from KL Sentral to Batu caves is approximately 80 ringgit. These can be arranged whilst in the city .
This is the fastest option taking around 2 – 2.5 hours, including driving time. Install the Grab app on your phone as a better alternative to Uber.
An additional option, although not recommended, is taking bus 11 or 11D from the Central Market, bus U6 from Titiwangsa or the Cityliner bus No 69 at Jalan Pudu.
Time required to visit the Batu caves
The average time required to see the main area is about 2 hours. Add travel time to get there and back and I would say, allocate about half a day to see the Batu Caves area.
Best time to visit Batu Caves
A suggestion is to go either early in the day or late in the afternoon so that you have the rest of the day to explore Kuala Lumpur without breaking up your sightseeing much enjoying the cooler weather at the same time.
Batu caves entrance fee
It is free to see the temple or main cave area. Yeah!
The Educational Tour through the Dark Cave costs RM35 per adult and RM28 per child.
The Adventure Tour costs RM80 – RM100. Advance booking is required for this tour.
Cave Villa costs RM15 per person
Dress Code. Can you wear shorts?
Although there is no strictly enforced dress code, this is a holy site and a place of worship, so naturally appropriate dressing and covering the shoulders and knees is advised. I would not recommend wearing shorts, mini skirts or low-cut tops
How many steps are in the Batu Caves
To reach this opening and the ensuing view of the city centre skyline from the top, you first need to work your way up a steep flight of 272 steps. Don’t worry, it’s not a bad climb at all, even in the hot weather. Stopping and playing or avoiding the Macaque monkeys would give you a break, if needed.
Food and Drinks
Should you be hungry, there are a number of food stalls at the base of the caves selling anything from coconuts and drinks to burgers and Indian food.
Additional activities in the area
Rock climbing enthusiasts would be happy to hear that there are over 160 climbing routes scattered around the Batu caves area, which has become the centre of rock climbing in Malaysia.
The climbing routes, scattered all around the side of Batu Caves with most found on the North Eastern side of the complex are easily accessed, as most precipices start from ground level.
Abseiling and spelunking trips can be organised with local travel companies too.
Have you been or intend to visit Kuala Lumpur and the Batu caves at some point? Let me know in the comments below.
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Never stop exploring,