The Batu Caves Kuala Lumpur temple complex is an important area that seamlessly intertwines tourism, religion, nature, and conservation. Located in Gombak Selangor, just north of Kuala Lumpur (KL), it is an iconic and popular tourist attraction and one of Malaysia’s national treasures.
Are the Batu Caves worth the visit?
Discover everything you need to know about visiting below, including opening hours, best time to visit, how to get here, temple dress code, entrance fee, the number of steps, how long to spend in the Batu Cave area, and other important points worth knowing.
Reading time: 6 minutes
[Updated 2020] Editor’s note: This post was originally posted in 2019 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in 2020.
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 and even today, is an important area for conservation.
The site takes its name from the Sungai Batu river which flows past the hill.
Home to endemic plants and animals, the Batu Caves area falls within the Kuala Selangor Nature Park and is protected under heritage laws.
It is also one of the most revered Tamil sites outside of India, attracting thousands of pilgrims and tourists for over 120 years. This religious pilgrimage culminates throughout the annual Hindu festival of Thaipusam which is usually held at the end of January each year.
Related reading: Where to find the 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.
Hang on for a second…..
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. Ramayana Cave can be found on the extreme left comprising a statue of Hanuman and depicting the life of Rama.
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.
[Update: While the rest of the Batu cave area remains open, the Dark Cave conservation site is closed until further notice. No reason is given for the closure. I will update this once it reopens]
Do take note:
>> PLEASE refrain from going inside the Cave Villa!
It contains animals, including turtles, reptiles, and birds, that are kept in cages. Don’t waste your money. Don’t purchase a ticket to go inside and don’t support animal cruelty. Rather spend your time enjoying the other areas of the Batu caves.
Batu Caves Tour options
The Malaysian Nature Society organizes two types of tours for visitors to the Dark caves:
- The Educational tour
- The Adventure tour
In under an hour, the Educational tour will provide everything you need to know about the biodiversity, 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.
These are my personally recommended tours:
What to expect:
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. However, once inside, the cave area is just ok, a little underwhelming even. I also thought the area could have been better maintained.
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.
What do you think of this new look. Like it?
New Look Batu Caves
The iconic Batu Caves received a makeover and a whole new look in August 2018 with the 272 steps painted in an alluring range of colours.
Each set of steps leading up to the caves have been coated in a complementary colour scheme comprising vivid hues of red, blue, green, and orange. The restoration also included painting the arches and temples in the immediate locale with the entire process taking less than a week to complete.
The fresh new instagrammable look has been a hit with visitors thus far.
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
It is easy enough to visit the caves independently.
There are also numerous tour operators offering a guided visit to the Batu Caves.
Should you be short on time or want a comprehensive explanation into the significance, the detail, and intricacies of the sight that you might otherwise miss, please check out this guided half day visit to the Batu Caves that I would highly recommend.
Continue reading for some essential information:
Batu caves hours
The Batu caves opening hours are from 07:00 – 21:00 daily.
How far are the Batu caves from KL
The caves are located 13 km, or 30 minutes, north of Kuala Lumpur.
Batu caves address
Gombak, 68100 Batu Caves, Sri Subramaniam Temple, Selangor
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+60 3-6189 6284
How to get to Batu Caves from KL Sentral
— Train service
The direct KTM Komuter train service is simple, easy, and the most convenient option for getting to the Batu Caves.
It takes you from KL Sentral station, passing 8 stations along the way, right up to the site in 40 minutes. The first train from KL Sentral to Batu Caves is 6:56 AM and the last train from KL Sentral to Batu Caves is 10:46 PM. Trains depart every 45 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.
The taxi fare from KL Sentral to Batu caves is approximately 80 ringgit (return). These can be arranged whilst in the city .
This is the fastest option taking around 2 – 2.5 hours to tour and return to KL, including driving time. Install the Grab app on your phone as a better alternative to Uber.
The cheapest option of getting to the Batu caves is by bus.
There is a free bus from KL Sentral station to Sentul station taking 30 minutes.
From here continue by taking the KTM Komuter train to Batu caves.
The total journey will take an hour at a cost of RM2.30.
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 recommendation is to go either early in the day arriving soon after opening or late in the afternoon so that you have the rest of the day to explore Kuala Lumpur without breaking up your sightseeing and enjoying the cooler weather at the same time.
A visit during early mornings before 10 am and late afternoons after 4 pm, has the added advantage of exploring the site with less crowds and fewer tourist groups.
Batu caves entrance fee
It is FREE to see the main Batu Cave area and temple. Yeah!
The Educational Tour through the Dark Cave costs RM35 per adult and RM28 per child.
The fee includes a guide, helmet, and flashlight.
The Adventure Tour costs RM80 – RM100. Advance booking is required for this tour.
To enter Ramayana caves costs RM5 per person
Cave Villa costs RM15 per person
Batu Caves dress code. Can you wear shorts?
The dress code is now strictly enforced. As this is a holy temple site and a place of worship, naturally appropriate dressing and covering of the shoulders and knees is advised.
Sarongs are rented out cheaply at the entrance, should you require.
I would not recommend wearing shorts, mini skirts or low-cut tops. No entry is permitted unless and until you’re appropriately covered.
Batu Caves steps. How many?
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 with (or avoiding) the Macaque monkeys would give you a break, if needed.
Food and Drink
Should you be hungry, there are a number of food stalls at the base of the Batu caves temple selling anything from coconuts and drinks to burgers and Indian food.
Among the stalls you will also find souvenirs and huge durians the size of watermelons!
Additional activities in the Batu Cave area
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,