Your guide to visiting Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur

Here we cover everything you need to know for visiting Batu Caves, including how to get there, what to expect, and top tips.

Batu Caves has long been a special place for Hindus and, with the recent additions of the 140ft statue of Murugan and the picture-perfect rainbow coloured steps leading to the cave entrance, it’s increasingly a popular place for tourists to visit as well. Part of the appeal is its proximity to Kuala Lumpur city centre, only a thirty minute train or car journey away.

What is Batu Caves

Batu Caves is both a stunning, natural attraction and an important spiritual destination for Hindus, for whom the cave complex is one of the most significant Hindu shrines outside India.

The limestone cave system is home to multiple temples and shrines, which are scattered around the rock amphitheatre, accessed via a rainbow-coloured staircase which has adorned a million Instagram photos. The decision to paint the steps wasn’t without controversy but there’s no doubting the striking first impression they make.

The whole site is an intriguing mix of religious pilgrimage, 21st century tourism, and the natural beauty of limestone.

If you need any more convincing, remember that entry to Batu Cave is FREE.

How to get to Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur

If you’ve only ever seen Batu Caves from photographs, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s tucked away, hundreds of miles from civilisation. In fact, it’s nestled right up against the northern fringes of KL, with its own train station, parking area and multi-lane highway on the doorstep.

There’s a useful KTM Komuter train that runs on the Batu Caves – Pulau Sebang line. This train calls at KL Sentral and travels via several convenient stations to the north of the city centre before terminating at Batu Caves station. As it’s a commuter train, the services are more frequent in the morning and evening rush-hours (every 30 minutes), otherwise they run every hour between 10am and 4pm. The ticket price is RM2.60 and the journey takes 30 minutes.

Trains leave from Level 1 at KL Sentral (head down the escalators if you’ve just been dropped off in a Grab), look out for the large departure gates. Tickets can be bought online or at the station, there’s no particular need to pre-book.

The train isn’t a bad option, especially if you’re travelling alone and/or staying near one of the stations. It’s cheap and will drop you right next to Batu Caves (just follow the signs/crowds when you arrive, it’s then a two-minute walk). However, you’ll need to time your departure from Batu Caves to coincide with a train, otherwise you could be waiting up to an hour.

If you’re in a group or not staying close to one of the train stations, it’s easiest to take a Grab car straight to Batu Caves. There’s a drop-off spot directly outside the main gates, it’ll cost from around RM15-RM25, and takes about 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

arriving to Batu Caves

Tips for visiting Batu Caves

Batu Caves is first and foremost an important religious site but, especially since the Murugan statue was built and the steps were painted, it’s also become an extremely popular tourist destination. As with other popular religious sites such as Angkor Wat or the temples in Bangkok, it’s a difficult balancing act at times.

Here are a few tips to make your visit pass by smoothly:

  • Dress modestly with your knees and shoulders covered
  • You’ll need to slip your shoes off to enter the temples
  • There are hundreds of steps to climb, so make sure your footwear is up to the task
  • Take some water with you, although there are stalls at various points along the way
  • Have small notes or coins with you if you wish to make a donation or light candles or incense
  • Beware of the macaques who run the place; they’re always on the lookout for food, sunglasses or anything else you’ve not got a tight grip on
  • It gets hot in the middle of the day, especially climbing the steps. If you arrive earlier, you’ll miss the heat and the crowds.
one of the many monkeys who roam Batu Caves

What to expect at Batu Caves

The combination of the soaring limestone walls and colourful, atmospheric Hindu temples is a true one-off experience, unlike anything else you’re likely to have witnessed. The entrance area is slightly underwhelming, with the train station and busy road perhaps not quite what you imagined.

If you face away from the city and towards the caves, the first view of the Murugan statue and the rainbow steps disappearing into the caves is breath-taking.

Speaking of losing your breath, we counted 272 steps to reach the top level, plus another 58 once you’re inside. The steps weren’t quite as tiring as we were expecting, although we did need to pause every now and then to take in the view / get our breath back. Depending on the time of day, you might get some shade on the ascent and once you reach the cave entrance you’ll be protected from the sun, but it does still feel humid inside.

Prepare yourself for the sheer size of the main chamber, it’s like walking out onto the stage of a grand symphony hall, except the audience is made up of watchful macaques. Find a quiet corner and take a moment to stare skywards; the soaring limestone cliffs reach up towards small, distant openings that allow shafts of light to enter. Occasionally, a drop of water will fall towards you, catching the light as it descends and lands at the your feet. It’s a magical place.

Woven into the fabric of the caves, there are several Hindu temples and shrines to visit and observe. It’s of course a hugely important place for Hindus and there’s something both peaceful and inspirational about watching the temples come to life. If you really want to experience both Batu Caves and Hinduism at their most alluring and colourful, time your visit with the Thaipusam festival (usually late-January or early-February) but brace yourselves for serious crowds. You’re free to enter the temples, although remember to remove your shoes before entering.

After the first main chamber, you can continue further along to another set of steps leading to the very top of the cave system. It’s usually slightly quieter up here and allows you to appreciate the whole complex and makes a good spot for photos. It’s also a popular location for the macaques, so keep your phone, food, sunglasses close by.

However busy Batu Caves gets, there’s always a quiet corner you can retreat to and escape the crowds. So much of the beauty and experience is about the limestone walls and atmosphere contained within; as long as you look up, nothing much can spoil your view.

How long you should spend visiting Batu Caves?

We spent around an hour and a half at Batu Caves, which included the time to climb the stairs. You might spend longer if you’re particularly keen on investigating the temples and shrines, but it’s unlikely to be longer than a half-day activity in any case.

After your visit to Batu Caves

You’re back to reality as soon as you reach the bottom of the steps, with the main road and noise greeting your departure. There isn’t much else to do around here aside from a few restaurants, but you’ll get better quality and value back in KL.

With so many other things to do in Kuala Lumpur, after your visit we’d suggest heading back into the city.

Heading back down the steps from Batu Caves.

Visiting Batu Caves with kids

Our kids found the whole visit interesting and enjoyed the challenge of climbing (and counting) the steps to the top. We heard a few ‘wows’ when they saw the interior and the macaques were a fun distraction. It does get hot during a visit, so take plenty of water for the kids. It’s not a kid-focused activity (e.g. like KidZania KL), but there’s certainly enough for a fun family excursion.

Final thoughts on visiting Batu Caves

Not many cities are blessed with such a unique and special excursion right on their doorstep; with Batu Caves, KL has certainly struck lucky. Whether you use the train or Grab, Batu Caves are only a short hop from the busyness of the city, and a perfect half-day activity for you to enjoy.

With a mix of natural and religious wonder, the caves offer something for all visitors so treat the 272 steps as a challenge, with the reward of Batu Caves waiting for you at the top.

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Visiting Kuala Lumpur with kids
Your ultimate guide to visiting Penang
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