Batu Caves Malaysia – a colourful addition to your KL visit
The Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur have shot to fame thanks to the rainbow painted steps being a social media sensation! We first visited in 2017 before the steps were painted and then again in late 2019 with the painted steps and it was definitely busier and a bzillion more selfies being taken.
But don’t just visit Batu Caves for the amazingly colourful rainbow steps. There are multiple temples to visit, monkeys to watch and other attractions which are detailed below. Additionally, avoiding an organised tour and catching the train makes this a very cheap adventure!
A visit to the colourful Batu Caves is a must when visiting Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Published 16.10.2020. Any post on this site may contain affiliate links which could result in Many Journeys Blog receiving a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Temple Cave and rainbow stairs
As you approach the Batu Caves you will be greeted with the third tallest statue of a Hindu diety in the world – Lord Murugan. This gold beauty took 3 years to construct and was unveiled in 2006.
The stairs leading to the caves were painted in rainbow colours in August 2018 and instantly went viral on social media. But, the painting of the stairs also received attention from the heritage perspective. Was painting the stairs of a National Heritage Site illegal? The situation was documented in the Strait Times and involved questions over whether the repainting actually needed permits under the National Heritage Act. I can’t comment on whether this question of the work being illegal was just hype or not, but in the end the paint stayed and has been a major tourist drawcard ever since.
Photo taken in 2017 before the staircase was painted.
Photo taken in 2019 with the rainbow painted staircase.
After climbing the 272 steps, turn around, catch your breath and enjoy the view before entering the caves. Take time to wander around in here, it is really lovely (when it isn’t too busy) with the smell of incense, devotees praying and light peeking through sections of the cave roof.
When standing in the 400 million year old caves I tried to imagine the atmosphere when the Festival of Thaipusam takes place which attracts thousands of pilgrims each year. I am sure the festival is amazing, but my first thought was “claustrophobic!”. World Travel Family have a great post if you are interested in the Festival of Thaipusam.
Entry is free to the Temple Cave but donations are greatly appreciated.
Take the time to enjoy the colour and details.
Catch your breath at the top!
Ramayana Cave and Hanuman Statue
Ramayana Cave is closest to the train station and is easy to find with the 15m tall statue of Hanuman which is worth seeing even if you don’t visit the temple. Seek out this temple for a quieter temple experience as many tour groups only go to the main temple cave.
There is a small entry fee for Ramayana Cave, around 5MYR.
Sri Venkatachalapathi & Alamelu Temple
A smaller Hindu temple nestled against the hill used more by devotees than tourists. You will pass this temple if you are walking from the main area to Ramayana Cave and Statue.
The Villa Cave
Back at the bottom of the hill there is the Villa Cave which has a gallery, museum, animal exhibits and fish pond with an entry fee. We didn’t visit this area, but you can buy bags of fish food at the entrance for 5MYR and feed the fish from the outside along the walkway. There is also an area with birds on display which appears to be part of the Villa Cave attraction.
Reviews of the Villa Cave are pretty poor on Trip Advisor based on the treatment of animals on display so do some research first before you visit.
Feeding the fish outside the Villa Cave is a cheap and fun activity.
As you explore the Batu Caves you might come across some monkeys. Our first visit involved monkey feeding (wrong I know, the things you do for kids) with vendors selling food at the gates but this wasn’t as prominent in 2019. The monkeys go where they like and might be right up the back of the Temple Cave, or down near Ramayana Cave. Whilst the monkeys are accustomed to human presence, they are still wild and you should keep your distance.
Food and Drink
The area at the entrance to the caves has stalls for food and drinks and some cafes/restaurants scattered around.
The dress code for Batu Caves for men is t-shirt and long shorts (below the knee) but pants are preferred. For women the shoulders and knees should be covered – preferable length is at least mid-calf and elbows. No singlets or thongs/flip flops for anyone.
If your clothes don’t meet the requirements then just rent a sarong at the main entrance which will be fitted for you. Renting the sarong was cheap at 5MYR with a 2MYR refund on return.
Please don’t be one of those people that get fitted with a sarong, and then just take it off for photos. Seriously, it’s not hard to abide by a conservative dress code to visit a religious site!
How long to visit
Allow around 3-4 hours to visit Batu Caves including transport time from Kuala Lumpur. You won’t need this much time if you just want to visit the main temple and rainbow staircase.
Getting to the Batu Caves
Save money and skip the organised tour to Batu Caves for the local KTM Komuter train.
The train from KL Sentral Station to Batu Caves is really easy and trains run frequently (30 minutes to 1 hour frequency). The train delivers you to the entrance of the caves area for the bargain price of only 4.60RM one-way (around AUD$1.60). Plus the main cave temple is free so it makes for a very cheap half day out!
The train takes around 40 minutes, plus allow time to get from your accommodation to the Sentral Station.
In comparison a taxi will cost around RM30 one way.
Prefer a tour rather than using the train? Ask for recommendations for tour operators at your accommodation. Many tours to Batu Caves also include visits to other cultural sites.
Where to stay
Generally, people visit the Batu Caves while staying in KL as there isn’t much to do in the Batu Caves area. KL has a huge range of accommodation options to suit any budget but one of our favourites is KL Journal Hotel in Bukit Bintang. The KL Journal hotel is clean, modern, funky and has a great rooftop pool. Whilst Bukit Bintang is an area focused on shopping and nightlife (ie not suited to us!) it is very central. Furthermore, the polished shopping centres have great food courts – just head to the basement levels.
For more ideas check out Lonely Planet’s Best Places to Stay in Kuala Lumpur.
Hopefully this post has provided you with some inspiration to visit the Batu Caves and to venture beyond the main temple and rainbow staircase!