Batu Caves Worth A Visit? Maybe. The Dark Cave? Yes, Definitely!

 

If you’ve ever traveled to Malaysia, you’ve probably heard about the Batu Caves. It's one of the most iconic places in Malaysia, except maybe for the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, of course...

The Batu Caves were pretty much a construction area which added to the slight disappointment when we visited.  All photography by    Joris Hermans.

The Batu Caves were pretty much a construction area which added to the slight disappointment when we visited. All photography by Joris Hermans.

And there’s definitely a good reason for it. Malaysia is known for it’s diversity in religion and nationalities. A large percentage of the population is Hindu and Batu Caves is one of the biggest and most popular Hindu temples in the world. It’s also the focal point of the festival of Thaipusam.

Exploring the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur

After being dropped off by our Grab taxi at a large plaza, we started to notice the unfolding of the day to day life that surrounds the site. First, the tourists. Hundreds of them, taking pictures in front of the famous statue and the stairs. It felt like every tourist in Kuala Lumpur was there and there were many tents with vendors selling souvenirs and food and Hindu locals eager to pray at the shrines inside the caves.

A pigeon overlooking the madness at the entrance...

A pigeon overlooking the madness at the entrance...

View halfway up the stairs to the Batu Caves. Cool view!

View halfway up the stairs to the Batu Caves. Cool view!

These limestone caves are said to be around 400 million years old. A giant statue of Lord Murugan, 42.7m tall, covered with gold, guards the first entrance and the climb up the 272 stairs required to enter the caves. 

Then, the climb up...

A certain amount of stairs can be daunting to most of us, so my advise is to take your time, stop and turn around to get the view of Kuala Lumpur and look at the golden statue of Lord Murugan from behind. Maybe you’ll even get to see some monkeys. They do roam around in different places but remember not to feed them and definitely do not touch them. They are wild animals and feeding them only gives them the bad habit of stealing your snacks by force.

Don't feed. Don't touch. Sadly, no one cared...

Don't feed. Don't touch. Sadly, no one cared...

After we reached the top, an Indian guy offered us some nuts to feed a monkey we were looking at... We gave him a harsh look and offered a piece of information he’s surely familiar with: It’s not allowed!


 
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Rather disappointing...

Now, going back to the Batu Caves... The first and largest opening, the Temple Cave, is definitely an impressive space; a large room with high ceilings and beautiful stalactite formations. The not so impressive bit? The floor has been flattened out with a tasteless slab of cement and all around they are building and painting kitschy, comical statues and shrines that in my opinion takes away all the charm.

One of the more shrines inside the temple cave.

One of the more shrines inside the temple cave.

A few more steps ahead and there’s a smaller space with an open ceiling that lets the light in from above; it’s also used as a climbing wall. If only this area wasn’t getting a similar treatment as the former space...

All things said, it’s safe to say we weren’t impressed. I suppose it just isn’t our style or vibe.

Our visit here wasn’t over though. Half way up the main stairs leading to the Batu Caves, we noticed there was something else. Another cave! So after being disappointed by the main attraction, we were eager to check this out.

Excited for the Dark Cave!

Excited for the Dark Cave!

Exploring the Dark Cave...

Just like the Batu Caves, it used to be a shelter for the indigenous people. Later it was opened up using explosives for better accessibility and exploration, destroying much of the cave’s formations and ecosystem. Today, this cave is a protected area and it shelters bats, insects and living organisms; some of which are endemic to the region. A definite must visit when you're in Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur if you ask us!

Entering the Dark Cave.

Entering the Dark Cave.

It’s divided into different sections. The last part is only accessible when booking an adventure tour of 3 hours with an expert guide that takes you deep into the cave, having to twist and crawl through the cave. We bought tickets to go inside the first few sections in a group of 10 people. A friendly guide provided us with a helmet, a small lantern and some information.

The slightest amount of daylight entering the cave at some places...

The slightest amount of daylight entering the cave at some places...

We went into the Dark Cave. Walking through was easy because of the paved path and along the way we got more information from our guide about the surrounding ecosystem and natural cave formations. We saw cockroaches, a black and yellow long-legged centipede eating a cockroach, some spiders and their messy webs, snails and a dead bat.

It was a pleasant stroll through the mostly dark path. The highlight though, was getting to the last chamber. Here, the tall ceiling lets the light in and it just happens to fall over a big rock in the middle... priceless. Our guide graciously offered everyone to take our picture with our cameras and phones and then we went back.

The grand finale of the Dark Cave.

The grand finale of the Dark Cave.

I can’t say it was the most adventurous experience but it was definitely worth it. We had fun, saw an interesting fragment of nature in a pitch black environment and learned a little bit more about the dark world and its critters...



How to get to the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur

There are a few options to get to the Batu Caves and depending on how many people you are some are cheaper than others.

1. Grab Taxi

We ordered a Grab taxi because we travel as a couple and the price is often similar to having to buy two tickets for public transport. We paid RM18 for a Grab taxi ride from Bukit Bintang (City Centre) to the Batu Caves and Dark Cave.

2. Public Transport

If you're traveling alone or if you're staying close to KL Sentral train station, taking the train will make much more sense. Here's a detailed explanation of how to get to the Batu Caves using the train from KL Sentral.


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Entrance fee for Batu Caves and Dark Cave

Good news, the Batu Caves are free! (For now).

The entrance fee for the Dark Cave is 33RM per person but it includes a guide, flashlight and helmet. It's definitely worth it and a lot cooler than the Batu Caves in our opinion. Definitely let us know which one you prefer when you visit Kuala Lumpur!