Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur: Holy Shrines and Monkeys


We arrived at the Batu Caves, just on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur excited to see monkeys. I wanted to run to the caves. I restrained myself as there are some lovely shrines as you walk towards the caves from the train. We saw a couple of monkeys along the way before a monsoon started, just as we arrived at the foot of the caves and holy shrine. Barring getting drenched, there was nothing else to do but sit patiently along with many others and wait out the rain. At least the kids didn’t seem to mind, as they were happy to play in the downpour.

Batu Caves - collage of rainy scenes

Statue of Lord Murugan

Finally the rain passed and we walked up past the 140 foot (42.7m) statue of Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of breaking code. We started climbing the 272 steps to the caves, but unfortunately the monkeys were still hanging out in their homes, and none were seen on the way up. The Temple Cave, 100 meters up, is massive, with a high mountain ceiling and partly open to the sky. Throughout the Batu Caves are ornate hindu shrines, statues, worshippers and music.

Lord Murugan & Batu Caves

Hindu Worship and Fretting over Monkeys

The caves are amazing for both size and spirituality. When we ventured out, it was lightly raining again, and still no monkeys were to be seen. I started fretting as I’d been excited months before we left Dublin to see the macaque monkeys there. On the day we visited the caves, I’d already driven Alex mad by saying the word monkey at least 100 times!

Praying inside the Batu Caves

Macaque Monkeys Appear!

But then, all of a sudden a lone macaque monkey appeared and began mingling with the crowd, and then they all flooded in from the surrounding trees in the mountain. They knew the rain had subsibed and it was time to harass unsuspecting visitors for food and fight over it! I was delighted and the monkeys did not disappoint with their cheeky antics!


Cheeky Batu Cave monkey
Hundreds of monkeys hang out around the caves, and one gave me a solid fright as I peered over the railing to take a look at where the monkey had disappeared to…it turned out he was just hiding behind the railing and as I peered over he leaped back up at me! They do seem to enjoy playing with the humans and drawing a bit of fright at times.

If you’re new to monkey antics, there are hours of entertainment to be had. I could have spent half the day watching them. Hopefully, we will be back in Kuala Lumpur later this year. I can happily spend another afternoon watching the monkeys play.

Batu Cave monkey with baby

Monkey eat flowers at the caves

Do Not Bring Plastic Bags or Food to the Batu Caves!

I know not everyone is a fan of the urban Macaque monkeys, as they can be quite cheeky if you’re not paying attention. They are prone to snatching food, cameras or whatever you’re not paying attention to. But as long as you go prepared you’ll be fine. A great piece of advice, given to us by Notes of Nomads, was to not take any plastic bags with us. The monkeys associate that rustling sound with food.

A couple girls in plastic rain ponchos got chased down by some monkeys. They had their ponchos tugged at, drawing shrieks from the girls. So no rain ponchos either, unless you want to draw special monkey attention. Also keep your camera strapped to yourself and take no food up the steps. If you follow all these tips you will not be harassed. They mostly just want food and are constantly prowling the crowds in search of someone who has a treat to snatch!!



Getting to the Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur

From KL central train station, you can conveniently catch the KTM train to Batu Caves (it’s the last stop). The train ride takes around 45 minutes and costs around $2 return. Entry to the caves and holy shrine is free. Once there, just head towards the cliffs and follow the path. Before you know it you will be there and enjoying monkey antics!

One more thing, if you visit in January or February, check the dates for the  Thaipusam festival which occurs around the full moon. This festival attracts over 1 million spiritual visitors. This could be a great or disastrous event for you!

And if you’re wondering where the sex in the title comes from, watch our first ever YouTube video!

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  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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