Monkey Business: A Long Layover at Batu Caves Malaysia

Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Gratefully, the woman at the tourist information center enlightened us about the expensive taxi fares and suggested taking public transportation to explore Kuala Lumpur efficiently. With a 13-hour long layover in Malaysia, and a concise checklist of attractions, we eagerly accepted her advice. Handing me a subway map leading to the iconic Batu Caves, she expertly directed us to the nearby train station, ensuring our brief visit would be memorable and budget-friendly.

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Muslim-Mosque-in-Kuala-Lumpur-1024x498 Monkey Business: A Long Layover at Batu Caves Malaysia

A Long Layover in Malaysia

Batu Caves 

We had planned on taking a taxi from the airport to the popular Hindu Batu Caves just outside the city. The caves are located 13 km north of the city and are extremely easy to find. Take KLIA2 to KL Sentral. Then switch to line 2 (Port Klang) and ride it to the end of the line. Finally when you step off the train right in front of the cave entrance.

The train is very slow. The trip took about 35-40 minutes one way and costs roughly 37 Ringgit or about $6.50 USD each way. However, entry into the Batu Caves is free of charge.

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Trickster Monkeys

We crossed the street, passing by a few local ladies selling jewelry. Just past the entry gate is a magnificent 50-foot green statue. Hanuman the trickster monkey, offers a foreshadowing of what lies a few hundred feet down the road.

We pass a pond full of the biggest koi fish I’ve ever seen. Then stroll past stalls stacked high with sweet and sticky treats: Gulab jamuns, Jaleebi, and Ladoo. And some I don’t recognize. We kept walking and a few moments later we could see patches of glittery gold peeking out from the trees.

Rounding the corner, we stopped in our tracks. Standing in awe before the humongous golden statue of Lord Murugan. To its right, a daunting staircase of 272 steep stairs that rose to the sacred cathedral caves at Batu.

Lord Murugan

The Lord Murugan Statue is 140 ft high and is the world’s tallest statue of the Hindu deity outside of India and cost more than $350 million to build.

The Batu Caves sit on a limestone hill formed 400 million years ago. They are located just outside of Kuala Lumpur in Selangor, Malaysia, and are dedicated to Lord Murugan, the Hindu God of War.

We began the climb in the humid December heat along with the throng of other visitors both foreign and local. Many of the latter jumped from post to post on all fours, pulled one another tails, and scattered to and fro with reckless abandon.

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Monkey Business

Wooden steps up to the Temple Cave were built in 1920 and later replaced by concrete ones– inhabited by a couple of families of monkeys. However, these monkeys will snatch your bag and run if you aren’t watching. I watched it happen no less than 3 times. The first time I had just entered the complex and almost was rained on by discarded noodles. So you would think Asian monkeys liked noodles. But I guess not.

Of the various cave temples that comprise the site, the largest is the temple cave. It’s hollow with tons of odd-shaped formations and shrines. The caves were not always considered holy. Initially, they were excavated for the bat guano left by the more than 200,000 fruit and insect-eating bats still residing in the dark cave. (Group tours are available for 30 Roppongi.)

At the base of the hill are two more cave temples, Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave, full of Hindu statues and paintings. This complex was renovated and opened as the Cave Villa in 2008. Many of the shrines relate to the story of Lord Murugan’s victory over a demon. An audio tour is available to visitors.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

  • There are several food stalls and souvenir shops within the temple area.
  • Entrance into the caves is completely free, but they do accept donations.
  • Be modest in appearance, or be prepared to cover up your legs with a sari at the entrance. The saris/ scarfs are free.
  • Don’t put your bag down, the monkeys will snatch it up if they think or smell food.
  • Use common sense when approaching the monkeys. They may not seem wild, but they are not pets either.
  • Be respectful and remove your shoes if you enter the temple at the entrance.
  • Remember this is a religious site.
  • Apps like Hopper and Matrix Airfare Search to find great prices on layover flights.

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34 thoughts on “Monkey Business: A Long Layover at Batu Caves Malaysia

  1. I never knew there was an audio guide available, I should go check it out the next time. Did you enjoy Batu Caves? It’s just an hour from where I live, and it’s just a place I take for granted. It is quite a remarkable place!

    1. It was a fun excursion into Kuala Lumpur. Its easy to get to get too and who doesn’t love watching monkeys play??

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