A short distance from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur lies an astonishing place known as the Batu Caves. This sprawling tourist attraction contains three separate caves, each filled with different sights but the largest cave sits atop the 273rd step of a towering staircase and was the sole reason for our visit.
Upon arrival at the Batu Caves the giant golden statue of Lord Murugan from Hindu mythology guides you and invites you to come and explore caves housing temples and shines. The steps, although numerous and steep, are completely worth the effort, no matter the weather or your fitness level.
The Batu Caves are fairly easily reached via public transportation. On the Komuter Train (KTM) one can easily ride to the end of the tracks at Batu Caves Station. We left from KL Sentral Station, but using the maps and Fare Teller Machines in the stations, one could easily find their way from anywhere in the city.
A word on KL Taxis: always use metered, official taxis. Leaving the Batu Caves we set out to take a taxi and were quoted at ridiculous prices for a 10-15 minute ride. The taxi driver claimed that we wouldn’t be able to find a cheaper price, but we figured that to be a lie. We walked back to the train station where dozens of taxis waited for fares instead of the sparse few right at the caves’ entrance that could name their price and scam tourists. Always use metered taxis, as they are 25-40% of the price you’d pay in non-metered cabs.
Once you get to the caves, know that the main cave behind the golden statue is free, the others have small entrance fees. There are opportunities to purchase gifts and trinkets at the entryway as well as in the cave itself as well as offering you can buy for the various shrines and temples. Our suggestion is to explore first, shop later. You don’t want to be hauling your treasures up 273 stairs do you?
You will be required, ladies, to cover your legs and there are sarongs available for rent at the entrance as well. Although this was the only real dress code that was being enforced the day we visited, there were many more stipulations posted that may be required on different days such as covering your shoulders. Use your common sense and look into acceptable clothing for the various religious and cultural sites you hope to visit before you go. These places are amazing and deserve to be handled with respect instead of foreign indifference. Keep in mind, while the sarongs may seem unnecessary, for a few more dollars than renting one, you can buy a beautiful new one as a gift or to have one hand for your next cultural/religious site! In Southeast Asia, these are very common rules.