Batu Caves

Top choice in Malaysia

Just 13km north of Kuala Lumpur rise the iconic Batu Caves, a Malaysian national treasure, Hindu pilgrimage site and wildlife-conservation zone. Behind a 42.7m statue of Hindu deity Murugan, 272 steps climb to limestone caves housing temples that have drawn pilgrims for over 120 years. Prowled by monkeys and attracting a dizzying number of tourists and devotees, Batu Caves are an unforgettable excursion from KL.

Hours vary by cave. Temple Cave is free. The others, like Ramayana Cave, carry charges.

American naturalist William Hornaday is credited with discovering the caves in 1878, though they were known to Chinese settlers (who collected guano) and, of course, the local indigenous peoples.

Be sure to plan enough time to tour the Dark Cave to learn about the area’s natural history and spot bats and spiders on a 45-minute guided tour. If you don't mind crowds, come for the three-day Thaipusam festival in late January or early February, when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims converge at the caves.