Steve at Bukit Melawati hanging out with the gentle Silver Leaf Monkeys

Bukit Melawati – Hilltop Fortress and Malaysia’s Best Monkey Encounter

Bukit Melawati Highlights

  • Silverleaf Monkey Encounter
  • Hilltop Fortress with Rich History
  • Panoramic Views

If you love monkey encounters, Bukit Melawati should be on your Malaysian itinerary. It’s only 60 minutes from Kuala Lumpur. Bukit Melawati is primarily a historical site with great hilltop views, but it’s also home to hundreds of silver leaf monkeys. These monkeys freely roam the site and will steal your hearts. They are so different from the macaques that you’ll see around Southeast Asia. Silver Leaf Monkeys are extremely gentle, playful, and curious. We love the macaques too, but the silver leaf monkeys are our new favorites.

A gentle silver leaf monkey at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

While you can watch and even interact with monkeys here, Bukit Melawati is not an animal “exhibit.” These monkeys just happen to live in the area. Bukit Melawati overlooks the Selangor River and the mangroves that surround it. These mangroves are the monkey’s natural habitat. There are no enclosures, no cages, no handlers, and no shows. The silver leaf monkeys are somewhat like the llamas of Machu Picchu, except the monkeys totally come and go as they please.

Bukit Melawati is not an animal “exhibit.”Click To Tweet

Bukit Melawati – Historical Site

Cannon aimed at the Straights of Malacca near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Canon aimed at the Straights of Malacca

Bukit Melawati is the site of a hilltop fortress that dates back to 1782. The local leader, Sultan Ibrahim built the fort to fend off European Invaders. This hilltop was the highest in the area and had 360° sight lines. The fort had views of the nearby waterways and several big cannons poised to demolish approaching forces.

Peaceful silver leaf monkeys enjoying the sunset at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Peaceful Silver Leaf Monkeys Enjoying the Sunset

The strategic location of the fortress did not guarantee victory. Possession of the fort was passed back and forth several times between the Malays and the Dutch armies.

Lighthouse and Real Executioner’s Stone at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Lighthouse and Real Executioner’s Stone

After all those battles, only parts of the original stronghold remain. Bukit Melawati’s other relics include a lighthouse, an executioners stone, a poisoned well, and the royal graves of 3 sultans. There is also a small museum commemorating the site’s history.

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Silver Leaf Monkey Encounter

Silver Leaf Monkeys at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Observing the Gentle Silver Leaf Monkeys

There are a few possible interactions with the Silver Leaf Monkeys here. The first is simply observing them up close – outside of a zoo environment.

A gentle Silver Leaf Monkey at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We’ve been on wildlife observations where we were happy with brief glances at far off monkeys. Being so close to these sweet monkeys is a privilege because Silver leaf monkeys are pretty rare. On the whole planet, they only live in a few places around Southeast Asia.

Orange Baby Silver Leaf Monkey at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Orange Baby Silver Leaf Monkey

Seeing babies animals are always an adorable treat. We were lucky to see a couple babies. We couldn’t believe the babies were bright orange.

The silver leaf monkeys enjoying the sunset at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

There are monkeys all over Bukit Melawati, but the canons seemed to be VIP seating. The monkeys really seemed to enjoy chilling out and watching the sunset.

Feeding Monkeys

Feeding the silver leaf monkeys at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Feeding the Silver Leaf Monkeys was so fun. They are crazy about bananas, but they are so gentle and surprisingly patient. Macaques can be much more aggressive. You don’t want to get swarmed by several macaques. The Silver Leaf Monkeys were so much more relaxed.

Mellow Silver Leaf Monkeys Just Relaxing on My Lap at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Mellow Silver Leaf Monkeys Just Relaxing on Steve’s Lap

Several approached and sat on us during feedings, but we were always safe and comfortable. They got our attention with soft touches and light taps. They had quick hands, but they were also very accurate and gentle. We never sensed an ounce of aggression from the monkeys, not toward us and not toward other monkeys.

“Socializing” with Silver Leaf Monkeys

Getting Tickled by a Silver Leaf Monkey at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Steve Getting Tickled by a Silver Lear Monkey

A really cool aspect of the experience was seeing the individual personality differences from monkey to monkey. Some got a banana and took off. Others got a banana and ate it right next to us. When the bananas were finished, many of these left us in search of more. This was what we expected, but a few monkeys surprised us. This smaller group stuck around after our bananas were gone.

Steve making friends with an adorable silver leaf monkey at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

One particular monkey stayed around for a long time. She was very social in the monkey way. She put her finger in my ear, groomed me for bugs, and sat on my shoulder for 5 or 10 minutes. It was so cool.  We were amazed. There were other people feeding monkeys nearby. The monkey had an easy source of food. She knew we didn’t have any more, but she decided to hang out with us anyway. We’re no experts on monkeys, but it certainly felt like she was socializing.

Goodbye Bukit Melawati

The Silver Leaf Monkeys Lighten the Mood at This Military Site at Bukit Melawati near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Silver Leaf Monkeys Lighten the Mood at This Military Site

Bukit Melawati is one our favorite day trips from Kuala Lumpur. It’s only an hour away from the city, and it has so much to offer. It’s a centuries-old hilltop fort with a lighthouse and a rich history. The hilltop location also makes Bukit Melawati a nice spot to enjoy the Malaysian countryside. The sunsets are especially pretty. And best of all, the gentle Silver Leaf Monkeys accompany you as you stroll the grounds, explore the fort, and enjoy the sunset.

The easiest way to get here is with a private driver. You really don’t need a guide, and private drivers are very reasonable in Kuala Lumpur.

Cool Fact about Silver Leaf Monkeys

Silver Leaf Monkeys live together as Harems with only one adult male. The mothers are directly responsible for their babies, but all the females communally raise and wean the young. The social bonds between females are strong and life long. Females born into a troop never leave it. This may explain why the troops are so gentle and relaxed.

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78 Comments
  • edira
    Posted at 02:50h, 26 December

    Aww they’re so adorable! I haven’t seen such orange monkey before. Sounds like a must-visit place when visiting Malaysia 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 02:55h, 26 December

    Hi Edira. The orange monkey was a shock to us too. And so adorable.

  • Chris
    Posted at 05:09h, 26 December

    It’s amazing how many locations throughout the world are home to both history and nature.

    Is it accessible by public transportation?

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 05:11h, 26 December

    Hello Chris. Yes. There’s a bus from KL that departs every 30 minutes from 630am – 730pm. So you can even enjoy the sunset before heading back to KL.

  • Chrissy
    Posted at 09:24h, 26 December

    These pictures are so great, I love the monkeys!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 09:32h, 26 December

    Hi Chrissy. Glad you liked the photos.

  • Mihaela Echols
    Posted at 16:40h, 26 December

    Those little monkeys are so cute!!!!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 16:44h, 26 December

    Hello Mihaela. The are so cute. It was great to see them.

  • Amber Myers
    Posted at 19:43h, 26 December

    This would be so much fun to do! The monkeys look really nice. That’s so sweet that one groomed you like that.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 19:45h, 26 December

    Hi Amber. We did have a blast and it was awesome to socialise with the monkeys.

  • kait
    Posted at 20:14h, 26 December

    Oh my gosh, what a cool post! Monkeys usually make me nervous but your post made them look fun!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 20:15h, 26 December

    Hello Kait. Thank you. These are special, sweet monkeys.

  • Melanie Frost
    Posted at 20:18h, 26 December

    I would love to play with real live monkeys! The closest I have ever come was seeing them in a zoo. Your posts make me want to go there so badly!!!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 20:20h, 26 December

    Hello Melanie. Hope you get a chance to visit. The monkeys made it an unforgettable place.

  • Jaime Says
    Posted at 20:56h, 26 December

    Did you bring food to feed the monkeys or did they sell food there?

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 21:00h, 26 December

    Hi Jamie. A couple locals sell bananas at the site.

  • Meagan
    Posted at 22:53h, 26 December

    I love how the monkeys are just out and about. Talk about a fun experience!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:00h, 26 December

    Hi Megan. It is amazing they just live there freely. It was so fun.

  • blair villanueva
    Posted at 23:04h, 26 December

    whoa this is a fun experience! I need more courage to play with monkeys 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:10h, 26 December

    Hi Blair. These monkeys were just so sweet and gentle and easy to be around.

  • Leslie W
    Posted at 23:11h, 26 December

    This looks like such a fun experience! I would love to be able to play with live monkeys instead of seeing them in displays.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:12h, 26 December

    Hi Leslie. This was amazing to experience monkeys outside of any zoo or exhibit.

  • Elizabeth O.
    Posted at 23:13h, 26 December

    Now that’s a lot of monkeys! How fun is this! I think it’s awesome that you got to interact and spend time with these fun fur babies! It would be a nice experience for the kids as well.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:15h, 26 December

    Hi Elizabeth. It was a privilege to have such an fun time with these adorable monkeys.

  • Ola
    Posted at 23:17h, 26 December

    What a great experience. If I ever have a chance to see these monkeys in person I hopei remember which group is gentle and which ones are not. This looks so exciting.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:20h, 26 December

    Hello Ola. Hope you get a chance to experience these monkeys for yourself.

  • WhenTwoWander
    Posted at 23:33h, 26 December

    These monkeys are so so cute! They look more friendly than the Macaques we s=came across in Ubud, Indonesia – although they were great too. The fact at the end is amazing, and so rare. The golden monkey in the photos is great to see too.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:35h, 26 December

    Hi WhenTwoWander. Yes we enjoyed the monkeys in Ubud too, but these guys are a different gentle breed. In their presence, the vibe is so relaxed and peaceful.

  • Kasey
    Posted at 23:42h, 26 December

    Oh my gosh that is so cool! Definitely a stop to make if I’m ever there!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:47h, 26 December

    Hi Kasey. It was definitely cool. Check it out when in KL.

  • Krysten
    Posted at 23:59h, 26 December

    That is the coolest thing that I have ever seen. I would love to experience that!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 00:00h, 27 December

    Hi Krysten. IT was an amazing experience for us too. Hope you get a chance to visit.

  • LC
    Posted at 00:33h, 27 December

    Those monkeys are too cute. I love the shot of them checking out the sunset. Pretty funny about the female who grew particularly attached to Steve. I hope she gave you a thorough grooming session!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 00:35h, 27 December

    Hello LC. Haha. Yes the grooming was very thorough and ticklish and awesome.

  • Anne
    Posted at 01:11h, 27 December

    Aww! The monkeys looks so adorable. They are so friendly. Seems like you had a fun day.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 01:22h, 27 December

    Hi Anne. It was really fun to play with the adorable monkeys, thanks.

  • Milica Momcilovic
    Posted at 01:49h, 27 December

    Oh my! This is do adorable! I love all the photos! I wish I can feed and socialize with monkeys one day. 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 02:18h, 27 December

    Hi Milica. They are precious. Hope you get your chance to play soon.

  • Jenni Petrey
    Posted at 07:26h, 27 December

    I love Malaysia, will have to pencil this place into our next trip. It looks amazing!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 07:30h, 27 December

    Hello Jenni. Good to hear. We love Malaysia too.

  • Harsh Gupta
    Posted at 07:53h, 27 December

    Oh, I so am scared of monkey encounters, though had my fair share of encounters in Bangkok Zoo. Other than that, in some places in India also you can find monkeys hovering around the streets, especially hill stations. But by your pictures I can make how much fun you must have had with these Malaysian monkeys. 😀 Still I’d be scared!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 08:00h, 27 December

    Hi Harsh. These are very special monkeys. They’re still wild, but since they’re a troop of females, they’re more mellow and less aggressive. We loved this encounter so much. We really cherish it. They were so pleasant to be around.

  • Leigh Borders
    Posted at 13:50h, 27 December

    I have seen videos of monkeys like this before. I have always been fascinated with it. I would LOVE to visit here one day.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 13:55h, 27 December

    Hi Leigh. The monkeys are so fascinating. Hope you get a chance to visit soon.

  • EG III
    Posted at 16:19h, 27 December

    What an awesome experience to be able to mingle in such close proximity with those monkeys and even get a chance to feed them as well! From the looks of the pictures I don’t know who had more fun you or the monkeys!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 16:22h, 27 December

    Hello EG III. I think we definitely had more fun. LOL. Thanks.

  • Amy Shellman
    Posted at 20:19h, 27 December

    This place looks seriously amazing. But i think that all those monkeys jumping on me would make me nervous.. lol.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 20:20h, 27 December

    Hello Amy. It is an amazing place. These monkeys move more slowly and gently than the macaques in our experience. There are many of them but they don’t overwhelm. For wild animals they’re really polite and patient.

  • Isaly Holland
    Posted at 20:32h, 27 December

    The silver monkeys are adorable! You guys got great shots of the area. You always have the best photos!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 20:33h, 27 December

    Hello Isaly. Thank you very much. And the monkeys were so adorable to us too.

  • Joaquim Miro
    Posted at 23:19h, 27 December

    Omg the orange babies are so cute!! I can’t wait to see a place like this at some point? Weren’t you scared that they could bite you or something?

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:22h, 27 December

    Hi Joaquim. No we were not scared because they were so peaceful. We also let them initiate all contact. We never reached out to grab them and they were very calm and playful with us.

  • Vicki Louise
    Posted at 04:09h, 28 December

    I’d love to watch the sunrise here with the monkeys dancing round! And I totally agree that the women monkey folk of the group must definitely be a calming influence! They probably just hope they don’t have rowdy boy babies to upset the quiet!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 04:11h, 28 December

    Hi Vicki. I think you’re right about the lady monkeys. It’s amazing how their society works.

  • Jill Conyers
    Posted at 04:35h, 28 December

    What a wonderful experience. Watching the sunrise must have been an amazing thing to see.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 04:44h, 28 December

    Hi Jill. Thanks. It was an amazing experience.

  • Rose
    Posted at 10:37h, 28 December

    I would be so nervous and scared to be around so many monkeys. If one got mad wouldn’t they all act up? I like the bright orange babies. There’s no loosing your child then I suppose.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 10:41h, 28 December

    Hi Rose. That’s possible I guess, but it doesn’t seem likely to us. The thing about animals like this is that they’re not hard to read. If they’re happy or angry, it’s easy to recognise and act well in the situation.

  • Divya @ Eat Teach Blog
    Posted at 13:37h, 28 December

    Monkeys again! 🙂 My mom and dad traveled to Malaysia and they came back with stories about the monkeys! I would love to visit some day. Looks like I’d have a lot of fun <3

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 13:44h, 28 December

    Hey Divya. Good to her your mom and dad enjoyed the monkeys too. Hope you get a chance to visit soon.

  • Angela
    Posted at 14:14h, 28 December

    I LOVE monkeys!! What an incredible experience. I would love to do something like this some day.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 14:44h, 28 December

    Hello Angela. It was so fun. Hope you can have fun here too.

  • Jackie Taylor
    Posted at 16:18h, 30 December

    Awesome post! It would be so cool to see the monkeys so up close! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 16:22h, 30 December

    Hi Jackie. Thanks. We loved meeting the monkeys at Bukit Melawati.

  • Bella WW
    Posted at 09:37h, 01 January

    I always wanted to interact with the monkeys so close. I like them so much that I would love to have one as a pet. Therefore, I would be super thrilled to visit this place. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and the tips.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 09:40h, 01 January

    Hi Bella. Bukit Melawati is so fun. Hope you can visit the monkeys for yourself.

  • Andrea Thompson
    Posted at 21:29h, 01 January

    Oh my gosh, I love interacting with animals and wildlife when I travel and incorporating those kinds of places into my trips! This looks so incredible. I love that the babies are so brightly coloured, they look so adorable! I’m definitely saving this for future reference!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 21:30h, 01 January

    Hello Andrea. Thanks. It is a cool place to visit and put on your bookmarks for future trips.

  • neha
    Posted at 23:34h, 01 January

    Malaysia seems to be the favorite home for monkeys in this world. And the monkeys also seem to be so homely. I have never had such a close encounter with the monkeys as you had here..I am a bit scared of them, actually, because I remember two instances from my childhood when I saw a monkey slapping a friend hard…but these look different. Won’t mind a handshake 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:45h, 01 January

    Hi Neha. These silver leaf monkeys are the nicest I’ve ever seen. They are mostly females so less aggressive. We saw other people there who were scared at first but warmed up to them after seeing how gentle these monkeys are.

  • Mar Pages
    Posted at 11:15h, 02 January

    I can’t imagine anything cuter than getting tickled by a little Silver Leaf monkey! They seemed to be really attracted to Steve, haha. What an adorable experience.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 11:22h, 02 January

    Hello Mar. Thanks, it was a fun, adorable and memorable experience.

  • Maria
    Posted at 14:26h, 02 January

    This monkeys are not wild anymore, are they? How great was to be groomed by a monkey? You seem to be having a great time. The orange baby was so cute and I wander if they all born that color or if that is some kind of albinism or something.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 14:44h, 02 January

    Hi Maria. They aren’t exactly wild, but not exactly domesticated either. I think both their natural temperament and their frequent contact with people have formed their personalities. All I know for sure is how nice they were to us.

  • Angie Briggs (FeetDoTravel)
    Posted at 21:05h, 03 January

    We love all the cheeky monkeys in Malaysia, no matter how many times we see them we still take a plethora of photos, especially when they have the cute little orange babies with them! Loved your photos, stories and your encounter with them, your faces say it all but that’s the general reaction when the Silver Lear monkeys are around 😀

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 21:11h, 03 January

    Hi Angie. Thanks. We agree, we could play with them everyday and not get tired of it.

  • Sandy N Vyjay
    Posted at 00:02h, 21 February

    This really sure is some Monkey business. The place looks intriguing and the monkeys make it even more enigmatic. Good to see that they are friendly. The monkeys with the orange baby are really looking great, Nice pictures and the monkeys have posed well too.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 00:11h, 21 February

    Hey Sandy N Vyjay. Haha. Yup it was too funny to witness.