Although I’m not the most religious person, I was completely fascinated by the temples and shrines we saw in Malaysia. All the intricate details, the history, the significance and meaning behind each one was astonishing to learn about and it became normal for us to see a huge statue or temple on the side of a busy street, something we were never exposed to before.
Georgetown has one temple in particular that is well known among locals and popular among visitors, Kek Lok Si temple. Built in the late 1800’s, this temple is place for Buddhist and Chinese teachings and is one of the country’s most treasured temples. Kek Lok Si is Penang Hokkien for “temple of supreme bliss.”
If you’re around during Chinese New Year, you have to visit the temple when it’s adorned with hundreds of hanging lanterns, otherwise it makes for a nice half day trip and gives you a wonderful view of Georgetown.
Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang
The main appeal of this temple to visitors is the great 30 meter tall bronze statue of Kuan Yin (goddess of mercy) and the seven story pagoda. Both are incredible to see, especially as you’re driving around town below and you see a giant statue looking down at you.
As you walk into the temple, you’ll notice that there are a ton of souvenir shops around. They’ve done a truly effective job marketing Kek Lok Si temple, almost to the point where it’s a little too much. I understand they’re taking advantage of the many tourists that go to make their living but at the same time, I’d like to experience and enjoy the temple in a more pure way without the commercial temptations.
However, the temple itself is extraordinary. I love all the bright colors they use to decorate the buildings and the landscaping is carefully thought out and well maintained. You can really see the love and hard work they put into building this spectacular place of learning and worship.
In the assembly hall areas are a few tables where you can light a candle or buy a good luck ribbon and hang it on a tree for 1 RM.
To get up to the top where the big bronze statue is, you can either take an elevator lift for 3 RM (adult) per person or if you have a car or scooter, drive up.
There are some other statues and the animals of the Chinese zodiac scattered around the top. Around the parking lot area are little statues of some things I didn’t expect to see such as minnie mouse.
But the main attraction is the bronze statue. Here it is in all its glory, looking over Georgetown! Pretty impressive!
Tips for visiting Kek Lok Si temple
- You can visit the temple for a couple of hours, it’s not an all day thing so you can first go up to Penang Hill and visit Kek Lok Si temple on your way down
- Take Rapid Penang bus 204 to go to both Penang Hill and this temple. To get to the temple, get off at Jalan Pasar and follow the signs
- No entrance fee except for the lift
- Open 7AM – 9PM daily
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