Things To Do In Penang – Kek Lok Si Temple
When you visit Penang, one of the Things To Do in Penang that you must do is visit Kek Lok Si Temple. We did, and we are very glad. It was awesome!
After a good breakfast of Penang Fried Kway Teow, we headed for the famous temple. It was a short and pleasant drive.
In this post, you will get to see a video of the amazing place, learn the history of this famous Buddhist temple, see the halls filled with Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Divine Beings, and enjoy the breaktaking view from the top of Penang Hill where this temple resides.
Kek Lok Si Temple – The Video
We enjoyed filming the many sights seen at this wondrous temple. We started on the lower levels, on to the many halls on various levels, to the peak of the hill where the Giant Kuan Yin statue is, and also climbed up the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas to capture the magnificent view of Penang from above.
Kek Lok Si Temple – About & History
This is one of the best known temples on the island. It can be said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. Actually, it is made up of a complex of temples and prayer halls that were built over a period from 1890 to 1930.
There are two main attractions here. One is the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas. And the other is the giant statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. There is more information about both below.
One of the unique features of this famous place is that it showcases architecture and artwork from Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. In doing so, they have displayed harmony in diversity.
Tip: There is a lot of ground to cover. Visit first thing in the morning.
Kek Lok Si Temple – Giant Bronze Statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy
This is the newer attraction at Kek Lok Si. It was completed in 2002. It is located high up on the hillside.
We were very excited to see this huge tribute to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. When we were driving towards Kek Lok Si, we could already see it from afar.
To get to the location, we took the inclined lift to get there. You need to buy a ticket to ride the inclined lift. Watch the video to see how.
The statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy is made of bronze, and is 36.57 meters tall. That is about 120 feet. Wow! This makes it the tallest Kuan Yin statue in the world!
When we were there, we could not resist the breathtaking, magnificent view of Penang. We just had to stop for a while, take a breath, and enjoy the scene before us.
Kek Lok Si Temple – Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas
The other attraction, the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas was no lightweight either. Completed in 1930, this towering structure has continued to capture much attention from visitors since then.
Within, there were ten thousand alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha. The pagoda itself is 30 meters (98 feet) tall.
The architecture is a harmonious mix of Chinese, Thai and Burmese. The octagonal base is a Chinese design. The middle tier has Thai influence. And the crown at the top is surely Burmese in origin.
The mix represents harmony in religious diversity. It also reflects both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.
On the ground level, there is a huge statue of Buddha donated by King Bhumibol of Thailand. That is why it is also known as Rama VI Pagoda. You can see an image of this statue in the video above.
Before we explored the pagoda, we noticed a very beautiful garden next to it. There were lovely flowers such as the lotus shown above. Plus, the landscaping was a sight for sore eyes. Do watch the video above to see the garden.
From the top level of the pagoda, you will be able to enjoy a breathtaking and magnificent view of Penang Hill, and George Town.
Kek Lok Si Temple – Prayer Halls
There were many prayer halls at Kek Lok Si. All filled with statues of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Divine Beings.
Here are photos of some of them. To see them all, do watch the video above.
When we first arrived, we found this prayer hall. There were 3 large statues of Bodhisattvas, all beautifully decorated.
We also found a pretty garden that had this serene Circular Pavilion with a Buddha image.
We roamed around. The place was like a maze. Then we found this small entrance with the sign that said in Chinese – Kek Lok Si.
I love the deep blue colors!
This was the entrance to one of the many prayer halls. I love how the many lanterns gave that extra touch, and made for such a nice photo.
This next altar was actually on the same location as the Giant Kuan Yin Statue. So beautiful!
The perimeter of one of the prayer halls featured statues of Buddha all along it. Simply astonishing!
As mentioned, there were prayer halls that were Theravada Buddhism.
* Tip: Look up! The ceilings are also filled with colorful and delicate artwork!
* Tip: Look around! The walls have intricate art that tells stories!
As mentioned in other blog posts, we visited during the off peak season. We heard that Kek Lok Si is a magical wonderland of lights and colors during Chinese New Year. During this period, the temple stays open until late at night.
If you can time your visit, best to do so during Chinese New Year. For me, it is a little difficult to plan because Chinese New Year is a big festival where I am from. And I am obligated to stay at home with my family during this time.
Still, Chinese New Year or not, Kek Lok Si Temple is indeed a place you must visit when you are in Penang.
* Tip: Visit during Chinese New Year
Where is Kek Lok Si Temple?
Kek Lok Si Temple is located at Air Itam mountain in George Town on Penang island. It is near and faces the sea. As such, the heights at the temple can offer impressive views of Penang.
9 am to 6 pm, Daily.
Free to enter temple grounds. You have to pay to visit the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and use the inclined lift to the Giant Kuan Yin Statue. Prices change over time. Best to find out when you are there.
Kek Lok Si Temple, 11500 Ayer Itam, Penang
Phone: +604-828 3317
How To Get There?
Best to travel there by bus, car, taxi or Grab. See below.
This is a small town. There are no train services. And there are no trains to this place.
There are local buses, but information on their routes and stops are not well provided. Also, the journey by bus is quite a convoluted one and takes up a lot of time. Better to go by car, taxi or Grab.
If you drove to Penang, you are at an advantage. Traffic is not as heavy as cities such as Kuala Lumpur. Navigating around is easy, especially if you have Waze app. There is ample car park lots in the temple.
They rarely go by meter. If you choose to go by taxi, sometimes it may be better to book them for the afternoon or day. This way, you can be assured of getting a ride back to the city, as and when you like it.
Tip: Negotiate and agree on a price before you take the taxi.
This is my preferred option. One reason is that there is no need to negotiate. Another is that the price is usually reasonable and affordable. No hassles.
It is so easy to travel around in cities now because of Grab. Just download the app, state your destination, a driver is assigned to you, take the transport, and you arrive at your destination. Comfortable and easy.
I have switched to Grab for my travels within a city ever since this option became available.
If you have ANY questions about this article, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.
Thank you for reading this.
Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,