Kek Lok Si temple in Penang, Malaysia

After a hearty lunch on our freedom car day, and still smiling ear to ear over our adventure with the Orangutans, we decided that we could squeeze in one more adventure.  OK so I had to bribe encourage the kids with a trip to the local play place to get them to even consider yet another temple -- but that is completely besides the point.  Once the bribe encouragement was rendered and after persuading the boys that this was, "a different temple, more fun, I swear", we were on our way.

Enjoying the temple or dreaming of tomorrows play pit?  

Kek Lok Si temple, located in Penang, is the largest Buddhist temple in all of Malaysia.  It is set up on a hillside about 50 minutes from our starting point in Batu Ferringhi, and completely free to enter.  If you are driving though, parking is 2RM.  The signs are fairly good heading up the hill (towards Air Itam) and we were able to find the temple with only having to turn around once.  Leaving was a whole other story though, best saved for a different post as it may not be entirely family friendly yet.  Give me another month!

We explored the temple grounds for 2 hours and easily could have stayed longer.  It is a beautiful facility whose initial construction began in 1890.  The temple is still being added to so it offers a nice mixture of old and new.

There are gift shops, restaurants, and extra little fees so be prepared for that.  This is one of Penang's largest tourist draws so they really seem to take advantage of that.  To save a little money bring drinks in with you as it gets very hot walking around and climbing stairs.  We also decided to take the "lift" to the top of the hill to see the Kuan Yin statue.  The cost was 10 RM for all of us (roughly $3 US) and that covered the return trip down.

It was worth every ringgit!  This is the must-see spot of the temple grounds in my opinion.  Kuan Yin, goddess of mercy, is one of the largest statues I have ever seen at 36.5 meters high, and quite impressively made out of solid bronze and housed in a new stunning pagoda of its own.  There is also a beautiful temple on this hill, statues representing all the Chinese zodiac animals (the kids loved posing with these cement creatures), a pagoda, and fish pond all offering sweeping views of Penang.

On the way up the lift!
Pagoda and fish pond
Kuan Yin statue

Fighting the serpent...see I said it would be fun!

View from the top
Also be sure to see the turtle pond area.  Buddhists believe that setting a turtle free will bring good luck, so the release of turtles has been going on for quite some time. There are at least 100 turtles in this one area.  Although not terribly pleasing visually if you have any children, "liberation" pond is a good spot to spend a few minutes.  You can also buy food for the turtles for 1RM ($.33) and then witness just how fast turtles become when they catch a glimpse of food.

That is a lot of turtles!

As we were running short on time, we opted not to head up the stairs to the main pagoda.  We were able to get some great photos and enjoy how beautiful it was from the bottom of the hill.  There is also a charge to head up to the Ban Po Thar pagoda of 2RM each ($.66).  It is 7 tiers and over 30 meters high and said to be part Burmese, part Thai, and part Chinese.  The architecture of the pagoda alone would be worth getting a closer look so try and set aside a little more time than we did.

Temple tips: Interestingly the dress code is not near as strict as when visiting a Thai Buddhist temple.  You need to dress respectfully but there is no set code at all.  Use common sense and you'll be fine.  Try and visit in the early morning (open 9am-6pm) or late afternoon to avoid the heat of mid day.  Penang Hill is only 3 KM away so you could easily make this a 2 outing day!

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  1. My god the temples are amazing there, aren't they? I miss Penang. It is an island of contrasts.