Southeast Asia is home to beautiful temples, pagodas, churches, mosques, stupas and much much more. But some of the religious sites just stand out, they are bigger, more unique, more beautiful, they just leave you speechless. The Kek Lok Si temple is one of those temples. While you might have never heard of the temple we believe it should be on every tourist, backpacker or traveler’s bucket list who is even remotely thinking of going to Southeast Asia. The Kek Lok Si temple is so unique, so beautiful and so incredibly big! We could wander around the temple for hours. Read down below everything you need to know about the Kek Lok Si temple and why it should be on your bucket list!
Please note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that purchasing a product or service via these links may earn us a small commission (at no extra cost to you of course).
Where is Penang?
In the North of Peninsular Malaysia, close to the border of Thailand, you can find the region of Penang. The region consist of the island Penang and the mainland Penang. Penang’s island is connected to the mainland by two bridges, making it easily reachable. From the mainland also regular ferries go up and down between the mainland and the island of Penang. Try the hawker food in Penang, visit the beautiful hills and the vibrant George Town. Visiting Penang is a must when you are going to visit Malaysia. Find a map below also showing Penang’s location and surrounding.
How to get to the Kek Lok Si Temple
The Kek Lok Si Temple is located on the island of Penang. The temple is conveniently located in the Northern part of the Penang Island, roughly 9km outside of the tourist and travelers hub of George Town. There are multiple ways to reach the Kek Lok Si temple find our two recommended ways below:
Option 1 (for the adventurous travelers) rent a scooter – Renting a scooter is recommended to anyone who has experience driving motorbikes or scooters before. It might seem easy, but with the busy temple and the uneven roads you might want to think twice before jumping on the bike. If you do have experience, and feel confident riding a bike, I would definitely recommend it. Renting a scooter will allow you to decide when to go, how long to stay and options to explore the surroundings! You can park your motorbike at the temple for 1MYR. From George Town it should take you roughly 30 – 45 min, depending on traffic.
Example cost: Renting a motorbike would cost roughly 30 – 40 MYR per bike for one day.
Option 2 (for the non budget travelers or adventurous traveler) use grab – Grab is kind of like the uber of Southeast Asia. You can easily download the app here and use it in several countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. With the click of a button you can find a Grab Taxi who will take you to the Kek Lok Si temple. Depending on traffic, the journey should take roughly 30 – 50 min. You can pay the Grab taxi driver on arrival.
Example cost: Renting a Grab taxi would cost roughly 15 – 20 MYR per taxi, one way, depending on availability.
Kek Lok Si Temple – Know Before You Go
Kek Lok Si Temple Opening Hours – Upon arrival at 8am we were informed the temple was not opening officially till 8.30am. Inside we found a sign stating the temple (and elevators in the temple) are open between 8.30am and 5.30pm.
Kek Lok Si Temple Entry Fee – There is no entry fee to enter the temple. However, donations to the temple can be deposited into a donation box at multiple points. If you are coming by motorbike you can either park at the bottom of the temple and take the inclined elevator up for 3MYR per person or park midway the temple. From here you can walk up further and take the inclined elevator (3 MYR one way, 6MYR return) up to the statue on the top of the temple. The parking fee is 1 MYR. With no entry fee and a small fee for the inclined elevator, visiting the Kek Lok Si Temple is the perfect sight to see when traveling Malaysia on a budget.
Kek Lok Si Temple Dress Code – There seems to be no specific dress code at the Kek Lok Si temple that we could find on the internet or at the temple. As this is a place of worship we do encourage you to dress conservatively (knees and shoulders covered) and to take your shoes of where requested.
The Kek Lok Si Temple
The construction of the Kek Lok Si temple took place between 1890 and 1930 and is said to be the largest buddhist temple in Malaysia. Besides that the temple is also known to be a well known pilgrimage side for buddhist from surrounding countries and the rest of Southeast Asia. The temple consists of multiple prayers halls, elevators, a bell tower and perhaps what the temple is the most famous for: the pagoda filled with a 10,000 statues of Buddha and the Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy, statue. You can spot both the pagoda and the statue upon arrival, both rising high above the rest of the temple.
The Kuan Yin statue was not built until 2002 and currently a pavilion over the statue is being built, but the site is nonetheless incredibly impressive. The statue is 30.2 meters high and stands all the way above the temple, giving you an incredible view over the temple and the city. As the temple on its whole is built on the hill you will find a beautiful view, facing George Town, from all around the temple. Apparently the temple is the most beautiful during the Chinese New Year and the 30 days following the Chinese new year when the temple is open till late and covered in thousands of lanterns. If you are not convinced yet find more photos of the gorgeous Kek Lok Si Temple below.
Where to stay in Penang
For budget travellers – We would highly recommend using Hostelworld.com to find the perfect hostel for you. You can find private rooms and dorms, all for a much lower price then a medium hotel. Besides that, hostels are also the perfect place to meet new people! We stayed at the 80’s Guesthouse during our stay in Penang and were very happy with our choice. The hostel was clean, staff was friendly and it had a great relaxed atmosphere. Check out it our here or find more hostels here on Hostelworld.com!
For any type of traveler – AirBnB is very widely used in Malaysia. We have used AirBnB in New Zealand, Malaysia and Vietnam and have always had positive experiences! The costs are often lower then hotels and there is a large selection of rooms and apartments, suiting to every solo traveler, couple or family’s needs. To make it even better, if you sign up here now for AirBnB and you will receive a 30$ credit for any of your future bookings!
For luxury travelers – We would recommend using Booking.com or Agoda.com to find a luxury hotel that suits your needs. There is a large range of luxury hotels and resorts in and close to George Town available. You will find hotels with pools, gyms and delicious breakfasts included.
And there you have it, everything you need to know about visiting the beautiful Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang. Planning on exploring the rest of Peninsular Malaysia as well, don’t forget to check out our other blogposts on Malaysia, or pick one of the blogposts below!
IPOH // Street Art in Ipoh
KUALA LUMPUR // Visit the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur
KUALA LUMPUR // Visit the Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur
MALAYSIA // The Ultimate Malaysia Travel Guide
I hope you enjoyed reading this article about the Kek Lok Si temple and that you are now convinced to add this beautiful temple to your bucket list! If you have any questions do not hesitate to drop them below in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. Don’t forget to pin it for later!