Stunning Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang
Kek Lok Si temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the region, was high on my list of places to visit on Penang. I think it’s possibly the prettiest temple I’ve ever visited, each section of Kek Lok Si has its own charming style and the temple and it’s compound were a surprisingly good place to take the children during our Penang holiday.
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Arriving on Penang by comfortable, good value, bus from Kuala Lumpur, we (I) had a bit of a freak out for various reasons, before spending over a week on Penang with another travelling family. We then flew on to Bangkok from Penang airport.
I love a good temple, this one stood out because of the wonderful lady who took so much time to explain the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Chinese gods to us. It’s the people who make a place, and she was really special.
Why Kek Lok Si is a Good Place for Kids
1. They can burn off steam racing up the steps from the road. Kek Lok Si is at the top of a hill, the path up to the top is lined with interesting souvenir shops, I love a bit of entertainment as I walk.
2. They can feed, or maybe liberate, the turtles. The first part of the temple is the liberation pond, traditionally people liberate animals to gain merit. There wasn’t any turtle liberation going on when we were there and the turtles looked far too big to cage so we fed them instead. There is a guy selling bundles of greens for a few ringit. You will not believe how big one of the turtles is, he’s HUGE.
3. This particular temple is a great place to learn a bit about Buddhism, there are many interesting statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and there are great stories that go with them. Try to find someone to explain them to you.
4. Making a wish with a wishing ribbon is a lovely tradition for the children to take part in. They can buy their own wish ribbon, D chose ” Success with everything”, and personalise it by writing a special wish underneath. The children loved hanging the ribbons on the wishing tree.
5. To get to the top of the hill and the huge statue of Kuan Yin, there is a short funicular railway. Great kid fun and an amazing view of Penang.
6. Kek Lok Si isn’t a tourist attraction, it’s a working temple, there are plenty of Buddhist traditions going on, it’s fascinating for the kids to watch people lighting incense and candles and they can learn how to pay proper respect to Buddha.
7. At the top of the hill the children can find “their” Chinese horoscope animal. The statues are dotted around the gardens.
8. There are plenty of fish ponds to look at as well as shops selling drinks, souvenirs and snacks. We found the most beautiful temple cat I’ve ever seen, he made an appearance on our Facebook Page.
9. It’s free! Kek Lok Si is possibly my favorite place to visit on Penang, I’d highly recommend it for everyone, not just those of us travelling with kids, you can easily spend half a day wandering the temples and pagodas. We took two buses from Batu Ferringhi ( I hate those buses!) and it took over an hour to get there.
My other top tip for the kids is Fort Cornwallis in Georgetown, plenty of room to run around and canons, kids love cannons.