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Penang, Kek Lok Si Temple.

Last Updated 09/01/2022.

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.

Penang, Kek Lok Si Temple. Malaysia

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.

Kek Lok Si temple, Penang,Malaysia. Possibly the prettiest temple in the whole of Malaysia.
Kek Lok Si. Possibly the prettiest temple in Malaysia.

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.

Walking up to Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang

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.

Feeding the turtles at Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang

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.

Posing for photos at Kek Lok Si temple

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.

Kek Lok Si temple. Hanging a prayer.

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.

Funicular railway at Kek Lok Si temple, 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.

Wishing ribbons at Kek Lok Si temple

7. At the top of the hill the children can find “their” Chinese horoscope animal. The statues are dotted around the gardens.

Monkeys at Kek Lok Si Malaysia.

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.

Incense at Kek Lok Si temple, Penang

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.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!


Thursday 6th of March 2014

Thanks for sharing this story. We are Indonesian family who also loves traveling and will hit Penang next month. Is there any mode of transport to take us from Batu Ferringhi to here, other than bus? Thx.


Thursday 6th of March 2014

People hire cars on Penang Marla, or take taxis. We found the taxis were fairly expensive.

Suzi Hansborough

Tuesday 9th of July 2013

It looks like they are having SO much fun. Again, really enjoying your pics. Thx


Monday 8th of July 2013

I have loved reading your blog over the last few days. Have you travelled much in the Middle East, do you plan on doing this time around? i read you wanted to go to Jordan, i have spent sometime in Syria with my kids i am sure you would of enjoyed it there so much history, however thats out of the question right now , but i hope you get to Jordan.


Tuesday 9th of July 2013

Hi Sarah, thanks so much! We'd love to see more of the Middle East, we're so upset for the Egyptian people at the moment, tourism there is all but destroyed, it doesn't look like we'll make it there any time soon, but fingers crossed for Jordan!

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