We recently visited the stunning Kek Lok Si Temple just outside of George Town in Penang. It is an absolute crowning jewel of this beautiful island and a must-see place on your visit to George Town.
Where is Kek Lok Si Located?
The temple is on the hill just to the Northwest of George Town. A Grab taxi ride from town will cost you around 10 RM.
Getting the Grab app for transport around town in George Town will save you heaps on taxi fares. Download the app before you leave home, and I recommend getting a Malaysian Sim card on arrival at the airport so you can book your taxi when you don’t have any wifi.
Get your Grab App here:
After our visit, it was quick and easy to find another Grab taxi to take us back home.
If you have your own transport, it is easy to get to too! Follow the directions on Google Maps. There is paid parking on site.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Kek Lok Si Temple?
The short answer is FREE! Entry to the temple complex is free. You can pay extra to take the funicular to the top temple, and you also pay an extra 2 RM to visit the tall pagoda. So it is free, but you can always pay more.
There are refreshment shops, souvenir stalls, and donation boxes everywhere. So how much you spend depends on you.
What is the Best Time to Visit Kek Lok Si?
The impressive temple is open daily from 9 am until 6 pm. One of the most spectacular times to visit is during the Chinese New Year celebrations when the entire place is decked out with colourful neon lanterns. The temple stays open later during this time, however you can expect larger than normal crowds too.
We visited in September, mid-week and there was hardly anyone around.
We arrived at the temple at 10 am and we spent around 2 hours there.
Our Visit to Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang
Catching a Grab taxi was by far the easiest way for our family to get to the temple. From west George Town the ride only took around 15 minutes and cost 10 RM.
We arrived at the first major temple building and had to take off our shoes to enter the great hall. Then we explored the grounds and another few temple buildings, passing through gardens and hallways and souvenir stalls. Refreshments are available from various drink vendors along the way.
Then you come to the ‘inclined lift’ that is waiting to take you up to the top of the hill. This funicular type thing is only a short ride and costs 2 RM each way. It is easier to take the elevator than try to navigate the pathways to the top of the hill as you may inadvertently exit the sprawling temple complex without ever reaching the top.
At the top of the hill you will find a serene carp and turtle filled pond with a central pergola and the incredible 30 m high bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy.
Here you can also enjoy fine views over the city of George Town to Butterworth. It was quite hazy when we visited, but still beautiful.
Back down on the funicular takes you to the 7-storey Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas. This area costs an extra 2 RM to enter and you can climb almost to the top of the pagoda here. Don’t miss the ‘wishing bell’.
Exiting the temple involves retracing your steps, past the temple beggars, and back out the main door.
Construction on Kek Lok Si was started in 1886. It is ongoing. Donations can be made in many ways as you tour the temple. Buying a ribbon to hang on the wishing tree was one of my favourites, you can also purchase candles, incense, religious ornaments, full life-size wax statues of monks, and more.
The Buddhist community in Malaysia gives generously when it comes to restoring and improving their temples. Another popular donation is to purchase your own roof tile, write your name on it and have it used in the next re-roofing program. There are stacks of roof tiles everywhere!
Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple Penang – The Verdict
The amazing Buddhist temple is definitely one of the most impressive and beautiful sights in all of Penang, if not Malaysia. It is spiritual and tranquil and the overall majesty of the place will leave you in awe. There are great views from the top of the hill, and the workmanship and detail of the temples will leave you speechless.
I love when things are free to visit. It made us more inclined to pay for a few wishes for the wishing tree, and to make our own voluntary donations.
Other Things to Do in George Town
Kek Lok Si Temple is one of George Town’s top things to do. Also check out:
- Cheong Fatt Tze House (Blue Mansion)
- Pinang Peranakan Museum
- The Top, Komtar
- Old Town George Town Street Art
- Little India
- Clan Jetties
- Fort Cornwallis
- Batu Ferringhi Beach
Malaysia is a great place to visit with your family. We also enjoyed: