Photo: Just eat.

Kek Lok Si

Our rating:

This Buddhist temple is the largest in Malaysia and sprawls up the hill dominating the town of Air Itam.

No pic at the moment -- Sorry!

To access the complex you have to weave your way through an ascending corridor of souvenir shops, after which you’ll arrive at Liberation Pond, where you can pay 2 ringgit to feed the turtles living in the ironically named (for them) pond. Following the steps up you will reach the temple complex proper and be rewarded with intricate, colourful Ban Po Thar Pagoda. Visit the pagoda first and then hop on the cable car to the very top -- 2 ringgit one way, 4 riggit return.

A few other temples, the representation of the zodiac and another fish pond will greet you here but they fade away next to the massive statue of Kuan Yin -- the Goddess of Mercy. This bronze statue stands 120 feet tall, while 16 dragon pillars stretching 200 feet tall surround and shield the statue from the elements. The first attempt at building the statue succumbed to the elements very quickly, so this was probably a wise move. The representation is still surrounded by scaffolding and completion, dependent on donations, requires 1000 6-foot bronze statues to represent the joy of worship.

Even under construction the statue is impressive, but the constant petitioning for donations can be a little tiresome, and gives the whole complex a commercial nature that seem at odds with a sacred site.
Take the bus to Air Itam. Lots of buses service this route, but the most frequent are the 201 and 301. The journey takes about 30 minutes and is 1.5 ringgit.
Entrance to the temple complex is free.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Penang.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Penang.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Penang.
 Read up on how to get to Penang.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Penang? Please read this.
 Browse tours in Malaysia with Tourradar.

Like what you see? Then you’ll love our newsletter

The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.

See below for more sights and activities in Penang that are listed on

Top of page