KEK LOK SI TEMPLE WITH KIDS
Kek Lok Si temple with kids is a must visit destination. It’s the first time we’ve taken our kids to a temple, Ella was obsessed and why wouldn’t she be. It’s bright and colourful, there are flowers and fairy lights everywhere; a tower to climb, and a pond full of tortoise. At the very top there are statues of all the Chinese zodiac animals, and a fishpond full of Koi. There’s even a morning market on the streets below. Honestly, it’s a kids heaven. I’m here to tell you exactly why it’s a worth a visit and all the details you need to know before you go.
A LITTLE ABOUT KEK LOK SI
Kek Lok Si is the biggest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. It’s an important spiritual journey destination for many Buddhists across South East Asia. Built between 1890-1930, the architecture is influenced by Chinese, Thai and Burmese styles. The temple grounds are huge, there are multiple prayer halls, a bell tower, the seven story pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, many stunning flower gardens, market stalls selling Kek Lok Si keepsakes and, of course, the impressive 36.5 meter tall bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.
HOW TO GET THERE
Kek Lok Si is in Air Itam, about 9 kilometres/5.5 miles west of Georgetown, and incredibly easy to reach via the local bus, Rapid Penang. We’ve loved catching the bus with the kids, it’s such a novelty for them! We use the app Moovit everywhere we go to give us the bus route and times and it’s been awesome. We are staying in Tanjung Tokong and took the #101 to Komtar bus terminal in Georgetown. From Komtar there are many busses to Kek Lok Si the #201, #203, #204 as well as the #502. The bus ticket from Komtar to Kek Lok Si cost us 2RM ($0.73NZD/$.049USD) each adult. Kids under 7 years old are free.
If you want a quicker, albeit more expensive, trip try a Grab (the Uber of South East Asia). Download the app, type in ‘Kek Lok Si’ as your destination and the app will find your family a ride. You have the option to pay by cash or card. According to my Grab app a trip from Georgetown to Kek Lok Si should cost you about 15RM ($5.46NZD/$3.62USD).
ENTRY FEES AND OPENING HOURS
Entry to Kek Lok Si in general is free. However visiting the pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and riding the inclined lift comes with a little cost. To visit the pagoda you’ll need to pay 2RM ($0.73NZD/$.049USD) per person, we’d assumed kids would have to pay too, but were charged 4RM ($1.46NZD/$.098USD) for all of us. There are no signs advertising the cost, but it’s safe to assume kids – at least very young kids! – are free.
The inclined lift, the first in Malaysia, takes you up to the very top of Kek Lok Si. Here you’ll find the Goddess of Mercy statue, the Chinese zodiac animals and another prayer hall. It cost us 6RM ($2.18NZD/$1.45USD) return each, and the kids were free. There is the option to walk to the top, avoiding the inclined lift cost, but the walk is about 30 minutes along the side of the road. Certainly not a safe choice with kids.
Kek Lok Si is open from 8:30am to 5:30pm daily. We arrived close to 10am on a Sunday and we almost had the temple to ourselves. I find the earlier we leave home the easier the day is with our kids, and after how long we spent at Kek Lok Si, I’d suggest getting there bang on opening if your kids are anything like ours! As I previously mentioned, the temple complex is huge; we spent about three hours taking photos, admiring the views and exploring every section with the kids.
One thing I usually worry about when visiting places of worship, is the dress code, especially for women. Kek Lok Si has no enforced dress code. I wore mid-thigh length shorts and a standard t-shirt. There were woman wearing both more and less revealing clothing, it’s definitely not an issue. Though as always, it’s a good idea to have a shawl/scarf in your day bag just in case.
WAS IT A WINNER?
Yes! I would definitely suggest visiting Kek Lok Si temple with kids. I felt very safe letting Jack out of the Ergo to walk around by himself. He loved climbing to the top of the pagoda, watching the water feature and, of course, riding the inclined lift where he yelled “again” on repeat after we got out.
Ella loved watching visitors lighting inscence, as well as looking at the art work and sculptures. She also picked some flowers, which I most definitely do not reccommend! She bought a beautiful yellow flower over to me, sweetly saying “I picked you a flower mummy say thank you”. How bloody cute is she! But then I had to delicately explain that while I so appreciated her giving me such a gorgeous flower and being so kind, I needed to hide it in my pocket and could she please not pick another flower because mummy doesn’t want to pay a fine. Yes, there was a sign displaying a lovely pink flower in a hand with a big red cross. Beside it saying ‘200RM FINE’ ($73NZD/$48USD) – eeek!
We are super excited to be in Penang over Chinese New Year which is the 25th of January 2020, and the year of the rat. Kek Lok Si will be decorated with even more lights and lanterns during the festivities. We’re planning to bring the kids back again one evening during the time of celebration to see Kek Lok Si all lit up. I’ll be sure to update this post then!