Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi or simply Khoo Kongsi, is a marvelous Chinese clan house and temple that’s right in George Town!
It has an impressive lineage of over 6 centuries! Visitors can visit the UNESCO World Heritage site to personally admire the exquisite architecture of the buildings.
Since there is a museum on-site as well, visitors can also learn more about the Khoo clan who built it. Want to know what else you should expect about this place? Keep reading!
Table of Contents:
Khoo Kongsi History
The Khoo clan are one of the 5 prominent Chinese clans (Five Big Clans) that were the foundation of the Hokkien community in Penang in the 19th century.
Five Big Clans:
The clans (or kongsi) were spread out in George Town from Chulia Street until Beach Street.
They preferred to stay close together with their direct and extended families. Forming a close-knit settlement with adjoining terrace houses like a village.
By the 19th century, the Khoo Kongsi had built an incredible clan house (in 1851) with their own government that managed education, finance and welfare affairs and the like.
The temple further marked their success in Penang when it was built in 1906. And is a place of worship for the clan with patron deities and ancestral tablets inside.
While Khoo Kongsi has long since ceased most of its former activities for the Khoo clan association, it remains a top Penang attraction of immense cultural value!
Khoo Kongsi Architecture
Today, it’s not the original clan house that stands as it was destroyed in a fire. Supposedly by lightning too:
Supposedly the fire was started by lightning and many at the time, deemed it to be an act of anger by the gods, jealous of the building’s grandeur!
In any case, the clan house was rebuilt in a 4-year long project that was completed in 1906, albeit smaller.
However, the clan house is still a wonder to behold today with its intricate wood and stone carvings by master craftsmen from China!
Khoo Kongsi is south-west of George Town. The main building (the clan house) is called Leong San Tong.
As the heart of the complex, Leong San Tong served as the administrative center with its offices, and a meeting hall.
Other features at the clan complex include:
- An amphitheater (for opera shows)
- A small museum dedicated to the clan’s roots
- Spacious courtyard
The clan house is obscured from view from surrounding rows of terrace houses and shop lots. This was a deliberate defensive strategy that the Khoo clan that adopted against gang wars!
Therefore, keen visitors must navigate through these alleys before they reach the square where Leong San Tong is.
There are a total of 3 entrances you can use:
- Cannon Street (main entrance)
- Beach Street (back entrance)
- Armenian Street (side entrance)
Khoo Kongsi Opening Hours
Much of the complex is not shaded so do go earlier to avoid the heat of the day!
And mind that opening hours are shorter on Saturdays!
Khoo Kongsi Entrance Fee
If you delight in architecture and culture, the entrance fee (RM10 per adult) will seem worth it!
Khoo Kongsi Evening Of Lights
Once a month, there will be a cultural show at Khoo Kongsi. You don’t need to pay anything to be a spectator too!
The event (Evening of Lights) features Chinese cultural arts and performances that take place at the courtyard.
For recent updates of events at Khoo Kongsi, check this page.
They also regularly hold events and celebrations which you can stay up to date on here.
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Getting To Khoo Kongsi
1. By Tour Service
Unless you’re just going with the intention to take photos and look at the architecture:
Local insight you can get from a private tour will serve to deepen your experience at Khoo Kongsi!
Private Tour Service By RayTheTour:
- Reliable service
- Flexible tour schedule – go where you want from morning to evening
- Comfortable transport
- English or Chinese speaking guides are available
- We do trips for Taiping, Ipoh and Cameron Highlands as well!
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2. By Bus
There is no direct bus to Khoo Kongsi from George Town.
Instead, you can start by taking the bus from Weld Quay Ferry & Bus Terminal.
Look for the Rapid Penang buses CAT, 301, 302, 303 and 401 that stop at Kampung Kolam. Which is walking distance from Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi!
Considering that it’s not possible to see the temple from the street, here are some directions:
- To find the main entrance, go along Cannon Street (Lebuh Cannon) in the direction of a mosque at Acheen Street.
- An owl souvenir shop on your left marks the main entrance to the clan house!
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Khoo Kongsi is yet another item you can add to your list of things to do in Penang! The fact that it’s in George Town makes a visit more likely!
Along with the clan jetties of Penang, Khoo Kongsi provides a closer look into the lifestyle and importance of Chinese migrant clans in Penang.