Khoo Kongsi Temple Penang

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! Want to know what else you should expect? Keep reading!

Table of Contents:

Khoo Kongsi History

Members of the Khoo clan were rich traders that originated from Xiancheng in the Fujian province. They made their fortune in Malacca and Penang during the 17th century.

Khoo Kongsi Clan House And Temple
Khoo Kongsi Clan House And Temple – photo credits to lindacurley (Instagram)

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.

Inside Khoo Kongsi Clan House In Penang
Inside Khoo Kongsi Clan House In Penang – photo credits to umenaooo (Instagram)

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:

  • Cheah
  • Lim
  • Tan
  • Yeoh
  • Khoo

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.

Beautiful Hallway At Khoo Kongsi
Beautiful Hallway At Khoo Kongsi – photo credits to devil.on.the.run (Instagram)

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!

And as was an act of anger by the gods, jealous of the building’s grandeur!

Statue Of A Deity At Khoo Kongsi
Statue Of A Deity At Khoo Kongsi – photo credits to junemong (Instagram)

In any case, the clan house was rebuilt in 1906, albeit smaller.

However, the clan house is still a wonder to behold with 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.

Wall Carvings At Khoo Kongsi Clan House In Penang
Wall Carvings At Khoo Kongsi Clan House In Penang – photo credits to umenaooo (Instagram)

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:

  • An amphitheatre (for opera shows)
  • A small museum dedicated to the clan’s roots
  • Spacious courtyard
Intricate Carvings On The Roof Of Khoo Kongsi
Intricate Carvings On The Roof Of Khoo Kongsi – photo credits to otterstravel (Instagram)

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 3 Entrances Into Khoo Kongsi, This Is The One On Beach Street
There Are 3 Entrances Into Khoo Kongsi, This Is The One On Beach Street – photo credits to kheiho (Instagram)

There are 3 entrances:

  1. Cannon Street (main entrance)
  2. Beach Street (back entrance)
  3. 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!

Location: 18, Cannon Square, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang

Contact: +604-261 4609

Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 5pm

Office’s Opening Hours:

  • Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm
  • Saturday: 9am to 1pm
  • Closed on Sunday and Public Holidays

Khoo Kongsi Entrance Fee

If you delight in architecture and culture, the entrance fee (RM10 per adult) will seem worth it!

Adults: RM10/pax

Children (under 12yrs old): RM1/pax

Children (under 5yrs old): FREE

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!

Lion Dance Event At Penang Khoo Kongsi Temple
Lion Dance Event At Penang Khoo Kongsi Temple – photo credits to Glenn Stevens (glennaldo_sf) (Instagram)

The event (Evening of Lights) features Chinese cultural arts and performances that take place at the courtyard.

An Evening Cultural Show In Progress At Khoo Kongsi Courtyard
An Evening Cultural Show In Progress At Khoo Kongsi Courtyard – photo credits to azida.azizan (Instagram)

For recent updates of events at Khoo Kongsi, check this page.

When: The evening before the last Sunday of the month (Last Saturday Evening)

Time: 6.30pm – 10.00pm

Further reading:

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 Ipoh Tour With RayTheTour & Travelswithsun

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!

Book a tour with us on WhatsApp or Facebook!

Further reading:

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!

Cannon Street (Lebuh Cannon) Outside The Khoo Kongsi
Cannon Street (Lebuh Cannon) Outside The Khoo Kongsi – photo credits to kim_hara (Instagram)
Note: CAT stands for Central Area Transit – a free shuttle service for tourists wanting to see the main attractions in George Town! Kampung Kolam is one of the last stops from Weld Jetty!

Considering that it’s not possible to see the temple from the street, here are some directions:

  1. To find the main entrance, go along Cannon Street (Lebuh Cannon) in the direction of a mosque at Acheen Street.
  2. An owl souvenir shop on your left marks the main entrance to the clan house!

Further reading:

Conclusion

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.

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