Snake Temple (Hock Hing Keong)
In the early 19th century, so the story goes, a Chinese monk arrived in Penang bearing a statue of Chor Soo Kong and healed a colonial landowner, who thanked him with a gift of land. The monk built a small temple, which he called the Temple of the Azure Clouds. But as snakes wiggled their way out of the surrounding hills to find shelter, it became known as the Ban Ka Lan Snake Temple. While serpent numbers are in decline and the temple vipers sleep most of the day, python wranglers and a nearby snake farm offer plenty of photo ops.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visiting the Snake Temple is free.
- There are souvenir and food options in front of the temple.
- Signs claim the snakes are poisonous, but some sources state their venom has been removed for safety. It’s wisest not to visit with small children, either way.
- There is wheelchair access to much of the Snake Temple but the ramp beside the main stairs to the temple is very steep.
How to Get There
The Snake Temple sits in Bayan Lepas, southeastern Penang Island, about 11 miles (17 kilometers) south of George Town. The 401 and 401E buses run along Weld Quay, the coast road, from George Town’s Jetty bus terminal: the journey takes around an hour. Get off at the Pangsapuri Jalan Tengah apartment complex and walk 10 minutes.
When to Get There
The temple is open from early morning to early evening. The period around Chinese New Year—and the week after, the temple’s main celebration day—makes a great opportunity to see colorful festivities, including snake charmers and snake dances. Visit on a regular day to see the snakes in the temple.
Temple Touring in Penang Penang’s multicultural heritage makes it a great place to discover religious traditions, and, with temples scattered around the island, joining a tour makes a lot of sense. Options include the Kek Lok Si Temple, one of Malaysia’s largest Buddhist temples, the Thai Buddhist Chayamangkalaram Buddhist Temple and the neighboring Dharmikarama Burmese Temple, and Little India’s Hindu Sri Mahamariamman Temple.
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