Hidden in a maze of alleyways in Georgetown sits one of Malaysia’s most important clan houses, the Khoo Kongsi Clan House. During Malaysia’s economic boom in the nineteenth century, many Chinese families relocated to Penang and built kongsi, or clan houses, to promote a sense of community.
The Khoo clan was one of the most prosperous in Malaysia -- considered one of the “Five Big Clans” that made up the Hokkien Chinese community in Penang. The Khoo Kongsi Clan House comprises a main clan house -- one that resembles a Chinese temple, an administrative building, an opera state and more than 60 houses and shops.
The original kongsi was built in 1851 but was destroyed by fire in 1894. The current clan house dates back to 1906. Inside, you’ll find intricate carvings, ornamental architecture, painted murals and beautiful traditional Chinese ceramic sculptures. After touring the clan house, be sure to visit the administrative building and terraced houses of the complex, and notice how the architecture changes from distinctly Chinese to incorporating elements of British colonial style.