Malaysia’s oldest Chinese temple, first constructed in the 1600s, is still a fully operational place of worship for followers of the three doctrinal systems of Taoism, Confuicianism and Buddhism. It’s also a standout destination in historic downtown Melaka, where the entire city center is a UNESCO cultural heritage site for its role as a major East-West trading hub.
A few blocks from the Sungai Melaka river, the temple served for centuries as the center of a burgeoning Chinese immigrant community, and the former administrative offices of the Capitan—the community leader, spokesperson and liaison with the British administration—can now be seen on a self-guided tour. Incense wafts from the elaborately lacquered prayer hall, while monks and nuns based at the temple occasionally wander the grounds offering a shared prayer. The deities of mercy, justice, well being and seamen decorate the ornate main altar.