Translated from Hokkien the Kek Lok Si Temple, or 'Temple of Serene Bliss', sits majestically on a hill, a focal point of the local Chinese community, generous donations mean this temple continues to grow.
The 7-story white & gold pagoda is the largest Buddhist temple in SE Asia, its design - Chinese Octagonal base, Thai middle tier and Burmese crown - reflects its respects to Mahayana and Theravana Buddhism.
On the hillside above is an impressive 100ft (30m) bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.
When Captain Francis Light landed on this spot in 1786 and took the island from the Sultan he built a wooden fort, Fort Cornwallis, to defend it against the French, Kedah and pirates during the Napoleonic Wars.
Rebuilt in 1808 using Indian convict labour it is the largest and most intact fort in Malaysia. Once protected by a great moat this was filled in after a malaria outbreak in the 1920s.
The famous great cannons guarding Fort Cornwallis date back as far as the 17th century.
Snake Temple (Fu Xing Gong) may not be the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, but it’s certainly one of the strangest. True to its name, this small Chinese temple in Penang is filled with Wagler’s pit vipers and tree snakes perched on trees and wooden frames throughout. The smoke of the always-burning incense, combined with midday heat, renders the snakes largely immobile, but visitors are still advised to avoid handling the reptiles.
According to local legend, snakes began entering the temple on their own shortly after it was built in the mid nineteenth century, and the monks at the time allowed them to stay. The monks will tell you that the snakes are “blessed,” and that’s why they’ve never bitten anyone.
The temple itself is free to enter, but for a small fee, you can also tour the onsite snake farm where it’s possible to see several species of snakes and handle a few of them under expert supervision.