The island of Langkawi is an exotic mix of diverse Asian cultures, and this is evident in many of its temples. This duty-free Malaysian island is home to Hindu, Chinese and Buddhist temples that reflect the different religious beliefs of its people. The Malaysian word for temple is “Kuil”, a Tamil word meaning God’s residence or abode.

The serene atmosphere that pervades traditional Malaysian temples lends credence to this word. Every temple instils a sense of awe; a profound feeling that you have stepped into the realm of the supernatural with ancient statues and symbolic carvings.

From the sculptures to the array of architectural masterpieces, there’s so much to marvel at in a Malaysian temple. If you’re visiting Langkawi, you’ll have the chance to visit some of the most iconic temples of Malaysia. Here are some of the best ones.

1. Wat Koh Wanararm (Lucky Temple)

Wat Koh Wanararm is located just outside Kuah town in Langkawi. It is a hidden Thai Buddhist temple that was built on the blessings of renowned Thai monk, Luang Por Khun. The temple contains a prayer hall with a big, golden statue of Buddha sitting behind a brightly coloured mural of a Bodhi tree. Outside the temple, you will find eight Tibetan stupas painted gold and white where devotees offer prayers. The temple also houses three schools, where you can learn about Thai, Himalayan and Chinese types of Buddhism.

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Location: Just outside Kuah town, off Jalan Air Hangat road, Langkawi
Timings: 7am-6pm daily
Cost: Entry is free

2. Wat Tham Kisap

This is another Thai Buddhist temple painted in bright, beautiful colours located in Langkawi. Lying just off Jalan Air Hangat Road, the temple is amazingly placed at the foot of a limestone cliff with an Indian monkey god at the entrance. It is surrounded by various statues depicting praying figures (lersi), giant cobras, cows, an elephant, and the symbolic Langkawi eagle. Inside the temple, there is a prayer hall with a statue of the previous abbot, LP Thao Bao.

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Location: On Jalan Air Hangat road, just outside Kuah town, Langkawi
Timings: Open at all times
Cost: Entry is free

3. Langkawi Hindu Temple

This attractive Hindu temple can be found on the Jalan Air Hangat, which is in the direction of the Galeria Perdana on the road from Kuah town. It is a relatively small temple with an elaborate entrance and beautiful little details that set it apart from the other temples on the island. The surrounding area has other attractions like a wildlife park, Air Hangat hot springs, and the Galeria Perdana.

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Location: Off Jalan Air Hangat, Langkawi
Timings: Open at all times
Cost: Entry is free

4. Thean Hou Temple

Thean Hou temple is a Chinese Buddhist temple that honours the deity Mazu. It is built in ancient Chinese architecture and stands tall with lifelike sculptures and artistic detailed drawings. On entering the temple, you will find columns decorated with carvings holding up the entrance with a brightly coloured roof. The walls depict ancient Chinese tales with paintings and other art forms. The entire building is covered in a mosaic of Chinese designs, and it has various altars with secluded praying points that add to the hallowed aura of the temple.

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Location: Off Jalan Air Hangat, Langkawi
Timings: Open at all times
Cost: Entry is free

5. Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam

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Built in an expansive elaborate style with a long fence surrounding it, this is one of Langkawi’s biggest Hindu temples. It is painted in many bright and beautiful colours and has a relaxing atmosphere that is ideal for meditation. Like most Hindu temples, it also contains a large number of statues and sculptures. The temple is divided into many compartments that are used for prayer and offerings by the devotees.

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Location: 0700, Langkawi, Kedah
Timings: Open at all times
Cost: Entry is free

Iconic Temples Accessible From Langkawi

A lot of people choose to stay in Langkawi because of its exotic culture, duty-free shopping, and beautiful sights. And if you’re here for more than a day or two, you can visit some of Malaysia’s most iconic temples that are best accessed via Langkawi.

1. Penang Kek Lok Si

Perched on a hilltop at Air itam near Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. It comprises of monasteries, halls, temples, and elegant, well-tailored gardens. A huge statue of the goddess of mercy Kuan Yin can be found on the hilltop. The temple contains a big pagoda of Rama VI and a 30-metre high tower known as the ‘face’ of Kek Lok Si. In the hall of the Devas, you will find statues of the four heavenly kings that control the four compass directions.

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Location: Air Itam, George Town, 2 hours 45 minutes by ferry from Langkawi
Timings: Open at all times
Cost: Entrance is free; pagoda RM 2 (US$0.48)

2. Nine Emperor Gods Temple

One of the largest Taoist temples in Malaysia, this temple is dedicated to the Nine Emperor gods of Taoist mores believed to dwell in the stars. It has curving pagodas and an elaborate roof with beautiful golden dragon statues that adorn the edges. The structure stands out like a jewel sitting on reclaimed land facing the sea, and most of its devotees are vegetarians.

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Location: Lot 894 & 896, Mukim 14, Jalan Raja Uda, three hours by ferry from Langkawi
Timings: 7am to 9pm
Cost: Entry is free

3. Penang Snake Temple

The Penang snake temple was built in honour of Chor Soo Kong, a Buddhist priest and healer. It houses a large number of snakes believed to have moved into the temple on their own due to their relationship with the priest. It is also known as the temple of pure cloud and contains a number of venomous snakes alongside statues and carvings, as well as a large incense burner. There is a snake pool at the back of the temple surrounded by fruit trees on which snakes are often found.

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Location: Bayan Lepas, about 3 hours from Langkawi
Timings: 6am to 7pm, daily
Cost: No entry fee for the temple, but entry for the snake farm is RM 5 ($1.2) for adults and RM 3 ($0.72) for kids.

Getting Around Langkawi

• Renting a bike or a scooter is not only the best way to get around these temples in Malaysia, but also the most economical. Hiring a scooter for a day will cost you around RM 50 (US$12).
• If you prefer a more relaxed mode of transport, you could hire a driver to drive you around the temples for about RM 120 to 200 (US$ 29 to 48) a day.
• Langkawi also has chartered cab services that are easy to use. Download their apps and check the prices before you book them.

Travel Tips

• Although most temples are free, some places do have an entry fee. Keep some change around to pay this entry fee, as they don’t accept card payments
• You must be properly dressed, with your shoulders and legs covered when entering a temple. Carry a scarf or a sarong to cover up. Some temples also provide sarongs when you enter for free or at a minimal cost, which you have to return when you exit the temple.
• Some temples have a lot of stairs, so make sure you wear comfortable footwear to walk around.
• Watch out for offerings placed on roads around temples and everywhere in general. Don’t accidentally step on them.
• There are stray dogs around some temples, so it’s best to check before entering such temples if you are allergic or don’t like dogs generally.