Wonderful Malaysia

Goddess of Mercy Temple, Georgetown Penang

It is a tradition here in Malaysia that on the eve of Chinese New Year, the Chinese will visit a temple for blessing and offerings. The oldest and most legendary temple in Penang is the Goddess of Mercy Temple which is situated in Georgetown, Penang. Each year, believers of the Taoism and Confucianism teachings will swarm the temple on the eve of Chinese New Year to pray to the Kuan Yin goddess so that their health and good luck can be maintained throughout the year.



The Goddess of Mercy Temple, also known as Kuan Yin Teng, was first built in the 1800s by the Hokkiens and Cantonese residents who lived close by. Buddha and Kuan Yin have their respective followers with some even suggesting that Kuan Yin outshone Buddha in some ways as she showered her believers with much love and compassion.



Like other religion, the Chinese are superstitious too. Some believe that men whose ages end with the number 9 should visit the Goddess of Mercy temple for ‘por oon’ (blessings) so that they would be bestowed protection by the god. The others will offer light or oil (thian ewe) to the Goddess of Mercy for better luck that year.



Upon stepping into the temple, the scent of sandalwood incense greets you as each day, numerous joss stick are burnt by the devotees while offering prayers. Although a crowd could be present, a sense of peace and quiet can be felt once you set foot into the temple. The temple is busy throughout the year and not just on Chinese New Year because the locals tend to visit the temple on their birthdays too, praying for a better year ahead blessed with good health and luck. At other times, devotees will visit to seek calm or when extra spiritual protection is needed.


The birthday of the Goddess of Mercy falls on the 19th day of the 2nd lunar month, marking another time that the temple is packed with devotees eager to pay homage to their deity. Devotees will venture into the heart of the temple to congratulate the Goddess by making offerings and prayers to her. At times, opera and puppet shows will also be organized, providing devotees entertainment and creating an air of festiveness in the house of worship.


Despite being a place for offering prayers, many tourists flock to this shrine for photography opportunities. The temple is simply too beautiful to pass up a chance for photos. The sight of morning rays basking in on devotees deep in prayer is a sight to behold, thus luring many visitors to this magnificence construction which houses the Goddess of Mercy.



How to get to the Goddess of Mercy Temple

The Goddess of Mercy temple can be easily found within the center of Georgetown. Usually travelers are staying somewhere around Chulia Street; it is very near this popular backpackers area.

From Chulia Street, head right just past the Indian temple into Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. From here it is a 5 minute walk to the temple entrance. In the vicinity of the temple there are numerous nice attractions.

Video Goddess of Mercy Temple

Map of the Goddess of Mercy Temple, Georgetown


Got any good tips to share with us? Do you know of any great things to do in Penang, or tips on the best places to eat? Let us know by leaving a reply below!

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Tourism Malaysia

Exploring Georgetown, Penang

Exploring Georgetown, Penang

Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia is a hotspot for history buffs; its origins as a British colonial trade depot serving as the foundation for the district’s dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Nicknamed the “Pearl of the Orient”, Georgetown’s status as Penang’s foremost historical attraction was cemented in 2008 by UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site.

Trishaw in front of Penang City Hall. Pic: Tourism Malaysia.

Trishaw in front of Penang City Hall. Pic: Tourism Malaysia.

Over the centuries, trade and war brought a rich blend of ethnic settlers to Georgetown. Chinese, Indians, Malays, Arabs, Siamese, Burmese and European settlers built their homes and trading houses side by side in Georgetown, resulting in a colorful collection of historic buildings: Chinese clan houses, European churches, Chinese and Indian temples, Malay mosques, streets lined with bungalows and shophouses, and, of course, the aforementioned British fort.

Today, Georgetown lies in a 109-hectare plot bounded by Love Lane, Gat Lebuh Melayu, Jalan Dr. Lim Chwee Leong, and the Straits of Melaka. Within this district, visitors can find over 1,700 historical buildings, with the most famous examples aligned down Georgetown’s four main streets Pengkalan Weld, Lebuh Pantai, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling and Lorong Love.

We recommend you start your Georgetown trip at the offices of the Penang Heritage Trust (26 Church Street,, where you can secure maps and brochures to help you get your bearings on this rich historical district in Penang.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Georgetown, Penang. Pic: Tourism Malaysia.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Georgetown, Penang. Pic: Tourism Malaysia.

Penang’s Chinatown is located in the vicinity of Lebuh Chulia and Lorong Love, and hosts some of Georgetown’s most popular bars, restaurants, and budget hotels, along with a rich array of shophouses, markets, and houses of worship. Visit the Khoo Kongsi clan house at the corner of Lebuh Pitt and Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling and the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion on Lebuh Leith to see how prosperous Chinese merchants must have lived like back in the day.

The Hainan Temple, Kuan Yin Teng temple, and Acheen Street Mosque demonstrate the rich faith practised by traders in Chinatown. And it wasn’t all trade going on around here – Chinese nationalist hero Dr. Sun Yat Sen called Georgetown home for a while, staying at an apartment at 120 Lebuh Armenian that is now a shrine to his memory.

Georgetown is big on places of worship, nowhere more so than Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, also known by its nickname “the Street of Harmony”. Its moniker is well-earned; a variety of religious buildings line this street, including the Kapitan Keling Mosque that gave it its name; the Sri Mahamariamman Temple; and the Goddess of Mercy Temple.

The British never really left Georgetown as you can see from the significant architectural presence they left behind. Significant British sites include Fort Cornwallis on the north-eastern coast; Victoria Clock Tower, the Town Hall and the State Assembly Building on Lebuh Light; St. George’s Anglican Church on Farquhar Street; and City Hall on Padang Kota Lama Road.

Fort Cornwallis, Georgetown, Penang. Pic: Tourism Malaysia.

Fort Cornwallis, Georgetown, Penang. Pic: Tourism Malaysia.

Visit Little India for some of Georgetown’s finest eats; it’s the area bounded by Penang Street, Market Street, King Street, and Queen Street. You’ll find mamak restaurants serving hot teh tarik; Indian restaurants serving up roti canai, banana leaf rice, biryani, tandoori chicken, and an endless variety of curries; and street vendors hawking Malaysian noodle dishes.

Other key places to see in Little India include the King Street Temples, Nagore Shrine at the corner of King and Chulia Streets, and Sri Mahamariamman Temple on Queen Street. Penang has a richly-deserved reputation for food, and most of that reputation was earned by Georgetown restaurants and hawkers. Chinese and Indian food come good and cheap, served in street carts along Gurney Drive. For authentic dim sum and noodle dishes served up Penang style, Lebuh Cintra’s food carts are happy to oblige.

Jalan Penang caters to both high and low food budgets, with posh lounges and tapas bars, along with the gigantic food court Red Garden near the corner of Jalan Chulia. If you stay for the weekend, you’ll discover Upper Penang Road’s transformation into a street market on the last Sunday of every month. The “little Penang Street Market” features 70 stalls with street food, live performances, kids’ activities, and other special diversions.

Other shopping stops in Georgetown include the fancy Gurney Plaza shopping centre on Gurney Drive; the more downmarket Chowrasta Bazaar on Jalan Penang; Midlands Park Centre on Burmah Road; and the stalls along Lebuh Campbell, Lebuh Chulia, and Lebuh Pantai.

Getting around Georgetown is relatively easy, thanks to a free shuttle bus (MPPP Rapid Penang CAT) that services 19 stops within Georgetown and its surrounding buffer zone. Other transport options include taxis and trishaws; both Weld Quay Jetty and the KOMTAR Complex serve as major bus terminals for Penang.

Or you can just explore on foot, the way Georgetown’s rich mix of residents did of old; you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find while you walk down Georgetown’s narrow history-filled streets.