The Exceptional History of Hokkiens in Penang Khoo Kongsi

Khoo Kongsi

Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, or KhooKongsi is a large Chinese clan (family) house dating back to some centuries ago, marking the huge presence of the prevailing Chinese, namely the Hokkien community in Malaysia. It is the part of the Goh Tai Seh, the five big Hokkien clan, in Penang. As the story goes, it was built extravagantly, with its miniature clan village having its own self-government and educational, financial, welfare and social organizations, in the 19th century before being burned down the very soon after its completion. The new scaled-down version was built around 1902 to 1906, still being the grandest clan temple in the country.

Location:

The clan house is located at the Cannon Square in George Town, Penang, near Armenian Street and Lebuh Aceh.

Best time to visit:

There is no particular time of the year as such to visit KhooKongsi. This place is beautiful throughout the year and always welcomes its visitors. However, the city is preferred to be visited during the months of November to January due to its festivity. From February to April is the quieter time to visit the place. On the other hand, you might expect heavy rainfall through the rest of the year.

Khoo Kongsi

How to reach:

There are a number of ways to go to KhooKongsi from KL. One can reach Penang Airport from KL and get to KhooKongsi through cab which takes around half an hour. If you are already in George Town, you can directly take a taxi or trishaw to reach here.

Khoo Kongsi

What to expect:

KhooKongsi was damaged yet again during World War II, but was reconstructed around 1958. The present construction consists of the clan house facing the opera stage, number of ‘pre-war’ shop-houses, an administrative building and a few offices. The Chinese families with the same surname gather to worship their ancestors at KhooKongsi. The KhooKonsi, showcasing the success of the Khoo family, was founded by Leong San Tong from Sin Kang village in Hokkien Province.

Also known as Dragon Mountain Hall, its architecture reflects the style of temples in Southern Fujian, portraying the creativity of Chinese craftsmanship of that period, with wooden and stone carvings adorning the entrance hall. The roofs, beams, and columns have sculptured works and the interiors have murals and statues depicting Chinese Gods. The building is mainly divided into three parts, the two-story building faced by a mid-level porch called the prayer pavilion, a single-story kitchen, and ground floor now turned into a museum. The walls are extravagantly decorated and the entire building has rich stories to tell.

Accommodation:

The accommodations near KhooKongsi vary from luxurious hotels to budget lodgings and even historical shop-houses turned into casual hotels.

Where and what to eat:

There are a number of world-class restaurants and eateries near KhooKongsi where one can enjoy the legendary Penang food.

 Interesting fact:

The first version of the clan house, built around the late 19th century, is told to be burnt down unexplainably as an act of God since it resembled the actual Emperor’s Palace in China.

Things to keep in mind:

  • The visiting hours are from 9 AM to 5 PM, daily.
  • The entrance fee is around RM 10.
  • You can buy a local SIM during your stay in Malaysia at several places including the airport.
  • There are a number of ATMs and money changers available in the city as well as the Penang Airport. Always keep a little extra cash with you, since a lot of transactions in Malaysia are still cash-oriented.

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