Decorated with reds, yellows, blues, and greens, Thean Hou Temple’s brightly colored exteriors are an excellent reflection of the multicultural melting pot that Kuala Lumpur is! One of the biggest temples in South East Asia, this one is a must-visit if in ‘KL’ and was one of favourites in all of Malaysia. So, if you are keen to visit it, we’ve put together this: the definitive Thean Hou Temple Guide to ensure you get the best out of your visit.
History and Architecture of the Thean Hou temple
Unlike many famous temples that we have visited, the Thean Hou Temple is a relatively ‘new’ one. Construction for it started only in 1981, and the temple was opened to the public from 1989.
It was built by the Hainanese community in Malaysia. The Hainanese are basically of Chinese descent who migrated from the island of Hainan.
The Hainanese were originally fishermen, and it is no surprise that the temple is dedicated to Tian Hou Niang Niang, or the goddess Mazu, the Chinese sea goddess. Devotees refer to her as the Heavenly Mother and she is believed to protect seafaring folks from danger.
The temple is a six-tiered structure, and its architecture is a wonderful mix of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism influences. Brown tiled rooftops, columns with fiery dragons, and aesthetically pleasing pagoda-shaped rooftops make the temple quite a stunning piece of art.
The prayer hall is located on Level Four of the temple. Rows and rows of lanterns welcome you in the open area, and we loved the overall feel of the temple here. The main hall is beautifully designed and has three main altars – the central one is dedicated to Tian Hou. The one to the right has a statue of Guan Yin, also known as the Goddess of Mercy, and the altar to the left holds the statue of Shui Wei Sheng Niang, another Hainanese goddess known as the Goddess of the Waterfront.
Devotees pray at the altar and light incense sticks, something we’d definitely recommend you do!
Even though the temple is named after Tian Hou, people from all over come to pray to Guan Yin, and you will find many of her statues throughout the temple.
The temple sits on top of a hill in Robson Heights overlooking the Jalan Syed Putra, so the city views from here are absolutely lovely. We recommend you spend a few minutes just taking panoramas of the city that unfold in front of you (or just taking your selfies for Instagram, like the masses do too).
Fun fact – The temple is a popular wedding venue, so don’t be surprised to see a marriage party posing for pictures here. You can also get your future predicted by a fortune-teller!
The temple complex also has sculptures of animals that represent the Chinese Zodiac. A fun thing to do if you are visiting the temple with children! Another kid-friendly attraction is the tortoise pond.
If you have some time to spare, you can also visit the Chinese Medicinal Herbs Garden and the Wishing Well. The temple has a Bodhi tree within its premises, the perfect spot for some peace and quiet.
Like this religious landmark? Check out our other top landmarks in Malaysia.
Best time to visit the Thean Hou temple
Just for the beautiful skies, we recommend visiting early in the morning, soon after the temple opens or as the sun is setting. But, honestly, any time is an excellent time to visit the temple. We visited in the late morning and were still able to really take in the beauty, and take a few photos for our Instagram feed J.
The temple is open from 8 am to 10 pm.
The temple overflows with devotees from near and far during special worship days, especially Wesak Day and Mooncake Festival.
How to get to the Thean Hou temple
The temple is a short 5-10 min drive from Kuala Lumpur City Center. The easiest way to get to the temple is by car or cab (like using Grab, for example). If you have rented a car, you can park near the temple.
The temple is not the easiest to get to by public transport.
The nearest train stations are the Bangsar station (LRT) and Mid Valley Station (KTM), around 2-3 km from the temple. You could walk the remaining distance, which will take about 25-30 minutes, or you could catch a taxi at the station.
What to wear at the Thean Hou Temple
Surprisingly, unlike most temples that we have visited, the Thean Hou temple has no dress code. Still, it’s best to dress modestly with your knees and shoulders covered.
Entrance fee for the Thean Hou temple
Admission to the temple is free.
Other notable temples and things to do in Kuala Lumpur
Even if you decide to see the temple at a leisurely pace, it shouldn’t take you more than an hour to an hour and a half to see all of it. It’s best to combine a visit to this temple with other attractions.
You can find a few of our best recommendations below but, of course, we’ve got a full itinerary for Kuala Lumpur if you want to read more.
If you are in a spiritual frame of mind, then the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, a 10-minute ride from the Thean Hou Temple, makes for a great visit.
One of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular attractions, Batu Caves, is a 20-minute drive from the Thean Hou Temple. While also a religious site for Hindus, the cave temple is worth a visit mainly because it offers fabulous opportunities for rock climbing.
The National Mosque takes your breath away with its sheer size, while Jamek Mosque‘s location at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers is truly spectacular. As long as you are OK to wear clothing prescribed by the mosque (loose gowns are available at the mosques), we recommend you visit them to appreciate Islamic architecture.
Another must-do while in Kuala Lumpur is to visit the Petronas Towers. Walk across the Sky Bridge and later chill in KLCC Park.
The city is a great place to indulge in some street food. If you want an authentic street food experience, then Alor Street is the place to visit. Hutong, located in Lot 10 Mall, is another fabulous spot for some positively lip-smacking food. Chinatown is yet another neighborhood where you can spend a few hours, not just for exciting Chinese specialties but also to experience the culture of the area and to visit the temples.
For the best sunset views of the city, find your way to the Kuala Lumpur Tower, which stands at 355 meters tall.
Animal lovers will find plenty to do at the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, the Aquaria KLCC, and the National Zoo of Malaysia.
All in all, you are unlikely to run out of things to do in this vibrant city. And to think, we haven’t even mentioned shopping!
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
Luxury: Views of the Petronas Towers? Tick. Great location in the city centre? Tick. Luxury restaurant and facilities? Definitely tick! Top of the luxury heap in KL is the Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur, which is the perfect place to splash out when it comes to accommodation.
Mid-range: We have stayed in a lot of middle of the mile hotels in KL but our undoubted favourite is the Four Points by Sheraton. It’s a newish hotel with buckets of charm, a fabulous bar, comfy rooms and a great location. It’s in the heart of Chinatown which is our top area to stay in the city, so wins on all fronts!
Budget: If you’re pinching pennies, then Rooma @ Hostels KLCC is a brilliant option. You get some high end touches (A gym! A pool!) in what are essentially dorm rooms.
Thean Hou temple FAQ
What is the Thean Hou temple?
An ornate Chinese six-tiered temple sitting atop the Robson Heights in Kuala Lumpur, the Thean Hou Temple was completed in 1987 and opened to the public in 1989. One of the largest temples in Southeast Asia, it’s a must-visit in Kuala Lumpur.
What time does the Thean Hou temple open?
The temple opens at 8am and closes at 10pm every day.
What should I wear to the Thean Hou temple?
Most temples in Southeast Asia and particularly Malaysia have a strict dress code but, surprisingly, Thean Hou Temple doesn’t. That said, it’s worth dressing modestly so ensuring your shoulders and your knees are covered.
About the Author: Gayathri Ranganathan
Gayathri is an accomplished travel writer, who loves to travel with her family – her teenage girls and her husband. She feels that ‘traveling is the best way to open up one’s mind and heart to different cultures, foods, and lifestyles.’ When she’s not traveling, she’s dreaming about traveling or busy researching some new destination. “Over the years, I’ve discovered that in life and travel, it’s always about the journey, never about the destination.”
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