This is… Southeast Asia’s Largest Taoist Temple

Do not confused Taoism (Daoism) with Buddhism. Although for the non-initiated it’s hard to tell where one starts and the other ends. The founder of Taoism is Laozi, and his teachings – the Tao Te Ching – have a profound influence in Chinese culture. So the contemporary Chinese cultural practices are the result of centuries of marriage between folk rituals and Taoist beliefs.

Taoism spread to Southeast Asia following the early migratory movement of the Chinese to the south. And in Malaysia, Taoism has thrived for centuries. One of the highlights of Penang is visiting the beautiful Kek Lok Si. But it’s in Miri, a small city on the Borneo island, that you find Southeast Asia’s largest Taoist temple.

The San Ching Tian temple is located about 4km outside the centre of Miri city. It was built in 2000 and took 3 years and RM10 million (USD3.5 million) to complete. All the decorations and motif were imported from China.┬áThe red roof adorned with dragons, elegant lotus design motif and the delightful wind chimes make this an atmospheric place to visit. It’s usually quiet and a wonderful place to spend a quiet and meditative moment.

If you find yourself in Miri, waiting for your flight to Mulu National Park and nothing else to do, do pay a visit to this serene temple. However, getting there could be a challenge. There’s no public transport. You could either walk it (about 1hour from city centre) or take a taxi for RM10-RM15 (USD3.50-USD5). If you do decide to walk, there’s a food court at the street corner for you to refresh and fill up the tummy for the walk back.

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A modern nomad who wanders around the world calling no place home and every place his Ithaca



It’s indeed a good side trip, if you are stuck in Miri with time to spare and nothing else to do. The colours, the decorations and the motifs are what make the Taoist temples interesting. I’d love to visit the one at the outskirts of Bangkok next time I go there.


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