MBMC (Penang, Malaysia)


  • Name of Center: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Center (MBMC)
  • Address: 355, Jalan Mesjid Negeri, 11600 Penang, Malaysia
  • Phone Number: +604 - 282 2534 and +604 - 282 2534
  • Website: (please use MS Internet Explorer) There is no information at this link, it is just a placeholder.
  • Contact Email: &
  • Tradition(s): Theravada
  • Technique(s): Vipassana (Mahasi Sayadaw's noting techniques)
  • Teacher(s):
    • Sayadaw Nanda Siddhi from Nirodharama Meditation Centre should be there by the time Vasa starts in 2009. There is a little about him at this link
    • U Thuzanza did not get his visa renewed and will be returning to a center in Burma
  • Cost: 20 Malaysian ringgit (about $7) per day is charged for 10 days after which a donation of any amount is welcome.
  • Accommodations: Male yogis get a shared dormitory room, shared bathrooms and showers. Female yogis stay in a kuti or hut, or depending on how full they are you might need to share a kuti; they are located behind the main building.
  • Facilities: Two spacious and well ventilated meditation/walking halls, kitchen & dining hall. Accommodations are simple (no luxury) but they are comfortable enough not to cause any cultural shock. One additional small temples is used for monks.
  • Physical Setting: Located at the beautiful island of Penang (also known as the “Pearl of the Orient”). Penang has a year-round equatorial climate which is warm and sunny (min 22°C/71°F, max 30°C/86°F), along with plentiful rainfall, especially during the southwest monsoon from April to September.
  • Food (Vegetarian/Vegan/etc.): They serve mostly nonvegetarian meals. The food is delicious home-made Malaysian food. They serve fresh fruit at each meal. Usually the vegetarian meals are for the monks, if there is any extra, it is offered at the table. By the time you eat, the food is usually cold. (You must wait until the chanting is finished.)
  • Retreat Length(s): It is fairly flexible in terms of when you show up to begin a retreat there and when you leave.
  • Typical Schedule:
    • 4:00 Wake-up
    • 4:30 Walking Meditation
    • 5:30 Sitting Meditation
    • 6:30 Breakfast
    • 7:00 Walking Meditation/Showering/Washing
    • 8:00 Sitting Meditation
    • 9:00 Walking Meditation
    • 10:00 Sitting Meditation
    • 11:00 Lunch
    • 12:00 Walking Meditation/Showering/Washing/Rest
    • 13:00 Sitting Meditation
    • 14:00 Walking Meditation
    • 15:00 Sitting Meditation
    • 16:00 Walking Meditation
    • 17:00 Sitting Meditation
    • 18:00 Walking Meditation
    • 19:00 Sitting Meditation
    • 20:00 Walking Meditation
    • 21:00 Sitting Meditation
    • 21:30 Metta-Chanting
    • 22:00 Lights off
  • Issues of Rites/Rituals: Bowing to the teacher and in the meditation halls is a rule. Metta-Chanting is done daily before going to bed.
  • Issues of Proper Dress: Preferable clothing would be loose cotton trousers and shirts / t-shirts - white top and bottom. (Do own hand washing).
  • Issues of Etiquette: Bowing to teachers and images is necessary
  • Issues of Language: Instructions and Dharma talks are imparted in English. Some teachers are better with English than others. The Dharma talks are each Friday night, and on Sunday afternoon.
  • Logistical Issues: In order to get there you have several options depending on your time and budget. From Kuala Lumpur you can:
    • fly to Penang Interational airport and then get a taxi.
    • travel by train up to Butterworth and then take a bus to Georgetown. In Georgetown you can access the MBMC by taxi.
    • travel with a Bus directly to Penang and then get a taxi.
  • Strengths: Depending on the teacher, the time of year and activities going on, the teacher is accessible (almost any time, although interviews are given every two days). The teacher is well versed in the practical and theoretical aspects of the Pali Canon. The techniques and guidance are given in pure Mahasi style.
  • Weaknesses:
    • Heat, the heat in Penang has been unusually hot recently (depends on the season).
    • Noise: The road near the MBMC can be quite noisy, and there is a foundry next door that has trucks entering and leaving most of the day. Depending on your temperament, it may or may not disturb your meditation. MBMC is embedded in a beautiful garden. There is a Thai Buddhist Temple located next door.
  • Other Comments: All yogis (retreat participants) must take the 8 precepts:
    • Refrain from taking life (killing)
    • Refrain from taking what is not given (stealing)
    • Refrain from physical contact with the opposite gender
    • Refrain from false speech or frivolous talk (lying)
    • Refrain from taking intoxicants, drugs
    • Refrain from eating solid food after noon (12.00 pm) - Pls inform Sayadaw for gastric cases / special cases
    • Refrain from using fragrances and entertainment
    • Refrain from sleeping on high beds or luxurious cushions
    • You get to practice and live among monks and nuns. I find this extremely interesting and this will give you a more down to earth perspective of the practice.
  • Overall Impression:
    • Simply excellent! Great teacher, great techniques, great food and very supportive community and facilities. If you are looking for the real stuff, come and see.
    • I have not been in any western-like vipassana retreat centers before, but I guess that the typical pitfalls of our way to (mis)understand Dharma have no space at the MBMC. -Mautelino
  • Worthy of recommendation on the Dharma Overground?
    • Yes, I would recommend this center to other yogis. As a newbie in the Vipassana world, I must say that this experience was very important for me since I got to confirm that progress is possible if you follow the instructions with enough dedication and energy.
    • There you will learn the real thing and do some progress.
  • Name of Person Reviewing the Center: Guillermo Z and CCasey

I must thank Daniel Ingram for the hint about this place. As he puts it:

" [MBMC] is by far my favorite retreat center in the world. I absolutely love this place: great food, great instruction, great technique, nice meditation halls, it is safe and clean.... basically no worries about malaria, very inexpensive, and they speak English, in short, one of the rarest shining gems in the meditation world, the perfect fusion of best of the East and the West, like Burma without the hassles. "

From CCasey: Was there in 2008, the water is not potable! Perhaps it was fine when Daniel was there but they have had many problems with the water system. They have drinking water brought in, or you may be able, if you arrange it, and they are out of drinking water to boil water in the kitchen