This hidden alleyway in KL is a gateway to 1960’s Chinatown
Hidden in an inconspicuous back street in modern day Kuala Lumpur lies an alleyway locked in time. The memory of 1960’s Chinatown is instilled in the newly facelifted ‘Kwai Chai Hong’ (KCH).
Directly translated to ‘Ghost Lane’ in the Cantonese dialect, Kwai Chai Hong’s moniker stems from the illegal dwellings that was once rampant back in the day. Residents often referred to the delinquents who indulged in such vices as ‘kwai chai’, or ‘ghost children’, hence its infamous name.
The entrance to Kwai Chai Hong can be found among the shophouses in Jalan Panggung. Walk to the back lane and you will find a row of bright yellow shops with lurid blue wooden windows.
Photo by @qianghui
Next to the building is a small wooden bridge with red bannisters and a concrete signage spelling 3 Chinese characters which presumably means ‘Kwai Chai Hong’ in Cantonese.
Photo by @everlyn517
Walk over the bridge and you’ll find yourself among chic cafés and interactive murals depicting life in the 60’s.
A Museum of Murals
Rustic street murals that captures the essence of bygone decades decorate the walls of KCH. Greeting visitors on the bridge itself is a loving couple sitting on the banisters looking outward towards the horizon.
Once on the other side, an assortment of murals liven the grounds with portrayals of what life was like way back when.
Photo by @christopherhwwong
Some of the painted residents you’ll see around is the elderly man playing an erhu, a roadside calligrapher, a curious child looking out a window, and a promiscuous escort.
Photo by @oliviamercado.yoga
Most murals are furnished with props for visitors to interact with. So while you’re busy taking pictures of the murals, you can also take photos WITH it. Some famous props suit for the gram’ is the old school barber chair and skipping rope ‘swung’ by playful children.
Photo by @jonas___c
You’ll also see the famous landlady from the 2004 hit movie Kung Fu Hustle glaring down at you from the balcony. It’s easy to spot her, just look for the woman with the grumpy face, hair curlers, and the iconic cigarette sticking out of her pouty lips.
Photo by Malay Mail
A tummy yummy delight
Once you’ve done your rounds admiring the murals, stop by over one the many chic café’s for a treat. There are 7 eateries that inhabit Kwai Chai Hong today, each offering their unique taste to the block.
Bubble Bee Café
This is a quaint café that serves both Asian and Western cuisine. Cool down from the afternoon heat with some sweet desserts or quench your thirst with their range of cold pressed juices.
The Soybean Factory
Not an actual factory per se, but the founders of The Soybean Factory are specialist in turning soy into tasty desserts – a perfect companion for a day touring Kuala Lumpur.
A hipster-ish café that gives of authentic nostalgic vibes. Think of wooden floors, brick walls, and ambient lighting. Pandan Republic incorporates the best of local flavours into classic Malaysian cuisine.
Concubine KL is a restaurant and bar that sits in theme with the Chinatown aura of Kwai Chai Hong. The combination of pink neon lights and red lanterns exudes a glow fit for an exciting night escapade.
Nothing sends you to the past quite like dining in Petaling Street’s oldest kopitiam. Established since 1893, Bun Choon is known for their fragrant egg custard tarts that never fails to draw a crowd.
Asia Street Food Club
It’s hard not to be charmed by the antiquated decos that line the interior of this restaurant. If the archaic TV sets, radio, and bicycle parts fail to win you over, then their selection of Malaysian and Thai cuisines most likely will.
How do I get to Kwai Chai Hong?
There are several ways to get to Kwai Chai Hong, and fortunately, public transport is accessible. Here are a number of ways according to Kwai Chai Hong’s website.
Looking for more interesting places around Malaysia? We’ll be glad to show you around! Wonderfly is ready to restart tourism in Malaysia with our Terokai Malaysia campaign! Watch our space for available attractions making their comebacks during and after RMCO.