Kwai Chai Hong, a bridge to Chinatown’s past

Kwai Chai Hong, a bridge to KL Chinatown’s past

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.

Yellow building with blue windows which makes up part of Kwai Chai Hong

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.

A woman poses with the wooden bridge at the entrance of Kwai Chai Hong

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.

A mural of a couple sitting on the bannister of the wooden bridge

Once on the other side, an assortment of murals liven the grounds with portrayals of what life was like way back when.

Kwai Chai Hong's olden day kopitiam mural

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.

A mural of an old calligrapher in Kwai Chai Hong

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.

A man jumps with an interactive skipping rope mural at Kwai Chai Hong

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.

Depiction of Kung Fu Hustle's landlady is one of Kwai Chai Hong's famous artwork

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.

Operating Hours (during RMCO): 9.00AM – 6.00PM
Available for take-away, delivery & dine-in
More details on Facebook and Instagram

Bubble Bee Cafe

 

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.

Operating Hours (during RMCO): 12.00PM – 11.00PM
Available for take-away, delivery & dine-in
More details on Facebook and Instagram

Soybean Factory

Pandan Republic
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.

Operating Hours (during RMCO): 10.30AM – 4.00PM (Closed on Wednesdays)
More details on Facebook and Instagram

Pandan Republic

 

Concubine KL
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.

Operating Hours (during RMCO): 11.30AM – 10PM (Closed on Mondays)
Available for dine-in
More details on Facebook and Instagram

Concubine KL

 

Bun Choon
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.

Operating Hours (during RMCO): 9.00AM – 4.00PM
Available for delivery
More details on Facebook and Instagram

Bunn Choon

 

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.

Operating Hours (during RMCO): 11.00AM – 8.00PM
Available for delivery & dine-in
More details on Facebook and Instagram

Asia Street Food Club

 

Da Bao
DaBao provides a modern take on traditional paus that’s nothing short of delicious innovation.
Open 12PM – 9PM
More details on Facebook and Instagram

Da Bao

 

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.

Ways to get to Kwai Chai Hong

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.

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I go by Timothy, Timmy, or Tim. Tryna get rich to see the world. The only thing that can make this awkward potato awkward-er is if you speak Chinese to me.

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