Kwai Chai Hong 鬼仔巷 is the latest tourist attraction at the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur. It is a small alley behind Petaling Street with numerous murals depict the daily life at this place in the old days.
This lane has been there for almost a century old. It was in a dilapidated state for many years which has been lovingly refurbished recently.
Where is Kwai Chai Hong?
Kwai Chai Hong is the Cantonese transliteration of the three characters 鬼仔巷. It means ‘Little Ghost Lane‘.
There are two possibilities of the origin of the name. One theory is that the Chinese refer to naughty children as Kwai Chai 鬼仔. Since this is where the place where the kids like to play, and hence the name was given.
The other possibility is that this is where the gangster, drunkards, and drug addicts engaging vice activities, and hence, it was given a name with a negative connotation.
Lastly, it was the hideout of the underground gang Dragon Tiger Clan which the members are called Kwai Chai 鬼仔
The entrance of Kwai Chai Hong
The pre-war building at Kwai Chai Hong is the best-kept secret of the Chinatown area in Kuala Lumpur. You can easily miss it because it is an alley enter from a small lane.
Chinatown is virtually synonymous with Petaling Street or Jalan Petaling, which stretches beyond the mega arches of Chinatown.
Project Kwai Chai Hong involves ten restored shophouses — six fronting Jalan Petaling and another four units along Lorong Panggung, as well as a delightful laneway tucked between the two roads of Jalan Petaling and Lorong Panggung.
There are six murals in this alley that portray the daily life of the bygone era in the 1960s.
The red bridge
Once you enter the area, you will be greeted by the colorful red bridge called 红桥. Over here, you will find the first mural on your right, a loving couple sitting on the bridge.
Scan the QR code
There is a QR code at every mural. A soundtrack will play by scanning the code on the wall to provide an interactive experience of the mural paintings through sight and sound.
There are more murals once you cross the bridge.
Erhu is the traditional Chinese string instrument with only two strings. The mural illustrates the Chinese migrants entertain themselves with their traditional musical instruments as their past time.
Kids playing with imaginary friends
There was not much entertainment for kids in that era. But our Gen Z friend is so intrigued by the mural that he wants to play with them.
Age-old brothel businesses are flourished across geological and era.
Our new generation does not bother it too much. Kwai Chai Hong is now a favorite spot for portraits for models.
Many illiterate migrants are living in this area in those days. This mural shows a Chinese calligrapher helping the residents to write letters home and also couplet with auspicious saying during the spring festival.
The century-old lamp post
There is a lamp post about fifteen steps after crossing the red bridge.
This lamb post is believed to be the only surviving one from the first set of lampposts installed in Kuala Lumpur. It was installed around 1903 when electricity first available to the city.
Life in the sixties
At the end of the alley is a staircase that leads visitors to a remarkable two and a half story mural. This mural is the highlight of Kwai Chai Hong. It depicts the 1960s era where the business is bustling, and residents are living where they work.
There is a barber carried out their business in the open air (in the mural), and you can sit on the (real) barber chair right in front for a haircut 🙂
This image is edited with the perspective function in Snapseed. You can find out more about mobile photo editing here.
Ho Kow Hainam Kopitiam
The trip to Kwai Chai Hong is not complete if you do not drop by the Ho How Hainam Kopitiam near to the entrance of the lane.
Why is it so special? It is self-explanatory in this image, I queue up in the morning before the shop opened for business. This image was taken when I left. The crowd waiting for a seat on a Sunday morning is so large that it takes an average an hour to be seated.
An interesting menu of Ho Kow Hainam Kopitiam (Kopitiam means Coffee shop). This image is the cover, which looks like a newspaper.
Kwai Chai Hong: Useful Information
Address: Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur
Geographic coordinates: 3.141525, 101.697596
Opening hours: Daily, 9 am to 6 pm
Go by bus: Take bus 821 to Pasar Seni, 3 stop from KL Sentral.
Go by MRT: KJ15 is the station nearest to Kwai Chai Hong, 3 stop from KL Sentral.
Distance from city center: At city center, next to Petaling Street
Best time to visit: Arrive before 10 AM to avoid crowds.
Dress code: No specific dress code
Entrance fee: Free