New Tourist Attraction in Kuala Lumpur - Kwai Chai Hong

Kuala Lumpur Kwai Chai Hong

There is a new tourist attraction in Kuala Lumpur called Kwai Chai Hong, and it is found around Petaling Street or Chinatown in KL. For those of you who love heritage and street art, this is one of the highly recommended places to visit. 

First of all, what is Kwai Chai Hong? Well, it is a little complicated to make a direct translation, but in English, it would simply be called Prankster Lane.

This would be the most simplified and suitable name for this beautiful heritage place, but I have a detailed explanation further in this article for those interested.

Kwai Chai Hong at Petaling Street

Project Kwai Chai Hong
Kwai Chai Hong is also known as Prankster Lane, which is at Petaling Street in KL
The history of this lane goes way back to over 50 years ago, but some say that it stretches even further back. Anyway, Prankster Lane in Kuala Lumpur got its nickname by the locals who lived there back in the day. 

The entire project is simply called Kwai Chai Hong, which comprises of 10 units of category 3 heritage buildings that are parallel to Jalan Petaling or Petaling Street. 

The heritage units are found facing Jalan Petaling, and some of them are facing the inner road called Lorong Panggung, which is also the main entrance to this heritage lane in Kuala Lumpur. 

The main attraction here is the actual Kwai Chai Hong, where a traditional Chinese arch welcomes visitors through a wooden Chinese bridge, and into a back alley. 

Once you enter the main archway into the lane, you will come to a junction which splits left and right, and both of them are dead ends. 

On the longer stretch where the murals are located, you can exit through Bubble Bee Cafe, which has a special back entrance to Kwai Chai Hong.

KL Kwai Chai Hong
Zeen Chang in white and grey, gives a detailed tour at the arch entrance of Kwai Chai Hong
What Is Kwai Chai Hong? 

In the Cantonese dialect, Kwai Chai means Little Ghost and Hong means Lane. But to use that as the main name in English, wouldn't work too well. Hence they gave it a more suitable name of Prankster Lane.

So what is Kwai Chai? A direct meaning would be a little demon, or as the Malays call them 'Toyol'. These are the mischievous little ghost, which are similar to the famous cartoon ghost called Casper.

There are two theories to how this place was named, but again, there is no written proof on this, hence all two are valid speculations of the past.

First Theory - Back in the day, Theater Lane was known to be a notorious place where all the vices took place. We are talking about drinking, gambling, prostitution, opium dens and gang-related activities that took place here.

Because of the vice that took place here, there was a local gang called the Dragon Tiger Gang, who used Theater Lane as their hideout. The gang leader was said to call his members 'Little Ghost' or Kwai Chai.

Second Theory - After the gang scene there, the place cleaned up a little, and local kids who lived there would run around in mischief, playing games and often pranks on the people there.

Because of these mischievous kids, many locals who lived there called them 'Kwai Chai', due to their naughty and erratic behaviour.

So this is how the interesting place got its name Kwai Chai Hong in Cantonese, and has been a very niche historical side of Kuala Lumpur that not many people know about.

Mural Painting Kwai Chai Hong
The beautiful street art murals at Kwai Chai Hong
Street Art at Petaling Street - Kwai Chai Hong

If you are a street art lover, then Kwai Chai Hong is one of the places to visit in Petaling street or Chinatown KL. In this lane, there are six beautiful murals, all drawn by local Malaysian artist. 

They are spaced apart, and each of them has an interactive QR code where if you scan it, it will tell you a story of the mural. However, it is in Chinese, hence you may want someone to translate it for you.

During  my visit here on the 13th April 2019, it was a media preview where the owners were there to explain the entire restoration and refurbishment project.

They also invited a few of the artist who contributed to the street art murals located there. I have to say that the finished art pieces were very impressive.

If you are lucky, there will be one of the staff who will provide a free guided tour, but this may only happen on weekends. Best to check with the cafe first about the free guided tours.

Kwai Chai Hong Murals

Below are photos of the various murals found at the location, and again, they are free to visit, so if you are in Kuala Lumpur, head here to see some of KL's nostalgic Chinese heritage being showcased through this project.

Couple on Bridge - One of the first murals you will see when walking in through the arch.
The artist who drew Er Hu Uncle
Artist who drew 'Kids Playing Marbles'
A controversial mural called 'The Prostitute'. However, I can easily call this Cabaret Dancer or Singer. 
Bai Chuan Management Sdn Bhd
Zeen Chang, one of the owners of the project explains the multiple murals on the higher level.
Who Owns and Manages Kwai Chai Hong? 

This passion project is managed by Bai Chuan Management Sdn. Bhd., a local Malaysia company with five partners, and was officially launched on the 11th of April 2019.

The main objective of this project is to bring back memories of the good old days, and hopefully to lure the younger generation, or in other words, the millennials by introducing arts, culture and heritage in one place.

Another wish is that Kwai Chai Hong will hopefully be the next best Instagram place in Kuala Lumpur.

The entire project took around eight months to complete, and cost around RM1.5 million. The beautiful murals you see there also cost around RM120,000.

KL Bubble Bee Cafe
Inside the Bubble Bee Cafe, with the back entrance to Prankster Lane
Bubble Bee Cafe at Petaling Street

Bubble Bee Cafe is also a new concept local fusion and lifestyle cafe, which serves coffee, snacks and food.

They offer light and heavy meals, and personally, I tried their signature grilled chicken panini sandwich, which was pretty awesome. 

This cafe is located towards the south end of the main Petaling Street market, where you just walk down the road, and you can spot Bubble Bee Cafe.

It is an intermediate unit, with a huge mural of a little girl peeking from the top floor of the building. If you look towards the roof when you are walking, you will easily spot this.

Kwai Chai Hong Location
Location of Kwai Chai Hong
How to go to Kwai Chai Hong?

Basically, the Kwai Chai Hong Project is located at the south end of Jalan Petaling or Petaling Street. There are two end of the walking market, and from the south end, you continue to walk another 100 meters.

Once you see Bubble Bee Cafe, you can enter though there, or just walk to the end of the row and make two right turns into the back lane. This back lane is known as Lorong Panggung.

Anyone who is visiting KL Chinatown can easily walk here as it takes two to three minutes walk from the south entrance of Petaling Street.

If you are driving or taking a ride hailing service, just use Bubble Bee Cafe as your final destination. From there, just walk through or around the row of shops.

The area where Kwai Chai Hong is located, by google maps. 
Kwai Chai Hong Petaling Street
Lorong Panggung, 
Off Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur
Hours: 9.00 AM till 6.00 PM daily

You can also access Kwai Chai Hong through Bubble Bee Cafe, which has a back exit to the lane. Just pop in, have some coffee or snacks, then head out the back entrance into the lane.

Kwai Chai Hong Artist
Artist were seen doing sketches of the lane
Photography at Kwai Chai Hong

For this review and article, I used a Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphone for all my photos here, and with very little edits.

Overall, I have to say that the smartphone camera technology has improved so fast that I challenged myself by only using a smartphone versus a DSLR camera.

While the photos here are resized for web use, I must conclude that the actual high resolution photos are very real and natural.

The great thing about the Samsung Galaxy S10+ is the multi zoom function which makes taking photos so easy. My favourite is still the wide angle zoom, which is a 123 degree view, capturing a super wide angle.

Kuala Lumpur Pranskter Lane
View of Kwai Chai Hong from the upper level of the street
Conclusion

If you are visiting Kuala Lumpur and want to explore something new here, I would highly recommend you take a walk to Kway Chai Hong and see the beautiful restoration and street art here. 

Please do go in the morning or afternoon, as they close this lane after 6.00 PM. This is currently the timing set by the owners, but it could change in the future. 

Overall, this is one of the latest tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur, which is free and suitable for anyone who loves to see something different. 
New Tourist Attraction in Kuala Lumpur - Kwai Chai Hong New Tourist Attraction in Kuala Lumpur - Kwai Chai Hong Reviewed by Malaysia Asia on Sunday, April 14, 2019 Rating: 5

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