Located right in the middle of downtown Chengdu, Kuanzhai Alley, which can also be known as Wide and Narrow Alleys, consisted of 3 alleys: Kuan Alley, Zhai Alley, and Jing Alley.
The word Kuan means wide in Chinese, Zhai means narrow, and Jing means well. These 3 alleys are the leftover part of the buildings after the chaos and war from the Qing Dynasty.
Back in the day in the Qing Dynasty, army troops were located in this place. As time passed by, this place has been left devastated since. And in 2003, renovation work began to bring back life to these streets.
Today, this place is a combination of the old and the new. Kuanzhai Alley is famous for its foods and historical buildings and has been attracting millions of visitors each year.
What to See in Kuanzhai Alley
Kuanzhai Alley has become a complex cultural and business street that flourished with tourism and recreation.
These 3 alleys are popular among the locals and tourists. With its entertainment, food, and nightlife, Kuanzhai Alley has become an attraction in Chengdu.
Kuan Alley (Wide Alley)
Kuan Alley (Wide Alley) was built with a width of 7-8 meters. The reason is that it was said that some high-status military officers used to stay there, and they went in and out of their residences by carriage. Hence, the need for a wide street.
The Kuan Alley showcases leisure life and represents the typical forms of Chengdu folk culture. You can find traditional teahouses, bars, Sichuan-style restaurants, and plenty of foods to try out.
Zhai Alley (Narrow Alley)
Zhai Alley (Narrow Alley) is narrower than the Kuan Alley, about 5-meter in width. The architecture of the buildings here is a mixture of western features and traditional Chinese style. You can see the “Horse Hitching Statue” located there in the Zhai Alley.
The locals frequent Zhai Alley for its slow life. You can see artists sitting around the corner of the street trying to draw a glimpse of the alley. There are cafes, souvenir shops, and many other interesting commercial lots to check out.
Jing Alley (Well Alley)
Jing Alley (Well Alley) got its name because, during the Qing Dynasty period, the Qing troops found that Chengdu has insufficient water. Hence, the locals were ordered to dig a well at the end of the alley. Thus, got the name “Alley of the Well”.
The Jing Alley is less famous than Kuan and Zhai Alleys. The buildings here are more worn-out as the residents here were servants during the old times. You can find a 500 meters long wall showing the photos of the folklife here.
Starbucks in Kuanzhai Alley Style
Once you walked into the street, you will see there is a Starbucks in an old Chinese building. It was built in such a way to blend into the picture to give an overall “ancient” feel.
What to Eat in Kuanzhai Alley
Just like Jinli Old Street, Kuanzhai Alley has plenty to offer in terms of food. You can find all kinds of traditional Sichuan cuisine, street foods, and also many international foods to suit the tourists.
Below are a few foods you should consider trying out when you visit Kuanzhai Alley:
How to Get to Kuanzhai Alley
Getting to Kuanzhai Alley is easy, just take the metro. Take the Line 4 metro and then get off at Kuanzhai Alley Station, take exit B and then just walk across the street and you will be at Kuanzhai scenic area.
In Chinese, Kuanzhai Alley is often written as “Kuan Zhai Xiang Zi”. Just follow the signboard and you will get there easily.
Kuanzhai Alley Travel Tips
- Kuanzhai Alley is more upscale compared to Jinli Old Street, hence, there are plenty of hotels just around the place.
- The entire place is off traffic and was designed as a pedestrian walkway.
- Opens all day and all year round. You can visit any time from morning until late at night. Some bars and cafes open until midnight.
- There are plenty of foods and local snacks to try out here. Make sure you check out some of the famous local foods here.
- Kuanzhai Alley is not as huge as Jinli, but it can also take you at least 1 to 2 hours to go through the place. If you want to thoroughly explore Kuanzhai, make sure you plan more time here.
- Most of the tourist hotspot in China has a Tourist Information Center, if you need to keep your luggage, you can deposit there.