Wide and Narrow Alleys, Chengdu – Ticket, Opening Hours, Highlights, and Tips

wide and narrow alleys chengdu

Wide and Narrow Alleys, known as Kuanzhai Xiangzi in Chinese (宽窄巷子), is a captivating historical area in Chengdu, China. Spanning an expansive 66,590 square meters, it comprises wide alleys, narrow alleys, and well alleys arranged in parallel, totaling approximately 73 courtyards and units. The entire complex consists of meticulously crafted courtyard homes with blue-gray bricks and tiles, resembling ancient quadrangles. This area stands as one of Chengdu’s well-preserved historical districts from the Qing Dynasty, alongside landmarks such as the Daci Temple and Wenshu Monastery, collectively recognized as Chengdu’s three major historical and cultural preservation zones.

Within the alleys, visitors can savor the essence of Chengdu’s culture. Enjoy a cup of Mengshan Yellow Bud tea while engaging in casual banter with the local elderly, known as “Bai Longmen Zhen” in Sichuan dialects. Alternatively, summon a skilled ear cleaner called “Shu’er Lang” to experience the pleasurable sensation of ear cleaning. The narrow streets also offer a feast for the taste buds, with numerous street food stalls presenting a variety of delectable treats.

As night falls, Wide and Narrow Alleys transform into a charming spectacle. Bars like Dian Zui, Bai Ye, and Hu Li come to life, radiating Chengdu’s fashionable vibes and showcasing their allure under the cover of darkness. The ambiance becomes magical, making the alleys a perfect destination to immerse oneself in Chengdu’s rich history, culture, and contemporary charm.


Table of Contents


Basic Information

Estimated Length of Tour2 hours
Ticket PriceFree
Opening HoursMost vendors in Kuanzhai Alley are open from 7.30 to 21.00. Bars and Clubs typically operate late at night.
Telephone Number0086-028-86259233
0086-028-66355355

Location And Transportation

Wide and Narrow Alleys is located in the center of Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province in southwestern China, near the popular tourist area of Tianfu Square and the ancient Wuhou Shrine. To get there, you can choose the following ways:

Bus: Take bus 51, 62, 70, 93, 163, or 340, get off at Wide and Narrow Alleys Stop (宽窄巷子), and walk about 100 meters to the west to reach the area.

Subway: Take subway line 4, get off at Wide and Narrow Alleys Station, get out from Exit B, and walk across the street to reach the area.


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History of Wide and Narrow Alleys

The history of Wide and Narrow Alleys, or Kuanzhai Xiangzi, traces its roots back to the year 1718 during the Qing Dynasty. In the 57th year of the Kangxi Emperor’s reign, after quelling the Zunghar Rebellion, Nian Gengyao, a prominent military general, fortified the existing Shaocheng (Young City) and established Mancheng (Full City) on its foundation. Mancheng served as the residence for the Manchu and Mongolian Eight Banners troops, creating a restricted area during the Qing Dynasty. However, with the decline of the Qing Dynasty, Mancheng ceased to be a restricted zone, allowing civilians unrestricted access. Seizing this opportunity, some out-of-town merchants opened pawn shops near Mancheng, engaging in extensive property acquisitions from the families of the Eight Banners.

The distinct layout of Mancheng featured a wide alley called Xingren Hutong, a narrow alley known as Taiping Hutong, and a well alley named Ruyi Hutong (Mingde Hutong). This unique pattern accommodated the descendants of the Eight Banners, high-ranking officials, and commoners, all residing together in Mancheng.

After the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, Zhao Erfeng, the last Qing Dynasty governor of Sichuan, surrendered political power, leading to the dismantling of the city walls of Shaocheng. This transformation allowed dignitaries to establish public mansions and private residences in the area. Influential figures such as You Ren, Tian Songyao, Li Jiayu, Yang Sen, Liu Wenhui, and even Chiang Kai-shek visited and settled in the region, contributing to the preservation of these ancient structures.

In the early years of the Republic of China, city administrators replaced the term “Hutong” with “Xiangzi” (alley). The renaming reflected the evolving linguistic landscape during that period.

The formal birth of Kuanzhai Xiangzi took place in 1948 during a city survey. According to legend, the surveyors, after measuring the alleys, casually labeled the wider one as “Kuan Xiangzi” (Wide Alley), the narrower one as “Zhai Xiangzi” (Narrow Alley), and the one with a well as “Jing Xiangzi” (Well Alley). Thus, the iconic and culturally rich area of Wide and Narrow Alleys emerged, encapsulating centuries of historical, architectural, and social significance.


Highlights of Wide and Narrow Alleys

Wide Alley

traditional style courtyard house in kuanzhai alley

Wide Alley, known as Xingren Hutong during the Xuantong period of the Qing Dynasty, is adorned with architecture from the late Qing to early Republic era. Some structures even bear Western influences left by churches. Serving as a hub for leisurely living, Wide Alley encapsulates the essence of old Chengdu. It houses the Old Chengdu Living Experience Museum, offering a glimpse into the local culture and customs of old Chengdu life. The alley stands as a living testament to the relaxed and nostalgic atmosphere that defines the historical charm of Chengdu.


Narrow Alley

tea hourse in kuanzhai alley

Narrow Alley, known as Taiping Hutong, is the epitome of the “slow life” district, showcasing the courtyard culture of old Chengdu. These courtyards, mostly occupied by stylish bars and restaurants, draw in tourists and artistic souls to leisurely spend their afternoons, immersing themselves in the timeless ambiance. With a focus on Western-style dining, casual eateries, coffee shops, artistic leisure, health-oriented establishments, and unique cultural-themed stores, Narrow Alley stands as a refined haven for those seeking a taste of sophisticated and diverse lifestyles in Chengdu’s historical heart.


Well Valley

local cuisine in kuanzhai alley

Well Alley, originally named Ruyi Hutong or Mingde Hutong during the Qing Dynasty, is situated adjacent to the southern side of Narrow Alley. Post-Xinhai Revolution, it was renamed “Jing Xiangzi” (Well Alley). Following renovations, Well Alley retained one side of the street while constructing a 500-meter-long wall showcasing historical cultures and another 500-meter-long wall depicting folk traditions on the opposite side. This picturesque setting provides an ideal backdrop for photography, offering visitors a unique and visually captivating experience in the heart of Chengdu’s cultural and historical charm.


Traditional Entertainment

traditional entertainment in kuanzhai alley

Wide and Narrow Alleys is home to a range of traditional entertainment options that offer visitors a unique glimpse into Sichuan culture. One of the most popular forms of entertainment is Sichuan Opera, which features colorful costumes, acrobatics, and traditional music. Visitors can also enjoy puppet shows, shadow plays, and street performances by local artists. Another popular attraction is the traditional-style teahouses that offer live music performances, including pipa, guzheng, and erhu performances. These forms of traditional entertainment have been passed down through generations and are an important part of Sichuan’s cultural heritage.


Local Handicrafts and Souvenirs

local handicrafts and souvenirs in kuanzhai alley

Wide and Narrow Alleys is home to a vibrant arts and crafts scene, with many shops and boutiques offering unique handicrafts and souvenirs. Visitors can browse traditional Sichuan-style embroidery, pottery, calligraphy, and wood carvings, among other items. One popular item is Shu embroidery, which is known for its intricate designs and colorful patterns. Visitors can also find unique souvenirs such as Sichuan Opera masks, bamboo products, and hand-painted porcelain. Many of these shops offer personalized, handcrafted items, making them perfect for finding one-of-a-kind gifts.


Nightlife

nightlife in kuanzhai alley

Wide and Narrow Alleys offers a lively and vibrant nightlife scene, with plenty of bars, clubs, and restaurants open late into the night. Visitors can enjoy a variety of live music performances, including jazz, rock, and traditional Chinese music, at local bars and clubs. The area also has a range of dining options, including local restaurants and street food vendors, that stay open late into the night. Visitors can also take a leisurely stroll through the illuminated streets and admire the traditional-style architecture and decorative lights.


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Useful Tips from Genuine Reviews

Avoid buying snacks and meals inside the scenic area as they are generally expensive with mediocre taste; instead, explore the more affordable options at KuiXingLou Street outside.

Allocate around 2 hours for your visit due to the crowded environment, and be cautious about securing your belongings.

Skip tea sessions and performances within the alleys, as they are considered time-consuming and pricey; for face-changing performances, prefer the Sichuan Theater.

Explore creative stores for unique finds, and consider bringing a small item from a cultural and creative shop as a memento.


Attractions Near Wide and Narrow Alleys

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