The Best Chinatowns Around The World

The Best Chinatowns Around The World

Chinese culture, history, and food can be appreciated all around the world thanks to the fact that there is a Chinatown in almost every major city. But which of these are the best Chinatowns? With the help of fellow bloggers, we’ve put together this compilation of top Chinatowns around the world. We hope that they’ll inspire a future trip!

 

Milan Chinatown – Margherita of The Crowded Planet

My favorite Chinatown is the one in my hometown, Milan, because it was one of the first places that made me curious about travelling when I was a little girl. Milan Chinatown is located in a really cool area, near Parco Sempione (the coolest park in town!) and close to some nice street art hot spots. It’s actually a very old Chinatown, as Chinese families from the Shenzhen area started settling in Milan over one hundred years ago to trade fabric made in the silk factories near Lake Como. Nowadays Milan Chinatown is full in equal measure of wholesale clothes shops and delicious restaurants! My fave is Ravioleria Sarpi, a yummy hole in the wall place that makes the best dumplings and Chinese crepes! It’s so good that it was number one in my best street food in Milan post! Actually, I think I’ll go and have a crepe right now!

Woman cooking Chinese crepes in Milan Chinatown

 

Kuala Lumpur Chinatown – Linda of Linda Goes East

When in Kuala Lumpur, be sure to head to Petaling Street. This part of town is also known as the center of Chinatown. At the start of the 20th century large crowds of Cantonese and Hakka men flocked to Kuala Lumpur to work in mines. Today, KL Chinatown is one of the largest outside of China and a hub for some of the most authentic Chinese streetfood in the city. It’s also a major hotspot for night shopping where haggling is rule #1. The best time to visit is in the early evening hours to try your way through the endless selection of food stalls and buy some souvenirs to take back home. During the day, you can visit beautiful Chinese temples in all corners of the district. I love Petaling Street because it is a multicultural Chinatown with Indians, Malays and Chinese creating a unique atmosphere any visitor will find dazzling.

Street stalls in Kuala Lumpur Chinatown

 

London Chinatown – Barbara of Jet-Settera

Chinatown in London is located right in the middle of the centre. It is about 5 minutes away from Piccadilly Circus. It is the area around Gerrard Street. Visitors can find many Chinese restaurants, supermarkets, souvenir shops, bakeries and Chinese-run businesses. The present Chinatown started to be established in this area around the 1970ies. The first Chinese restaurant opened on Lisle Street parallel to Gerrard Street and spread gradually. Today, it has about 80 restaurants and it has some of London’s finest and most authentic Asian cuisine. The Chinatown has a beautifully decorated large gate at the entrance and it has many large, red lampions hanging from above.

London Chinatown

 

Philadelphia Chinatown – Daryl & Mindi of 2foodtrippers

Located on the northern edge of Center City, Philadelphia’s Chinatown has enjoyed a renaissance that has propelled its offerings beyond typical Cantonese food. Spanning the Asian globe, the small but dense neighborhood now features cuisines like Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese in addition to the myriad of Chinese specialties. Don’t get us wrong, we have long loved this foodie enclave flanked by the colorful Friendship Gate so much that we held our wedding rehearsal dinner at Sang Kee nine years ago. While we’ll always have a soft spot for Sang Kee and its roast duck and pork, we also love newer restaurants serving Lanzhou style hand drawn noodles, Shanghai style dim sum and Japanese onigiri. Several New York eateries have set up Philly outposts, adding to the food focused fun.

Chinese food in Philadelphia’s Chinatown

 

Washington DC Chinatown – Charles of McCool Travel

Washington, DC’s Chinatown has undergone serious gentrification of late and it is becoming increasing more difficult to find “authentic” Chinese places here. The Friendship Arch is the largest single span archway in the world and is well worth a visit and photo, in spite of it being surrounded by chain restaurants. Old school Chinese stores and restaurants do still exist in DC and I encourage you to support them.

Friendship Arch in Washington DC

 

Singapore Chinatown – Matilda of The Travel Sisters

Singapore’s bustling Chinatown gets my vote for favorite Chinatown as it is an interesting mix of old and new.  Traditional shops are found alongside trendy cafes and narrow alleyways filled with low buildings are in sharp contrast to the nearby modern skyscrapers.  Most noteworthy for me, Singapore’s Chinatown is home to both Chinese temples and Hindu temples.  Food lovers flock here for the restaurants, hawker stalls and especially Maxwell Food Centre, one of the best known hawker centers in Singapore.  If you’re one of those people who need to be connected at all times, the free Wi-fi available throughout is a nice bonus.

Stalls at Singapore Chinatown

 

Manhattan Chinatown – Gabor of Surfing The Planet

Walking around Manhattan you cross an invisible border, and you find yourself in Chinatown, a neighborhood that does not seem to be New York anymore. At first this colorful chaos and decadent atmosphere might seem strange, but it’s worth spending some time in this authentic neighborhood. Chinatown is situated in the Southeast of Manhattan, just next to (the much less authentic) Little Italy. The most authentic street is probably Canal Street that is filled with local shops and people selling goods on the street. Here you can find basically everything from fake bags and watches to spices and other delicacies. In most places you can haggle to get a better price. Finally, if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of these crowded streets, you can visit Columbus Park (our favorite place), which is like an island of peace in the middle of Chinatown. Mostly elderly people play cards and board games here, while some of them even play instruments and sing.

People playing cards in Columbus Park, Manhattan Chinatown

 

Kobe Chinatown – Toni of 2 Aussie Travellers

We love exploring Chinatowns around the world and one of the best in our opinion is in Kobe, Japan.  It’s known as  Nankin-machi and while it’s fairly compact it packs a lot in into the space.  The first time we visited we entered through the Changan gate on the eastern side and I made it less than 15 metres before ordering my first piping hot dumpling.  In my defence we timed our visit for Chinese New Year and the enticing aromas floating around would have been a challenge for anyone to resist.  Food is always a big part of a visit to a Chinatown and with over 100 permanent restaurants plus the food stalls representing many different regions of China it’s never going to disappoint.

As one of 3 official Chinatowns in Japan (the other two are in Yokohama and Nagasaki) it’s a great place to head at any time but especially for a festival.  Chinese New Year is the big one with the lion and dragon dancing, children performing and the central stage constantly alive with shows.  Other festivals to watch out for if you are going to be near Kobe are the Mid-autumn Festival and the Lantern Festival.

Kobe Chinatown

 

Sydney Chinatown – LC of Birdgehls

I’ve spent a lot of time in Sydney’s Chinatown over the years – it’s a great place for quick, cheap meals and is perfectly situated in the heart of the city. I like to take visiting friends there and stroll down the street (sometimes stopping for a feed!) before continuing on to nearby Darling Harbour. A particular highlight are the cream puffs you can buy near the Haymarket entrance for 35 cents Australian each – they’re served pipping hot and the line for them can get pretty, darn long!

Sydney Chinatown

 

Toronto Chinatown

Considered one of the largest Chinatowns in North America, the Toronto Chinatown runs north-south along Spadina Avenue and east-west along Dundas Street West. Anyone visiting Toronto should definitely pay this area a visit. There are plenty of places to eat yummy and authentic Chinese food (dumplings!) and also great places to shop for everything from spices to souvenirs. We loved how bright and colorful it was, with a constant flow of people wandering the streets.

Lighted signs in Chinatown in Toronto

 

So what do you think of our list of best Chinatowns around the world? Where is your favorite Chinatown? We’d love to read your comments below! 🙂

 

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We've put together a list of the best Chinatowns around the world, with suggestions on what to see, do, and eat!

 

17 Comments
  • Mindi Hirsch says:

    Thanks for including us in this great roundup! Reading it makes me want Chinese dumplings now.

  • Wow I had no idea there were so many Chinatowns in the world! Dumpling are my absolute favorite and that photo made me want to eat some right now.

  • Lynne Sarao says:

    Did you know that Toronto actually has SIX Chinatowns? The one in San Francisco is pretty awesome as well! Really great round up!

  • I’ve eaten a couple times in London’s Chinatown after going to the theater. I love the area around D.C. Chinatown. I’ve eaten delicious dim sum and interesting Asian-Latin fusion in that area. The Friendship Arch is one of my favorite sights to photograph in the city, too.

  • This was really eye-opening for me, as I have never thought about the fact that there are so many Chinatowns around the world. I have only been to Chinatown in San Francisco and I loved it. Thanks for taking me around the world through this fascinating post.

  • Love this format. What a great way to hear advice from many awesome bloggers. We love traveling to ethnic communities for a weekend cultural tour, especially for the lunar new year.

  • Nat Deduck says:

    Going in a Chinatown is always fun! The food is great, the atmosphere is brilliant! We’re going to have to add some of these places on our list especially now that we miss Asia so much!

  • This is a fun list, I have only visited the one in San Francisco and Singapore. I thoroughly enjoyed both though so I suppose I should really add the rest of these to my list! Thanks for sharing!

  • Drew says:

    I used to live within walking distance of Chinatown in NYC, so that gets my vote! Having dirt cheap dumplings from Tasty Dumplings, soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai, some solid Chinese dishes at Shanghai 457, and hand-pulled noodles at the aptly named Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles. Such a great and unique part of NYC!

    • Buddy says:

      Definitely sounds delicious Drew! I’ve only spent a few hours in the NYC Chinatowm, but I had an amazing fried duck there. I can’t wait t go back and try more dishes! 🙂

  • Great list, we’ve been to a few of these. We were in San Francisco last year and the Chinatown there was pretty big. The London Chinatown has some good places to eat but also some of the staff there or so rude it’s actually comical.

  • Rosemary says:

    This is a great list of Chinatown’s to visit around the world. Two that are missing and which are quite impressive in their own right are Chinatown in Manila, Philippines (Binondo) and Chinatown in Bangkok. They are the largest and oldest Chinatowns in the world, except for China, of course. These two should not be missed 🙂

  • Claudia says:

    Happy New Year of the Rooster! There are so many great Chinatowns in the world, including our own in Vancouver. All of your delicious-looking food photos have me drooling and craving dumplings and dim sum!

  • I grew up near Philadelphia so, naturally, that Chinatown holds a special place in my heart. I miss it.

  • Richelle says:

    I’ve only been to the Kuala Lumpur and Washington DC Chinatowns on this list but I totally agree that the Washington DC one is super gentrified. However, Sichuan Pavillion has great, very authentic Chinese food!

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Hi! I'm Vicky, a South Florida-based blogger traveling around the world with my stuffed monkey Buddy. We show you how to make travel a priority while working a full time job. Click on the photo to learn more!

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