We’ve put together a list of the best Chinatowns around the world, with suggestions on what to see, do, and eat!
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 best Chinatowns around the world. We hope that they’ll inspire a future trip!
With one of the oldest Chinatowns in the country, did you know that San Francisco has the largest Chinese neighborhood outside of China?
First, walk past the emerald Dragon’s Gate which welcomes you. This is a fantastic photo spot by the way, you’ll just have to be mindful of oncoming traffic.
Besides all of the delicious food options, bakeries, and souvenir shops, my favorite thing about San Francisco’s Chinatown is the colorful wall murals found on the sides of the buildings. Although there was plenty of cool street art to admire, my favorite was the mural which paid homage to the late martial artist Bruce Lee and rapper Tupac Shakur. Spotting cool street art is just one of the fun things to do in San Francisco.
Even though it’s not officially considered a Chinatown, the Catalan capital Barcelona has a small area that is full of Chinese culture. This area belongs to the rather unusual things to see in Barcelona for tourists even though it is located right next to the popular Arc de Triomf.
In the Barcelona Chinatown, you can not only find extremely delicious authentic Chinese food but also a bunch of Asian supermarkets and Chinese businesses. The best day to visit this area is clearly on the first Saturday after the Chinese New Year. There is always a big traditional parade taking place celebrating the new year following a fun event including Chinese dances and shows.
Bangkok’s Chinatown is one of the largest Chinatowns and most vibrant markets in the world. The Chinese district is rather old, it was created in 1782 to refuge the Chinese immigrants in Thailand. It is located in the Samphanthawong district, yet the Yaowarat road is the main artery and where all the buzz is.
The Yaowarat road is a symbol of good luck as its path resembles a dragon’s curvy body. Bangkok’s Chinatown is packed with all kind of stores and restaurants – it’s a hub for shopping and eating good food. You are able to find anything in Chinatown even the weirdest things.
It is also a good place to embrace Chinese culture, when traveling to Thailand. Besides, it is more or less easy to shop in Chinatown as the stores are organized by different goods, all the electronic stores are close to each other, and so on. Beyond the shopping, it is a gastronomic destination, one the best places to eat in Bangkok.
Manhattan’s Chinatown is famous, but one of the best insider New York tips is that there are actual several distinct Chinatowns in New York City, including two in Brooklyn. The larger Chinatown is in Sunset Park (spilling a bit into Borough Park as well) and has some of the best dim sum restaurants in the city without the crowds and waits you’ll find in Manhattan.
My personal favorite place for dim sum is East Harbor Seafood Palace, but Pacificana is also quite popular. Nearby you’ll find Fei Long Market, one of the best Chinese groceries in the city, which also has a great food court with some of the best xiao long bao in New York at Shanghai Dumpling House.
There is also a second, smaller Chinatown in Sheepshead Bay, centered around Avenue U, where you’ll find delicious egg custard tarts at the traditional Chinese bakeries such as Long Wong as well as dim sum at Wing Hing, one of the best-loved Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood.
Atlanta truly became and International City when it hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics. Infrastructure throughout the city was improved prior to this world event, and its population grew tremendously from that point on – attracting immigrants from all over the world.
Atlanta does not have a traditional Chinatown like some other major American cities. But we do have Buford Highway. Along this nearly 10-mile stretch of road, immigrants from around the world live, play, and work to create a tight knit community. From huge Mexican grocery stores and Indonesian restaurants, to Ethiopian meat store and Chinese and Korean barbecue places, you’ll find them all on Buford Highway.
Every year, you can join the Lunar Chinese New Year festival at the Chinese Cultural Center and see a performance of the famous lion dance. And like any great Asian festival, there’ll be plenty of street food stalls and other cultural performances.
Amsterdam’s Chinatown is hidden behind the controversial neighborhood that also happens to have one of the prettiest architecture in the city, the Red Light District. Know that among the Chinese businesses, you’ll also find a great deal of Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai restaurants and stores. Insider’s tip: try chicken wings and beef teriyaki at A-Fusion, an Asian restaurant (better book a table in advance). You’re welcome!
As I said, there are many other nationalities and cultures in this area; however, the streets signs are translated only to Chinese because they were the first ones to settle in this area. Moreover, the impressive Buddhist temple, F. G. S. He Hua, is one of the most fascinating places to visit in Amsterdam. You won’t want to miss it.
Between the sinful Red Light District and the pleasant Nieuwmarket, Amsterdam’s Chinatown is an excellent place to be explored because you know you’ll find something around – great coffee at the former gatehouse, De Waag, Asian souvenirs, or great food in one of the many restaurants! Enjoy!
Fun fact: Amsterdam’s Chinatown is the oldest one in continental Europe. It was established in 1911.
A cosmopolitan city like Paris could not miss being on this post. Paris has not a China town, but three! These three China towns are made of 3 different communities located in 3 different Arrondissements of Paris, perhaps speaking a different dialect, and which work independently.
The oldest, but also the smallest, Chinese community is located in the historical neighborhood of Temple in Paris 3. The Wenzhou Chinese community was the first community to arrive in Paris as recruited laborers during WWI.
The second Chinese Community is located in Belleville, in Paris 10. We like to go to Belleville for its Chinese restaurants and there is also a big Chinese discount market with interesting (and cheap) products.
Finally, there is Paris 13, the biggest community in the city and well known for its Chinese New Year’s celebrations.
Boston’s Chinatown is the third-largest in the U.S. – behind New York City and San Francisco – and the only remaining Chinatown in New England. Sitting at the edge of Downtown Crossing, it’s a densely populated network of narrow streets lined with restaurants, beauty parlors, offices, shops, and karaoke joints. Welcoming both visitors and residents to the neighborhood at the intersection of Beach Street and Surface Road is a traditional gate – or paifang – which was gifted by Taiwan in 1982.
The neighborhood is home to dozens of restaurants – my go-to is actually Vietnamese, Pho Pasteur, and other local favorites include Q Restaurant and Shojo. There also are a variety of dim sum joints, some of which are packed long after the local bars closed on weekends. Holiday celebrations are also a big draw, especially Chinese New Year in February and the August Moon Festival. A great source of pride for the neighborhood is the new Pao Arts Center, which offers world-class artistic and cultural programming.
Buenos Aires’ Chinatown (or Barrio Chino) is located in Belgrano neighborhood, in the northern part of the city. It is relatively small and only occupies a few streets, but it’s very significant to the Asian population in Buenos Aires. On weekends, it attracts both tourists and locals, and the entire area gets very crowded.
Barrio Chino includes restaurants, grocery stores, and other shops which makes it a perfect spot to spend some time and get to know another side of the city. You also can’t miss the beautiful giant archway marking the entrance to the neighborhood. It was a gift from the Chinese government that caused several controversies, but as for now, it is Buenos Aires’ Chinatown’s biggest trademark.
Chinatown, also known as Barrio Chino, is located just down from Old Havana.
When slavery ended in the mid-1800s, well over 100,000 immigrant workers from China arrived in Cuba to work on the Cuban coffee and sugar cane plantations. However, most of them left in the 1960s after the Cuban revolution. And so the population is quite diminished. The Chinatown gates still remain, along with a number of Chinese restaurants and buffets.
What I love about Chinese restaurants is that they often reflect the assimilation into a country. So in Canada, many of the restaurants are better described as Chinese Canadian, with food you’d never seen in China. The same is true in Havana, with food being a blend of both traditional Cuban food flavours with Chinese technique.
It’s absolutely worth a trip to the buffet to try the dishes, as a bonus the Chinese buffets are the best bets for eating a plate of vegetables and salad – not something that’s common in Cuban restaurants.
My introduction to bubbles teas, on the second level of a nondescript café in the Montreal Chinatown fifteen years ago, was the catalyst to my love affair with Asia. On my yearly visits home to Montreal, the Chinatown is where I go to be reminded of the rich flavours of the Orient.
While the Montreal Chinatown is considerably smaller than similar neighborhoods in Vancouver, New York or San Francisco, the quaintness of its one pedestrian street is guaranteed to charm you with authentic restaurants, specialty grocery stores, traditional pastry shops, Asian pharmacies and vibrant street art.
Situated only a short walk away from the bustle and hustle of downtown and the historic Old Port of Montreal, Montreal’s Chinatown is hard to miss with its large ornamental arches designating the area.
If you are looking for authentic chinatown, you really shouldn’t forget about Binondo, in Manila. It is the oldest Chinatown in the world that was established in 1594. Aside from its amazing infrastructures such as Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz and Binondo Church, the oldest Chinatown in the world boasts rich culture that includes tasty food, festive people, and some unique products that Chinese people are proud about.
Chinese and Filipinos get along so well in Binondo and that’s why every Chinese New Year, people in Binondo celebrate with loud firecrackers, bright fireworks, and delicious Chinese delicacies like noodles, dumplings, tikoy, and a lot more.
There are a lot of things to see in Binondo and we recommend that every tourist should visit this place to experience a unique Tsinoy (Chinese-Filipino) culture.
The neighborhood of Flushing, Queens, one of New York city’s five boroughs is a one of the biggest and fastest growing Chinatowns in the U.S. It’s really an Asiatown as the residents not only come from China, but from many other locations; Malaysia, Korea, Vietnam and other Asian countries.
Visitors from the surrounding areas come to Flushing mostly to enjoy the food. Here you can taste everything from the traditional Cantonese seafood to culinary delights from even the most remote regions of Asia. In addition to the food, visitors can also buy Asian groceries and other goods.
Flushing is the perfect embodiment of the great social melting pot that is New York City.
Chinatown in Manchester is the second biggest Chinatown in the UK (after London). It grew mostly with Chinese restaurants back in the 1950s but, come the 1970s, other Chinese businesses began to spring up – bakeries, supermarkets, medicinal shops, legal services, financial centres and more. The Bank of East Asia even opened up a branch there.
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!
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.
Chinatown in London is located right in the middle of the centre. It is about 5 minutes away from Piccadilly Circus, 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 1970s. 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.
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.
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.
Singapore’s bustling Chinatown gets my vote for best 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Without a doubt, these are some of the best Chinatowns around the world. They’re a great way to get authentic food, items, and culture.
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! 🙂