The World's Best Chinatowns

Chinese lanterns hang overhead in San Francisco, California.
Chinese lanterns hang overhead in San Francisco, California.

Chinatowns refer to areas outside mainland Taiwan or China that are highly concentrated with inhabitants of Chinese or Han origin. Chinatowns are often located in the major cities such as San Francisco, Toronto, Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Manila, Boston, New York, Newcastle, Vancouver, and Sydney. Partly due to their location in the city center, and partly due to their attractions such as restaurants and shops, most of the world's Chinatowns are major tourist destinations.

10. San Francisco

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San Francisco is home to the oldest Chinatown in North America. History has it that the city was the main port of entry for Chinese immigrants in the 1850s. San Francisco has grown into a vibrant and dynamic Chinese cultural center. In fact, it is currently the largest Chinese community in the world apart from those who live in Asia. The district covers about 20 square blocks of the area in the city. It has also succeeded in popularizing its culture through its restaurants that provide authentic beef or chicken dishes and vegetarian Chinese recipes, fish markets, and stores selling Chinese staple foods.

9. Toronto

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Toronto's Chinatown can be found in the downtown area. It was established in the early 1900s. The Chinese themselves run most of the businesses in Toronto. A visit to the restaurants exposes visitors to the most sumptuous of Chinese foods. They ensure their guests are full and happy by the time they leave their restaurants. Besides the restaurants, there are also spas and historical monuments to be found within the area.

8. Melbourne

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Melbourne is a Chinatown located in Victoria, Australia. It stretches across the Spring Streets and Swanston corners. The city boats the oldest Chinatown found in the Southern hemisphere. Chinese immigrants began arriving in the town in the 1850s. Today, it is home to many Chinese worship centers, businesses, cultural venues, and restaurants. It has risen to become a major tourist destination due to its Chinese cultural heritage and architectural designs. The city holds annual cultural festivals which attract international visitors.

7. Buenos Aires

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The Chinatown of Buenos Aires serves as the main center of the Chinese community in Argentina. Buenos Aires has various Chinese grocery stores and restaurants. There is also a Buddhist temple for worshippers in the Chinatown. A famous annual festival in Buenos Aires is the Chinese New Year. The event takes place during the new moon which is between January 20 and February 20. The Chinatown serves various pork, fish, and chicken dishes prepared the Chinese way.

6. Manila

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The world’s oldest Chinatown is found in the Binondo district in Manila, the Philippines. It was established in 1594 during the Spanish colonial era to act as a permanent residence for the Chinese immigrants who had converted to Catholicism. During those days, Binondo was a Chinese trade center. As a result, most businesses thriving in the district today are run by the Chinese and Filipino. Due to its rich history and financial significance, Binondo land is believed to have the highest value in the Philippines. There is a Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch in Manila which serves as a reminder of the history of these two races.

5. Boston

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There’s a 130 year-old Chinatown at the heart of Boston, just a few blocks away from Boston Commons. The town is introduced by the gate which has giant imperial stone lions on it. There are dozens of ethnic Chinese shops, restaurants serving Chinese food, and some luxury apartment buildings. One should not end their visit to the city without enjoying the Perking ravioli and oysters at East Ocean City, and the calamari dish prepared by the Peach Farm.

4. New York

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New York's Chinatown is full of delights waiting to be discovered. Chinese delicacies like Hand-Pulled noodles and the famous dim sum are readily available on the streets of Chinatown, which also feature unique shops. New York City is a vibrant hotspot of Chinese culture.

3. Newcastle

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Newcastle's Chinatown lies along the Stowell Street in Grainger Town. A Chinese arch exists on St. Andrews Street flanked by two Chinese guardian lions. The arch was built in 2004 by artists from Shanghai. One of the common festivals celebrated in Newcastle Chinatown is the annual Lunar New Year. Some restaurants serve exquisite Chinese food and shops abound as well. Apart from the Newcastle Chinatown, the other Chinatowns in England are found in Manchester, Liverpool, London, and Birmingham.

2. Vancouver

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Vancouver is home to the third largest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco and New York. It was established in the 1890s by Chinese immigrants who came to the city to build the Trans-Canada railway and work in mines. Today it has turned into a busy Chinatown with a vibrant culture and exotic cuisines. The town gives a clear distinction between the Western and Chinese civilizations. At affordable prices, those who visit Vancouver can buy lots of gifts and engage in fun activities. Additionally, the restaurants serve Chinese cuisines with a modern twist.

1. Sydney

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Sydney's Chinatown is the largest Chinatown in Australia. It is situated along Dixon Street which hosts many Chinese restaurants. A sculpture of a dead tree stands at the eastern end of the Sydney Chinatown. The tree was created by an artist known as Lin Li in 1999. It symbolizes good fortune to the Chinese community living in the area. A visit to Sydney Chinatown is both exciting and rewarding. The town offers the best shopping centers like the Market City, historical monuments, and Chinese festivals. Like most Chinatowns, one will not miss an opportunity to enjoy traditional Chinese cuisines at the numerous restaurants found within.


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