Chinese New Year is one of the most important Chinese holidays and 2010 is the year of the Tiger! The celebrations begin on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar, which means this year it falls on Valentine’s Day! As Chinese New Year is just round the corner we thought we’d put together a blog of some of the best Chinatown’s around the world - it might even give you some inspiration on what to do on Valentine's Day....
Singapore’s Chinatown has been around since 1821, its Chinese name Niu Che Shui means Bullock Cart Water which arose from the fact each household at the time had to collect fresh water from the wells in Ann Siang Hill and Spring Street, using bullock-drawn carts. Chinatown is now the heart of Singapore and is the second most-visited free-access attraction in the country. It’s where most locals spend their weekends to find bargains on the markets, eat at one of the many food stalls and have some drinks with friends. It is even more popular during Chinese New Year where celebrations go on for days!!!
Sydney’s Chinatown is located in Haymarket and is the largest Chinatown in Australia. Chinatown is one of the top areas to eat at in Sydney, it has over 60 restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines including Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Korean. One of the main attractions in Sydney’s Chinatown is the Chinese Garden of Friendship. This was built by Chinese landscape architects and gardeners to represent the close relationship between Sydney and its Chinese sister city Guangzhou.
Vancouver's Chinatown is the biggest in Canada and the second biggest in North America in terms of size. Vancouver’s Chinatown is full of market stalls selling fresh and dried seafood, houseware and Chinese medicine. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Vancouver on summer evenings where locals and tourists enjoy dim sum in one of the open air market restaurants.
The only Chinatown in Ireland is located on Parnell Street in Dublin. It is one of the smallest Chinatown’s that we’ve mentioned in this list but they do hold an annual Chinatown Festival to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The first festival was held in 2004 to celebrate the “Year of the Monkey” and ran over four days at Smithfield Square. During the Chinese Festival Smithfield Square is decorated with traditional lanterns and flags and is taken over by Chinese market stalls, food halls and free Chinese entertainment.
Yokohama Chinatown (Yokohama Chukagai) is not only Japan's largest Chinatown, but also Asia’s and is one of the largest in the world. The main attraction of the Yokohama Chinatown is the cuisine offered at its many restaurants and food stands serving food that rivals the best of Shanghai, Canton and Beijing. There over 500 restaurants and food stalls alone located in central Yokohama. Fortunately, most of the restaurants have replicated models of the dishes they serve along with prices displayed outside the shop, so just look for one that looks good and is in your price range.
Paris is home to the biggest Chinatown in Europe. Know as le quartier chinois (the Chinese Quarter) and located in the 13th arrondissement, the area was originally home to the Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodgian in the early 70’s but now an estimated 68,000 residents of Chinese origin now living here. Here you can find the biggest Asian supermarket in Paris and the shopping centre Mall les Olympiades, which is domintated by Asian shops. The streets are always lively, with numerous charming and typical Asian restaurants and shops
The original London China Town used to be in Pennyfields, Limehouse. It had a bad reputation as an area associated with drugs and prostitution. Since it was ruined by aerial bombing during the Blitz in the Second World War, it moved to Soho, just round the corner from Leister Square. In 1950 there were about 2000 Chinese people in England and many came to Soho because it was a cheap to live in. Only a small number of London’s 60,000 Chinese population actually live in the area today. It’s primarily commercial with a number of Chinese restaurants, Chinese supermarkets and souvenir shops.
San Francisco, USA
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and one of the largest Chinese communities outside Asia. A major tourist attraction — its restaurants, shops, and attractions draw more visitors annually to the neighborhood than the Golden Gate Bridge. The Dragon Gate pictured above on Grant Avenue at Bush Street is a gift of the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and was installed in 1969.
At the heart of Kuala Lumpur you’ll find a vibrant, colourful and bustling Chinatown, bigger and more glamorous than its neighbours, KLCC & Bukit Bintang. Chinatown, based in Petaling Street, is also known as 'Chee Cheong Kai' (Starch Factory Street), a reference to its roots as a tapioca-producing district. At night, its main market area, turns into a lively and animated night market, filled with hundreds of stalls offering all kinds of goods at dirt-cheap prices, and the best thing is, the prices can be brought lower still as haggling is the way of life here.
Bangkok's Chinatown is centered on Yaowarat Road in Samphanthawong district. There are many small streets and alleys full of shops and vendors selling all types of goods. It has been the main centre for trading by the Chinese community for 200 years! It’s also famous for many varieties of delicious foods, and transforms into a food street by night. Visitors can find leading gold shops, garments, textiles, stationery, souvenirs, second-hand parts and equipment, electric goods, computer parts, antiques, imported musical instruments, and local delicacies at a bargain, often at wholesale prices.
If you've visited any of these China towns during the Chinese New Year celebrations, then we'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!
If you do plan on seeing any of our suggested Chinatowns, don’t forget to visit Globester.com. Your one-stop shop for cheap flights and more.