With its abundance of restaurants, striking Paifangs (traditional gateways), colorful swaying lanterns, and bilingual street signs, London’s Chinatown showcases its unique identity. Located at the heart of the city, this area is a popular tourist attractions and one of London’s most interesting dining destinations.
London’s Chinatown dates back to the early 20th century, but it was originally based in Limehouse in the East End. Chinatown moved to its current location in the 1970s, and today, Gerrard Street is at the center of a neighborhood where dozens of Asian restaurants can be found. The area is home to Japanese sushi bars, Korean eateries, and traditional teahouses, as well as Chinese supermarkets, reflexology and massage parlors, and Chinese medicine practitioners.
Chinatown is a stop on many London tours, including small-group and private walking tours around Soho, city sightseeing bicycle tours, and photography-focused walking tours. A great way to absorb Chinatown culture is to join an international food-focused tour of Soho and its surroundings; you’ll discover unusual eateries that are missed by most visitors.
Things to Know Before You Go
- London Chinatown is a must-visit for those with an interest in diverse London culture and history.
- Many Chinatown dining establishments stay open into the wee hours, so check them out after a show, or post-bar hopping around Leicester Square and Soho.
- Chinatown’s new fourth gate (on Wardour Street) is the biggest in the UK. It was completed in 2016 and built in traditional Qing Dynasty style.
- New Loon Moon and SeeWoo supermarkets carry unique ingredients for Asian cooking.
How to Get There
The nearest Underground stations are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, both within a 5-minute walk of Chinatown and served by the Piccadilly, Northern, and Bakerloo Lines. Numerous bus routes serve the area, and taxis are always easy to find.
When to Get There
This district is most lively after dark, when warm lights glow from the windows of busy restaurants. The best time of year to visit is during the Lunar New Year celebrations, when colorful decorations and street entertainment add to the atmosphere.
Lunar New Year is an exciting time to visit Chinatown, especially the 15th day when the Lantern Festival takes place. This neighborhood also hosts other events throughout the year, such as Moon Fest, a weeklong harvest festival held in mid-fall, when celebrants eat mooncakes and watch traditional performances.