Originally settled in the mid-19th century by Cantonese immigrants, Philadelphia's Chinatown is a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood known for its fresh-food markets, authentic restaurants, and diverse crowds. Its streets and alleyways are jam-packed with shops, including those selling gifts and souvenirs, novelty items, and artisan crafts.
The colorful, 40-foot-high (12-meter-high) Friendship Gate at 10th and Arch streets marks the entrance to Philadelphia’s Chinatown. In addition to exploring the neighborhood, spanning from Arch to Vine streets and from 8th to 11th streets, hungry travelers can sample savory and sweet cuisine from one of Chinatown’s more than 50 restaurants, making it the ideal destination for enjoying authentic Chinese dim sum, noodles, and other delights.
Visit Chinatown independently or as part of a sightseeing tour of Philly. It’s included on most hop-on hop-off tours, and there’s also a popular BYOB trolley tour to consider.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Chinatown is ideal for those looking for a meal and/or souvenirs and other goods.
- It’s a great choice for a night out, with karaoke bars, comedy clubs, and live music venues on almost every corner.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
- There are numerous parking garages within walking distance of the neighborhood.
How to Get There
There are several ways to reach Philadelphia’s Chinatown, located in Center City. Most visitors arrive as part of a hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour or by public transport—the Market–Frankford subway line stops close by. Travelers can make their way to Philly’s Chinatown from other major East Coast cities using inexpensive Chinatown buses.
When to Get There
As with all of Center City, Chinatown’s streets are busy year-round. Summer is Philly’s peak tourist season, whereas other times of year are less crowded. Spring and fall strike a nice balance between comfortable weather and manageable crowds.
Asian Arts Initiative
While in Chinatown, set aside some time to check out the Asian Arts Initiative on Vine Street in the Callowhill/Chinatown North area. This community-based arts center is home to artist studios, a gallery and exhibition space, and a small theater. It also frequently hosts workshops and special events for those looking to learn more about Asian culture and traditions.