Home to 95,000 people, New York City’s Chinatown is one of the largest and oldest ethnic Chinese enclaves in the United States. The Manhattan neighborhood offers a heady blend of restaurants, cafés, sidewalk food stalls, street vendors, and traditional herbal medicine shops. Round out the Chinatown experience at its museums and temples.
Chinatown offers something for nearly everyone. Bargain for not-quite-right perfumes and handbags, dine on dim sum at an authentic Chinese tea house, shop for exotic Chinese antiques, find unusual ingredients in the Asian food markets to cook pork buns at home, and discover more than 150 years of history and culture at the Museum of Chinese in America and the city’s largest Buddhist temple. Columbus Park is a great place for a picnic after grabbing food from a street vendor.
Guided food tours are an excellent way to explore Chinatown. A Chinatown food tour includes an in-the-know tour guide who will show visitors around the neighborhood's best food options, from popular restaurants to hidden stalls. Private or small-group tours often combine routes in Chinatown and the adjacent neighborhoods of SoHo and Little Italy.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Chinatown is a great place to practice your Cantonese or Mandarin; there is also an increasing number of Fuzhounese-speaking residents.
- For a dim sum meal, unless you have a party large enough to fill a traditional oversized table, expect to share a communal table with other diners.
How to Get There
New York’s Chinatown is centered on Canal Street, the Bowery, Worth Street, and Baxter Street, and is bordered by Tribeca, Two Bridges, the Lower East Side, and Little Italy. Take the B or D subway and get off at Grand Street. The M9, M15, and M103 MTA buses traverse the neighborhood as well.
When to Get There
As is the rest of the City That Never Sleeps, Chinatown is always abuzz with some kind of activity, day or night. If you’re in search of a dim sum meal, you’ll find the freshest and best selection in the morning (as dim sum is typically eaten for breakfast).
Shopping in Chinatown
Next to eating, the best Big Apple Chinatown experience is shopping. Stroll your way down Canal Street between Broadway and Mulberry Street for the best stretch of sidewalk shopping, including knock-offs of all shapes, styles, and sizes. Other popular stops include Chinese candy stores, the enormous Asian groceries, and herbal medicine shops.