The Best Chinatowns in the World

Ideal Destinations for Celebrating Chinese New Year

Great places to celebrate the Spring Festival (known to many as Chinese New Year), the world’s top Chinatowns are also ideal destinations to learn about one of the oldest cultures on the planet. Most of the world’s major cities feature a Chinese neighborhood, each with its own character, distinct atmosphere, and a set of appealing tourist attractions. Here are a few to consider the next time you plan a trip using Inspirock’s convenient itinerary maker.

London, England

London Chinatown by: Chris Sampson (CC)
London Chinatown by: Chris Sampson (CC)

Visit London this time of year, and you’ll find yourself attending one of the biggest Chinese New Year parties outside Asia. The city’s Chinatown is filled with restaurants, some of which shock sensitive visitors with their displays of whole chickens dangling in their street-facing windows. The biggest problem here is choosing where to eat. Here’s a tip: follow the locals to their favorite eateries, where you’re most likely to get some great food at an affordable price.

Interested in doing more? Use the London itinerary maker to create a plan like this:

New York City, USA

Dragon in Chinatown NYC Lunar New Year by: Patrick Kwan (CC)
Dragon in Chinatown NYC Lunar New Year by: Patrick Kwan (CC)

Yet another reason to plan a holiday in New York City: bordering Little Italy and the Lower East Side, the Big Apple’s Chinatown boasts one of the largest Chinese communities in America. Visiting this area is one of the best ways to get to know Chinese culture without actually going to China. Even if you miss the New Year’s celebrations, you can still get a sense of this thriving community by exploring its eclectic shops. You’ll find some terrific souvenirs, from rice-paper lanterns and knockoff Prada purses to silk slippers and lacquered chopsticks.

See what else you can do and see on this New York City trip planner:

Bangkok, Thailand

One night in Bangkok by: www.david (CC)
One night in Bangkok by: (CC)

If you’ve taken a tour of Bangkok without visiting its Chinese neighborhood, you’ve missed a big part of the City of Angels. Known locally as Yaowarat after the district’s main street, Chinatown is one of Bangkok’s most energetic areas—filled with busy open-air markets, cramped shops, and, of course, a huge variety of restaurants big and small. Take a guided tour to discover 200 years of local cuisine and sample yummy treats like sweet yam custard and crab claws.

Plan a trip similar to the one below using this free Bangkok itinerary generator:

Sydney, Australia

Sydney Chinatown by: Trans World Productions (CC)
Sydney Chinatown by: Trans World Productions (CC)

Few Sydney itineraries will leave out Chinatown, the largest and oldest Chinese community in Australia. Although it’s undeniably a great place for a Lunar New Year party, most visitors come here for the cuisine: in the 1990s, many top Chinese chefs moved to Sydney, transforming this area into one of the world’s top gastronomic destinations. You won’t need to join a guided tour to enjoy the many shops and back-alley markets selling medicinal herbs, meat, flowers, books, electronics, and funky souvenirs.

Many more attractions await on this itinerary, made with the Sydney trip planner:

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur by: Khalzuri Yazid (CC)
Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur by: Khalzuri Yazid (CC)

One of the secrets to a rewarding holiday in Kuala Lumpur: don’t miss the city’s Chinese enclave! Partially demolished during a 19th-century civil war between Chinese immigrants, this Chinatown has somehow managed to preserve much of its evocative atmosphere in the face of modern development and mass tourism. Haggling is a common practice here, so give it a try even if you doubt your bargaining skills—it really is the best way to get a good price on faux designer jeans, purses, sunglasses, and shoes.

Check out this itinerary, made with the Kuala Lumpur trip planner, to find out what else you can do in the area:

San Francisco, USA

Chinatown, San Francisco by: KatVitulano Photos (CC)
Chinatown, San Francisco by: KatVitulano Photos (CC)

If you ever need another reason to visit San Francisco, remember that this city boasts a Chinese district dating back to the 1840s. SF’s Chinatown is a densely populated neighborhood of narrow streets, parks, herbal shops, temples, and pagoda-roofed buildings. Once known as a hub of opium trade and gambling, the area now ranks among America’s top tourist attractions. Numerous walking tours can take you to the best shops and restaurants. To get an insider’s perspective on San Francisco’s Chinese community, pick up Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club before your visit.

Need more inspiration? Start with this plan, made using the San Francisco itinerary maker:

The Year of the Red Fire Monkey

The world may be partying with the Chinese this week and ushering in the red fire monkey’s year, but rest assured that any time is a good time to enjoy a trip to one of the world’s top Chinatowns. Use Inspirock’s free trip generator to plan your own experience, and discover some of the planet’s most rewarding ethnic neighborhoods.

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