While most large US cities have an area designated for Asian fare and culture, New York City’s Chinatown is the largest in the United States, and comprises one of the strongest communities in Downtown Manhattan. The fresh produce, pastries for pennies, exotic teas, and designer inspired accessories attract both tourists and native New Yorkers.
If visiting for a short period, Chinatown is an area that can be experienced in a few hours. Start your journey by taking the N, Q, R, W or 6 train to the Canal Street stop. Bargain your way through the colorful streets to find knock off hand bags, sunglasses, jewelry, baseball hats, perfume, and almost any other rhinestone studded accessory you can think of. Store clerks are eager to sell their product, and will usually haggle with you to find a price both of you can agree on. If your bags are full but your tummies empty, head over to Dragon Land Bakery, located on 125 Walker Street, for sweets like coconut tarts, pineapple buns, sweet donuts, and apple pastries, all for under one dollar. Savory treats include chicken pie, hot dog rolls, and roast pork buns.
When you’re finished filling up on cheap eats, cross the street to the intersection of Canal, Walker, and Baxter Streets to find the red Visitor Information Kiosk for an eight foot map of Manhattan and directions to local landmarks. Follow Canal street east and you’ll hit more fruit and vegetable stands, as well as fish markets where the days catches will proudly be displayed on ice. If jewelry is what you’re looking for, you’ll be in the right place as you continue into the “Jewelry District” of Chinatown, where gold, silver, and platinum can be bought, traded, or sold.
If the large crowds and congested shops of Canal Street aren’t what you’re looking for, head to East Broadway for tea and twenty four hour Chinese food. Lychee nuts, a tropical fruit native to Southern China and Vietnam, are sold in abundance in the fruit and vegetable shops on East Broadway, but can be hard to find in domestic grocery stores outside of China Town. Stock up on these prickly pink delights while you can. Also make sure to try the plum wine, a sweet, fragrant drink offered in many restaurants and liquor stores on East Broadway. Try finding a tea house and ordering a pot of exotic tea and dish of Dim Sum (small dishes with meat or vegetables) or hitting up the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, located on 65 Bayard Street, for flavors like black sesame, red bean, and ginger. For traditional dried fruit and ginger candies, Munchies Paradise have various locations throughout Chinatown.
If you have time to spare, the inexpensive spas and massage parlors of Chinatown are a great way to give your body a rest. Manicures, pedicures, skin treatments, facials, and hot stone body massages are all offered at great prices. Once you’re feeling fresh and relaxed, head over to the Arch at the Brooklyn Bridge for a photo op, or check out the Museum of Chinese in the Americas at 70 Mulberry Street to learn about the history and influence of Chinese people in the West.
- Chinatown Map on Live Local
Discuss Chinatown on Wired New York Forum
Pictures of Chinatown
New Year's day firecracker ceremony in Chinatown. 29 January 2006.