Almost every major city in the United States has a Chinatown. It’s where culture, cuisine, and color come together like nowhere else.
What once began as small enclaves that most people never ventured into, these large areas now draw in thousands of tourists all year long.
Most Chinatown’s came together in the 1800s during the Chinese diaspora.
With many deciding to stay in America, generations of Chinese immigrants played a huge role in shaping these diverse parts of major U.S. cities.
And while there are many incredible experiences Chinatown will surely offer on your next adventure, here are a few of the highlights!1. The Food
Almost everyone adores some variance of Chinese food—whether it’s lo Mein, fried rice, or Mapo doufu.
The aromas of rich sauces, sautéed vegetables, and roast duck will entice the senses.
And although each Chinatown offers their own unique culinary experience – like lobster in white sauce from Hop Kee in New York City or hotpots full of homemade noodles in San Diego – they do not disappoint.2. Good Shopping
If you’re looking for unbeatable prices on fashionable clothing or authentic Asian garb, look no further than Chinatown.
You’ll definitely want to be prepared to shop, because the shops of Chinatown are incredible.
Honolulu’s thriving Chinatown offers 15 blocks of boutiques and restaurants.
Chicago has one of the largest Chinese malls in America, known as Chinatown Square. This two-story outdoor mall has a little bit of everything, so plan to spend a few hours here.
However, be cautious if vendors ask you into back rooms or underground shops to show you their merchandise. Chinatown is notorious for selling knockoff handbags and counterfeit goods, which is a crime.3. Amazing Art
Ancient Asian art has been an intricate part of Chinese culture since the inception of their civilization.
In Honolulu’s Chinatown, they celebrate this with a monthly art event that coincides “with the rejuvenation of Chinatown,” says Travel Weekly.
There are exhibits, open houses, and galleries with live music.
Many Chinatowns also have talented street artists who will make you a personalized souvenir to remember the time you sipped Wonton soup and witnessed the Chinese New Year Parade.4. Good Times
The four largest Chinatowns in the United States are located San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, and Seattle, with San Francisco being the oldest of them all.
Visiting any of these Chinatowns will surely give you everything you had ever hoped for in an Asian enclave.
If you especially enjoy the traditions and culture of the Asian community, the best times to visit are during Chinese New Year in February, the Dragon Boat Festival in June, or the mid-Fall Moon Festival in September.
Engaging with the people of Chinatown during these important celebrations will connect you to the community in a very special and exciting way.
And don’t be discouraged from exploring Chinatown even if you aren’t as familiar with the culture or language of the Chinese people.
Most of the vendors and restaurant attendants are kind and accommodating—and also speak English.
Although it will seem like you’ve stepped into another world, it’s important to remember that any Chinatown is still part of a major city.
With that comes the crime associated with any heavily populated area. So keep money and identification in a safe and secure place where pickpockets can’t steal it.
Travel in groups when possible and never go off with someone you don’t know, no matter what they tell you.
We hope you’ll visit Chinatown on your next vacation and give the whole family an experience that is as enriching as it is colorful.
Please tell us if you’ve ever been to a Chinatown and what you enjoyed most!