The ultimate guide on things to do and see in Chinatown NYC
By Selwyn, 20. November 2018
This is definitely one of the places you don’t want to miss visiting when you are in NYC. There are not only many things to do in Chinatown NYC, the history and unique character of this Manhattan neighborhood speak for themselves. You will find some amazing food, interesting street vendors, and some great photo opportunities.
With its small streets and dense immigrant population, Chinatown NYC is the place to go if you are looking for some unusual shops, culinary delights or culture. There are many things to do in Chinatown NYC, many of which are free of charge. Definitely make sure you take an afternoon to stroll through the busy streets and let the impressions sink in.
Table of Contents
How to Get to Chinatown NYC
The easiest way to reach Chinatown NYC is by taking the subway. The 6NWRQJ or Z takes you to Canal Street. You can also take the AC or E line, which also stops on Canal Street (6th Avenue). The BD line takes you to Grand St. Station.
Walking Through Chinatown NYC
When walking around Chinatown there is never a dull moment. There are always things to do in Chinatown NYC. It can get confusing when getting around. The streets are not numbered like the rest of Manhattan and there are some roads that aren’t in a grid. Also, always be aware of your surroundings as Chinatown can get really busy and really crowded fast. When you walk around, make sure to check out the different restaurants and markets. The food here is absolutely amazing.
Chinatown is easily one of the most interesting places in NYC – A must-see!
Our Top 5 Spots in Chinatown NYC
Temple Mahayana: This is the oldest Chinese temple on the east coast of the united states. It is a beautiful expression of Chinese culture and architecture and is open to the public year round. On the weekends you will also find Buddhist services taking place here often completely in Mandarin. Bring a dollar for a fortune!
(Address: 133 Canal St, Subway JZ to Canal St)
Columbus Park (67 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013): Columbus Park is the biggest park in Chinatown and is a great place to have a seat and watch life unfold around you. You will see that many of the locals meet here to do everything from play chess and exercise to just sitting down reading a book. It is a well known social hangout in the city and is a great place to sit down and have some of the street food you picked up in the nearby streets. In the morning you will see people doing Tai Chi to fuel up for the day. In the afternoon there are mainly fortunetellers and people who play cards. During the warmer months, Columbus Park becomes a popular place to escape the tumultuous Chinatown.
(Address: 67 Mulberry St, Subway JZ to Canal St)
Museum of Chinese in America (MoCa) (215 Centre St, New York, NY 10013): The Museum of Chinese in America is the place to go if you want to learn more about the Chinese culture and Chinese history in NYC. The main and permanent exhibition With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America is a great place to find out more about the last 160 years of Chinese history in NYC. With 2+ rotating exhibitions on top of this, the MoCa is definitely worth a visit.
(Address: 215 Center St, Subway 46 to Canal St)
Super Taste (26 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002): Super Taste is probably the best place to visit in Chinatown NYC if you are looking for some authentic and great quality noodles. The amazing food is reason alone to visit but with the amazing prices on offer, this is a no-brainer to get a quick and delicious bite to eat on your way through Chinatown.
(Address: 26 Eldridge St, Subway F to E Broadway)
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (63 65 Bayard Street, New York, NY 10013): The family-run Chinatown Ice Cream Factory has some of the best ice cream in the whole of NYC. From adventurous flavors like Thai Iced Tea, Zen Butter, and Taro to more conventional yet equally delicious flavors like Coconut and Cherry Vanilla, everyone will find something here for their particular taste. This is a must-visit!
(Address: 65 Bayard St, Subway JZ to Canal St)
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Things to Do in Chinatown NYC
From food locations, souvenir shops to museums, Chinatown NYC is a neighborhood you need to check out.Here are some spots that you should check out while you’re in Chinatown NYC.
Doyers Street (The Bloody Angle)
One of the things to do in Chinatown NYC is to visit Doyers Street or “The Bloody Angle”. This particular street has a lot of rich and dark history. This area is the location of New York City’s first Chinese language theater. On top of that, this street used to be one of America’s deadliest areas because of numerous shootings between organized gang members. Today, there’s a bunch of restaurants and is a very photogenic street.
Restaurants in Chinatown NYC
Chinatown is a prime spot for food. From authentic noodles to roasted duck and amazing street food at the Canal Street Market, there are endless possibilities to satisfy any taste. We have listed our favorite restaurants below for you to try.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor (13 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013)
This vintage dim sum parlor dates back to the 1920’s and is a great place to stop and grab a bite to eat. With an extensive menu that includes tea beer and wine, it is one of the local favorites to grab some authentic Chinese food. We recommend making a reservation online as it can get busy here during lunch and dinner. Make sure to try the house special roast pork buns – delicious!
Vanessa’s Dumpling House (118 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002)
One of our favorite places things to do in Chinatown NYC is grab some authentic food, and if you like us, are looking for something to excite your tastebuds this is the place to go. Vanessa’s Dumpling House features a great menu of classics including dumplings, sesame pancake sandwiches, noodles, and soups. This place is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for some comfort food.
Super Taste (26 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002)
Only a short walk from the middle of Chinatown NYC, you will find Super Taste – and boy does this place live up to its name. With some great prices and a daily lunch special, this place takes the win if you are looking bang for your buck. Make sure to try the pork belly bao – one of our favorites.
Mission Chinese Food (171 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002)
Not your average Chinese eatery. This place with its electric funk atmosphere and dim lights is the place to be if you are looking for a cool evening hangout with amazing food. Be sure to try their Mapo Tofu!
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (63 65 Bayard Street, New York, NY 10013)
One of our favorite things to do in Chinatown NYC is grabbing an ice cream from here and stroll through the busy streets. With amazing flavors and many unique ones at that, this is a must-try!
Canal Street Market (265 Canal St, New York, NY 10013)
The Canal Street Market is a great street market with many food vendors (including Korean cooking & sweets) and a small dining area. You will also find many other stalls here selling souvenirs and art which in combination with the food stalls makes this place very unique and worth visiting.
Shopping in Chinatown NYC
Chinatown NYC is filled with colorful shops packed with souvenirs and unique items. You will also see a lot of fakes like Louis Vuitton bags or Rolex watches. Please keep in mind, if you do purchase any of the fake items, there’s a chance you might encounter problems going through customs.
There is also a great and very unique minimalist store called Project No. 8 and has selections from local designers. If you want your own personal chopsticks, check out Yunhong Chopsticks Shop. If you are looking for places to shop in Chinatown NYC however, all you need to do is take a stroll around. We recommend the route on the map at the top of this article, as it takes you through all the main and interesting streets. Feel free of course to take a detour and explore more on your own as well!
Art & Museums in Chinatown NYC
Opened in Chinatown in 1980, the Museum of Chinese in America (215 Center Street) is dedicated to American-Chinese history from 1850 to the present day. The influence between the two cultures is shown through photographs and videos.
Best Places to Stay in Chinatown NYC
If you are looking to stay in Chinatown, look no further. Below are our 3 favorite places to stay:
Chinatown borders LES and SoHo. Definitely check out these locations.
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Hip & Trendy
You’re walking through the streets as you spot bearded men in flannel shirts in the distance. They are wearing sunglasses with thick black frames. The women next to them are wearing small, black hats that cover their autumn color hair, falling onto their leather jackets and ponchos. The group is drinking from Mason jars and eating sweet potato fries topped with truffle mayo served on wooden boards. What do you do?
You are using the front camera of your smartphone to ensure your mustache is twisted properly - or - your pastel colored clutch that you just snagged from a fancy pop-up store is hanging off your shoulder. You're happily walking toward the crowd.
You're curious about these people. You decide to observe them from a closer distance, as you wanted to head that way anyway.
You're not really in the mood for a circus, so you decide to turn around and go somewhere else.
Food & Drink
You’re enjoying your day in New York. When your stomach starts rumbling, you decide to…
... get a quick snack to satisfy your hunger
... look for a top restaurant nearby to sit down and eat, because what could possibly make the day better than a great meal?
... ignore it! Time is too precious to spend at restaurants.
You’re strolling through a park and observe a family having a picnic. Immediately, the sight makes you..
... smile, because spending quality family time is the best thing in the world!
... think that you could really use a cold beer and a hot dog right now.
... laugh, because (thank God)- you're by yourself and don't need to take care of anybody. Instead you're free to do whatever you want!
For you, meeting fellow tourists in the most amazing places in the world is like…
... a bonfire at camp: the perfect opportunity to learn incredible stories.
... a night at a wild party followed by a nasty hangover. You can't have one without the other.
... a large glas of expired milk: simply the worst!
We say shopping, you say…
... Michael Kors meets Sex and the City
... drop a new item into the online cart and click "Order Now".
You and nightlife, that’s like…
... the cast of the Jersey Shore out first pumping.
... Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in the Golden Havana Bar.
... two bears hibernating in their cave for the winter
Art & Culture
Back in 2015, one of Picasso’s art pieces was auctioned for a record breaking $200 million. What’s your first thought?
A masterpiece like this belongs into a museum, so everybody can enjoy it.
I would sell my last shirt to own one of Picasso's works.