Chinatown

Nightlife Area / Outdoor Activity / Shopping Area
Chinatown A labyrinthine explosion of smells, people, stores, and activity, Chinatown is a bustling enclave that feels like a genuine slice of Hong Kong. New York United States 40.7167114 -73.9977266
4.31 30
Chinatown - Nightlife Area | Outdoor Activity | Shopping Area in New York.
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Party Earth Review A labyrinthine explosion of smells, people, stores, and activity, Chinatown is a bustling enclave that feels like a genuine slice of Hong Kong. Visitors may notice that typical rules don’t apply in this neighborhood, where... ... read full review

  • Neighborhood:

  • Address:

    Borders Broome Street and Delancey Street on the north side; Broadway and Lafayette on the west side; East River Drive on the south and east sides
    New York, NY 10013

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  • Subway:

    6, J, M, N, Q, R, W, Z: Canal Street; B, D: Grand Street; F: East Broadway

  • Links:

  • Hours:

    All hours

  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot
    • Night Spot

Party Earth Chinatown Review

The Scene

A labyrinthine explosion of smells, people, stores, and activity, Chinatown is a bustling enclave that feels like a genuine slice of Hong Kong.

A labyrinthine explosion of smells, people, stores, and activity, Chinatown is a bustling enclave that feels like a genuine slice of Hong Kong.

Visitors may notice that typical rules don’t apply in this neighborhood, where tourists openly haggle with counterfeit handbag vendors on Canal Street and ancient grandmothers aggressively shove their way into impossibly crowded subway cars.

By day, the bustling streets are full of Chinese locals going about their business, visitors on walking tours, and curious outsiders perusing the pungent fish and vegetable market on Hester Street and wandering down narrow alleys to marvel at the tenement architecture and gold signs in Hanzi characters.

Those who need to relax or cure an ill will find plenty of massage parlors and acupuncture centers, while foodies can get their fix at top-quality eateries like Peking Duck House on Mott or stop in for dim sum at Golden Unicorn.

By night, the neighborhood becomes a party thoroughfare as the edgy downtown runoff from the Lower East Side bar scene and in-the-know young professionals hit trendy hidden hotspots like Apothéke, while residents pack into the numerous karaoke bars.

A city within a city, Chinatown merges East and West to create a New York experience like no other.

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Tip from Emma:

Chinatown is home to the best bubble teas in the city. Can't go wrong at Tea-riffic (51 Mott Street) or Green Tea Café (45 Mott Street) which are a hop, skip, and a jump away. Tapioca balls await…

  • Crowd

    Chinese locals, tourists, bargain hunters, foodies, and edgy New Yorkers of all ages.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Dance parties at Santos Party House (96 Lafayette Street), swanky cocktails at Apothéke (9 Doyers Street), and karaoke at Asia Roma (40 Mulberry Street).

    Many traditional massage parlors and acupuncture clinics like Fishion Herb Center (107 Mott Street), Foot Heaven (16 Pell Street), and Relax Foot Spa (202 Hester).

    Walking tours available; see Explore Chinatown for more information.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Notable restaurants and eateries include Oriental Garden (14 Elizabeth Street) for dim sum; Joe’s Shanghai (9 Pell Street) for dinner; Tasty Dumpling (54 Mulberry Street), Tearrific (51 Mott Street), Saigon Café (369 Broome Street) for báhn mì, New Malaysia (48 Bowery), and Xe Lua (86 Mulberry Street) for Vietnamese cuisine.

  • Prices

    Vary by venue, but all price ranges covered. Average prices: dumplings $1–$5, dinner $15+/person, dim sum $20+/person, tea $2+. Walking tours $18–$25.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Anything goes: sneakers, fanny packs, and house slippers to suits, trendy outfits, and avant-garde fashion.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Any night for a lively scene and a manageable, not-too-hectic, crowd.

  • Close By

    The Lower East Side neighborhood borders Chinatown and offers excellent restaurants and bars, including Barrio Chino (253 Broome Street) with a Chinese/Latin food mix and GalleryBar (120 Orchard Street) for a mix of art and dancing.

Chinatown User Reviews

Average rating:
At times it can be grimy, but it's nontheless tasty and lively
Giovanna B. Aug 7, 2013
Chinatown is a Chinese-food lover's paradise. One can find an endless supply of authentic Chinese eateries in this cultural microcosm that often have surprisingly affordable pricing, considering the quantity and quality of the food. Besides the amazing food possibilities that Chinatown has to offer, one can wander into the hustle and bustle of the street market, where produce, various types of fish, poultry, souvenir, and fabric vendors anxiously try to attract buyers. Although the smell of fish and other meats can sometimes be a bit unpleasant, the walk through the market is well worth the slight discomfort. Overall, Chinatown is a place perfect for negotiating good deals, practicing Mandarin or Cantonese, eating authentic and delicious food from different regions of China, and experiencing a completely different world from that of Times Square or other touristy areas of NYC.
Best shopping around!
Amy B. Aug 1, 2013
Just take a quick subway ride to Chinatown for some of the best souvenir shopping. Vendors are eager for business and love to reel you in. Play your cards right and you can get the best deals on shirts, scarf, jewelry, accessories, you name it! If I could I would shop for hours and come back arms full with a happy purse!
Trying to Find Chinatown/Your wallet will thank you!
Gulvenea G. Jun 1, 2013
If I could, I would spend much more time in this part of the city. I go to school on the Upper West Side, but I find myself constantly craving bubble milk tea and soup dumplings, so much that I find myself in Chinatown every other weekend! It is the best place for cheap, quality food-if you know where to go. For the best authentic soup dumplings (called "xiao lung pao," for anyone who cares to know) I suggest you visit Shanghai Cafe (100 Mott Street) They give you about 7 succulent, perfect, Shanghai dumplings for around 5 dollars! The other food is really great too...but one order of these dumplings and you will be full and content. Besides the many great dim sum places, there are also some great bakeries, including Tai Pan Bakery (194 Canal Street.) Try the egg tart (dan ta) when you are there, the crust is deliciously flaky and light, while the egg filling is sweet and buttery. For bubble tea, I usually head to Quickly (79 Division Street) for a jasmine milk tea with extra boba. Delicious! In short, you just can't beat Chinatown when it comes to yummy treats that won't hurt your wallet. :D
A Must for Anyone Passing Through Manhattan
Kim S. May 24, 2013
Wonderfully amazing food and cheap prices! A great spot to try bubble tea and hundreds of tiny, interesting shops to visit. I always leave this area of NYC with a smile. It's generally crowded, and there's lots of nightlife to be found. I recommend visiting the restaurant Wo-Hop and grabbing some of their awesome dumplings. Well-worth the trip.
So much to do in Chinatown
Tuda S. May 20, 2013
I absolutely love New York City's Chinatown. It is a bustling center of delicious fresh fish, produce, and culture. The prices are always low because there is a lot of competition and you can find rare, often live, seasonal sea creatures to cook and eat. There is dim-dum in the morning at many different restaurants like Buddha Bodai. At dim sum, ladies with carts dispense various dishes of duck feet, spring rolls, dumplings of all kinds, and scallop shells filled with a seafood and sweet mayonnaise mixture. There are so many different types of food that everyone will be happy, including vegans and vegetarians. In Columbus park, you can watch groups of people play their gambling games like mahjong and make your way back around to the produce vendors who sell unusual, exotic fruits and vegetables that can only be found in Chinatown. Chinatown is truly a lot of fun and there is never a lack of inexpensive things to do (or eat).
NYC-Chinatown-Cha Chan Tang
Wenna P. Apr 10, 2013
No NYC adventure is complete without a stop to the Big Apple's Chinatown. Being the melting pot it is, every one in four people in New York City speak a language other than English, one of those languages being Chinese. So step into Chinatown, and see how immigrants and Asian Americans have made their culture come alive. The scent of freshly cooked food will certainly draw you in as street vendors scattering the streets make it hard for your taste buds to resist. What's amazing about NYC's Chinatown is that it offers cuisines from all over Asia, not just China. With delicacies ranging from Guangzhou to Korea to Vietnam, the decision of where to eat will be naturally hard. Easy solution, try them all! One must-try spot is Cha Chan Tang. This modern, yet casual spot is a replica of the popular "cha chan tangs" (casual cafes) in Hong Kong, making it a nostalgic favorite for HK natives. Decorated with a backdrop of HK's cityscape and TV's on the windows made to make it seem like you're looking out into the busy streets of the Asian city, you'll feel like you actually flew to Hong Kong for lunch. Of course, the food doesn't disappoint either, with all the classic HK dishes available, such as toast with condensed milk and baked pork chop over rice. Before leaving, don't forget to order the popular iced milk tea to go with your meal; the fact that it's served in an actual iced bucket will make the experience even more fun. After this, step back out into Chinatown and continue to eat your way through Asia without even leaving NYC. Your taste buds won't be disappointed.
Pearl Paint
Xandra B. Mar 12, 2013
Pearl Paint is a really cool place to go for art supplies if you are ever in the area. They have a great variety of everything from oil paint, acrylic paint, soft pastels, canvases, paper, gesso, paint brushes, colored pencils, it is an artists dream basically. The staff is very friendly and they help you find everything you need really fast. I was mesmerized by the architecture in the building because let's say I want canvases, I go to the basement, then I want oil paint, pastels I go to the second floor, then I go to the third floor for paper, then there are three little rooms where you go down a few steps, it feels homey is what I am trying to say. Great shop for artists to expand their artistic abilities, I feel very welcomed there.
Always an amazing experience!
Shirley P. Mar 12, 2013
Chinatown is a very unusual place with a high-energy atmosphere, dazzling displays of colors and light along with occasional dirt and filth, Eastern-style restaurants with ducks and other food fare hanging in windows, boxes of dried fish next to shiny (and cheap) souvenirs and clothing, bars, night clubs, wholesale goods, fabrics and a whole lot more. It can be very overwhelming, and you can truly feel as if you've left the country for a great deal of time. It's geographically large and rivals only San Francisco's Chinatown in size, while dwarfing Toronto's district. My favorite thing to do in Chinatown is to shop in the daytime for clothes and accessories. I love the diversity and haggling, which is an accepted, and even expected, custom. It's great to be able to find really inexpensive and unusual clothing items in shops off the main drag (Canal Street). There are many streets and alleys to wander around, and the variety of interesting women's clothing and accessories is staggering. I can always be sure to find something I won't see anywhere else, or on anyone else, but perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the clothing runs very small, and shops are usually too small to have dressing rooms and might not be places I'd like to change my clothes. Be prepared to pay cash just about everywhere. While ATMs are plentiful, most default to Chinese language, so it's easier to come with cash on hand. Most vendors only speak Chinese, but the language of money appears to be universal, and discussing prices and giving and receiving correct change is always easy. Shopping for electronics here means buyer beware: it can be difficult or impossible to test products before buying, and China is unfortunately well known for its extensive manufacturing of fake electronics. Visiting Chinatown can take stamina, and is not for the faint of heart, but it's a great place to spend an afternoon and take in sights, sounds, odors and more in a wild and entertaining cultural experience.
Controlled Chaos, Minus the Control
Giuseppe C. Feb 28, 2013
New York is a multicultural city -- a fact that those of us who live here celebrate. There are few places on earth with so many different groups of people all living together so amicably as here in Gotham, and Chinatown is perhaps the most extreme example of New York’s acceptance of different cultures, being essentially a living, breathing exclave of everything Chinese -- and indeed everything Eastern. Having lived briefly in Hong Kong myself, I find that if ever I pine for an authentic Asian experience, I need go no further away than Canal Street. Chinatown -- like most major modern East Asian cities -- is chaos, is pandemonium, is a place where the mores and customs with which most Americans and Europeans are most familiar are, quite simply, nonexistent. Outdoor fish markets that can be found just by following one’s nose; shady electronics shops offering almost too good to be true bargains on the latest gadgets; and impossibly inexpensive noodle shops aren’t just the stuff of Hong Kong or Guangzhou: they are the life force and essence of Chinatown, NYC. New Yorkers know that anytime they might be overcome with a fierce wanderlust or a burning desire to experience a different way of life, all they have to do is take the subway down to Chinatown. And for the out of towner on a visit, Chinatown really is a must see and a must do, and not just for the inexpensive (read: cheap) knick knacks and souvenirs, but for the rare opportunity it affords to experience an exotic and vibrant culture that is not always in sync with what one is used to. A trip to Chinatown can be startling, frustrating and even downright maddening if one lets oneself become intimated there. But for the intrepid explorer with a zeal for the exotic, Chinatown can be an absolute blast. Check whatever OCD you might have at the door, don't worry about getting lost, and experience Chinatown. And let Chinatown experience you back.
China Dream
Morena O. Feb 23, 2013
Even though it’s now been 15 plus years since I moved to New York, somehow I always manage to get lost in China Town, a wrong turn looking for a tea shop or dozing off while admiring strange spices and fruits. Suddenly I am lost! And there’s a story screaming to be written! The neighborhood turns on me, and I ask people for Canal Street but nobody knows and nobody seems to speak English so I begin to wonder if I have been walking for five minutes or has it been an hour, maybe more? But I don’t care because I finally relax and allow myself to get lost completely, and the tea tastes floral yet smoky and even though the sky is grey there is red and gold all around. Then at some point in time never to be determined I go about my way… Every time I go to China Town a part of me goes back to the first time I was ever there. Something in the smells from the restaurants so foreign but inviting must trigger my memory to a moment in which it was all so new. Street vendors rushing by, wide eyed tourists looking all about, purses, jewelry, spices, tea and fish… Visiting China Town is like going to the theatre, its like being inside a movie, its more than just taking a walk downtown. Spend an afternoon or an evening there, and maybe, just maybe you will find your way back home…
The best Chinatown there is
Craig B. Dec 13, 2012
The Chinatown in New York City is the best Chinatown on the continent. I have seen the imitations in other towns, but even the International District in my hometown of Seattle pales in comparison to what the real Chinatown has to offer. It’s got a feeling of grittiness that sticks with you long after you leave; other Chinatowns feel like they’re still wrapped in plastic. The food is authentic, and, as Anthony Bourdain said recently on the Daily Show, “if there’s not at least a 50% chance of diarrhea when you eat something, it’s almost not worth eating.” This Chinatown is the real deal.
CT
Cadie C. Dec 12, 2012
Asian Power! Okay kidding, not really. Having been to the Chinatown's in Philly, Boston, Los Angeles & Toronto, I still have to say that New York's is the best, not even being biased. The NY chinatown, or as the residents shorten it to CT, is a whole lot of culture crammed into a small section of NY's Lower East Side. I have to admit this is where I go for authentic and great food. If you're a fan of vietnamese food try Nam Son on Grand St. between Chrystie and Bowery. A must-get every trip to chinatown is definitely bubble tea. Although, bubble tea is growing outside of asian areas, there are many different bubble tea places, each within a block or two of each other. In the summer Chinatown's Grand St. Park, Columbus Park and Seward Park are the homes of annual all-asian basketball tournaments. These park also host soccer tournaments. Also, if you're lucky on a summer morning you might get the chance to see NBA star Steve Nash, who is a resident in the lower east side, and often goes to the parks to play soccer during the off-season.
Really authentic, amazing food
Christina W. Dec 12, 2012
I feel a little wrong saying this is "authentic" because I have never been to China, so how on earth should I know? But the fact that more people in Chinatown don't speak English than those who do seems like a pretty good indicator. The first time I went to Chinatown in New York I was in 5th grade. Having lived near a really half-hearted Chinatown in Washington DC, New York's was way cooler. We were on a field trip to study immigration and Ellis Island and whatnot, and our stop in Chinatown was partly for lunch and partly to help us understand how these neighborhoods started appearing in the early 20th century. (And our waiter at the restaurant was very excited to provide fun stories of his parents, who were immigrants.) The second time I went to Chinatown in NYC, I went with my grandparents, who are from Bulgaria. They don't speak a word of English, had never eaten Chinese food, and didn't have a clue what chopsticks were. When we asked the waiter for a fork, he got visibly offended. I knew then that they weren't playing around. You eat with chopsticks or you don't eat all all. The point is, Chinatown is an experience worth having. So you should definitely visit next time you're in NYC.
love this chinatown!
Elyse H. Dec 11, 2012
Chinatown is incredible. I love Chinese food and coming here to the restaurants. It’s easy to find amazing Chinese food for not too much money! And all the things here are really cheap. It’s easy to pick up fake designer stuff for really cheap too. It’s really amazing to just walk all through Chinatown taking a look at everything that’s there. It’s really fun at afternoon to go shopping and then when it comes to nighttime to go get a drink at one of the Lower East Side bars. I also love taking pictures of all the signs written in other languages!!
Excellence for pennies on the dollar
Mark S. Dec 11, 2012
I definitely can't remember how many times I have eaten in Chinatown. There are so many excellent and cheap places to eat, with favorite dishes like Peking Duck, Soup Dumplings (and any other dumpling really) as well as hand pulled noodles, you really can't go wrong. Bubble tea and Chinatown Ice Cream Factory round out the mean quite nicely. Yes its dirty, yes most things aren't in English, and some employees at certain spots will struggle to communicate with you, but its worth it. There is also tons of cheap knock off goods everywhere you look, and even some cool, trendy bars hidden on some streets. Definitely one of my preferred neighborhoods (especially for food) in the city.
New Chinatown, New York
Tara R. Dec 7, 2012
Everyone comes for Chinese food, but I come for shopping and the Brooklyn Bridge. Chinatown is, simply put, a lot of fun, and better than any Chinatown I’ve ever found in any other North American city, both in size and diversity. There are tourists here, sure, but there are also yuppies, hipsters, and other locals looking to shop or nosh on yummy Chinese food, which is the best you can find in New York. Walking through Little Italy and Chinatown to cross the bridge over to Brooklyn and Grimaldi’s is one of my favorite walks.
I'm Chinese so I feel like 4 stars is culturally mandatory...
Risa C. Dec 4, 2012
All racial jokes aside I love Chinatown! There's a ton of things to do there and if you know where to look there are plenty of authentic restaurants to try which is the main attraction in my book. Although not totally isolated as it's sort of being overrun by hipsters (as is the rest of new york) you can still get a real non-American feel at Columbus Park where during the day there are sports events and plenty of elderly chinese people playing mahjong and mandolins. If you happen to be in NY during Chinese New Year it's also a great place to check out the parade which though no longer filled with fire crackers, still boasts several lion dance schools, drummers, dancers and other ethnic societies. Aside from the Chinese cultural events, there are also a lot of shops to get inexpensive souvenirs and some great speakeasies like Apotheke. And if you're looking for a nice umm authentic designer bag you need to go no further than canal street.
Hidden Tunnels
Jaclyn W. Dec 4, 2012
I admit that every once in a while I find a cool spot or two in Chinatown, but mainly I stay clear of it because it's crowded, crazy, reeks to high heavens in the summer and it's extremely easy to get lost down there. If you know you're way around and what you're searching for, this place is great. There are so many good, authentic dim sum places where the dumplings melt in your mouth and you'll be dreaming of pork bun fairies all night (probably from MSG overload). There are tons of bubble tea places, which is sometimes hard to find in the city with all different flavors, teas, gels, tapioca balls, etc. Shopping of course is the main reason why people head down this way. There are cheap trinkets all over the place as well as knock-off this and that designer everything. Some stuff actually looks like it fell off the truck. I am usually forced to go down this way because I work for a law firm and the courts are here, but it's fun because I get to pick up a bubble tea on my way back which is a novelty find in Midtown East. There are also a lot of good restaurants as well as bars in the neighborhood that seem to appear out of nowhere at night. If you're here during the day, I suggest hitting up Canal Street for the experience and then work your way over to SoHo for some real shopping extravaganzas. Also, if you wander far enough, you could run into Little Italy on the way. Pick up a cannoli or a drink at the Mulberry Project on your way out of exploring different cultures.
YUM
Sydnie S. Dec 2, 2012
Chinatown has delicious food and a great area to walk around in! I love coming here. Nothing is too expensive and there are cute little stores to walk in and out of. It always happens that the most abandoned looking places have the best food. If you come to Chinatown, you can't be afraid to try something new! I would have to say that this is one of my favorite areas in New York. Great restaurants, fun party scenes, and funky smells are all in this ethnic neighborhood. I would definitely recommend that you check it out!
da bomb
Dylan W. Dec 2, 2012
There's so many awesome nooks and crannies down here. The tricky part of the Chinatown though is that you kinda just have to know where the places worth frequenting are. There's a lot of crappy restaurants and shops around (although an atmosphere that has its charms) so it's best to go in with a plan or to just be very discerning. I love Chinatown, there are things on sale down there you can't get anywhere else in the city, and incredible deals to be had too. The mochi with the marsh mellow and jelly inside is my kryptonite! Overall it's an awesome area of Manhattan to check out.
Spend at least an afternoon here!
Jody P. Dec 1, 2012
Chinatown in NY is smelly and dirty, and I mean that in the most affectionate way possible. It is such a unique neighborhood (although, what New York neighborhood isn't unique?). I've eaten at several Chinatown restaurants although I couldn't tell you what they were called. I have distinct memories of seeing (although NOT tasting) cooked chicken feet for the first time in Chinatown when I was a kid. Almost every New York trip brings me to Canal Street and I can't tell you how many faux designer bags and wallets i've had in my life. Part of the fun is bargaining with the shop owners for their knock-offs. This is an experience like no other. Absolutely worth eating lunch and wandering around.
My sister! My daughter! Sister! Daughter!
Chris K. Nov 19, 2012
While overwhelming, exceedingly loud, and constant smelling of what one can only assume is frog genitals, Chinatown is arguably the coolest neighborhood in New York. For those looking to shop, there are all the knock-off handbags, perfumes, designer clothes, and toys that you could ever ask for. For those looking to eat, there's delicious food not just from China but Vietnam, Japan, and Cambodia as well. For those looking to party, countless cocktail lounges, hidden speakeasies, dives, and karaoke bars provide hours of entertainment. For those who have done all of those things already, there's the courthouse.
Always an adventure in Chinatown!
Shylean J. Nov 17, 2012
Every time I've visited NYC's Chinatown, I've been in for a surprise. You can literally find everything and anything in this neighbourhood and its eerieness adds to its charm. During the day you can go bargain hunting for typical souvenirs or even approach one of the street buskers shouting "Rolex, Gucci, Prada" and follow their lead to go buy some fake goods (warning: this is illegal). Some of the best dim sum places are in this part of town and at night strolling through the streets and passing by chinese men smoking in the asian squat position gives Chinatown a uniquely traditional feel. It is kind of dangerous at night, so I don't recommend going there alone. But it's also home to one of the coolest hidden bars I've been too in it's dark windy back alleys. The Chemist has different cocktail mixes and drinks that the bartenders, or rather, the chemists (they are wearing lab coats and goggles) put on fire. Drinks are slightly on the expensive side, but definitely worth a visit to start off a crazy night in NYC!
Authentic Neighborhood
Chelsea D. Oct 4, 2012
I used to come here when I was younger and just visiting the city. I really like that there is so much to see and experience. If you're looking to purchase any fake designer items, Chinatown is your go-to place. However, I haven't spent much time in Chinatown since I've moved to the city a year ago... except to get really good/cheap chinese food. If you like dim sum, definitely head in this direction - Chinatown offers some of the best. .
A Neighborhood Full of Hidden Gems
Samuel H. Sep 26, 2012
Chinatown is one of those iconic neighborhoods in New York that tourists LOVE to visit. Whether it you are on Canal St. exploring the shops with faux designer products, or if you are looking for some fine authentic chinese dining, Chinatown is always bustling and always makes for a great time, even if you are just walking through. Just so you know if you are in a shop and the gates are suddenly dropped, you are not being kidnapped, there are just policemen walking by and the store owners want to make sure they don't get in trouble for selling ripped off merchandise. Just sit tight and you'll be out soon enough. As you can tell, Chinatown always makes for an adventure, and if you enjoy treasure hunting you may just find that hidden gem you are looking for, whether it be food, cheap merchandise or a fun night out full of karaoke.
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