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Top Ten Chinatowns in the World

Friday, January 31, 2014 | By:

Happy New Year! Whether you were in the mainland, or having wild traveling escapades, we hope everyone had a delightful Chinese New Year’s experience. But if not, don’t worry, perhaps the Year of the Horse is not your lucky year. Why not try your luck again next year, in a more awesome place. But where?  Below is a compilation of the Top 10 Chinatowns in world. Maybe it will help you decide what to do next year…

North America

1. Chinatown, San Francisco, USA

Official name: Chinatown, San Francisco
Chinese Name: 旧金山唐人街 (Jiùjīnshān tángrénjiē)
Established: 1840s
Trademark: A Gateway Arch (Dragon Gate) on Grant Avenue

Chinese New Year includes a Flower Fair, in the Chinatown Community Street Fair. The New Year Parade includes the an incredibly long traditional Dragon dance.

Image: Hong Chang
2014 Chinese New Year Street Fair Image: Hong Chang

Trivia:
- North America’s largest and oldest Chinatown and also the largest Chinatown outside Asia.
- Consists of various  alleys and streets and also has four major sub-divisions of large Chinatowns in four different streets.
- After its destruction by the 1906 earthquake and fire, American architects were hired to redesign the structures to look more “Chinese” than the old version. It’s subsequent success as a tourist attraction became a model for many other Chinatowns around the world.
- This year’s New Year Parade: The Golden Dragon is over 201 feet long and is featured at the end of the parade as the grand finale and will be accompanied by over 600,000 firecrackers.

2. Chinatown, Manhattan, New York, USA

Official name: Chinatown, Manhattan / Chinatown New York City

Photo by Nicki Minnax / flickr

Photo by Nicki Minnax / flickr

Chinese Name: 纽约华埠 (Niŭyuē Huá Bù)
Established: 1840s
Trademark: Chatham Square

Photo by Wally Gobetz

- This year’s New Year Parade: Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival, New Year’s Day Firecracker Ceremony, the event is New York’s biggest winter tourist attraction, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Trivia:
- Located in the heart of  New York: New York City, Chinatown Manhattan has the largest Chinese ethnic population in the Western Hemisphere.
- Before the arrival of Chinese and other immigrants in the location, Chinatown used to be a residential area for the Irish and German slaves back in the late 1880s.
- The great amount of Chinese immigrants in New York, most predominantly the ones that came from Southern China such Fujian province, Guangdong, and Hong Kong has caused a Chinese residential explosion and many satellite Chinatowns have emerged across different parts of New York, such Little Fuzhou in New Yorck City; Chinatown, Elmhurst (唐人街, 艾姆赫斯特) and Chinatown, Flushing (法拉盛華埠) in Queens;  Chinatown, Sunset Park (布鲁克林華埠), Chinatown, Avenue U (唐人街, U大道) and Chinatown, Bensonhurst (唐人街, 本森社区) in Brooklyn.

3. Chinatown, Vancouver, Canada

Official name: Vancouver’s Chinatown National Historic Site of Canada
Chinese Name: 温哥华唐人街 (Wēngēhuá tángrénjiē)
Established: 1890s
Trademark: Millenium Gate

Image: Rickchung.com

The Chinese New Year’s Parade, includes the largest assembly of traditional lion dancers in Canada.

Vancouver's Chinatown Annual Lion Dance on Chinese New Year

Vancouver’s Chinatown Annual Lion Dance on Chinese New Year

Trivia:
- Canada’s largest Chinatown
- North America’s second largest Chinatown by population
- Due to the large Chinatown and ethnic Chinese presence, especially immigrants from Hong Kong in the city, Vancouver has been referred to as “Hongcouver”, a term considered derogatory by some Chinese.

 

Latin America

4. Chinatown, Lima, Peru

Official name: Barrio Chino, Lima
Chinese Name: 利马唐人街 (Lì mǎ tángrénjiē)
Established: 1850s
Trademark: Arco Chino (Chinatown Archway)

New Year: Chinese New Year Dragon Dance Parade

Trivia:
- South America’s oldest Chinatown, second largest in western hemisphere.
- The trademark Chinatown- Arco Chino was a gift from People’s Republic of China.
- Chifa; Peruvian equivalent of Mandarin’s Chi fan (吃饭)  is a term used in Peru to refer to Chinese Peruvian Cuisines that can be found easily in Chinatown’s restaurants.

5. Chinatown, Havana, Cuba

Official name: Barrio Chino de La Habana
Chinese Name: 哈瓦那的唐人街(Hāwǎnà de tángrénjiē)
Established: 1840s
Trademark: El Portico/Dragon Gate

New Year: Begin in El Portico, all women, men and children of all ages perform the traditional dragon and lion dances.

Trivia:
- South America’s second oldest Chinatown
- South America’s largest Chinatown
-  A large arch marks the are of the Dragon Gate– after a major official visit by Fidel Castro to the People’s Republic of China in 1995, materials were provided for a new Chinese arch on Calle Dragone.
- Two thousand Chinese fought with the rebels in Cuba’s Ten Years’ War. A monument in Havana honors the Cuban Chinese who fell in the war, on which is inscribed: “There was not one Cuban Chinese deserter, not one Cuban Chinese traitor.”

 

Europe

6. Chinatown, London, UK

Official Name: Chinatown London, London’s West End
Chinese Name:伦敦唐人街 (Lúndūn Tángrénjiē)
Established: 1700s
Trademark: Chinatown Arch – Gerrard Street

New Year: Dragon and Lion Dance Parade, Beijing Opera, live performances featuring Tai Chi, Taekwondo, Chinese classical music, Chinese drumming and Chinese dancing.

Trivia:
- In 1880s London’s first Chinatown was firmly rooted in the East End, (not the West End as today) as growing numbers of Chinese sailors and traders settle and opened businesses in the Limehouse area, Chinese shops and cafes begin to spring up.
- 2014 Year of Horse Main Celebration runs until Sunday 2nd February, from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm , with a New Year’s Parade led by the Lucky Money God, winding through London’s West End, before reaching its final destination in Chinatown.
- During the New Year of Horse celebration this year, The Beijing Young Cultural Ambassadors will also make their London debut performing a traditional Chinese Opera, and a talented group of children from Nanjing, China\will be performing an exquisite variety show.

7. Chinatown, Paris, France

Official name: Quartier Chinois de Paris, 13th arrondissement of Paris,  Triangle de Choisy or Petite Asie.
Chinese name: 巴黎唐人街 (Bālí Tángrénjiē)
Date:  1920s
Trademark: The Olympiades towers with the pagoda roof shopping center.

New Year: A parade of dancers, drummers, dragons and lions. Nights include special theatrical or musical performances or even film festivals.

Trivia:
- Chinatown Paris serves as the largest Chinatown in Europe.
- In 2014, Paris’ Chinese New Year major celebrations take place on 2-9 February. The cheerful procession of dancers, drummers, dragons and lions will wind through major streets of Paris, and the closing parade on Feb 9 will be the biggest and most popular of the annual parades held in Paris’s 13th arrondissement.

 

Africa

8. Chinatown, Johannesburg, South Africa

Official name: Old Chinatown, Johannesburg
Chinese Name: 约翰内斯堡 老唐人街(Yuēhànnèisībǎo lǎo tángrénjiē
Established:  1900s
Trademark: Dragon Statues

New Year: Dragon dance parade, music, dance, opera and kung fu acrobats in downtown Johannesburg.

Trivia:
-  There are two Chinatowns in the city – the first is in downtown Commissioner Street (Old Chinatown) where the early migrants arrived a century ago and the second is in the eastern suburb of Cyrildene (New Chinatown) where many of the new Mandarin-speaking immigrants have settled today.
- Nan Hua Buddhist Temple, Bronkhorstspruit is the largest Buddhist temple and seminary in Africa, located just a one-hour drive from old Chinatown, Johannesburg.

Asia

9. Chinatown, Manila, The Philippines

Official name: Binondo Chinatown, Manila
Chinese Name:比诺杜唐人街(Bǐnuòdù tángrénjiē
Established: 1594
Trademark: Arkong Pagkakaibigang Pilipino-Tsino (Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch at Binondo).

New Year: Chinese Dragon Parade, Shopping Sales, Drum Shows.

Trivia:
- Binondo is the oldest and largest Chinatown in the world.
- the Year of Horse popularized Golden horse charms as the most valuable charms sold in the town.

10. Chinatown, Singapore, Singapore

Official name: Chinatown,Niúchēshuǐ
Chinese Name: 唐人街(tángrénjiē), 牛车水 (Niúchēshuǐ)
Established:  1820s
Trademark: Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

New Year: Street stalls, live shows, lion dance competitions, a Dragon dance parade, Dr and a countdown party, massive fireworks.

Trivia:
- Annual road closure is mandatory around the area during Chinatown’s Chinese New Year Celebrations events.
- In Chinese, Singapore’s Chinatown is known as Niu che shui (Chinese: 牛车水; pinyin: Niú chē shuǐ; literally “bull-cart water”) because of its location, Chinatown’s water supply was principally transported by animal-driven carts in the 19th century.

Australia

11. Chinatown, Melbourne, Australia

Official name: Melbourne Chinatown,
Chinese Name: 墨爾本唐人街(Mò’ěrběn tángrénjiē)
Established:  1850s
Trademark: Chinatown’s 5 key arches

New Year:Contemporary Chinese cultural activities, festivities, dances, Chinese opera and singing, karaoke competition, numerous stalls for culinary delights, arts and crafts, Chinese chess competitions, lion dances, dragon parades, calligraphy and children’s events.

Trivia:
- Besides the New Year Celebration,  the district also has a major event: Asian food festival, celebrated during the fall season in Chinatown
-
The Chinatown archway was hand made in China according to traditional techniques and materials. It was shipped to Melbourne in many pieces and assembled under the supervision of highly skilled Chinese craftsmen.

Happy Year of the Horse!

UPDATE: Due to popular demand, we added New York’s Chinatown to the list.

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8 Responses to Top Ten Chinatowns in the World

  1. Pingback: Hao Hao Report


  2. karenvaughan says:

    New York City may not have the oldest or the largest Chinatown in the US but we have three sizable Chinatowns, in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.

    • Keoni Everington (华武杰) says:

      Good point Karen.

  3. SF Mayor says:

    But all 3 combined in NY can’t hold a candle to SF’s!

  4. Keoni Everington (华武杰) says:

    Karen, we’ve added New York’s Manhattan Chinatown to the list.

    • Doug says:

      People forget to mention that San Francisco has the hugest Chinese population density in North America, which accounts for 5 other chinatowns in addition to the well-known one. There’s a HUGE one in the city’s Richmond District which runs for some 2 1/2 miles along Clement St. alongside Geary Blvd. and parts of Balboa Ave, 2 sizeable ones in the Sunset, a smaller one in the Tenderloin settled by ethnic Chinese immigrants from Vietnam in the late 1970s, and an even smaller one in the Excelsior along the San Bruno corridor.

  5. Romain says:

    What about Bangkok’s Chinatown ?

  6. Kyle TS says:

    Surprised Toronto isn’t here … 4th biggest in N. America behind SF, NYC, and Vancouver.