If you've never been to China and would like to make a quick visit to New York, head to Chinatown. The concentrated area is home to about a hundred thousand Chinese immigrants who have made the neighborhood their own. Chinese restaurants, markets and above all lots of strange smells and of course Chinese people.

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You can find similar "Little Chinatowns" in Brooklyn and Queens, but Manhattan's is by far the biggest and liveliest.

Little China in the heart of New York City

Chinatown's history dates back to the late 19th century, when thousands of Chinese refugees headed to America to escape famine and later the Sino-Japanese War. Chinese abroad like to form communities, and this was no different in Manhattan, where they chose the then-cheap Canal Street neighborhood.

However, Chinatown did not experience massive migration and development until between the 1960s and 1980s under Communist rule in China. The population of Little China in Manhattan reached as many as 100,000, making it the first largest Chinese diaspora in the Western Hemisphere to this day.

The largest populations are from Guangdong Province and its capital Guangzhou (Canton), as well as Hong Kong. In contrast, the much smaller Chinatown in Brooklyn is dominated by people from the city of Fuzhou.

Soak up exotic scents and sensations

The liveliest part of Chinatown is found on the side streets perpendicular to the main Canal Street, and in the relatively short stretch between the Manhattan Bridge and Broadway. Dive into the heart of Chinatown and don't just stay on Canal Street. You'll be surrounded by the smell of typical Chinese food, the ubiquitous Chinese signs and the incredible buzz of street life.

Don't be afraid to stop at one of the local restaurants for a taste of Chinese specialties. You may not understand anything on the menu, but there's always at least someone who speaks English at the counter.

Chinatown's liveliest streets are Mott Street and Mulberry Street.

Accommodation in Chinatown

Hotels in Chinatown have long been among the cheapest in all of New York City, especially if you were willing to compromise on quality. However, this rule hasn't been true for a while now; local hotels usually only work for the Chinatown community and cannot be booked through the regular portals.

On the outskirts of Chinatown, however, you will still come across the cheapest accommodation in Lower Manhattan for a long time, namely the not-so-well-rated U.S. Pacific Hotel* with shared bathroom and toilet facilities, but priced around 73 eur per night.

Much better quality accommodation with prices between 2,600 and 147 eur per night (which is below average for Manhattan) is offered by the nearby Richland LES Hotel *** on the eastern edge of Chinatown.

How to get to Chinatown?

Chinatown can be found in Lower Manhattan at the mouth of the Manhattan Bridge.

Nearest subway station:

  • Canal St (in the center of the borough) - brown lines J, Z; green lines 4, 6; yellow lines N, Q, R, W
  • Grand St (northern edge of the district) - orange lines B, D
  • East Broadway (eastern edge of the district) - orange line F

Bus routes 1, 55 and 103 also pass through Chinatown.

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