A visit to Chinatown is one of the most memorable things to do in New York City. The neighborhood is rich in food, shopping, and culture. Chinatown is also easily accessible from almost anywhere in the five boroughs. To get to Chinatown, take the 1, A, C,E, J, N, Q, R, W, Z, or 6 train to Canal Street or the B, D trains to Grand. Wear good walking shoes so you can happily spend hours exploring the festive Chinatown streets and enjoy the cultural diversity in new york city.
Chinatown is a great place if you are looking to feast like a king on less than $20 for the day!
Pick up breakfast at one of Chinatown’s incredible bakeries. We recommend Fay Da(opens in a new tab) and Tai Pan(opens in a new tab). Both stores bake their light as air pastries on site. One of Fay Da’s stand-out offerings is a taro puff. With a sweet and unique tarot flavor, this pastry offers notes of vanilla and coconut, as well as a fun photogenic purple color. If you stop by Tai Pan, pick up a roll cake. These fluffy, sugary, pinwheels come in multiple flavors, and burst with freshness!
There are a bunch of Chinatown cheap eats for you to visit. iFor lunch, grab some famous “dollar dumplings.” This is now a misnomer as most venues have upped the price to $1.25, but it’s still the best deal in town. For $1.25, you get five piping-hot steamed or pan-fried dumplings! For the true Chinatown experience, check out (the creatively-named) Fried Dumpling(opens in a new tab) on Mosco Street. It’s the quintessential hole-in-the-wall that an unassuming passerby would easily miss. Locals, however, will eagerly line up for these tasty treats, at an unbeatable price.
Want a more elevated dumpling experience? Check out Joe’s Shanghai(opens in a new tab) for their famous soup dumplings! These steamed dumplings contain soup inside the dumpling! Bite the top (knot) off, slurp out the soup, then eat the filling and dumpling skin. The out-of-this-world taste is perfect for a cold, wintry afternoon!
For dinner, stop by Xi’an Famous Food(opens in a new tab) and order their hand-chopped noodles with lamb. These delicious made-to-order noodles are covered with house-made chili oil. When you’ve finished, walk down the street to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory(opens in a new tab), and try a rich and delicious scoop of durian ice cream!
When it comes to what to do in Manhattan, Chinatown is famous for its shopping. Locals and tourists alike love to stroll the streets and pick up purses and watches while haggling prices.
Locals know that Chinatown is the cheapest spot in town for getting groceries and hard-to-find ingredients. (Dried seahorse, anyone?) Children delight in outdoor markets offering fruits and vegetables not normally found in your average suburban grocery stores. Look for durian and dragon fruit for a real surprise!
Tour guests love all of the New York memorabilia that can be found around Chinatown. Whether you’re looking for an “I Love New York” t-shirt, NYC wine glasses, or foam Statue of Liberty Crown, you’ll find it in Chinatown. You’ll also find trinkets unique to Asia, such as artisanal chopsticks and tea sets. We recommend walking along Mott, Mulberry, and Canal Street in Chinatown for the best shopping options.
While many flock to Chinatown for the food and shopping, others come for the culture.
Walk through Columbus Park(opens in a new tab). If you’re lucky you’ll see festive live performances of traditional Chinese music and dance!
The Mahayana Buddhist Temple(opens in a new tab) houses a 16-foot-high Buddha Statue. The Buddha is sitting on a lotus flower, and surrounded with offerings of apples, oranges, and flowers. For a donation of $1, the temple offers your fortune on a rolled-up paper scroll. This peaceful retreat is located just off the Manhattan exit of the Manhattan Bridge. If you’re looking for the temple, make sure you look for the two golden lions that guard the entrance. If you plan on visiting, remember to dress appropriately and respectfully.
The Museum of the Chinese in America(opens in a new tab) also referred to as MOCA, is a museum in the heart of Chinatown. MOCA is a critical space for exploring and studying Chinese-American identity and history. MOCA offers both permanent and seasonal exhibitions(opens in a new tab), as well as cultural events such as Chinese New Year Celebrations. MOCA also offers extensive online resources(opens in a new tab), to learn more about the Chinese American experience, no matter where in the world you might be.
To really deep dive into the history, we recommend a private tour of New York! You can check out our private tours here(opens in a new tab).