Chinatown in New York City is a massive, densely-populated section full of noise, culture, and history.
Known as having one of the highest concentrations of Chinese people in the Western hemisphere, there are nearly 100,000 people who call Chinatown in New York City home. It’s food, points of interest, and buzzing activity draw people from all over the world to visit and live there.
When you’re thinking about things to do in Chinatown, you have to think about activities that both fit the cultural identity of the area (i.e. is characteristically Chinese) or is something you can only find in that area.
So, what we’ve done is put together the seven best things to do in Chinatown while you’re in New York City. Some of these spots would be a great place to grab a drink after you take on your first ever jet skiing adventure! See our top Chinatown activities below.
Best Activity: Chinatown Museum
The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)
A story rife with dispair, success, and more, the amazing tales of Chinese immigrants in the United States is best told at MOCA.
More than 65,000 artifacts deck the halls of MOCA, detailing a deep and storied history that begins in the 19th century. Documents, pictures, sculptures, and curated exhibits take you through historical events and – perhaps more interesting – the ways Chinese Americans and immigrants reacted to events that happened to the country as a whole.
Best Sweets: Chinatown Bakery
Confections and sweets are taken to another level by Asians, and a great place to dive into those traditions is at Aji Ichiban.
While you’re perusing Chinatown’s streets, you can grab delicious home-made wasabi peas, rice cakes, and sweet pickled plum. The best part? Everything is a-la-carte, meaning you don’t have to buy whole packages of goods – make your own bag, and be on your way!
Best Place to Eat: Chinatown Restaurant
Almost everyone loves Chinese food of the Cantonese persuasion, but none do it quite like Hop Kee.
While you can dive into regular favorites like beef lo mein and fried rice, Hop Kee has perhaps the best lobster in white sauce you can find in the entire city, and that’s saying something!
Best Drinks: Chinatown Bar
It’s eclectic, stunningly decorated, and a great place for a cheap beer. Say hello to 169 Bar in Chinatown.
Throughout its over 80-year history, 169 Bar is a popular dive spot for all kinds of entertainment. DJs, karaoke, and just plain Thirsty Thursdays all have a home at this incredible spot. Decked with palm trees, leopard prints, and vintage advertisements, the environs are almost more interesting than the conversations you can have here.
Best Things to Buy: Chinatown Market
The Chinatown Market
Canal Street is a bustling metropolis of Chinese-flavored market greatness, and The Chinatown Market is everything about Canal Street you could ever want.
Snacks, designer clothing, and accessories are what fill the walls of The Chinatown Market. Whether your budget is several hundred dollars or the broken $20 bill in your pocket, you can find tons of stuff that simply scream “Chinatown”.