Roam the secret alleys of Chinatown and seek the authentic flavors of Old China in Manila.
5 hours and 30 minutes
Food Tours from Manila
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Eat your way around Manila's Chinatown. Visit traditional Chinese shops and restaurants, sample specialty treats and hear about Tsinoy history as you walk around the streets of Binondo.
3 hours and 30 minutes
Manila Walking Tours
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Binondo or Chinatown… it rings with commerce day in and day out, spills out wholesale bargain transactions from dusty but mysterious nooks and corners to all over the country, rejoices in obscurity but makes or breaks economic futures with impunity, and—always—conducts business with an eye for mutual satisfaction, theirs and yours! Begin your Chinatown Walk through the Sta Cruz Arc near Sta Cruz Church: Welcome to Ongpin, which glitters with gold and jewelry of all kinds, with prices that are always right for budget-conscious buyers! And everywhere are eateries, where the cuisine is priceless, but can be appreciated for just a few pesos.
Long before the Spaniards came, the Chinese have been trading and mingling with the natives of Manila. The coming of the Spaniards made life and business harder for Chinese settlers though. The Spanish government gave them the land across Pasig River from Fort Santiago (well within the Fort cannon’s firing distance) in 1594 to encourage their cooperation and loyalty, as well as to keep the Chinese culturally at a distance. This worked well enough for all concerned. The city benefited from Chinese trade, commerce, and craftmanship skills (like goldsmith works, cabinet-making, masonry, foundry and shoe-making) and the Chinese enjoyed a tax-free occupation of part of the city and limited self-governing privileges. Today, Binondo is a center for authentic Chinese cuisine and wholesale wheeling and dealing. It has over a hundred banks and Like any other Chinatown in the world, Binondo is colorful, crowded, and noisy. Chinese festivals are celebrated with fireworks and all the pomp the Tsinoys (as Chinese Filipinos are called locally) are capable of.But beyond the bustle of business and ringing of the cash registers are the colors and nuances of the life the people of Binondo have made for themselves. Given their difficult history in the city, Tsinoys have developed a rather unassuming lifestyle. Just like everyone else, business tycoons enjoy their coffee and pan de sal (salted bread) at streetside eateries; they brush elbows with vagrants on the streets, inconspicuous in the crowd.In line with this way of life, many of the gems of Chinatown are difficult to spot—because they seem so ordinary at first! For instance, a modest storefront, with just one or two tables of products in a small room, may actually be the supplier of the most exquisite dark chocolate tableas (used for baking) in the country, which you could buy at a fraction of the cost of products sold at supermarkets!So you really have to keep your eyes open and sense of smell active. But then, that’s part of why Binondo is so interesting to visit, the delightful discoveries beside the best-value buys. Here are notable streets with corresponding specialties in Binondo: 1. Ongpin – gold & jewelry2. Evangelista – industrial equipment3. Benavides & Masangkay – car supplies4. Alonzo – hardware5. Nueva – shoes, leather & rubber goods6. Gandara Mill – machinery & tent supplies7. T. Pinpin – furniture, upholstery, & crystal chandelier8. Ylaya – textile & garments9. Abad Santos cor Tayuman – sewing equipment10. Dagupan – riceDivisoria (wet & dry goods) and Raon St (electronics) are also considered part of Chinatown. You can also find many bargain computer and printer shops in Binondo. The Binondo Catholic Church is also a special attraction.
How to get there
By LRT: Carriedo; head for the Sta Cruz arc/shrine on foot or by pedicab—past the arc is Ongpin St, part of Chinatown. By Jeepney: (from Taft Ave) with Sta Cruz, Blumentritt or Monumento signboard at the Sta Cruz Church.