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Tour#1: Chinatown in a Day

"Tour It Yourself!" 

While we highly recommend the guided tours listed on this site, this is the place for you do-it-yourself travelers out there who want to explore Chinatown yourself.  Here you'll find themed tours, from the general to the specific, for a variety of interests, which you can take at your own pace.  Just print them, along with the map-guide, and go!  Check back from time to time for new tours, and send us your suggestions for attractions, restaurants or fun stops to include in future tours.  And don't forget the Chinatown Info Kiosk on Canal Street at Baxter & Walker, your "home base" to ask questions or to pick up a copy of the map-guide or other materials.  Enjoy New York City's Chinatown! 

tour it yourself - chinatown in a day

 print & go!  

This tour is intended as a guide to exploring major points of interest in Chinatown over the course of a day or less. It is not a "timed tour," but rather based on geography. While Chinatown is packed with more of interest to see than most neighborhoods, it is geographically compact. So it's easy to double back and return to spots you visited earlier, depending on what you want to do. For each street, we've included activities suitable for different times of day, so feel free to mix up the order you visit the various streets to match your schedule and interests. While we encourage you to explore the farthest reaches of Chinatown as shown on the shaded portion of the map-guide, this tour takes you around and through the heart of Chinatown.

  • Start at the Explore Chinatown Info Kiosk (intersection of Canal, Baxter and Walker Streets).  Chinatown KioskIt's a great place to meet up with other members of your group.  Pick up an Explore Chinatown map-guide and other available materials and get answers to any questions you may have. 

Breakfast Tip: Peruse the map-guide with a great pastry for as little as $0.60 at the Dragon Land Bakery (just behind the kiosk on the corner of Baxter and Walker Streets) or up the street at Fay Da (walk east to the Corner of Canal and Mott Streets).    

Note: To be safe, you may want to print a copy of the map-guide from the home page and bring it with you. 

  • Walk East on Canal Street and Turn right (south) on Mulberry Street

Shopping Tip: Jade Garden Arts & Crafts (76 Mulberry Street).  Distinctive and tasteful gift items, e.g., vases, pottery, tea ware, Chinese paintings and calligraphy, incense burners. 

Culture Tip: Museum of Chinese in America (70 Mulberry Street, at the corner Bayard Street) is one of the most important national archives of Chinese history in America.  There are a variety of permanent exhibits as well as special shows throughout the year. 

Snack Tip: Tasty Dumpling (54 Mulberry Street) is one of several storefronts around Chinatown offering great dumpling deals.  Here they are 5 for $1. 

  • Continue on Mulberry Street to Worth Street.
    On your right, you will pass Columbus Park.  At the lower end of the park, you will be standing roughly in the area of Five Points, site of the city's first tenements accommodating the massive immigration of the Germans and Irish in the 19th century and immortalized in Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York."  Columbus Park was created in the 1890's to improve the neighborhood. 

  • Walk east to Chatham Square
    Chatham Square
    is another great meeting place and starting point, because so many other streets run into it or are just steps away, including Mott, Doyers, Bowery and East Broadway.  Chatham Square is the site of the Kim Lau Memorial Arch, erected in 1962 in memory of the Chinese Americans who died in WWII and a statue of Lin Ze Xu, a 19th-Century official in China.  Chatham Square was once the entertainment center of the city.  Just to the south of Chatham Square, on St. James Place is the First Shearith Israel Cemetery; dating from 1683, it's the oldest Jewish cemetery in New York City. East of the Square, on Division St, is Confucius Plaza, where a statue of Confucius stands near the tallest building in Chinatown.

Lunch Tip: Dim Sum Go Go (5 East Broadway on Chatham Square, 212-732-0797).  Dim Sum is the most fun you can have at lunch: plates of dumplings, barbecued pork buns, spring rolls, rice noodle rolls and more.  Great for groups. 

Other Dim Sum Spots: Golden Bridge (50 Bowery), Golden Unicorn (18 East Broadway), Vegetarian Dim Sum House (24 Pell Street). 

  • Walk north on Bowery and turn left onto Doyers Street
    Doyers is the most "Chinatowny" street in…well, the world.  You may recognize the street from films and TV programs. Today you'll find the local post office, one of Chinatown's first dim sum restaurants, teahouses and barber shops aplenty.  Surprisingly, you'll also find a hip boutique called Coco Fashion , just across from the post office. 

Teahouse Tip:  Nom Wah Tea Parlor (13 Doyers Street), dating from 1920, is the oldest tea parlor in Chinatown, and the interior remains largely unchanged.  Featured in "Spiderman" and home of the largest almond cookies you've ever seen. 

  • Doyers runs into Pell Street

Souvenir Tip: On the corner of Doyers and Pell is Ting's gift shop, one of the oldest gift shop in Chinatown, and a great place to pick up a unique souvenir. 

Lunch Tip: Joe's Shanghai (9 Pell Street), is famous for its soup dumplings, and also for it's lines.  Try the new Joe's Ginger, right up the street toward Mott Street.  Same Joe, same great soup dumplings, shorter line.  For now. 

  • Turn right on Pell Street and walk to the corner of Bowery, where you'll find the oldest townhouse in New York City. The Edward Mooney House was built in 1785, following the Revolutionary War, by a butcher.  It became a tavern in the 1820's, a store and hotel in the early 20th century, then a pool parlor, a restaurant, a Chinese club and a bank. The architecture combines late Georgian and early Federal styles. 

  • Walk north on Bowery to Canal Street
    Turn right on Canal to get to the Mahayana Buddhist Temple, featuring the giant golden Buddha. 

Nightlife Tip: One of Chinatown's hippest hang-outs is the Big Six Bar-Lounge, 97 Bowery, which serves a wide variety of drinks including signature cocktails like the Big 6 Lycheetini (vodka, lychee juice, cassis and lychee fruit).

  • Walk west on Canal Street, back toward the center of Chinatown
    If you keep going, you'll end up full circle back at the kiosk, where you began.  Pause at the corner of Canal and Mott Streets, which many consider the main intersection of Chinatown.  If you walk north on Mott Street to Grand Street, you'll be in vegetable heaven, as shop after shop sells fresh produce at great prices. 
    Shopping Tip: Golden Jade Jewelry, (189 Canal Street bet. Mott & Mulberry).  Canal Street is known for its jewelry stores, and this is one of the oldest and best. 

  • Walk south on Mott Street
    The oldest Chinese-inhabited street in New York, and featuring a little bit of everything, Mott Street is considered the heart of Chinatown.  It features an historic site you may miss unless you look up — the large white building at 41 Mott Street has the only remaining wooden pagoda roof in Chinatown. On your right, you'll pass the Eastern States Buddhist Temple, at 64 Mott Street.  Farther down, at the intersection of Pell Street, you'll come upon the Church of the Transfiguration.  Since the early 19th Century, this church has served each successive wave of immigrants, from the Irish, the Italians and currently the Chinese community.  Sermons are delivered in Cantonese as well as English. 

Travel Tip: Check your email at Silk Road Place (30 Mott Street). 
Friendly proprietor C.M. Choi's cafe serves as a kind of unofficial Chinatown visitors center. Internet-ready computer terminals are available for email-checking and research for $2 for 30 minutes, but if you buy a drink (try a bubble tea), Mr. Choi will let you check your email for free. Tell him ExploreChinatown.com sent you.

Nightlife Tip: If it's Friday, check out the Five Points Variety Hour downstairs at Silk Road Place, 30 Mott Street, at 8:00 p.m.  It's "an eclectic mix of music, hip hop, poetry, comedy, trash talk, and spontaneous insanity" that plays to a diverse crowd. Not a family show, it's "Unfiltered. Uncensored. Unpredictable."

Late-Night Dining Tip: Wo Hop Restaurant (17 Mott Street - downstairs), offers quick and inexpensive meals, with the Singapore chow mai fun being one of its most popular dishes.

  • Walk back north on Mott Street to Bayard Street

Snack Tip: An institution for over 25 years, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (65 Bayard Street) features delicious and unique flavors such as almond cookie, green tea, lychee, mango and taro.

Nightlife Tip: Have a drink and belt out some karaoke at Winnie's (104 Bayard Street), which has been known to host a celebrity or two. 

  • Walk west on Bayard

Shopping Tip: Jade Paradise (85B Bayard Street) specializes in top-grade jade jewelry from Burma, which is known for the best quality jade in the world. Jade Paradise's major jade products include pendants, bangles, bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings. Most of the pieces are one-of-a-kind.

  • Continue on Bayard to Baxter

Dinner Tip: Baxter Street between Canal and Bayard is known for its Asian restaurants.  Choose from Vietnamese, Thai and Malaysian, including Jaya Malaysian Restaurant, 90 Baxter Street.

  • Walk north on Baxter to Canal and you'll be back at the kiosk, where you started.  We hope you enjoyed your day in Chinatown! 


Feedback?  Let us know if you have any suggestions for this or other tours — just email us at info@explorechinatown Dot Com