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Where to Go in Chinatown NYC for a Fun Time? Solved!

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 6, 2023

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There's no doubting the popularity of Chinatown in New York City – it's one of the most visited parts of the city for tourists and locals alike. But if you're unsure where to go or what to do, it can be challenging to make the most of your visit. That's where this post comes in!

Here we'll tell you all about our favorite spots in Chinatown so you can enjoy exploring this vibrant neighborhood. From delicious dim sum to historical landmarks, there's something for everyone in Chinatown. So without further ado, let's get started!

Top 10 Attractions & Things To Do in Chinatown, New York City

Most visitors to Chinatown head straight for the food – and with good reason. The area is packed with incredible restaurants, many of which are open late into the night. But there's more to Chinatown than just great eats! Here are our top 10 things to do in Chinatown NYC:

1. Visit the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

Ice Cream in Chinatown

Delve into deliciousness at the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, a family-run shop that has been serving homemade ice cream for over three decades. With an impressive array of flavors – from classic choices like almond cookies and green tea to exotic options like chocolate banana and pistachio strawberry – there's something to suit every taste. And for those with a sweet tooth, the ice cream cakes are a must-try. Made with three layers of ultra-premium ice cream, they come in various flavor combinations or can be customized to your liking. In short, visiting this charming shop will surely be a treat for the senses.

2. Get Dim Sum at Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown, NYC

For an authentic dim sum experience, head to Nom Wah Tea Parlor. This historic restaurant dates back to the 1920s and is beloved by locals for its tasty food and extensive menu. With options for tea, beer, and wine, there's something for everyone at Nom Wah. You can even reserve a spot online to ensure you get a table, as it can get pretty busy during lunch and dinner. In addition to the delicious roast pork buns, try the house's special soup dumplings – they're fantastic! Kicking off your day with a delicious dim sum breakfast at Nom Wah is the perfect way to start exploring all that Chinatown offers.

3. Explore the Columbus Park

Columbus Park with people playing Chinese Chess and Sen Yat-sen statue in New York

Tucked away in the bustling streets of Chinatown, NYC is Columbus Park – a serene oasis where locals and visitors alike can come to relax, socialize and take in the sights and sounds of the city. You'll often see people here playing chess or cards, exercising, or enjoying a good book. The park is also home to various street food vendors, making it the perfect place to grab a bite. Like much of Chinatown, Columbus Park is especially lively in the mornings when people are practicing Tai Chi and in the evenings when fortune tellers can be found plying their trade. On warm days, the park provides a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, making it the perfect place to unwind and take in all the vibe of Chinatown.

4. Shop at the Canal Street

Lower Manhattan cityscape - Canal Street, Chinatown, NYC

Explore the shops on Canal Street for a unique shopping experience unlike any other in New York City. The street is lined with open-air bazaars and grey-market vendors selling knockoff designer purses, bootleg DVDs, and unique jewelry. You can find an enormous assortment of goods for meager prices at souvenir stores. Start your shopping adventure at New Kam Man Supermarket, a two-level marketplace on the strip. It sells various items such as knick-knacks, kitchenware, beauty products, home décor, and cheap New York City souvenirs. In addition, you can find cuisine from different cultures. It's an unforgettable experience to explore Canal Street shops and participate in the vibrant atmosphere.

5. Visit the Mahayana Buddhist Temple

Mahayana Buddhist Temple facade with advertising billboards in New York

The Mahayana Buddhist Temple is a great place to visit if you want peace and relaxation. The temple offers meditation classes every day of the week and art classes in which you can learn about Buddhism through art. On Sundays, a meditation and mindfulness class will teach you how to disconnect from the busy world and find peace within yourself. In addition to being a great place to learn about Buddhism and meditation, the Mahayana Buddhist Temple is also a great way to experience the culture of Chinatown. You'll be able to see first-hand how the Chinese people live and learn about their customs and traditions.

6. Learn about Chinese culture at the Museum of Chinese in America

Museum of Chinese in America New York City

MOCA, or The Museum of Chinese in America, is a museum that was founded in 1980 by historian John Kuo Wei Tchen and activist Charles Lai. It is a non-profit educational and cultural institution that aims to better instill in people a deeper understanding of Chinese-Americans' heritage and history through exhibitions, seminars, and other educational programs. The museum has many artifacts, photos, memorabilia, documents, oral histories, and artworks. It also receives donations from both public and private institutions. The museum is a great place to learn about Chinese culture and history. You can also see some unique artworks and artifacts at the museum.

7. Explore the Confucius Statue at the Confucius Plaza

Confucius Plaza Chinatown Statue on Bowery Street Lower East Side NYC Manhattan New York City

Dating back to 1976, the Confucius Plaza is a 44-story residential tower block federally subsidized to provide much-needed new housing stock to thousands of residents. The complex is situated on the corner of Bowery and Division streets, and in front of the apartment complex is a statue of the famous philosopher Confucius. The statue was a gift from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and features Confucius' sayings in both Chinese and English. The Confucius Plaza is a well-known landmark in New York City and continues to provide housing for many residents.

8. Try Authentic Chinese Food

Chinatown in New York

Chinatown is home to many authentic Chinese restaurants. If you want to try authentic Chinese food, you should visit Chinatown. There are many different types of Chinese cuisine, so you'll be able to find something to your taste. In addition, the prices are very reasonable, and you'll be able to find an excellent meal for a fraction of the price you would pay in other parts of New York City.

9. Participate in the Chinese New Year or the Mid-Autumn Festival

New Yorkers enjoying Chinese new year celebration in Chinatown, New York City, USA

Depending on the time of your visit, head on down to Chinatown for the festivities. Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations can take place from late January to late February depending on the year. Chinese New Year is a massive celebration and the parades in Chinatown are well worth checking out!

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a Chinese holiday that falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. The festival is also known as the Moon Festival and celebrates the harvest season. Families get together to enjoy mooncakes, pastries filled with lotus seed paste, or red bean paste. The Mid-Autumn Festival is a great time to visit Chinatown and experience Chinese culture.

10. Take a Walk Down Mott Street

Mott Street in Manhattan Chinatown

Mott Street is one of the main streets in Chinatown, and it's a great place to take a stroll. You'll be able to see many different shops and restaurants, and you'll also get to see some of the historic buildings in Chinatown. Mott Street is a great place to people-watch and soak up the atmosphere of Chinatown. It's also a great place to do some shopping, as you'll be able to find many different types of goods for sale.

Top 4 Day Trip Ideas in Chinatown, New York City

Although Chinatown is small, there is a lot to do. You can make a whole day of exploring everything the neighborhood has to offer. Here are four of the best day trip ideas in Chinatown, New York City, if you're looking for ideas.

1. SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown Walking Tour in New York

New York City - China Town meets Little Italy

The SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown Walking Tour offers a great way to see some of New York City's most exciting neighborhoods in one day. The tour begins in SoHo, where you'll visit the Cast Iron Historic District and learn about 19th-century architecture. From there, you'll move on to Little Italy, where you'll see mob sites and hear about John Gotti, an American mobster. Finally, you'll end in Chinatown, where you'll soak up the sights, smells, and sounds of the neighborhood. Throughout the tour, your guide will share interesting facts and stories about New York City's early immigration and gang violence days. The tour starts at noon, leaving plenty of time for other plans before and after.


2. New York City at Night Bus Tour

New York City Soho at Sunset

The New York City at Night Bus Tour is the perfect way to see the city in all its lit-up glory. You'll get to walk along the High Line Park, then take a bus ride past some of the most famous landmarks in Manhattan, including Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and SoHo. You'll also get to explore Grand Central Terminal on a guided tour. It's the perfect way to simultaneously see all the sights and learn about the city's history.

3. Chinatown and Little Italy Food Fest

Busy street with pedestrians in Little Italy, NYC

The Chinatown and Little Italy Food Fest is a guided walking tour that allows you to explore the flavors and traditions of both neighborhoods. Your guide will take you to some of the best restaurants in the area, where you can sample local dishes such as homemade mozzarella and dim sum. This is a great way to experience all that Chinatown and Little Italy have to offer without worrying about getting lost or making reservations. You'll also avoid the lines at popular restaurants.

4. NYC Guided Full-Day Bike Tour

Tourists walks through Chinatown street, NYC

The NYC Guided Full-Day Bike Tour takes you through some of New York City's most exciting neighborhoods. You'll start in Greenwich Village and head to Wall Street and Brooklyn Heights. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is a must-do on this tour - be sure to take in the stunning views of Manhattan from the elevated walkway. Once you're in Brooklyn, explore the charming neighborhoods of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens before crossing back into Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. Chinatown is the final stop on this tour, and you'll have plenty of time to wander through the lively streets and soak up the unique atmosphere. This tour is a great way to quickly see some of New York City's most iconic neighborhoods - and you'll get to do it all on two wheels!

Top 3 Places To Stay in Chinatown, New York City

view of Lower Manhattan cityscape - Chinatown, New York, USA

In Chinatown, New York City, you'll find various accommodation options to suit all budgets and tastes. From luxury hotels with all the bells and whistles to more modest options that won't break the bank, there's something for everyone in this vibrant neighborhood.

1. Hotel 50 Bowery

You'll love the chic Hotel 50 Bowery, set in a sleek building amid shops and eateries in lively Chinatown. This hotel is a 5-minute walk from Canal Street subway station and 1 mile from One World Trade Center. The rooms are hip with original artwork, floor-to-ceiling windows, minibars, and rainfall showers. The upgraded rooms offer city views. You can also enjoy in-room dining. The hotel also features a stylish rooftop bar with city views, a 24/7 gym, an art gallery, and a terrace. Breakfast is available for an additional fee.

2. Hotel Mulberry

The Hotel Mulberry is a great place to stay in Chinatown if you're looking for a modern and comfortable hotel. The hotel overlooks Columbus Park, a great spot to take a break from sightseeing in Chinatown. The park has a playground for kids, gardens, and tennis courts. If you're looking for something to eat, there are plenty of restaurants within a block of the hotel. The hotel also offers a business center and a modern lobby with seating areas. You can also enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast every morning.

3. Hotel Mimosa

The Hotel Mimosa is a chic hotel located in Chinatown on the Lower East Side. The hotel is 16 minutes away from the Brooklyn Bridge and 4 miles away from the iconic Empire State Building. The hotel also has an East Broadway subway station, which is a 5-minute walk away. The rooms at Hotel Mimosa are simple but range from airy to stylish. The rooms also have flat-screen TVs and tea and coffee-making facilities upon request. However, guests can get rooms with sitting areas and city or river views for an upgrade. There is also a business center on-site for guests who need to get some work done while away.

In Conclusion

Traffic on busy streets of Manhattan Chinatown, New York City, USA

Chinatown is a great place to explore for tourists and locals alike. There are plenty of things to do in the neighborhood, from eating at delicious restaurants to shopping for souvenirs. If you're looking for a fun time in Chinatown, you can't go wrong with these activities. Have an amazing time and good luck! Feel free to check out our article dedicated to fun things to do in New York City more broadly too.

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