3.6 out of 10

Chinatown

Ranked 41st best neighborhood in Manhattan
40.7150918899726 -73.9984269722849
Great for
  • Cost of Living
  • Eating Out
  • Public Transport
  • Internet Access
  • Resale or Rental Value
Not great for
  • Parking
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Clean & Green
  • Pest Free
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists

Reviews

3/5
2yrs+

"If you like crowds, you will love Chinatown"

Much like the cliche', "it's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there," rings true with Manhattan's Chinatown district. A shopper's paradise and food lover's mecca stereotypes Chinatown as the place you can find anything you want or don't want.

Canal Street will provide you with everything from art supplies to jewelry to fresh fish and Swedish meatballs. If you get hungry along the way, sttop by one of many Vietnamese restaurants for a large bowl of beef soup noodles, grab some dim sum, or head over to a small bakery for a lighter snack. If dessert is your forte', do not miss Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Bayard Street featuring some flavors that have been MIA for years.

Attractions, aside from the shopping and eating, include the Museum of Chinese in the Americas, on Baxter and Mulberry Streets. This museum holds interesting exhibits that chronicle the history of this amazing community. You can also take a walking tour of Canal Street and overall Chinatown. This tour will take you near the Grand Sichaun - one of the best places in the City to get truly authentic Chongqing-style Hot Pot.

If you are a tourist and need a place to lay your head, you may take up residency at Hotel Azure (just below Canal Street) or the Holiday Inn Manhattan Downtown (on Lafayette just above Canal).
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
3/5
2yrs+

"Chinatown, one of the most visited neighborhoods in NYC"

If you’ve never been to China, the closest you might get is New York’s Chinatown. The authentic food, Chinese music gracing the streets, and the beautiful culture are wonderfully expressed in the small enclave that has become one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

The history of Chinatown is steeped in the pursuit of the American dream. Many immigrant groups upon settling in New York City found discrimination and chose the lower east side to form communities reminiscent of home where they could speak their native language. Chinatown is the most popular of these areas, while similar areas include Little Italy and Spanish Harlem. This phenomenon is still prevalent today, as new immigrants to the city are also choosing certain neighborhood where people of similar backgrounds have chosen to reside.

Chinatown is one of the most visited areas of the city, and one of the most heavily trafficked. Filled with vendors selling faux-designer goods, random performances, and great shopping, this dynamic section of “The Village” is always bustling with activity. With its gritty beauty, Chinatown was the settlement of mainly Cantonese (southern Chinese) immigrants, and their fingerprint still graces the buildings with authentic signs with traditional characters and the sounds of choppy tones used throughout the neighborhood. A wonderful shopping local is the Pearl Market, which has great buys on authentic Asian imports ranging from silk-woven purses to statues of Terracotta soldiers.

This is also a great place to get as close to China as you can in the states, as New York City’s Chinatown is greatly considered to be unrivaled in terms of cuisine. There are hundreds of fantastically authentic— and fantastically cheap— restaurants in the neighborhood with everything from Peking Duck to hot and sour soup!

Best Restaurants:
Oriental Garden - 14 Elizabeth St.
Mandarin Court - 61 Mott St.
All Natural Hot Mini Cakes - Grand St. nr. Bowery

Best Shopping:
Asia Market - 71 1/2 Mulberry St.
Lung Moon Bakery - 83 Mulberry St.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
3/5
2yrs+

"Crowded, but you can find some great eats"

I openly admit to having a serious love-hate relationship with this neighborhood. Chinatown (especially on the weekends, but not limited to) is often incredibly crowded – the sidewalks literally fill up with people, so much so that sometimes when I walk down Canal I almost wish I was in Times Square (another intersection with incredibly peopled sidewalks).
Anyway, besides the crowds, another thing I hate about this neighborhood is the line of cheap vendors on Canal. These attract the horrifying crowd, and they offer little more than overpriced plastic, knock-off (and illegal) Louis Vuitton, and imposter perfumes.
So what do I like about the area? Chinatown offers a truly unique taste of, well, China. Everyone will tell you that the Chinese food you encounter in New York is unique to other strains of Chinese cuisine, though I’m not sure how much truth is in this, having never been to China myself. If you love Chinese food, you have to check out the neighborhood, and especially look into Big Wong King on Mott Street, as well as Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Bayard.
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"Chinatown – Hard Knock Life in a Tough Neighborhood"

New York City’s Chinatown is located in downtown Manhattan. It is densely populated, with an almost exclusively Asian population...with more Asian residents than any other place in the Western world. As a result, people who live here may have difficulty communicating unless they can speak and read Chinese.

Signs are often written exclusively in Chinese with no English language translation and the products for sale in the ethnic markets may be unfamiliar and a bit daunting. This also makes it difficult to find housing in the area for non-Chinese speakers as most brokers in the area are Asian, too.

Chinatown is, sadly, one of New York’s dirtiest neighborhoods. Residents tend to be new immigrants, and not very wealthy, so they don’t have a lot of political clout. Another problem is the smell. Chinatown is known for its abundance of fresh fish stores, but in the summertime, the reek of seafood can be a bit overwhelming. But just because the neighborhood itself is dirty, don’t expect the stores to be, too.

Chinatown has pristinely clean establishments, including a growing number of bubble tea bars where you can buy unusual Asian drinks and snacks. Chinatown is packed (and I mean REALLY) packed with fabulous Asian restaurants, and not just Chinese ones. And there are hidden gems tucked away behind seemingly uninviting storefronts, including pork buns and fish cakes.

Because Chinatown is a tourist destination, it is always filled with outsiders. Be prepared to be jostled with every step. The streets are crowded with shoppers and street vendors selling fresh produce and Chinese specialties.

Rents in Chinatown don’t come cheap. Because the area is walking distance to other popular neighborhoods: Little Italy, the Lower East Side, Civic Center. You’ll pay as much here for a dilapidated one-bedroom on rundown street as you would for the same space in a more developed neighborhood.

People who live in Chinatown have access to excellent subway transportation with all major lines – eastside and westside – stopping on Canal Street. Bus service is much more limited and pretty much the only way to get crosstown is on food. Taxis? Fuhgettabouddit! The streets are so crowded and narrow that taxis tend to steer clear of this area and the traffic is nightmarish, especially at rush hour when commuters snag Canal Street to access the Holland Tunnel, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Manhattan Bridge.

It’s much smarter to use the subways.
Pros
  • Great cheap restaurants
  • affordable rents
  • Dumplings and massage places galore
  • Great cheap merchandise
  • Knockoff Fendi bags
Cons
  • Dirty
  • Smelly
  • Hard to fit into the community if you're not Chinese
  • Some gang violence regarding the Canal Street knockoffs industry
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Chinatown: Best Authentic Food and Best Buys"

Chinatown is best known to many New Yorkers as the best place to buy bargains. From knock off designer bags (which are hard to tell from the real thing), to perfumes and JEWELRY, Chinatown really has great prices so you'll find lots of stores to shop in. This is really an urban neighborhood that lacks luster, but it makes up for it in personality. You will love it if you enjoy eating authentic (not Americanized Chinese food). My friends typically take their kids to go eat food that makes their mouth water: wontons and steamed buns cannot be missed. some of the smallest shops on the side streets off of Canal Street might be slim on decor but HIGH on flavor. This neighborhood is best for those who love to explore authentic culture. Also a great draw is the art supplies store like Pearl Paint which have gotten me back time and time again because of its many floors of art supplies at great prices. Art students will find this particular store an oasis and a draw away from the higher priced stores around the city. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes, and taking the subway to get to Chinatown. The local train to Canal or Varick is a great choice. It looks a bit industrial in places, but you are also just a short stroll (in NYC terms a short stroll can be quite a few blocks) from Little Italy. So adventure abounds if you are up to it!
Pros
  • Great cheap restaurants
  • affordable rents
  • Dumplings and massage places galore
  • Great cheap merchandise
  • Knockoff Fendi bags
  • Pearl Paint Store
  • Jewelry Stores
Cons
  • A bit crowded and industrial looking
Recommended for
  • Tourists
  • Hipsters
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"Worth a Visit But Not Memorable"

Chinatown has expanded greatly and have pretty much taken over Little Italy and well into the Lower East Side and Tribeca. It can be difficult to move around the area as the streets are often crowded, especially Canal Street, with both pedestrians and shop owners displaying their wares on the sidewalk. It is also somewhat smelly with all the fish shops on practically every street. The streets are not clean and oftentimes garbage is strewn into the street.

However, there are still some interesting places to visit such as Kam Kuo at 7 Mott Street.This is basically a large supermarket filled with people grocery shopping. Foods you will find include squid, octupus, melonseed crackers, coconut covered figs and dates, and other foods you likely never heard of. The food is one hundred percent authentic and of high quality. Another place to visit is Columbus Park where many Chinese gather to socialize and play mah jong.

It is worth a trip just to sample the foods from one of the many Chinese restaurants that line nearly every street such as Big Wong King on Mott Street, as well as the Chinatown Ice Cream factory on Bayard. Many great shopping bargains can also be found in Chinatown, especially for fabrics. The little stores are filled with shoes, hats T-shirts, bags, jewelry, among other things and you can almost always bargain down the already inexpensive prices. This area is also cheaper to live in than other parts of Manhattan, although no area of Manhattan is really inexpensive.

There are also some clubs in Chinatown such as Santos Party House on Lafayette Street and Lolita's on Broome Street.Little Italy abuts the neighborhood so if you tire of Chinese food you can take a quick stroll for some cannoli or espresso. There are also many massage and acupuncture offices which offer each service at relatively inexpensive prices.

All in all Chinatown is an interesting place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.
Pros
  • Great cheap restaurants
  • Dumplings and massage places galore
  • Great cheap merchandise
  • Knockoff Fendi bags
  • Reasonable prices on most regular items like groceries and household stuff
  • Affordable
  • dim sum
Cons
  • Dirty
  • Smelly
  • Hard to fit into the community if you're not Chinese
  • crime rates
  • dead at night
  • knockoff Fendi bags
  • Some gang violence regarding the Canal Street knockoffs industry
  • No nightlife
  • Incredibly Crowded
Recommended for
  • Tourists
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Just a Place To Buy Some Knockoffs"

First, it needs to be said that Chinatown is not really a place to live. There are some lovely residential areas nearby but to live in the area would mean trying to get through massive crowds of tourists and locals and forget being able to drive anywhere (although this is the case for most of the city).

Chinatown is the place New Yorkers begrudgingly head to when they need a $5 pair of sunglasses or a $30 Gucci bag. The area is all small shops that sell the exact same thing. Everything is cheap and everything is lousy quality. There are some good, authentic Asian food places but many of the really authentic ones have menus in Chinese with no translation and have not nearly enough English to actually serve English speakers.

Tourists have to check out Chinatown, it's just one of those things. Don't plan on spending a lot of time there though, unless you like seeing the same merchandise in each store and haggling over how much to pay for the bag. A word of advice from a pro Chinatown shopper to tourists: Don't take the shopkeepers' nonsense. This area is filled with tourists looking to be ripped off. If you are going to buy a knockoff, you might as well haggle the price down. The best way to go about it is to a) Don't look like a tourist and b) Be ready to walk out (this shouldn't be a problem since every store has identical merch). Once they see you are ready to walk out, they'll cave because they know if they don't make the sale someone else will.

In sum, this is a terrible place to live, drive through, or really even shop but the cheap deals and the novelty will bring millions there daily. Oh, and that smell of fish...
Pros
  • Great cheap restaurants
  • Great cheap merchandise
Cons
  • Incredibly Crowded
  • Dirty
  • Smelly
  • Hard to fit into the community if you're not Chinese
Recommended for
  • Tourists
  • Students
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
2yrs+

"Great for a visit, but not to live"

I could never live in Chinatown. Why? Because I can't stand the smell of fish. So much of the neighborhood is smelly. Yet, I have friends who live in the 'hood and really love it. I also find it to be crowded to a degree that I can't stand. It's crowded like Times Square is crowded, especially Canal Street – the main street in the area.

If you're a tourist, you have to visit, though, if for no other reason than to have a great authentic Chinese meal. It's also interesting culturally. I've been to China, and the neighborhood is like the real thing in many ways. The shopping is a bit cheaper in Chinatown, and it's cheaper to live, too, although nowhere in Manhattan is inexpensive.

There are clubs in Chinatown now, and it's right next door to Little Italy. So, when you tire of Chinese food, you can swing over for some Italian. There are quite a few websites devoted to the neighborhood. You won't find that to be the case for every 'hood in Manhattan. And if you like to cook Asian food, this is the place to come for ingredients. I sometimes cook Thai food, and I come to Chinatown to the Thai markets for what I need. You can also get great cheap massages and acupuncture. But as I said, I wouldn't want to live in this area.
Pros
  • Great cheap restaurants
  • affordable rents
  • Dumplings and massage places galore
  • Reasonable prices on most regular items like groceries and household stuff
Cons
  • Dirty
  • Smelly
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Tourists
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Good for One Visit...but only one."

I hate Chinatown. My guess is that you will too, but you'll want to go there before you hate it.

You've heard that it's crowded, but you have no idea how crowded and crazy it is until you go there. Street merchants block the sidewalk and yell and bark at you. Oh, it's awful. So congested. So noisy.

But still, you'll want to go. Good luck and God Bless.

Don't even think about living here. This is a place to visit only. The worst of New York--in every respect--clogs this area, making it totally undesirable.

Still, it's worth seeing. Such insanity is temporarily amusing, provided you can leave after an hour or two.

The nights are less crazy than the days and, as you can imagine, they do have some good Chinese food. For the most authentic Chinese food, however, you need to go to Flushing (Queens)...but Chinatown has maybe the second best. Still, remember that just because a restaurant is in Chinatown does not make it authentic or good. Check local reviews before you feast.

The markets are kind of fun, full of unusual treats and tchotchkes...but after you've done it once, you'll be good for awhile. A long while...maybe forever.

See it, enjoy it...but be sure to have an exit strategy.
Pros
  • Great cheap restaurants
  • Knockoff Fendi bags
Cons
  • Dirty
  • Smelly
  • crime rates
  • knockoff Fendi bags
Recommended for
  • Tourists
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
2yrs+

"Not pleasant but has its uses"

First of all, I would like to address something that other reviewers have been saying: the smell. Does Chinatown smell bad? Yes. Yes, it does. It smells like fish in the summer. But almost every inch of New York smells like rotting garbage in the summer, and I don’t think Chinatown is significantly worse.

That said, there are some extremely unpleasant things about Chinatown. The crowds are tremendous, and tremendously annoying. If I have to watch another woman from Wilwaukee stand on Canal Street dickering over the price of a fake Chanel bag, I might bite her. And Chinatown isn’t limited to Chinatown; it bleeds into surrounding neighborhoods, like Little Italy and Tribeca.

But off of Canal Street and off Elizabeth Street and off the other major thoroughfares, Chinatown can be a fantastic place to shop. There is produce there you won’t find anywhere else in the city. And most of it is significantly cheaper and of better quality than you’d find else where in the city. If you ever need galangal root, you now know the place to go. It’s also a great place for cheap home goods. One of my favorite things to get in Chinatown and my main reason for going at all, is for the ridiculously cheap fabric to be found. While the selection is not quite as extensive as the garment district, the amazingly cheap prices more than make up for it.
Recommended for
  • Singles
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"It's an adventure"

Chinatown is a city within a city, and it has expanded tremendously in recent years. It has basically grown to take over Little Italy and has reached well into the Lower East Side. Exploring this neighborhood can be daunting, especially since it is packed full of overflowing shops and sights that feel like you're in a completely different world. However, it can also be a rewarding experience. I think a visit to the Kam Kuo Food Corp at 7 Mott Street is definitely interesting. It is actually just a huge, sprawling supermarket, and inside you'll see people doing their regular grocery shopping. You will find some unbelievable foods there: shredded squid, melonseed crackers, some food you never knew existed. They are amazing and delicious. I also really love Pacifica Restaurant at 138 Lafayette Street, a restaurant on the second floor of a Holiday Inn. That might not sound like much, but inside you can sit in a serene place next to windows that overlook the teeming crowds below. The food is absolutely authentic and has always been consistently of the highest quality. Another favorite is Columbus Park, where throngs of Chinese, young and old, socialize, tell fortunes, play mah jong or dominoes.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
2yrs+

"Battle the stink and the crowds for some excellent Dim Sum"

I must admit that I don’t up to Chinatown too often – I like to avoid crowds and nasty smells whenever possible, which puts Chinatown low on my list of New York things to do. But it does have some unique offerings that you are unlikely to find elsewhere in the city – especially when it comes to edible items.

The place is a true tourist’s delight (if you can stand the slow moving crowds), with seemingly endless offerings of (truly) cheap merchandise along Canal Street and a similarly uncapped amount of restaurants offering Chinese cuisine. And even though I am not partial to the crummy-ness of the area, I really do love a good Dim Sum – and there is no lack of it here.

Dim Sum Go Go on East Broadway (which is a completely different street apart from Broadway) is a great option (even if doesn’t offer the cart-style kind), as is Ping’s Seafood on Mott Street. The latter is possibly the best Dim Sum to be had in the city – and certainly in the neighborhood – and it is not in any way a secret, so prepare yourself to battle your way into the small restaurant.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • Great cheap restaurants
  • Dumplings and massage places galore
  • dim sum
Cons
  • Hard to fit into the community if you're not Chinese
  • Dirty
  • Smelly
  • dead at night
  • crime rates
  • knockoff Fendi bags
Recommended for
  • Tourists
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Biggest Chinatown in the world"

I get certain staples in Chinatown, and alas, it means every once in a while I have to brave the medley of crowds, fishy smells, criminal dealings, and tourist kitsch that is Chinatown. For example, Mott and Mulberry Streets each feature a couple of Asian desserts places, and I find that sometimes I cannot live without a sweet custard bun and a tapioca fruit shake. On main drag Canal Street, my number one crowd-filled nightmare place, there are a couple of excellent Asian grocery stores, where I stock up on my week's worth of frozen dumplings and wasabi beans. Also essential on Canal Street is the greatest and cheapest professional art supplies store ever created, Pearl Paint, a five-storey mega-mecca for all students in New York. It's a bit more desolate of late than it used to be, as is the fact that some of the most amazing Chinatown junk shops that used to line Canal Street are now no more. Canal Plastics is now probably the only remnant of the amazing stores that could be found in Chinatown, covering plastics, metal, and electronics supplies in an astonishing range. Everyone has their favorite authentic Chinatown restaurant; mine is Canton Restaurant at 45 Division Street, though there are a ton of excellent food options all over Chinatown. I never cease to be astonished at the fact that so many people live in this congested, infernal place and have to put up with it every single day.
Pros
  • Great cheap merchandise
  • Dumplings and massage places galore
  • Reasonable prices on most regular items like groceries and household stuff
Cons
  • Hard to fit into the community if you're not Chinese
  • Some gang violence regarding the Canal Street knockoffs industry
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Students
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
2yrs+

"Some good gems worth seeing but massively crowded, smelly, and dirty"

I am not a big fan of Chinatown. It's too far south from just about everything and it seems to be rich only in bad smells, trash and people. Getting a cab out of this neighborhood is a nightmare and once you do find one you will be stuck in traffic for what seems like a year.
Should one find himself in the neighborhood, however, there are some things worth seeing / doing. Posteritati is a vintage movie poster store that is famous for the massive amount of movie art that they carry. The store (Centre at Broome) is really cool and carries just about anything that your heart desires in the movie art genre. The Golden Unicorn is the place to go for authentic Hong Kong Dim Sum. They have great teas and a seemingly limitless range of dumplings. Peking Duck House (Mott at Pell) has a Soho style space but old school Chinatown style on their Duck. It's delicious and authentic.
For things to do there are two must sees: Lin Sisters and Night court. Lin Sisters Acupuncture is an underground institution in NY. They can treat just about anything between the acu sessions and herbal remedies (I go and I am a big fan). The Chinatown Night Court has sort of become a tourist attraction. You can go after 6 pm and watch a very colorful cast of NY characters as they are arraigned for various bizarre crimes and state their plea.
Pros
  • affordable rents
Cons
  • Dirty
  • Smelly
  • crime rates
  • dead at night
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Hipsters
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
2yrs+

"Good spot for a noodle dish, and massive throngs of people agree"

Chinatown can be a bit much at times; it is almost always crowded, and the air can often be heavy with the smell of fish - especially during the summer. That being said, there are some excellent Chinese food diners here (and some that are equally as bad) and this area is a must-see for tourists (which is why it is always crowded).

I wouldn't want to live here, mostly because of the constant crowds. There are some decent apartments in the area - many with great views from the roof - but it's just not worth it for me.

Visitors should check out Green Bo Restaurant on Bayard. I used to really love New Big Wang on Elizabeth, but alas it is closed. This recession is tough times for lovers of Chinese food.
Pros
  • dim sum
  • affordable rents
  • Great cheap restaurants
Cons
  • knockoff Fendi bags
  • Hard to fit into the community if you're not Chinese
  • Dirty
  • Smelly
Recommended for
  • Tourists
  • Hipsters
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"A somewhat cloistered ethnic enclave that's nevertheless a good day trip for visitors"

As the name would suggest, Manhattan's Chinatown is one of the most famously homogenous ethnic enclaves in the country. Not only are shop signs and even street signs written in Chinese alongside, or even instead of, English, but some shopkeepers or other neighborhood fixtures will speak very little English - parts of the neighborhood are so consistently Chinese that English is hardly necessary - although in recent years pockets of Chinatown have become Malaysian, Indonesian, and Vietnamers. This can often make it difficult for outsiders - it is rare that Caucasian New Yorkers live in the district, although it is certainly a prime destination for visiting, not only for its especially good, authentic Chinese food and East Asian groceries, but also for the thriving, if questionably legal, knockoff luxury goods trade on Canal Street and Mott Street.

That said, be wary - there is something of an organized crime presence behind the knockoff trade, and while your average visitor to the neighborhood shouldn't be worried (even when buying materials), it's still something to be mindful of. Food is generally good and cheap - with the exception of the famous Oriental Garden - try the Banh Mi Saigon Bakery on Mott Street for particularly good snacks, and you almost can't go wrong if you follow your nose on the restaurant front.
Pros
  • Knockoff Fendi bags
  • Great cheap restaurants
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Hard to fit into the community if you're not Chinese
  • Some gang violence regarding the Canal Street knockoffs industry
  • No nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Oriental Odysssey"

The always busy and bustling Chinatown in Manhattan is one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York City. Rumored to be the biggest Chinatown in the USA, the boundaries of Chinatown roughly extend from Canal Street in the North to Worth Street in the South and from Baxter Street in the West to the Bowery in the East.
Manhattan’s Chinatown is a favorite with bargain hunting tourists who enjoy shopping at its countless little stores for copycat designer handbags, watches and fragrances, feng shui knick knacks, jewelry, ethnic foods and clothes. In fact as soon as you exit any of the subway stations that transport you to Chinatown you are almost always accosted by touts who offer you fake brand name handbags and pirated copies of latest Hollywood blockbusters. For New York City dwellers Chinatown is the place to shop for fresh fish, exotic fruits and vegetables at the numerous Chinese groceries and supermarkets that line the main streets of Chinatown, like Mott Street, Mulberry Street and Center Street.
Chinatown also offers a smorgasbord of diverse cuisines from Asia at its various restaurants like cavernous the dim sum spots Jing Fong, Golden Unicorn and Dim Sum Go Go which offer Hong Kong style dim sum, Pongsri Thai which serves delicious Thai food, Jaya Malaysian, New Malaysia and Singapore Café which serve the hawker stall delights from Malaysia and Singapore and the traditional Chinese bakeries like Fay Da, Dragon Land and Taipan which serve a wide array of typical Chinese buns, breads , savories, sweets and teas.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • affordable rents
  • Dumplings and massage places galore
  • Great cheap merchandise
  • Great cheap restaurants
  • Knockoff Fendi bags
  • Reasonable prices on most regular items like groceries and household stuff
Cons
  • Hard to fit into the community if you're not Chinese
  • Some gang violence regarding the Canal Street knockoffs industry
  • dead at night
  • Dirty
  • No nightlife
  • Smelly
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids

Best Streets in Chinatown

1

Pell St

3.5/5
"Off Chinatown's beaten path"
40.7148154873255 -73.9979997819559
2

Bayard St

3.5/5
"A fun find!"
40.7156323498989 -73.9984919839345
3

Mosco St

3.5/5
"You must go to Mosco"
40.7144476266189 -73.9996177098977
4

Mulberry St

3/5
"Great Semi-Quiet Neighborhood"
40.7158267067494 -73.9993609211733
5

Lafayette St

3/5
"Add some music to your day"
40.717160117627 -74.0016897555651
6

Catherine Ln

3/5
"More than just great food"
40.7162780020931 -74.0035029959039
7

Doyers St

3/5
"A San Francisco Street in NYC"
40.7143062466467 -73.997886325689
8

Centre St

3/5
"Stay on the right side of the law"
40.7163333661455 -74.0012548756589
9

Mott St

3/5
"Find your inner peace"
40.7153457969213 -73.9986585151519
10

Hogan Pl

2.5/5
"Convenient, Clean, Busy"
40.7152305000744 -74.0006584998807

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