Did you know that the oldest Chinatown in the world is located in the Philippines? It was established in 1594. I thought it could have been in Vietnam, Korea, India, Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Russia, Pakistan, Nepal, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan or Afghanistan (its neighbouring land-based countries). Here are the Top 12 Things You Can Do in Binondo (Chinatown)!
1.) Visit the Largest Chinatown Arch in the World
It is dubbed as the largest Chinatown Arch in the World, at 3.8-feet taller than the one found in Washington, DC. It is a testament of China-Philippines friendship amidst the rising tension on territorial disputes in West Philippine Sea. It was built for PHP22,500,000 (USD500,000) by the City of Guangzhou, China.
2.) Chinese Food Trip
You can find more authentic Chinese cuisines inside Binondo. So far we have dined in Eng Bee Tin where The Great Buddha is located, Sincerity Restaurant which boasts one of the most delicious fried chicken and El Presidente where a lot of big celebrities have dined since the 1970s. We are aiming to dine as well in Chuan Kee, the oldest fast food restaurant in Binondo but we always get impatient on the long queues. (Swipe below photo for more pictures)
3.) Picture Taking in Jones Bridge
The Jones Bridge showcases French Neoclassical Architecture and imitates one of the famous bridges you can only see in Paris. It was named after the United States legislator William Atkinson Jones who authored the Jones Law which gave the Philippines legislative autonomy from the United States. It was originally designed in the 1920’s by award-winning Filipino architect Juan M. Arellano. On the other side of the river, you will see another of Arellano’s master piece, The Manila Post Office. (Swipe below photo for more pictures)
4.) Visit Calvo Building
Calvo Building is the oldest building in Binondo. Built in 1938, it is an outstanding example of the beaux-arts architecture. (Swipe below photo for more pictures)
5.) Send your prayers in Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz
Also known as Binondo Church, this church is patroned by the Philippines’ First Saint, Lorenzo Ruiz. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1987. In front of the church, you can buy candles depending on your wishes. I lighted orange for my success in pursuit in law school, white for world peace, green for very good health and money, red for sustained passion, and pink for love and friendship. (Swipe below photo for more pictures)
6.) Santo Cristo de Longos Shrine
Somewhere in the corner streets of Binondo (Ongpin and Tomas Pinpin Streets), you will encounter this small chapel which seems to combine Confucian-Christian religions. Although there are Confucian items such as incense and jiaobei blocks, the appearance of that Cross is very much interesting. (Swipe below photo for more pictures)
7.) Buy your lucky charms
Since it is nearing Chinese New Year, there is nothing wrong to buy some lucky charms for your protection. I accompanied my office colleague Bijin from India in this shopping. Lucky Charms in China town are much cheaper in price! (Swipe below photo for more pictures)
8.) Mourn and Take Action for this Dead River
This is called Binondo river. This is a testament of how irresponsible humans ruined the ecosystem of other living things. It is now colored black, stinky, and no signs of life.
9.) Staycation in Hotel Lucky Chinatown
To have a more authentic Chinatown experience, staying overnight is recommendable. Megaworld properties has built one of the most convenient and safest hotel in the area. Watch our Hotel Lucky Chinatown vlog here.
10.) Shop around Lucky Chinatown Mall
Lucky Chinatown Mall is the most convenient shopping mall in Binondo. If you are staying in Hotel Lucky Chinatown, guests have a special passage way going to the mall. This is a property developed by Megaworld.
11.) Visit Chinatown Museum
Chinatown shares the colorful story of Binondo as one of the oldest Chinatowns in the whole world.
12.) Pose with the Giant Red Christmas Tree
This Red Christmas Tree is very symbolic to Communist China. This is only available around Christmas time. Get your selfies in Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo!
How to Commute to Chinatown:
We chose the less-known route travelled by passengers going to Chinatown. Only few people know that the Pasig River Ferry offers you a shorter travel time without heavy traffic. We took the ferry from Guadalupe Ferry Station then alighted to Escolta Ferry Station to start our Chinatown tours. If you are willing to pay for a tour guide, you can contact me – Nathanael Nunag, the blogger of this website.