Mahayana Buddhist Temple, chinatown manhattan

10 Best Things to Do in Chinatown, NYC + MAP

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There are countless things to do in Chinatown, NYC, so you can visit it over and over and still find something new. People come from all over the country to experience the unique atmosphere of New York City’s Chinatown, and it’s easy to see why it’s a must-visit Manhattan neighborhood.

This area is home to several historic landmarks and interesting streets where you can window shop for bargains, get a taste of a different culture, and learn more about the local Chinese community. The old structures and alleyways here carry a secret history that you may overlook at first glance. That’s why I recommend taking this tour if it’s your first time exploring this neighborhood. You will also visit nearby Little Italy, another reason why I consider it one of the best walking tours in NYC.

Every time we visit this place, there is something new to try since some of the best food in NYC is in Chinatown. From hand-pulled noodles and pork dumplings to fresh fish and dim sum, Chinatown is a haven for foodies. So, you can eat your way around here while discovering all the coolest attractions.

To help you out, I’m sharing the 10 best things to do in Chinatown, as well as where to stay if you decide to extend your visit.

1. Eat some Chinese food, a fun thing to do in Chinatown

Without a doubt, one of the best foods to try in NYC is Chinese food, and there is no better place to do that than in Chinatown. The aromas and flavors are a huge draw for visitors and locals craving authentic Asian food, and a few restaurants definitely stand out.

First, Joe’s Shanghai has some of the best Chinese food in NYC’s Chinatown, as well as vegetarian-friendly options. That said, the soup dumplings are super popular and worth trying. Another top spot to check out is Xi’an Famous Foods, which serves western Chinese dishes. While it’s a chain, it has incredible food, particularly spicy and sour dumplings, and chili oil beef noodles.

Hand-pulled noodles, best food in chinatown nyc

1. Eat some Chinese food, a fun thing to do in Chinatown

Speaking of which, you can get amazing noodles in Chinatown, and at a great price. Two of the best places to go are Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles and Super Taste. If you want to try a variety of Chinese dishes, go out for dim sum at Nom Wah Tea Parlor, where you can order everything from scallion pancakes and sesame balls to rice noodles and pork buns.

There are other Asian cuisines to enjoy here, including Korean barbecue, sushi, and ramen. One of the best ways to get a sampling of everything is by taking this food tour, which goes through Chinatown and Little Italy, another great neighborhood in NYC.

2. Mahayana Buddhist Temple, one of the best places in Chinatown, New York City

For a quiet escape from the busy city, enter the Mahayana Buddhist Temple. It’s the largest Buddhist temple in NYC, and you don’t have to be a practicing Buddhist to check it out.

The temple is open daily and holds meditation classes and cultural programs for visitors. You can pop in to leave an offering, say a prayer, or just look around at the beautiful interior. Along with a 16-foot golden Buddha statue, there are altars and artworks depicting the Buddha’s life story and enlightenment.

Mahayana Buddhist Temple, things to do in chinatown new york city

2. Mahayana Buddhist Temple, one of the best places in Chinatown, New York City

In addition to being one of the best places to visit in Chinatown, the temple is the setting for Chinese Buddhist gatherings every week. If you’re interested, you can attend one of the dharma services to experience the chants and ritual offerings.

The Mahayana Buddhist Temple is supported through donations, so if you stop by, I encourage you to leave a few dollars.

3. Columbus Park, another nice place to go in Chinatown, NYC

Columbus Park is another Chinatown landmark that you’re sure to see during your visit. This public park is along Chinatown’s southern border and is a popular spot for social and community events. As you walk through it, you may see people hanging out, playing mahjong, or practicing tai chi.

Columbus Park, chinatown landmark

3. Columbus Park, another nice place to go in Chinatown, NYC

While these days the park is a safe and friendly place, back in the 19th century, it was the site for lots of gang-related activity and crime. Over the decades, revitalization efforts have transformed Columbus Park into a welcoming space for all ages.

Here, you’ll find a playground, sports fields, a basketball court, and a statue of Chinese political leader Dr. Sun Yat-sen. It’s one of the best spots in Chinatown for people-watching, so I recommend relaxing here with a snack or drink, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

4. Museum of Chinese in America, an interesting museum in Chinatown, New York

Another way to learn more about Chinatown and its history is to visit the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA). This is one of the best museums in NYC, so it’s a must-see if you’re a museum lover or you’re looking for a rainy day activity.

Museum of Chinese in America, chinatown activities

4. Museum of Chinese in America, an interesting museum in Chinatown, New York

MOCA focuses on the Chinese American experience by chronicling over 160 years of events and individuals. Among the collection, there are manuscripts, photographs, textiles, audio recordings, and artwork, as well as a research center. During your visit, you’re sure to discover something new, such as a Chinese American actor you were unfamiliar with or long-held traditions like Shaolin dragon dancing.

Best of all, this museum in Chinatown, NYC is included in the New York Pass. If you don’t have the pass, you can get a ticket here.

5. Visit the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, something to do in Chinatown as a family

There are amazing restaurants in Chinatown, NYC, but don’t forget to save room for dessert. The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory has the most delectable cones and ice cream cakes, so you’ll want to stop by.

Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, best places chinatown nyc

5. Visit the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, something to do in Chinatown as a family

This family-owned ice cream shop is known for its colorful sweet treats and wide selection of flavors. You’ll find the typical flavors like vanilla and chocolate, as well as more adventurous ones like lychee, ginger, and green tea. The almond cookie ice cream sounds especially yummy, and it’s made with Chinese almond cookies from the Fung Wong Bakery down the street.

While some believe that the Chinese invented ice cream back during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), there’s no doubt that this is one of the most delicious places to visit in Chinatown.

6. Bloody Angle (Doyers Street), the most famous street in NYC’s Chinatown

Chinatown’s Doyers Street may be just 200 feet long, but it’s one of the most famous streets in New York, so you must check it out. The street is more like an alleyway, and it has a sharp bend in it where Nom Wah Tea Parlor is located.

In the early 20th century, Doyers Street was known as the “Bloody Angle” because it was the site of numerous murders and crimes. Gang-related activity and drug use led to lots of bloodshed, and people wouldn’t dare walk along this street.

Doyers Street, chinatown landmark

6. Bloody Angle (Doyers Street), the most famous street in NYC’s Chinatown

Fortunately, today this area is totally safe and has been revamped with a colorful street mural. It’s even considered to be one of the best streets in Chinatown, NYC, thanks to its shops and cafes. In addition to Nom Wah Tea Parlor, which dates back to 1920, there are other long-standing buildings here like Ting’s Gift Store.

There are also places to grab a drink or a bite to eat, like Chinese Tuxedo, Taiwan Pork Chop House, and Apotheke, one of the best speakeasies in NYC that is in an old opium den.

7. Canal Street Market, the best place to shop in Chinatown, NYC

Canal Street is one of the best places to go shopping in Chinatown, NYC, and one of the most popular spots to visit is the Canal Street Market. This large market is full of vendors selling everything from food and artisanal products to handicrafts, housewares, and clothing. This place is open year-round, so you can always find new items and bargains.

Canal Street Market, fun things to do in chinatown nyc

7. Canal Street Market, the best place to shop in Chinatown, NYC

One of the most interesting retailers here is a bonsai shop where you can take home your own miniature tree. There is also a food court full of Chinese vendors offering noodles, rice balls, bubble tea, and more. You can also find Filipino, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Mexican cuisine. Not only is the market a hub for community and culture, but it’s also a great place to support small, local businesses.

Of course, there are other popular markets in Chinatown where you can go bargain-hunting. Pearl River Mart is a three-story shop with unique items like tea sets, ceramics, incense holders, and Asian snacks and candy. For something more high-end, check out Magic Jewelry NYC, which has gorgeous jade pendants and gemstone bracelets.

8. Chinese New Year Parade, a cool thing to see in Chinatown

If you’re visiting Chinatown around Lunar New Year (which is usually in February), then you can’t miss the Chinese New Year Parade. It’s just one of the events that take place here for the Lunar New Year celebrations, but it’s definitely the most exciting.

Dragon dancing, chinatown what to see

8. Chinese New Year Parade, a cool thing to see in Chinatown

The parade is full of participants celebrating their culture and ringing in the new year with firecrackers, lanterns, music, and songs. You’ll also see dancers in traditional clothing and martial artists with impressive moves. One of my favorite things is the dragon dancing, which is a performance with an elaborate dragon puppet. The dragon is said to scare evil spirits away and bring in wisdom, fertility, and good fortune for the new year.

The parade route starts at Canal and Mott Streets and travels south, then goes east along Broadway before turning up Forsythe Street. So, grab a spot and witness one of the coolest things to see in Chinatown, NYC.

9. Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center, one of the best places to go in Chinatown with kids

If you’re looking for things to do in Chinatown with kids, or you just want to have some fun, head to the Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center on Mott Street. This video arcade has a long history, dating back to 1944 and appearing in several films throughout the years.

Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center, best spots in chinatown nyc

9. Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center, one of the best places to go in Chinatown with kids

Today, the arcade is under new management, but it’s still a popular place to visit in Chinatown with family or friends. You’ll find all your favorite games like Skee-Ball and air hockey, as well as classics like pinball and crane machines. The arcade is also known for having fan favorites like Dance Dance Revolution and Mario Kart.

You can also play the games that made the Fun Center famous in the first place, such as Ms. Pac-Man and Space Invaders. The arcade is open daily, so keep it in mind if you need something to do in Chinatown on a rainy day.

10. Get drinks at Crown Rooftop Bar, a fun thing to do in Chinatown as a couple

After a full day of exploring Chinatown and all its attractions, chill out with a cocktail at The Crown Rooftop Bar. Located on the 21st floor of Hotel 50 Bowery, The Crown offers beautiful views of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn skyline, as well as amazing drinks.

The Crown Rooftop Bar, cool places in chinatown new york

10. Get drinks at Crown Rooftop Bar, a fun thing to do in Chinatown as a couple

You can relax in the indoor lounge or enjoy the fresh air on one of the outdoor balconies. The entire bar has a boutique design with contemporary furnishings and stylish seating. The Crown also features a regular line-up of DJs, so you can listen to live music while sipping on a martini or beer.

In addition to its signature cocktails, the bar has a creative menu with small plates and appetizers like tuna tartare tacos, pan-fried chicken dumplings, and pork buns. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best rooftops in NYC and the perfect place to go in Chinatown at night.

Where to stay in Chinatown NYC

I prefer staying in one of the nearby neighborhoods, like the Bowery or SoHo. This way, you can enjoy a comfortable accommodation and a good night’s sleep while still being close to the best attractions in Chinatown. These are a couple of my favorite hotels:

Chinatown New York map

To wrap up, don’t forget to check out our Manhattan neighborhoods map to see an overview of Chinatown and nearby areas. I’m also sharing this specific map of New York’s Chinatown, with all the attractions and hotels I mentioned.

If you have any questions or you’d like to share your favorite things to do in Chinatown, leave me a comment below. I’d be delighted to hear from you! Have a fantastic trip!

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CHIEF ADVENTURER, TRAVEL GURU, AND MASTER PLANNER AT CAPTURE THE ATLAS
Hey there, I'm Ascen, your personal trip planner on a mission to help you craft the most incredible adventure of your life. While I'm based in Las Vegas, you won't find me there often. As a full-time traveler, I'm always on the go, exploring new destinations and capturing the world through my lens. From the enchanting shores of Almeria, Spain, where I grew up, to the far reaches of the globe, I'm here to provide you with detailed travel guides and practical tips to make your trip planning a breeze. Find out more about me here.
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