Top 12 Things To Do In Chinatown, New York City - Updated 2023

things to do in chinatown
| 5 min read
0 K+
100.0K+ readers and counting!

Chinatown came into existence in the 1870s after the Chinese immigrant population of New York had increased markedly over the past 10-15 years. Since then, Chinatown has continued to grow and a lot of Asian culture and tradition have sprouted up there. Chinatown in New York is currently the largest enclave of Chinese people in the US with a population between 70,000 and 150,000. While here, you’re not just sampling the history of the Chinese in New York but also all of China. Despite it being densely packed, Chinatown is sprawled over a huge expanse, and it’s one of the best neighborhoods in the city and has some of the best hotels to stay. Wondering about what to do in Chinatown, New York City? Plan your itinerary and scroll down for our list of the top things to do in Chinatown, New York City.

1. Explore Pell Street

Pell Street, Chinatown, Manhattan, New York (7237359426)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ken Lund used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Pell Street exudes an undeniable charm that makes it a delightful area to explore in New York City’s Chinatown. Stepping onto its bustling streets, visitors are immersed in a vibrant atmosphere filled with cultural treasures and exciting activities in Chinatown. From its bustling markets and specialty shops offering unique finds to its array of authentic eateries dishing out delectable Chinese cuisine, Pell Street invites culinary adventures and memorable food explorations.

The street is also adorned with colorful street art and architectural gems, adding to its visual appeal. Strolling along Pell Street allows you to absorb the rich history and culture of Chinatown while enjoying a diverse range of experiences, from trying exotic treats and enjoying traditional tea ceremonies to embracing the lively energy of the neighborhood’s festivities.

2. Eat dim sum dishes at Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Nom Wah Tea Parlor - Chinatown, NYC
Source: Photo by Flickr user Marco used under CC BY-ND 2.0

One of the best places to visit in Chinatown, New York City, is Nom Wah Tea Parlor. The place holds a profound cultural significance that makes it a must-visit destination. Established in 1920, it stands as one of the oldest continuously operating dim sum restaurants in the city, offering a nostalgic glimpse into the history of Chinese cuisine and community.

The parlor’s enduring charm, marked by its vintage interior and bustling atmosphere, captures the essence of old Chinatown. Serving as a gathering place for generations, it symbolizes the cultural heritage and culinary traditions of Chinese immigrants.

Nom Wah’s exceptional dim sum selection, ranging from delicate dumplings to savory buns, exemplifies the essence of communal dining and sharing. For those seeking an authentic taste of both history and gastronomy, it provides an unparalleled experience that not only satisfies the palate but also pays homage to the cultural roots of Chinatown.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Address: 13 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013, United States

Website: Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Opening hours: Thu - Tue: 11am - 9pm (closed on Wed)

3. Take a Chinatown food crawl with a chef (from USD 70.0)

Wondering about where to go in Chinatown, New York City? Look no further than this food crawl and get a taste of authentic Chinese cuisine with a chef. What better way to experience the food of Manhattan’s Chinatown than to take a tour led by a seasoned chef? The tour begins in Columbus Park which is formerly the home of the famed Five Points immigrant neighborhood. You will taste iconic Chinese foods such as Cantonese barbecue or pan-fried dumplings from Hong Kong. Your journey will end with a Peking duck sesame pancake from a favored neighborhood spot. There will be a discussion of the history of Chinatown as you go along and will likely find new and interesting twists to your visit.

Chinatown Food Tour with a Chef

Duration: 1.5 hours

658 reviews

4. Take a step to the past strolling along Doyers Street

Doyers Street Chinatown
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Beyond My Ken used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Travel back in time while strolling along Doyers Street known as “The Bloody Angle.” Doyers Street is a 200-foot long (656-meter) street in Chinatown. It’s a block that has a sharp turn in the middle which is partly where it got its nickname. However, another story behind it is its long history of violence from the turn of the century until the 30s. The street is famous for the wars between the Tong Gangs where hatchets were often used leaving a bloody scene. Now, the block contains several restaurants, salons, and barbershops. Taking a stroll down this street for a taste of true Chinatown nostalgia should be on your list of things to do here.

5. Get your aura read at Magic Jewelry NYC

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

See and know about your energy field with an aura photo and reading at Magic Jewelry NYC. You can also set up a virtual consultation after you leave New York City, or shop for a jade bangle that signifies a noble person with grace and harmony. You can shop for all kinds of jewelry including pendants, necklaces, bracelets, or wands of all different substances and colors. Discover what your personal element is and learn how to use the different elements to help you financially or in romance. If any of this intrigues you, then Magic Jewelry NYC should be on your list of things to do in Chinatown, New York City.

Magic Jewelry NYC

Website: Magic Jewelry NYC

Opening hours: 11:30am - 5pm (daily)

6. Snap a photo of the beautiful Manhattan Bridge Arch and Colonnade

Manhattan Bridge Arch
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Beyond My Ken used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Mark your Chinatown, NYC trip with a photo at the beautiful Manhattan Bridge Arch and Colonnade. For the longest time, this wasn’t possible. Finished in 1909, it was just the fourth bridge to cross the East River from Manhattan to Long Island. The bridge was off-limits to walk-in traffic until around 2001, so you couldn’t take a picture there unless from a speeding car or train. Now, you can stand in front of the piece of wonderful architecture that has such a rich history and take a souvenir photo to mark your Chinatown trip.

Manhattan Bridge Arch and Colonnade

Address: Manhattan Bridge Lower Roadway, New York, NY 10002, United States

Website: Manhattan Bridge Arch and Colonnade

7. Join a meditation class at Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association

Templo Mahayana
Source: Photo by Flickr user Guillén Pérez used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Ease your mind and soul in a meditation class at Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association. With temples located on the famous Canal Street or Mott Street (Chinatown’s “Main Street”), you can easily get your meditation on and learn from real Buddhist monks from Chinatown, New York City. They are open, friendly, and teaching every day of the week. They have art classes where they will teach you how Buddhism is expressed through art. Every Sunday, there is a meditation and mindfulness class where they teach you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the busy life and return to your true nature. If you want to truly experience the nature of Chinatown and the culture of the Chinese people, you will want to have this on your list of things to do in Chinatown, New York City.

Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association

Address: 133 Canal St, New York, NY 10002

Website: Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association

Opening hours: 8:30am - 6:00pm (daily)

8. Exercise with the locals at Columbus Park

Columbus Park is often referred to by the locals as “Calisthenics Park,” a place where they usually exercise together. There are pull-up bars, low bars, wall bars, and monkey bars, but people gather there to do “freeletics” and bodyweight exercises. The park is well-kept by the community and is a safe and rewarding place to get your exercise if that’s what you’re looking for. If you want to feel like a local, this is one of the best non-touristy things to do in NYC.

Columbus Park

Address: Mulberry Street &, Baxter St, New York, NY 10013, United States

Website: Columbus Park

Opening hours: 6am - 10pm (daily)

9. Browse through the unusual collections at Mmuseumm

Mmuseumm 1 Interior
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alexkalman used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Browse through the unusual collections at Mmuseumm, a modern natural history museum located in the heart of Chinatown. The first two museums are located on Cortlandt Alley between Franklin Street and White Street which has been called Mmuseumm Alley. The museum is dedicated to curating and displaying contemporary art in order to shine a light on the modern world. There are two locations, one of which opened in 2012 and the second which opened in 2015. The museums are open 24 hours a day and visible through peepholes. Make this a stop on your things to do in Chinatown itinerary.


Address: 4 Cortlandt Alley, New York, NY 10013

Website: Mmuseumm

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

10. Enjoy a sweet treat and cuddle with cats at Meow Parlour

Meow Parlour in NYC
Source: Photo by Flickr user lovinkat used under CC BY 2.0

Meow Parlour serves up coffee, tea, pastries, and free WiFi—but that’s not all. They also serve up some kitty love by offering by-the-hour petting and playtime with cats. The owner, Christina, owns five cats that are the star attraction here. If you are concerned about the welfare of cats, she owns an NYC certificate in animal care and handling as well as a culinary degree. This is a definite must for your things to do in Chinatown itinerary because it’s just so darn cute.

Meow Parlour

Address: 46 Hester St, New York, NY 10002

Website: Meow Parlour

Opening hours: Mon - Tue: 12pm - 8pm; Thu - Fri: 12pm - 8pm; Sat - Sun: 11am - 8pm (closed on Wed)

11. Play retro video games at Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center

Chinatown Fair storefront
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Seth Tisue used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center is a video arcade located on Mott Street. This place is also known as the purveyor of retro arcade games such as Tekken or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the area. During your trip here, you will find a variety of games such as Quick Drop, Down the Clown, Mario Kart, Maximum Tune 5, House of the Dead 5: Scarlet Dawn, Jurassic Park, and Halo: Fireteam Raven. The arcade first opened in 1944 and closed in 2011 but opened again in 2012 with different management. Make this a stop as you walk through Chinatown.

Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center

Address: 8 Mott St, New York, NY 10038, United States

Website: Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 11am - 12am; Fri - Sat: 11am - 2am

12. Haggle for souvenirs and gifts at different shops along Canal Street

Canal St-Baxter St
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pacific Coast Hig... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Engage in a Chinatown tradition and haggle with owners to get the best price and experience this very old custom. You can go to Canal St. 247 Mini Mall and haggle for some jewelry, or you can visit Canal Street Market and just talk about the weather with the locals. There is just so much to see and so many places to shop that’s why you cannot leave Canal Street off your things to do in Chinatown list.

Make your plan to visit Chinatown today

New York is a grand city with practically limitless things to do that even a good 36 hours is not enough, but, if you want to experience a large portion of the immigrant history of New York, you must visit Chinatown. Be sure to try the different foods, sample the magic of China, join a few tours, and walk down historic streets before leaving New York City.

Frequently asked questions about things to do in Chinatown

1. What are some of the best food items that one can try in New York City’s Chinatown?

If you are a connoisseur of good food and would like to relish some of the savory items during your visit to Chinatown in New York City, you can eat dim sum dishes at Nom Wah Tea Parlor.

2. What are some of the most unique outdoor activities that one can try in New York City’s Chinatown?

If you are visiting the vibrant neighborhood of Chinatown during your vacation in New York City and would like to explore some of the most unique outdoor activities in the area, you can take a Chinatown food crawl with a chef.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our Privacy Policy for more information on how we use your data

Alexander is a veteran of the United States Navy, an editor-at-large, and a content writer/reviewer. He has written numerous opinion pieces, reality television articles, has taken a few interviews,...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Chinatown
Looking for accommodation?
Good things are meant to be shared!