There are many Chinatown’s located around the world and Vancouver is home to one of the oldest in the Americas, which dates back to the 1890’s. Vancouver’s Chinatown is also the third-largest in North America, behind San Francisco and New York, and has been named as a National Historic Site of Canada. With plenty of authentic food choices and a vibrant cultural scene, this is one of the most unique neighbourhoods in Vancouver. The epicenter of Chinatown is Main and Pender Street, and there are many amazing things to do during a visit here.
Vancouver has a long history of immigration from China, dating back to the British Columbia Gold Rush and building of the cross country railroad in the later parts of the 1800’s. Many of these immigrants began to settle in Vancouver, and Chinatown has its roots dating back to at least 1890 when this became the main destination for these newly arrived residents. While more recent Chinese immigration from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China has centered around the suburb of Richmond, there is a still a very authentic feel to Downtown’s Chinatown.
Chinatown is located along the border with Gastown (which is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood) and together these historic locations have become can’t miss destinations for visitors to the city. There are many things to do in Chinatown, including several great restaurants and authentic food markets to visit. The yearly Chinese New Year Parade is a can’t miss event in Vancouver.
Visiting Chinatown today, you will notice the neighbourhood has gone through a recent reconstruction, with new buildings and business’s breathing new life into the area. Just wandering through the streets of this neighbourhood will inspire you, as the vibrant colours and distinct smells will make you feel as if you’ve crossed a border into a different country. It has survived for over 100 years during the endless expansion of Vancouver, and still makes up an important cultural element of the city.
No trip to Chinatown is complete without a trip to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This urban oasis was built in 1985, and was the first Chinese Garden (also known as a “scholars garden”) to be built outside of China. It’s aim is to “maintain and enhance the bridge of understanding between Chinese and western cultures, promote Chinese culture generally and be an integral part of the local community.” This is also the perfect place to rest and recover from a long day of sightseeing.
Chinatown stands out as one of the most unique locations in the city, and a visit here is important to understand the both the early history, as well as the multicultural modern city of today. Chinatown is worthy of a at least a half day of your visit to Vancouver, and is easy walking distance to Gastown, which we featured in a post earlier this week.
We have been exploring many of the different neighbourhoods of Vancouver during the last few weeks, and we hope the following photos will inspire you to visit during your next trip to Vancouver.