Nestled in the heart of Honolulu is Chinatown, Hawaii’s vibrant and diverse neighborhood. A melting pot of Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Hawaiian, and other cultures from around the world, this bustling neighborhood has something for everyone to enjoy. From unique restaurants featuring flavors from all over Asia to traditional temples that have been standing since the 1800s, Chinatown is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience some of Hawaii’s most interesting sights. With its colorful markets full of exotic produce and handcrafted goods as well as its lively nightlife scene with bars and nightclubs playing music from faraway lands – Chinatown truly has something for everyone! Come explore this fascinating part of town and discover why it remains one of Honolulu’s top tourist attractions today!


  • Chinatown is home to a vibrant mix of cultures and cuisines
  • A stroll through Chinatown’s streets reveals countless shops
  • Chinatown also offers a variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes that serve up delicious dishes from all over the world
  • Explore Chinatown’s popular attractions where visitors can find peace and serenity amidst the hustle and bustle of city life
  • Immerse in the rich history steeped in tradition
  • Discover unique cultures in an array of colors, flavors, sights, and sounds


Chinese Clock
© KenWeidemann via Canva

The Chinatown Historic District in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii has a rich history dating back to the 1840s and 1850s when it became a lively hub for Chinese immigrants. As the sugar plantations declined, many Chinese immigrants found work in existing businesses or started their own in Chinatown. By 1882, Chinatown was flourishing and served not only its population but also the larger Honolulu community. However, a fire in 1886 destroyed eight blocks of buildings, and in 1899, there was an outbreak of bubonic plague that worsened living conditions. Thankfully, the district was declared plague-free in 1900 and saw a resurgence as a thriving commercial area by the 1920s.

However, the number of Chinese residents started dwindling over the years, and after World War II, Chinatown experienced a period of decline. It wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that the population in Chinatown started to decrease significantly, leading to struggling businesses. Recognizing its historical significance, Honolulu’s Chinatown was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, sparking a revitalization effort and increased investment. The revitalization began with the construction of Maunakea Marketplace and Kekaulike Mall in the 1980s. Today, Chinatown is a bustling commercial district with a vibrant mix of traditional businesses, art galleries, and artist’s studios. It has become an exciting melting pot of Southeast Asian cultures, making the Chinatown Historic District a truly thriving and eclectic area

Things to Do

Chinatown Hawaii is an area of Honolulu located west of downtown. It has a rich cultural history and boasts a vibrant Chinese-American community.

Explore the Unique Culture of Chinatown

© mariloutrias via Canva

In recent years, Chinatown Hawaii has become a major tourist destination due to its unique blend of cultures and historical sites. Today, its streets are dotted with traditional Chinese restaurants, herbal shops, temples, markets, and bakeries that reflect the deep roots of the Chinese-American culture in this region. Visitors can explore the variety of museums such as The Chinese Cultural Plaza which offers a comprehensive look at different aspects of Chinese art and culture throughout history or stroll through the bustling stalls selling everything from fortune cookies to traditional Chinese clothing.

The neighborhood also features some classical architecture with many buildings designed in the style popular during that period when Chinatown first started to grow. There are also many antique stores and galleries offering unique souvenirs for visitors to take home as well as art studios showcasing some amazing artwork from local artists. Throughout Chinatown, several temples and shrines are honoring various gods and deities as well as several interesting historical sites such as the original Maunakea Market where immigrants used to purchase supplies when they first arrived in Hawaii.  In addition to this, there are several popular annual festivals such as The Chinatown Arts & Concerts Festival which feature performances from musicians from various cultures all around the world. Chinatown Hawaii is truly a unique place that embodies many distinct elements of both ancient Chinese culture as well as modern American life.

Visit Popular Attractions

Run down building in Chinatown
© Sonia Shjegstad via Canva

Chinatown is full of exciting attractions for visitors to explore. From historical sites to bustling streets, Chinatown has something for everyone to discover. One of the most popular attractions in Chinatown is the Hawaii Chinese History Center, a museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of Chinese Americans. The museum displays artifacts from the 19th century and early 20th century, as well as rotating exhibitions about different aspects of Chinese American history. At this museum, you can learn about the struggles and successes that Chinese immigrants faced when they first arrived in America.

The Shanghai Alley Mural is another popular attraction in Chinatown that shouldn’t be missed. This vibrant mural was created by San Francisco-based artist Zio Ziegler to celebrate Chinatown’s cultural heritage and resilience through art. The mural paints a picture of a thriving community with bright colors and shapes that represent many aspects of life in Chinatown, such as the Cantonese opera and dim sum. Some other popular attractions include the Chinese Cultural Plaza, which features traditional Chinese architecture, art galleries, shops, restaurants, and more. The Kekaulike Market offers fresh produce from local farmers every day. Visitors can also enjoy an array of entertainment spots such as the Hawaii Theatre or the Honolulu Zoo, both located within minutes of Chinatown’s heart.

Treat Yourself to a Culinary Adventure

Chinese Dimsum Set
© c8501089 via Canva

Chinatown Hawaii is the perfect destination for food lovers looking to experience the unique flavors and culinary delights of Hawaii. Located in downtown Honolulu, Chinatown is home to a wide variety of restaurants that offer up delicious dishes that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. From traditional Hawaiian fares such as kalua pork and lau lau to Chinese dim sum, Thai noodles, and more, Chinatown offers up something for everyone.

Take a stroll through the district and you’ll find an array of eateries serving up authentic cuisine from around the world. For seafood lovers, there are plenty of options where you can enjoy freshly caught fish prepared in a variety of ways. If you’re craving something sweet, Chinatown also has numerous bakeries offering pastries filled with tropical fruits or even mochi ice cream. Don’t forget about beverages either! Local watering holes serve drinks like tropical juices and bubble teas to accompany your meals. While exploring Chinatown make sure to check out some of the local grocery stores which offer an abundance of Asian ingredients ranging from fresh vegetables to exotic spices and sauces. No matter what type of cuisine you’re craving, Chinatown Hawaii will have something delicious waiting for you!

Don’t Forget the Shopping Experiences in Chinatown 

Chinatown Trinkets
© mariloutrias via Canva

Shopping in Chinatown Hawaii is an unforgettable experience! From the vibrant atmosphere to the eclectic range of shops, this neighborhood is sure to please. Shoppers can find everything from traditional Chinese herbal medicine and paper goods to modern streetwear and Hawaiian souvenirs. Many stores specialize in local goods and cultural artifacts like jewelry, paintings, and specialty foods. Tourists can also find incredible deals on antiques, vintage furniture, and other unique items. Most stores are open late into the night so visitors can shop until their heart’s content. With its selection of unique boutiques and diverse offerings, Chinatown Hawaii is a great place for exploring and finding one-of-a-kind treasures.

Tips for Visiting Chinatown Safely and Enjoyably 

When visiting Chinatown Hawaii, there are several tips to follow to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience.

  • Visit on a weekday. Weekdays in the morning or early afternoon are the best times to explore Chinatown to avoid the tourist rush. However, if you’re interested in nightlife or experiencing the First Friday Art Walk (an art event held on the first Friday of every month), then an evening visit might be more your style.
  • It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to stay in well-lit, populated areas at night. While Chinatown has significantly improved over the years, it’s always wise to be aware of your surroundings, especially in the evening. Stick to well-lit areas, avoid engaging with aggressive street vendors, and keep an eye on your belongings.
  • Be mindful of local customs when interacting with people in the area. Some people may not appreciate photography or engaging in conversation as readily as they would elsewhere. Respect their wishes and choose other activities instead of intruding on their space without permission.
  • Try to familiarize yourself with some basic words in the local language such as “hello” or “thank you” before visiting Chinatown Hawaii. This will help you interact with locals more effectively and they will appreciate your effort to learn about their culture.
  • Explore the unique foods that Chinatown Hawaii has to offer! Enjoy the flavors of dim sum, noodles, and seafood dishes that are served up fresh daily from many food stands located throughout the district.
  • Take advantage of all the shopping opportunities found in Chinatown Hawaii. Here you can find souvenirs like handcrafted jewelry, traditional clothing items, and decorative lanterns which make perfect gifts for loved ones back home.
  • Take advantage of the abundant public transportation options available when navigating around Chinatown Hawaii. The Honolulu Area Rapid Transit (HART) offers multiple bus lines throughout the city as well as convenient shared bike stations located near popular tourist attractions such as Iolani Palace and Bishop Museum making it easy to explore this culturally rich neighborhood without having to rely on a car for transportation.

Best Time to Visit

Visiting Chinatown Hawaii is best done from April to October when temperatures are mild and the sun shines most days. During this time, visitors can explore the area’s many shops, eateries, and attractions without worrying about the heat or humidity that comes with a tropical climate. Additionally, Chinatown Hawaii hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, such as the Chinese New Year Celebration in January and February and the Moon Festival in August.

Aside from these larger events, there are also smaller cultural celebrations held throughout the year. These include street fairs showcasing local artisans, live music performances, food festivals, fireworks shows, and more. The summer months tend to be busiest for tourists since it marks school holidays for many families, but visiting during any time of year will still provide unique experiences to remember.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Chinatown Hawaii is a historic district in Honolulu, located on the north side of Oahu Island. The area was originally settled by Chinese immigrants who worked at sugar cane plantations in the late 1800s. Today, Chinatown is home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, markets, and shops that reflect its vibrant cultural heritage.

Chinatown Hawaii covers approximately 15 ha.

Chinatown Hawaii is located in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu.

Chinatown Hawaii offers a variety of unique experiences including traditional Chinese and Hawaiian culture and cuisine, street markets, historic buildings, art galleries, and museums.

In addition to traditional Chinese cuisine, there are a variety of multicultural dining options available throughout the area. From casual cafe-style eateries to fine-dining restaurants offering international flavors from around the world, there’s something for everyone’s taste buds!

1120 Maunakea St #200, Honolulu, HI 96817.

How to Get There

When visiting Chinatown Hawaii, the best way to get around easily is by walking or biking. The streets are relatively small and easy to navigate. Additionally, there are many bike rental services available in the area so you can explore the area while getting some exercise at the same time.

If you prefer public transportation, TheBus is a great option for getting around Chinatown Hawaii, and Honolulu. Check out the convenient Kalihi or Palama Satellite City Hall bus stops located in the bustling City Square at 1199 Dillingham Street. If you’re arriving from another area in Honolulu or Oahu, there are plenty of other bus stops to explore as well.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, take advantage of Honolulu’s taxi service. Taxis are reasonably priced and plentiful in Chinatown Hawaii and downtown Honolulu. Plus, taxis offer convenient door-to-door service which is especially helpful if you’re carrying heavy luggage or need a quick ride from one end of town to another.

Uncover the Wonders of Chinatown!

Immerse yourself in a kaleidoscope of sights, smells, and flavors that will awaken your senses. The bright neon signs and tantalizing aromas from street-side eateries will captivate you from the moment you arrive. Whether you’re seeking a one-of-a-kind shopping experience or an authentic taste of culture, Chinatown has it all. Indulge in the traditional Chinese cuisine or savor the fusion of Hawaiian flavors. From lively night markets to captivating daytime attractions, Chinatown offers something for everyone. So plan your visit now and experience this mesmerizing corner of Hawaii!