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Chinatown, London

London’s Chinatown is part of Soho but more of an enclave with its own Oriental character and feel. The enclave is located between Shaftesbury Avenue and Lisle Street centring on Gerrard Street – it is close to Leicester Square. Its history started sometime after the Second World War attracting Chinese immigrants lured by cheap rent.

Soon restaurants began to open followed by shops and other businesses. By the 1970s, the neighbourhood developed into a distinctively Chinese enclave of London. Like most Chinatowns around the world, Chinatown in London is no exception with its unmistakeably Asian character. The enclave is not a large area and some streets pedestrianised. Therefore, you can easily get around the neighbourhood on foot.

London's Chinatown by Mark Ahsmann

Part of Asia in London

Chinese symbols, decorations, sculptures, traditional gates and a pagoda adorn Chinatown to give it an authentic Oriental feel, offering a great photo opportunity. Even the street signs and signboards are in Chinese characters besides English. Chinese-owned businesses dominate and characterise Chinatown with its restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and shops. This is the place for Oriental items such as traditional Chinese buns and authentic foodstuffs and ingredients from East Asia.

Chinese decorations for the Lunar New Year by Txllxt TxllxT

Food Scene

London’s Chinatown is the right place to be for authentic Chinese cuisines. There are plenty of fantastic restaurants here including restaurants offering an ‘all you can eat’ buffet and dim sum is very popular. Most establishments specialise in cuisines from a specific region of China but many restaurants here specialise in tasty Cantonese or spicy Szechwan cuisines. Do not be surprised to find other Asian restaurants in Chinatown (not as many as the Chinese establishments) including Japanese, Korean and Malaysian.

Restaurants in Chinatown by Tom Morris

Chinese New Year

Every year, there is the Chinese New Year celebration held between mid-January and mid-February following the Chinese lunar calendar. The celebration is the most important festival among the Chinese community around the world and London is no exception. The colourful celebration features a parade, floats and the traditional dragon dance through Chinatown and the West End. There is also a cultural performance at Trafalgar Square. Back in Chinatown, many of the Chinese restaurants serve traditional treats special to the festival.

Visiting Chinatown

Two London Underground stations serve Chinatown in Soho. Leicester Square Station is in the southeastern corner of Chinatown and served by the Northern and Piccadilly Lines. Piccadilly Circus Station is in the southwestern corner and served by the Bakerloo and Piccadilly Lines. London’s red buses travelling on several routes connect many locations in Central London with Chinatown – buses do not travel through the area but stop on the outskirt.

Chinatown on the Map

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