Chinese immigrants first landed on the shores of Hawaii in 1788 to work on the sugar plantations. The years passed and more Chinese workers arrived, many of them choosing to stay and open their own enterprises – this is how Honolulu’s Chinatown was born. Today, it covers 15 blocks and is buzzing with action, while still acting as an important hub for many Koreans, Hawaiians, Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese. Here, we take a look at the top 10 things to do in Honolulu’s Chinatown.
A trip to Chinatown is not complete without checking out its marketplaces. Head to Oahu Market for a tantalizing display of tropical fruits, such as watermelons, pineapples and many others. Then head over to the Yat Tung Chow Noodle Factory, where they make noodles of nine different sizes, from super thin strands to thick udon noodles. Fans of Filipino, Korean, Chinese and Thai cuisines will love the food court at nearby Maunakea Marketplace.
Oahu Market, 145 N King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, +1 808 841 6924
The Hawaii Heritage Center sponsors a walking tour of Chinatown, which stops at several spots in the area, including historic buildings that have been standing for 100 years or more. The guided tour features multimedia exhibits with interviews, interesting facts and photos showing the neighborhood’s past. Learn about how the thriving sugar cane industry attracted Chinese immigrants to Hawaii in the 19th century – many of them stayed and settled permanently near the harbor, creating Honolulu’s Chinatown as it is today.
The arts are an integral part of Hawaiian culture and have been since ancient times. Nuuanu Avenue and Bethel Street in Chinatown are two of the best spots in Honolulu to admire artwork of all kinds. Artist Pegge Hopper shares her original work in a gallery that has been open since 1983. The Ramsay Museum, located in the historic Tam Sing Building, is known for fine pen and intricate Indian ink work that is best admired with a magnifying glass. There are plenty of other unique galleries just waiting to be discovered, too!
The oldest Buddhist temple on the Hawaiian islands, Kuan Yin Temple remains an important place of worship. It is well-known for its green roof made of ceramic tiles. During festivals, Buddhists come here to burn incense and receive blessings. The temple’s name honors Kuan Yin, who chose to remain on earth to do good even after achieving enlightenment. Various depictions of her can be found all over the Aloha State.