CHINATOWN PORTALS: A peek into Chinese communities across the world

by Zandra Estallo

Traveling has been severely constrained by the pandemic. Stuck at home, our wandering souls feel the need to explore, craving learnings that only new places can give.

As we adjust to the new way of doing things, this challenge is easily solved by a few clicks.

This October, Chinatown Museum in Binondo, Manila, is giving us the opportunity to visit and explore Chinatowns around the world—from the Philippines to London in the UK—without leaving the comfort of our homes.

Showcasing the history, scenery and culture of various Chinatowns around the world, Chinatown Museum has partnered with other international museums from across the world to “share unique histories of migration, similarities of tradition and fusion of cultures” through “Chinatown Portals,” a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone who loves history and beautiful places.

If you’re wondering why you should check out these places, here are some things to keep in mind:


Established in 1594 by Spanish Governor Luis Pérez Dasmariñas to be a Chinese settlement, Chinatown in Binondo gradually took shape as a new middle class emerged from intermarriages of Chinese men and native Filipina women during the Spanish colonial period.

As the first financial center of Manila, Binondo is an island with canals that were used to transport goods via “casco.” Escolta also used to be the luxury shopping destination of pre-war Manila.

Photo grabbed from Tatler Philippines.



In this city is a strong Chinese-Filipino community.

Chinese merchants flocked to Cebu even before the Spaniards arrived. The Spanish established “Parian” as a commercial and residential estate for the Chinese migrants to separate them from the non-Christianized Chinese and Filipinos. Because of shifts in culture and traditions, the Parian was discontinued. Chinese-Filipinos then moved to different parts of the island to continue their livelihood.



With majority of its inhabitants coming from Hong Kong, the current Chinatown in London is located off Shaftesbury Avenue and was established in the 1950s. Businesses were set up to cater to the Chinese sailors that stopped at the docklands.

The growing number of Hong Kong migrants and interest in Chinese cuisine led to the opening of more Chinese establishments in other spaces.



With five arches that mark the community at Little Bourke Street, the Chinatown in Melbourne emerged because of the gold rush during the 1850s. Chinese merchants and workers moved to Melbourne with an estimated three months to travel via boat from China to this Australian city.


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