Vancouver‘s Chinatown is a fantastic place to spend the day shopping, sightseeing, and sampling delicious Chinese cuisine. With striking architecture, beautiful gardens, and bustling marketplaces, it features a rich history that dates back to 1890, when early Chinese immigrants to Vancouver settled in Shanghai Alley. By 1898, the area was thriving, and even included the famous 500 seat Sing Kew Chinese Theatre, which was destroyed during a fire in 1947. In 1904, Canton Alley was created, and the convergence of the two created a vibrant area where music could be heard, shopping could be enjoyed, and political and cultural activities of all types could be undertaken.
Today, this area is a very popular weekend destination for people from all cultures and backgrounds. Monuments The Chinatown Plaza neon sign at the corner of Keefer and Quebec streets offers a greeting in Chinese that reads “Chinatown Welcomes You.” 45 feet tall and brilliantly lit in neon, it provides just a hint at things to come. Across the way, at the corner of Keefer and Columbia, the Monument of Canadian Chinese stands sentinel. Symbolizing harmony and shaped in the Chinese Zhong character, it features two bronze figures; one is a railroad worker, and the other is a WWII-era Canadian Chinese soldier. These are only two of the many monuments you’ll find within the Chinatown neighbourhood; near the corner of West Pender and Carrall streets, you can stand beneath the Chinatown Millennium Gate, which was erected in 2002.
Museums and Other Cultural Attractions
There are several different sites where you can easily spend an afternoon or an entire day simply enjoying the atmosphere. Here are two to get you started. The Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver features a museum that is dedicated to educating the public about the history and culture of Canada’s Chinese communities. Located at 555 Columbia Street, the museum showcases sculptures, paintings, ceramics, and other work by renowned local and international artists as well as historic displays. World-class entertainers appear frequently, and the centre offers guided walking tours of Chinatown.
Next door to the museum, you’ll find the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, which opened on April 24th of 1986. Using gardening principles and techniques that date back to the Ming Dynasty, it incorporates beautiful weathered rocks and jade green water as well as symbolic plants such as bamboo and winter-flowering plum, and miniature rhododendrons. With stunning architecture, pavilions, and more, it is truly a feast for the eyes.
Food, Shops, and More Coffee and tea, sandwiches, dim sum, delectable baked goods, and fantastic Hong Kong style cafes filled with mouth-watering aromas await in Chinatown, as does shopping and all types of services. Some favourite dining establishments include: Foo’s Ho Ho Restaurant The oldest restaurant in Chinatown, Foo’s serves up Cantonese cuisine in the tradition of southern China’s Pearl Delta. It is located at 102 East Pender Street. Gain Wah Delicious food at great prices is Gain Wah’s hallmark; offering an extensive menu with everything from noodles to Dungeness crab, it is located at 218 Keefer Street.