Travel Picks: Top 10 Chinatowns for Chinese New Year

Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:00am EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Preparations are underway around the world for next week's Chinese New Year (Feb 3) and celebrations in China will be mirrored across the planet wherever the Chinese Diaspora calls home. Travel website ( offers its top 10 Chinatowns for those outside of China wishing to mark the day.

1. London

Although it may not be as large or as long-established as others, having only become a center for the Chinese community during the post-war decades, London's Chinatown is a perfectly formed little firecracker that knows how to see in the year with a bang. Customarily festooned with red lanterns, previous years have seen parades with lion and dragon dances through its streets and onward into the rest of the West End as well as acrobatics, martial arts, dance and opera displays nearby.

2. Paris

Located in the southern part of the city center's 13th arrondissement, the Quartier Chinois (Chinese Quarter) is known as Europe's largest Chinatown. Furthermore, the City of Light also has another, smaller and more recently established in the Belleville area to the north, as well as others dotted around the city, so visitors are spoiled for choice.

3. New York

Manhattan's Chinatown, found on the Lower East Side, has been a major center of the city's Chinese community for more than a century, with records of new arrivals setting up shop as early as the mid-19th century. In fact, the neighborhood is known as one of the oldest ethnic Chinese enclaves outside the continent of Asia and such is its significance that the area encompassing it and bordering Little Italy has been designated a historic district on the USA's National Register of Historic Places.

4. San Francisco

Claimed to be the largest of its kind outside Asia and the oldest in North America, San Francisco's Chinatown is perhaps the most famous in the United States. The city was the main entry-point for Chinese who had crossed the Pacific to the USA during the mid-19th century. Between the more tourist-oriented Grant Avenue - where the signature red gate may be found - and the ostensibly more authentic Stockton Street, this historic area is a local treasure, attracting more visitors per year than the Golden Gate Bridge.   Continued...

<p>Chinese lanterns hang above the streets in London's Chinatown district to celebrate the Chinese New Year January 26, 2009. REUTERS/Stephen Hird</p>