The Philippines’ version of Chinatown is located in Binondo, in the downtown part of Manila. Coming from the Intramuros area, you will immediately know that you are in Chinatown once you arrived in the area. Restaurants, banks and other commercial establishments have Chinese characters in their signs. Bright red and yellow lanterns hang on the doors and sides of buildings. Depending on which part of Binondo you are located, you can also smell freshly-cooked dimsum and pancit wafting through the numerous Chinese eateries.
Before Chinatown was formed, Binondo used to be a wetland area filled with tubers. Over the years, the area was transformed from a plain residential area to one of the busiest trade centers in the country. Ongpin Street is famous for its blinding array of gold from shops that sell original jewelry at low prices. The street is also the place to go to for genuine Chinese tea, traditional medicine, acupuncture services and mah-jong parlors.
Devotees should visit the Binondo Church, an ancient stone structure which houses the Cristo de Longos, a black wooden crucifix which have been known to produce miracles. Buddhists can worship at the Seng Guan Temple, also called The Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
Shoppers should be able to find pretty much everything that they need here in Binondo. There are certain streets in the area that specialize on a particular type of merchandise. Sabino Padilla former Gandara Street is the place for upholstery materials. Carvajal in Nueva Street sells imported vegetables and fruits. Fruits like cherries and pears can be bought here cheaply.
Of course, Binondo would not be complete without the wide variety of talismans, charms, calendars and Buddha images being sold by stores and street vendors. In order to complete your Binondo experience, you must dine at one of the genuine Chinese eateries which promise absolutely gastronomic delight. Feast on hopia, machang, pancit and dimsum after a long, tiring day of shopping.