Chinese New Year at Binondo, Manila

We all have that one place in mind when you hear the words Chinese New Year here in the Philippines and that is Binondo. Aside from being famous for their Binondo church, which was built around 1500; Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world is famous for its restaurants and food stalls (it may be Chinese or other type of cuisines). It’s considered as one of the foodie central of the country.

Last February 7, 2016, I myself have explored the most crowded place (probably) during that day in the Philippines. People around manila, provinces of the Philippines and other parts of the world have gathered around in this little Chinatown to be part of the yearly festival. Dragon dances, Chinese lucky charms, Chinese-Filipino communities or as what we refer to as “Chinoys” are present during that day.

It was a good sunny day and as I enter the town, I felt like a tourist entering a different country with different culture and traditions. It was quite a different feeling maybe because it’s been a long time since I first visited the town. It looks like a little China as expected but what fascinates me about this town is that it was so festive. All I see is red and gold, it simply is the best place to celebrate Chinese new year.

So this what welcomes you, the main entrance to the town. Isn’t it very China-feels? 🙂

Chinatown Entrance

While walking around the town. By the way, you won’t get any trouble or get lost in the town because aside from it’s just small, people are just going around the town. You simply have to know that whenever there are people, Chinese signs and Chinese restaurants, you’re still in Binondo.

Binondo Morning

Look what we have here. A “kalesa” or a horse-drawn calash. Did you know that this is used by rich Spanish/Filipinos for personal travel as well as for the transport of goods to nearby areas during the Spanish era? You can still find them in most parts of manila, although today, this is mostly used for businesses. Tourists who would like to experience can travel around by riding on it for an amount of money.

Kalesa on Binondo

People checking on some of the Chinese lucky charms.

Lucky charms

Heading to the Binondo Church.


Did I mention that there’s another beautiful Church nearby, the Sta. Cruz Church.

Quiapo Church

Of course, I know you’ll get hungry when you walk around and then you see all of those delicious food on the street. Street foods, fried siopao, tikoy and different restaurants are all around but I have found the best place for you to eat if you want affordable and delicious Chinese delicacies. This place is also peaceful and away from the crowd kind-of setup. You can find it at Ongpin St, Binondo, Manila. The restaurant is called Café Mezzanine. It’s located on the 2nd floor of the building near Binondo Church.

Here’s a photo of the menu.

I have personally tried the Braised Beef Noodles soup (P190.00), Special Tofu (P55.00), Special Kikiam (P85.00) and Kiampong (P60.00). See photo below.

what I ordered

After eating, we’ve recovered our energy so we’ve continued the tour. We came across cosplayers and had a photo-op.

Dragon Dances are also all over the streets. This is usually done for the establishments, for business luck and fortune.

It’s dark, the lights and decorations are glowing. A few more hours and the countdown to Chines New Year will begin.

Night time at binondo

We have not waited for the countdown and fireworks because we have work the next day. It was definitely a great experience. If you’re just around the corner, you should visit Binondo.

How to get there?

There are so many jeepneys coming from Manila going to Quiapo. When you reach Quiapo, you can start walking to Binondo.

From Taft Avenue, ride a jeep to Sta. Cruz, and get off at Sta. Cruz Church. In front of the Church, you’ll see the usual Chinese entrance signs.

From North Avenue, ride a jeep/bus to Sta. Cruz, and get off at Sta. Cruz Church.

Here’s a detailed commute instructions if you’re coming from different places.

Feel free to share your experiences on the comments section below.

binondo food trip


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