A Christmas Day tour of the world’s oldest Chinatown


Binondo Church

Stroll through the best places in Binondo during the best time of year with these premier destinations that match all the vacation-specific errands you have in mind.

Last minute Christmas shopping at Divisoria

Divisoria has always been a popular shopping destination for many Filipinos throughout the year, but the holiday season takes its popularity to an all time high. This is no surprise though, as this is where one can find the most affordable pieces to complete every Christmas shopping list.

The bustling streets of Divisoria are surrounded by multi-story, fully air-conditioned malls such as 168 Mall, D8 Mall, Divisoria Mall, and Tutuban Center, with raw and whole items at cheaper prices. It also hosts a nearby night market. In addition to Christmas shopping, the nearby monument of Andres Bonifacio, just opposite the Tutuban center and Tutuban train station, testifies to the region’s rich history.

Divisoria is located in Sta. Elena Street, Binondo, Manila. Hours of operation may vary by establishment.

Relive old Binondo with the Chinatown Museum

Amidst the busy and festive nature of a vacation, visiting a museum can be unconventional because it’s fun. However, thanks to the unique location of this new cultural museum in Binondo, Christmas shopping and museum visits can be a breeze.

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The Chinatown Museum showcases a microcosm of the world’s oldest Chinatown while also being hailed as Manila’s first museum housed in a shopping mall, the Lucky Chinatown Mall. Upon entering, visitors are immediately greeted by a small replica of Binondo Church, followed by a series of photographs showing its development since its consecration in 1956.

The heart of the museum comprises 18 galleries that showcase the rich cultural, economic, political, religious and social landscapes of Binondo. Visitors are directed to the traditional shops and cottage industries that have shaped Binondo’s economy, including stores that sell housewares, textiles, and even pastries. There is also a model of tranvia that once crossed the roads in the neighborhood. Finally, visitors are taken to four galleries called Escolta, Meisic, Rosario, and Unionpay, all of which host rotating exhibitions.

The Chinatown Museum is located on the fourth floor of Building A, Lucky Chinatown, along Reina Regente Street in Binondo, Manila. The opening hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday. Tickets are priced at P150 with a P30 reduction for seniors and a P50 reduction for students.

Count your blessings at Binondo Church

Also known as the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, Binondo Church’s convenient location just off bustling Quentin Paredes Street makes it a crowd favorite during Simbang Gabi.

Besides its festive atmosphere, Binondo Church is also well identified due to its Spanish or European Baroque architectural style. It also has a remarkable Chinese-style five-story octagonal bell tower inspired by the art and culture of the surrounding Chinatown.

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At present, Binondo Church continues to hold Masses in multiple languages ​​such as Filipino, English, as well as Mandarin and Hokkien, which are the main Chinese dialects spoken in the Binondo region.

Fight the cold with unli-broth at Lan Zhou La Mien

In the Philippines, it is easy to spot the start of the holiday season due to the colder days and longer nights. Especially after completing the Simbang Gabi, what is a more appropriate meal than a bowl of soup at a nearby restaurant?

Lan Zhou La Mien creates her own take on the unli-rice trend with a refillable broth to accompany her hand-drawn Lamien or her longevity noodles. Although it mainly serves noodles, it also offers other options such as fried rice and dumplings.

Like any other typical Binondo restaurant, Lan Zhou La Mien places minimal emphasis on the interiors, rather than focusing on the food it serves. Nonetheless, it has eye-catching, brightly colored furnishings common in many Chinese restaurants, even those outside of Binondo.

Lan Zhou La Mien is located at 818 Benavidez Street in Binondo. Opening hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Celebrate the Holidays, Binondo Style

Celebrating Christmas outside of his hometown was a common scenario for many Filipinos, but not before the pandemic.

Nonetheless, Binondo’s current vitality is a good example of how an anticipated event such as Christmas can make a daily destination more memorable.

The author is the lead architect for Fulgar Architects, creating unique and extraordinary design specialties for a variety of real estate companies ranging from hotels, condominiums, museums, retail to mixed-use urban developments. Please visit www.ianfulgar.com

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