Things to Do in Chinatown Melbourne

If you’re looking for a vibrant and culturally rich area to explore in Melbourne, look no further than Chinatown. Located in the heart of the city, Chinatown is a bustling hub of activity that offers a wide range of experiences for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring historical landmarks, trying new foods, or simply soaking up the atmosphere, there is something for everyone in this lively neighbourhood.

Chinatown has a rich and fascinating history that spans back over 150 years. Originally established during the gold rush era, the area has since become a melting pot of cultures and traditions. Today, it is home to a diverse range of businesses, including shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned local, there is always something new to discover in this vibrant part of Melbourne.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinatown is a diverse and culturally rich area in the heart of Melbourne that offers a wide range of experiences for visitors to enjoy.
  • The area has a fascinating history that spans back over 150 years and is home to a diverse range of businesses, including shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
  • Whether you’re interested in exploring historical landmarks, trying new foods, or simply soaking up the atmosphere, there is something for everyone in this lively neighbourhood.

Historical Background


You’re in for a treat when you visit Chinatown Melbourne. It’s a place with a rich history, and there’s a lot to discover. Melbourne’s Chinatown is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world, dating back to the gold rush days of the 1850s.

Large-scale Chinese migration to Melbourne began with the discovery of gold in 1851, news that came hot on the heels of the Californian gold rush in 1849. As a result, Melbourne became known as Xinjinshan 新金山 (New Gold Mountain) to the Chinese, and many came to seek their fortunes.

The Chinese immigrants faced significant challenges, including racism and discrimination. Despite this, they established a vibrant community in Little Bourke Street, which became Melbourne’s Chinatown. Today, the area is still a hub of Chinese culture, with many businesses and attractions.

One of the most iconic features of Chinatown is the arches that mark the entrance to the area. The first arch was erected in 1980, and since then, several more have been added. The arches are a symbol of the area’s heritage and serve as a reminder of the struggles and triumphs of the Chinese community in Melbourne.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Chinatown, head to the Chinese Museum on Cohen Place. The museum features exhibits on Chinese immigration to Australia, including artefacts and photographs. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the past and a must-visit for history buffs.

Overall, Chinatown Melbourne is a place with a rich and fascinating history. From the gold rush to the present day, the area has undergone many changes. However, it remains a vibrant and thriving community that’s well worth exploring.

Architectural Landmarks


As you explore Chinatown, you’ll be struck by the impressive architectural landmarks that dot the area. From historic buildings to modern structures, there’s plenty to admire and appreciate.

One of the most notable architectural landmarks in Chinatown is the Chinese Museum, located on Little Bourke Street. This museum is housed in a stunning 19th-century building that was once used as a Chinese meeting hall. Today, it’s a fascinating place to learn about Chinese culture and history in Australia.

Another must-see building is the Capitol Theatre, located on Swanston Street. This iconic theatre dates back to the 1920s and features an impressive Art Deco facade. It’s been beautifully restored and is now used to host a variety of cultural events and performances.

If you’re interested in religious architecture, be sure to visit the City On A Hill church on Little Bourke Street. This modern building is a striking contrast to the historic structures that surround it, and its unique design is sure to catch your eye.

Of course, no visit to Chinatown would be complete without a stroll down Spring Street. This bustling thoroughfare is home to some of Melbourne’s most beautiful buildings, including the Old Treasury Building and the Parliament House. Take a moment to appreciate the intricate details and stunning facades of these impressive structures.

Overall, the architectural landmarks in Chinatown are a testament to the area’s rich cultural heritage and ongoing evolution. Whether you’re a history buff or simply appreciate beautiful design, you’re sure to be impressed by what you see.

Unique Attractions


You’ll find plenty of unique attractions to explore in Melbourne’s Chinatown. Whether you’re interested in art, history, or food, there’s something for everyone.

One must-visit attraction is the Chinese Museum, which showcases the history and culture of Chinese Australians. You can learn about the early Chinese immigrants, see displays of traditional clothing and artefacts, and even try your hand at calligraphy.

For a taste of the local street art scene, head to Tattersalls Lane. This hidden gem is home to some of Melbourne’s most vibrant and colourful street art, with new murals popping up all the time.

If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, Dragon Hot Pot is a must-try. This restaurant allows you to create your own hot pot from a wide selection of ingredients, including meats, vegetables, and noodles.

For a sweet treat, check out Toppings n Tea. This dessert shop offers a range of delicious treats, including bubble tea, waffles, and ice cream.

If you’re in the mood for some shopping, New Gold Mountain is a great spot to explore. This boutique offers a carefully curated selection of clothing, accessories, and homewares, with a focus on independent designers.

Finally, don’t miss Cohen Place, a charming laneway that’s home to several art galleries. You can browse paintings, sculptures, and other works by local and international artists, and even meet some of the creators in person.

Shopping Experience


You’re in luck because Chinatown Melbourne is a shopper’s paradise. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, fashion, or something unique, you’ll find it in Chinatown. Here are some of the best places to shop in Chinatown:


Chinatown is home to many independent boutiques where you can find unique and stylish clothing, accessories, and gifts. These boutiques offer a more personalised shopping experience than the big chain stores. You can find boutiques along Little Bourke Street and in the laneways off it.

Paramount Centre

The Paramount Centre is a three-level retail centre located in the heart of Chinatown. It’s home to a variety of stores, including fashion, beauty, and electronics. The centre also has a licensed food court, so you can grab a bite to eat while you shop.


Chinatown’s laneways are a treasure trove of shopping opportunities. You can find everything from vintage clothing to handmade jewellery in these hidden gems. Make sure to explore the laneways off Little Bourke Street, like Market Lane and Centre Place.

Queen Victoria Market

While not technically in Chinatown, Queen Victoria Market is just a short walk away and definitely worth a visit. This historic market is home to over 600 traders selling everything from fresh produce to clothing and souvenirs. Make sure to check out the Night Market on Wednesday evenings during the summer months for a unique shopping and dining experience.

Overall, Chinatown Melbourne offers a diverse and exciting shopping experience. Whether you’re looking for high-end fashion or unique souvenirs, you’re sure to find it here.

Culinary Delights


When it comes to food, Chinatown Melbourne is a foodie’s paradise. From authentic Chinese cuisine to delicious Asian delights, there is something for everyone. Here are some of the best places to indulge your taste buds.

Chinese Cuisine

If you’re craving authentic Chinese cuisine, head to Hutong Dumpling Bar. This restaurant is famous for its delicious dumplings, which are handmade daily. You can also try their other Chinese dishes such as the Peking duck or the spicy Sichuan beef.

Another popular spot is China Red. This restaurant serves traditional Chinese characteristic food, including hot pots, stir-fries, and noodles. Their crispy skin chicken is a must-try dish.

Asian Cuisine

If you’re in the mood for Asian cuisine, there are plenty of options in Chinatown. New Shanghai is a great place to start. This restaurant serves authentic Shanghainese cuisine, including their signature xiao long bao (soup dumplings).

Le Charme is another great option for Asian food. This Korean restaurant serves a variety of dishes, including bibimbap, Korean fried chicken, and kimchi stew.

For a taste of Japanese cuisine, head to Flower Drum. This restaurant serves delicious sushi, sashimi, and tempura. Their wagyu beef is also a must-try dish.

Cafes and Eateries

If you’re looking for a quick bite, there are plenty of cafes and eateries in Chinatown. Shandong Mama Dumplings is a popular spot for yum cha and Chinese delicacies. Their dumplings are handmade daily and come in a variety of flavours.

Cafe Secret Kitchen is another great option for casual dining. This cafe serves a mix of traditional eastern Chinese cuisine and diverse multicultural influences. Their hotpot is a must-try dish.

In conclusion, Chinatown Melbourne is a food lover’s paradise. Whether you’re in the mood for Chinese or Asian cuisine, there are plenty of options to choose from. So, grab your chopsticks and get ready to indulge in some culinary delights!

Nightlife in Chinatown


Chinatown in Melbourne is a vibrant and bustling area with an exciting nightlife scene. From neon-lit bars to hidden gems, Chinatown has something for everyone. Here are some of the best places to check out during your night out in Chinatown.

Bars and Pubs

Chinatown is home to some of the best bars and pubs in Melbourne. Whether you’re looking for a casual drink or a night out with friends, you’ll find plenty of options in the area. Here are some of the top bars and pubs to check out:

  • Union Electric: This trendy bar is known for its delicious cocktails and laid-back atmosphere. With a focus on whisky, Union Electric is the perfect spot for a sophisticated night out.
  • Section 8 Bar: Located in a shipping container, Section 8 Bar is a unique and quirky spot for a night out. With a rotating selection of craft beers and a lively atmosphere, this bar is a must-visit for anyone looking for a fun night out.

Karaoke Nights

If you’re in the mood for some karaoke, Chinatown has plenty of options for you. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-timer, you’ll find plenty of places to belt out your favourite tunes. Here are some of the best karaoke spots in Chinatown:

  • Maho Magic Bar: This pop-up cocktail bar is the perfect spot for a magical night out. With a focus on cocktails and a fun, whimsical atmosphere, Maho Magic Bar is a great place to sing your heart out.
  • K-Box Karaoke: This popular karaoke spot has private rooms for you and your friends to sing your favourite songs. With a large selection of songs and a fun atmosphere, K-Box Karaoke is a great place to let loose and have some fun.

Overall, Chinatown in Melbourne is a great place to experience the city’s nightlife scene. With a wide range of bars and karaoke spots to choose from, you’re sure to find something that suits your taste. So grab your friends and head to Chinatown for an exciting night out.

Events and Celebrations


You’re in for a treat if you happen to be in Chinatown Melbourne during the Chinese New Year celebrations. The festivities are a sight to behold, with dragon and lion dances, firecrackers, and lanterns lighting up the streets. The Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year, but it usually takes place in January or February. Keep an eye out for the parade, which is the highlight of the celebrations.

If you’re a foodie, you’ll love the Asian Food Festival, which takes place in Chinatown Melbourne every year. The festival is a celebration of Asian cuisine, with food stalls selling everything from dumplings to sushi. You’ll get to sample some of the best Asian food in Melbourne, so come hungry!

In addition to these annual events, there’s always something happening in Chinatown Melbourne. Check out What’s On Weekly to see what’s happening during your visit. You might find a street festival, a live music performance, or a cultural exhibition.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Chinatown Melbourne is a vibrant and exciting destination. With so much to see and do, you’re sure to have a memorable experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best restaurants to try in Melbourne’s Chinatown?

You’re in for a treat when it comes to dining in Chinatown Melbourne! Some of the best restaurants to try include Flower Drum, ShanDong MaMa, and HuTong Dumpling Bar. Flower Drum is a popular high-end option, while ShanDong MaMa is known for its handmade noodles. HuTong Dumpling Bar is a must-visit for dumpling lovers.

Where can I find the most delicious yum cha in Melbourne’s Chinatown?

For some of the most delicious yum cha in Chinatown Melbourne, head to Shark Fin Inn or Secret Kitchen. Shark Fin Inn is known for its traditional Cantonese dishes, while Secret Kitchen offers a modern take on Chinese cuisine.

What are some must-try desserts in Melbourne’s Chinatown?

If you have a sweet tooth, you won’t be disappointed in Chinatown Melbourne! Some must-try desserts include egg tarts from Tai Pan Bakery, mango pancakes from Dessert Story, and black sesame ice cream from N2 Extreme Gelato.

What are the opening hours of Chinatown Melbourne?

Chinatown Melbourne is open 24/7, but individual businesses may have different opening hours. Most restaurants and shops are open from 10am to 10pm, but some may stay open later.

Which bars in Melbourne’s Chinatown are worth checking out?

For a unique night out, check out some of the bars in Chinatown Melbourne. Some worth visiting include Madame Brussels, Croft Institute, and Section 8. Madame Brussels is a rooftop bar with a garden party theme, while Croft Institute is a quirky science lab-themed bar. Section 8 is an outdoor container bar with a laid-back vibe.

Where can I find the tastiest dumplings in Melbourne’s Chinatown?

Dumplings are a staple in Chinatown Melbourne, and there are plenty of places to find them. HuTong Dumpling Bar is a popular spot, but you can also try Shanghai Street, Shanghai Village, or Dragon Boat. Each place has its own unique take on dumplings, so be sure to explore and find your favourite!

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