Chinatown is Hawaii’s most exciting and mysterious neighborhood. The historic district is located in downtown Honolulu sprawling over fifteen blocks and has long been a popular gathering place for residents and visitors. As a gateway to Hawaii for many immigrants, Chinatown is a blend of Asian cultures with a modern twist.

A few hours exploring the streets of Chinatown is a fun and unexpected adventure. You will find authentic Asian and local food not to mention an assortment of flower leis. Chinatown bustles with activity incorporating a rich mixture of cultures and people. A few years ago, much of Chinatown was unsightly and crime was a serious problem. However now, it is an eclectic mix of shops, art galleries, restaurants and hip night spots.

Honolulu’s Chinatown was started by early Chinese settlers in the 1880s. They migrated to work in the island’s cane sugar plantations and eventually open a community of family stores. The Chinese store was an important social institution to the immigrants. The storekeepers loaned money acted as a bank, post office and wrote and read letters for the illiterate immigrants. The Chinese store also offered a place to stay and eat, typically for people who came from the same village back home in China. The stores continued to operate this way even into the 1930s.

I encourage you to visit Hawaii’s Chinatown. Where else can you view a Buddhist Temple, walk the streets that inspired the character Charlie Chan and Hawaii Five-0, eat authentic Asian food and then hit the beach?

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