I love Honolulu’s Chinatown. It’s an inpidual thing and I’m still in tourist mode. But I never get bored visiting this area, established in the 1800 by Chinese laborers who came to Hawaii to pick sugarcane. While I’ve read that this small shopping area can come off to the uninitiated’ as a bit gritty, and granted it does lack public restrooms and street parking can be a nightmare, it makes up for that in genuineness of shops, restaurants and services.
For a visitor or a Hawaii Honeymoon couple who has had a few days in Waikiki’s elite shopping strip, a trip on the bus for a morning of exploration and authentic lunch could be entertaining. There is just enough authenticity from the old’ days to make this a real working retail area. It’s known for fresh local produce and seafood markets where you can get the best prices on the island. This is a fact! I have no qualms buying any of the fresh products and recently got very nice shrimp for $5/lb. What I enjoy the most is the variety of exotic food items found on the streets and tucked inside long, narrow, sometimes darkish stores. Many of the shopkeepers speak the language of their native country, which never stops a transaction and in many of the mercantile stores , you can still do some friendly haggling, in a combination of languages.
Entrance to a market full of services: feng shui classes, haircuts and more!
Many of the stores are full of the typical knickknacks from Pacific Rim origin. But me, I find browsing through this entertaining. And because I like giving unique gifts, I usually find something fun every time I shop there.
But just as much, I find the services there to be a viable option to upscale counterparts in tourist areas. I’ve gotten several hair cuts in a tiny shop by a stylist who speaks very little English, and paid a bargain price for a good cut. Same can be true for pedicures, manicures, and massages. Chinatown is a jumble of interesting things to see and do and worth a short afternoon stroll.
Also situated around are very good local art galleries, extremely popular night clubs, and restaurants/bars of all cuisines. Chinatown comes to life late at night which is a whole post for another time .
Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Jan 10, 2011