Places to Visit in Chinatown

Places to Visit in Chinatown

Places to Visit in Chinatown

Written by Kailanianna Ablog  

Cover photo taken by @genkiphotos of @gabo.baggins

From Encore Saloon to the Hawaii Theatre, Chinatown is full of unique boutiques, eateries, and marketplaces. According to John Derrick of GuideofUS Hawaii, Oʻahu’s Chinatown is one of the oldest in the United States. It also allows visitors to take a look at how different cultures evolved throughout Hawaiʻi’s history. Whether you are from Oʻahu or want to check out different spots while on-island, here is our list of places to visit in Chinatown! 

Iʻolani Palace

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Before heading down to Chinatown, a must-visit location is Iʻolani Palace, which is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to their website, Iʻolani Palace “represents a time in Hawaiian history when King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani...ruled the Hawaiian Kingdom.” The palace offers tours that show visitors the location’s beautiful architecture and teaches important parts of Hawaiʻi’s history, including the Bayonet Constitution and Queen Liliuokalani’s imprisonment. Also, any purchase made at one or both of the palace’s gift shops go toward preservation and restoration efforts. From sticker packs to books about ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language), you’ll find something neat to bring home and share! If you’re interested in learning about the Hawaiian monarchy, consider putting Iʻolani Palace on your list of places to visit.


Sun Chong Company, Ltd. 

Exploring can work up some cravings, so why not stop by Sun Chong Company, Ltd. to grab some snacks? They are open seven days a week starting at 8 a.m., and close at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; they close at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Featuring island favorites such as li hing mui and dried cuttlefish and ingredients needed to create Asian dishes such as jai, or “Buddha’s Delight,” Sun Chong Company, Ltd. provides locals and visitors alike with treats to enjoy with friends and family. Whether you are looking to try a new crackseed treat or cook an Asian dish, be sure to stop by. 


Foster Botanical Garden 


 Need more greens? The oldest of Honolulu’s botanical gardens, Foster Botanical Garden features a variety of plants and herbs, a conservatory and an outdoor butterfly garden, as well as free guided and self-tours. Patrons can also visit their gift shop and the Kuan Yin Temple. The garden is open everyday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of Christmas and New Years Day. Admission for adults is $5, with Hawaiʻi residents paying $3; children between the ages 6 and 12 are $1, and those 5 years and younger do not have a fee. Annual family passes cost $25. If you are seeking a natural shift from Honolulu’s urban landscape, add Foster Botanical Garden to your list of places to visit in Chinatown!


Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery 

Baked goods and other delights are abundant at Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery. From seasonal items such as mochi mooncakes to a local favorite called “manapua,” Hawaiʻi’s version of char siu bao according to Onolicious Hawaii, your stomach will be filled with some of Oʻahu’s widely-loved goodies. Located on Maunakea Street, the bakery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The next time you’re in Chinatown, make sure you pay a visit and try to get there early, as the line can get pretty long (but the wait is worth it, we promise). 



Shopping with small, local businesses is important, so if you are in search of places to support while on-island, consider visiting one of our neighbors - Ginger13! Founded by Cindy Yokoyama in 2004, Ginger13 aims to create “beautiful, memorable and unique jewelry pieces.” Along with their accessories, they also sell soaps, home decor, and eco-friendly items such as beeswax wraps and bamboo straws. If you decide to shop in-store, be sure to tell them Valia Honolulu sent you! 

Mickey Cafe 

Located in Maunakea Marketplace, Mickey Cafe is a great choice if you are looking to quench your thirst or hunger while exploring Chinatown! Like Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery, the cafe is open everyday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. With drinks such as bubble tea, smoothies and coffee and snacks like “Egg Puffs,” or Hong Kong Egg Waffles, your taste buds are in for a delightful ride. Food and boba lovers should definitely have this spot on their list of places to visit in Chinatown! 

Photo from Camille Heung: Egg Puffs

But Wait, There’s More

Our list of places to visit includes only some of the amazing spots and gems you can find in Chinatown. If we were to include every location and shop you can check out, this list would be endless! Like many places in Hawaiʻi, Chinatown is rich in history and the traditions and cultures of those that live and work there have contributed to the area’s development. While exploring different parts of urban Honolulu,  please be respectful and remember that there is so much more to Hawaiʻi than its beach views and hikes. Enjoy the sunshine and warm weather, but don’t forget to open your mind to experiences away from the sandy shores.


Cover photo taken by @genkiphotos of @gabo.baggins


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