Binondo, the World’s Oldest Chinatown, is a Classic Place
When in Manila, one shouldn’t miss going to the world’s oldest Chinatown– Binondo. It was established since– wait for it– 1594! Long before Makati City became the business district of Metro Manila, it was Binondo for the first four centuries since its establishment. Aside from having interesting history and culture abounding in it (people propose here, too!), Binondo is also a great go-to place for a fulfilling food trip.
Binondo, the World’s Oldest Chinatown
I stayed at Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz for a bit, just in front of the famous Binondo Church, which is also known as the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz. Apparently, St. Lorenzo Ruiz was the first Filipino priest. He served in Binondo Church as a child and is known for his martyrdom on Christian faith.
Binondo Church was being repainted when I went there. There were a lot of people since it was a Sunday. Sampaguita and candle vendors were scattered around the church. At the right corner of the church, I easily saw the Ongpin St. sign. This is a famous street where one can find jewellery stores (it’s advisable to go here if you’re buying in bulk because it’s way cheaper!), herbal shops, authentic Chinese restaurants, and groceries with products from China.
While walking along Ongpin Street, I was greeted by Chinese lanterns! These made the street more appealing, and they really added more to that Chinatown feel.
It was such good timing when I went to Binondo because Chinese New Year was already near then. I noticed shops where they sell good luck charms and stuff.
I also saw a really famous store for hopia, a kind of pastry filled with mung bean, or ube (sweet jam) and langka (jackfruit), to name a few (lots of hopia now have different flavors to choose from, too). This store is called Eng Bee Tin and I couldn’t help but exclaim “wow” when I went inside their store.
I was expecting to see nothing but hopia, BUT NO, they had all sorts of food! From tikoy, to siomai, to bread, to cake rolls! They also had frozen food. Gosh, this store! My eyes were very happy to see the variety of food they sell there. But of course, there are also other famous stores there like Eng Bee Tin. Check out Salazar Bakery for some hopia and tikoy loving, too! Fun fact: the first Salazar Bakery was established in 1947.
When I got tired and hungry from walking, I ate at one of the food stalls at Estero Fast Food. Yup, estero. Like literally, because it’s just beside a canal. But don’t worry. The food there is delicious and clean, not to mention budget-friendly! You won’t smell the canal, either. Instead, the aroma of food being cooked will make you much hungrier!
There are many food places in Binondo, not just in Ongpin St. You’ll be surprised and probably get confused where to eat. I haven’t had the chance to eat at the Sincerity Café and Restaurant at Yunchengco St. yet, but I’ve heard that their specialty is their chicken. Oh well, next time! I’ll surely go back here.
Just walking around Binondo in itself entertained me. I saw a really healthy, busy district with different kinds of people.
So, when in Manila, don’t be afraid to walk. You’ll discover more when you walk, especially when you’re in Chinatown!