Binondo is the "Chinatown" district of Manila. It is the oldest Chinatown in the world and was the country's center of commerce during the American occupation. Many of Binondo's commercial establishments were destroyed after World War II, with companies moving to Makati, the financial capital of the Philippines.
Binondo was created by Spanish Governor-General Luis Pérez Dasmariñas on 1584 for a settlement for Chinese immigrant (called Sangleys), with the intentions of converting the Chinese to Catholicism at the initiative of the Spanish Dominican fathers. Spanish officials forced the Chinese to convert to Catholicism, threatening them to be executed. Governor-General Pérez Dasmariñas played a prominent role in the massacre of 24,000 Chinese after the Chinese revolt in 1603. The reason for the massacre was that he wanted to avenge his father's death under the hand of the Sangleys.
Binondo's population grew rapidly with many Chinese mestizos, the products of intermarriage between the now-Catholic Chinese and local Filipinos. The district is therefore known as the birthplace of the Chinese mestizos, including Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, who became the first Filipino saint, and Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, a Mestiza de Sangley who was the founder of the congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary.
Locals predominantly speak Tagalog and, as most of their ancestors are from Fujian province, Minnan or Hokkien is widely spoken too. Mandarin is also known by some as it is a subject in Chinese schools. English is widely understood as well. Besides Chinese dialects and Tagalog, other Filipino languages are spoken too.
- By Taxi Taxis are abundant in Manila and constitute the fastest mode of transport of getting to Binondo from other places in the area.
- By LRT-1, take a ride from Baclaran station to Carriedo station.
- By water bus, The Pasig River Ferry [dead link] stops at Escolta station, not far from the Jones Bridge.
- 1 Binondo Church. built in 1596, it is one of the oldest places of Christian Worship. The Church is home to the Our Lady of China and in-front of the church, Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz lies; it is named after a Filipino-Chinese saint, St. Lorenzo Ruiz. Next to the side entrance is the Santo Cristo de Longos, an image of the Crucified Christ, known to be found by one deaf and mute Chinese in an old well in the barrio of Longos, the image now is displayed in a niche with a glass cover.
- Kuang Kong. Buddhist temple open to the public and is worth visiting as it shows the roots of the Chinese-Filipino, you can burn incense sticks and utter your prayers. There is also these red wooden half moons you can use to have your fortunes told. Couch your questions in such a way that they're answerable by "YES" or "NO" Swirl a pair of these wooden half disks over your incense sticks so they catch the smoke and then throw them to the floor. Identical faces means "NO" while opposing figures means "YES". Kuang Kong is the patron of Scholars and Martial arts as well as the God of War; it is known as the protector of Quan Yin; the Goddess of Mercy.
- 2 Seng Guan Temple. Another Chinese temple worth seeing, located along Narra Street, it is usually jam-packed with people burning incense and offering food and fruits to Buddha during celebrations of the lunar calendar.
- Ongpin Street - is a home to many Chinese herbal stores, restaurants and groceries.
- See the old art deco style buildings in Escolta Street, this used to be the home of many luxurious fashion brands and slowly declined in the 70's after the growth of malls.
- Along Caravajal Street vendors selling fruits and Chinese delicacies can be seen from Black Chicken and Sea Cucumber, along it is also Chinese groceries, Noodle Houses and Snack houses.
- Visit the wet market of Arranque Market, here fresh seafood and exotic food such as snakes, pigeons, rabbits, frogs etc. is found, it is often seen crowded like most wet markets are.
Lunar New Year dates
The year of the Ox began on 3 Feb 2021 at 22:58, and the Lunar New Year was on 12 Feb 2021
Contrary to popular belief, the change of the zodiac does not occur on the first day of the Lunar New Year, but instead occurs on Li Chun (立春 lì chūn), the traditional Chinese start of spring.
Annually the Chinese New Year is celebrated on January/February, people commemorate this celebration through lighting up firecrackers and dragon dances are also done. People rush to temples and churches to pray and give thanks for the blessings of the past year, the celebration lasts for about two weeks with Lantern Festival commemorating its end. After Hungry Ghost Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated, which is also known as Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, in this occasion people eat moon cakes, offer moon cakes and round fruits to the Moon Goddess Chang'e and the God of Agriculture Shen Nong. During this celebration try Hopia (mooncake also called as Unity Cake).
Pastries and Sweet Meats like hopia are the best buys. Exotic ingredients are also found in Binondo such as ginseng, shark fin cartilage, deer horn, dried snake, bird’s nest as well as animal testicles may be found at apothecaries, but beware: it is illegal under endangered species protection laws. Apothecaries cater to visitors and are willing to help by asking their symptoms and they'll provide you remedies for it. Teas, brews and powders are also found in apothecaries. Tableas; Chocolate tablets and Cocoa used for making hot chocolate during Spanish times are also popular, they are found at La Ressurection. Lucky charms and talismans are also found in various shops in Binondo, along Ongpin Street, stalls selling gold, silver and jewelry can be found as well sugarcane and chestnut vendors are sold by carts along the street, the streets are usually crowded because of them.
There's a HSBC Bank branch in Binondo with a few ATMs which do not charge the usual ₱250 fee for cash withdrawal from the foreign card, unlike all the other banks. They have only 3 locations with ATMs left in Manila, and this one is by far the easiest to reach for an average tourist. It is located at Quintin Paredes street, very close to the Binondo Church.
Hokkien Cuisine is prominent in the district as most of the people are of Hokkien ancestry. Among the delicacies worth trying are Tikoy, sticky rice cakes; hopia, mooncake; kiampong, a variant of fried rice; siomai, a pork-filled steamed dumpling; siopao, Hokkien version of baozi or steamed buns with meat filling; machang, glutinous rice with a meat filling wrapped in a banana leaf; mami, noodle soup; and hakaw, a shrimp dumpling.
- 1 Royal Garden, Ongpin St. corner Padilla St, ☏ . Open 24/7. Serves authentic Chinese cuisine like dim sum as well as exotic Chinese cuisine such as shark's fin. This restaurant is usually filled with Chinese people speaking Chinese, in a way you might feel that you are in China.
- 2 Wai Ying Fastfood, 810 Benavidez St, ☏ . Taste their Mami, Dumplings and Hakaw and many other Chinese dishes.
- 3 [dead link] Crepe De Chine, 215 Juan Luna corner Dasmarinas St, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Mon-Sat: 10:30AM-9:30PM. Try their Crepes and Pastas
- 4 Dong Bei Dumplings, 642 Yuchengco St. Try their dumplings as well as fried dumplings.
- 1 President's Teahouse, 809 Salazar St, ☏ . This teahouse is a smaller version of President's Restaurant however it is affordable and the food is OK. They serve food from Dumplings and authentic Chinese Cuisine.
- 2 Ying Ying Teahouse, 233-235 Dasmarinas Street corner Yuchengco St, ☏ . ₱200-₱500.
- 1 Ramada Manila Central, Ongpin St, Binondo, ☏ . A modern hotel tower with buffet/restaurant and gym. Might be able to look down on Saint Lorenzo Ruiz - BInondo Church from your room. ₱2744.
- 2 Red Planet Manila Binondo, Juan Luna St, ☏ . A new hotel with a sharp image. Wifi, a/c, and breakfast available. ₱1300.
- 3 Hotel Lucky Chinatown, 21 Reina Regente St (part of Lucky Chinatown Mall), ☏ . This sleek hotel has the looks of class which is kind of a rarity among the aging edifices of much of Manila. It has Chinese accents in its design, too, such as red paper lanterns. It also has a restaurant/bar, fitness center, spa, wifi, a/c, and. ₱1781.
- 4 ZEN Premium Binondo Manila, 667-669 Plaza Lachambre Street, ☏ . Formerly Dela Chambre Hotel, has wifi and a/c. ₱2166.
Various English newspapers are scattered around Binondo such as Business World, Daily Tribune, Malaya, Manila Bulletin, People's Tonight, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star and Sun Star Manila. Tagalog newspapers include Abante, Kabayan, Pilipino Star Ngayon. Other newspapers in other languages include Manila Shimbum in Japanese and Siong Po - Chinese Commercial News in Chinese. If you need internet services you can visit Netopia Internet Cafe which is located in Juan Luna street.
Across the River Pasig from the Binondo area is Manila's oldest district, the walled city of Intramuros. Visit Quiapo, home of the Black Nazarene which is in Quiapo Church, devotees flock here during January for the annual festival of the Black Nazarene, believed to give miracles and blessings.