Top 10 Reasons For Loving Victoria - #10

posted on Jul 14

10. Chinatown.  Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and the 2nd oldest in North America (after San Francisco.)

Here, dozens of restaurants, shops, and grocery stores line the 500 and 600 blocks of Fisgard Street,  and wrap around the corners onto Government Street and Store Street in the main tourist area of downtown Victora. In the summer the night market swings into action and local traders take over the street to hawk their wares from stands and storefronts.

One of the things about Victoria's Chinatown, that I find really intriguing, are the little passageways that provide a connection to neighbouring streets. Fan Tan Alley is probably the best known, having been featured in several movies, including "Bird in a Wire" with Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn.  It connects Chinatown's main street, Fisgard Street, with lower Pandora Street to the south, while Dragon Alley connects Fisgard Street to Herald Street on the north.  Both passageways are fun to explore and can remind you of being in an exciting, childhood adventure.

If you’re planning on dining out in Victoria, you’ll be in Oriental food heaven in Chinatown! Your taste buds will tingle at the choice of Szechuan, Cantonese, Fujian, Shandong and other Chinese dishes from some of Victoria’s best Chinese Restaurants.  As well, you’ll find some hidden delights, such as the Venus Sophia Tearoom and Vegetarian Restaurant, Bean Around the World Coffee Shop the Taiwanese Bubble Tea Room.

When entering Chinatown you'll pass through the Gate of Harmonius Interest (the grand entrance gates to Chinatown) and once "inside' you can shop for Asian treasures in the many gift and souvenir shops or buy fruits and vegetables right from their street-side stalls, admire the historical architecture and soak up the ambience of this bustling little area.

If you're a history buff, there are several walking tours of Chinatown that take place daily during the peak tourist season (less frequently during the shoulder and winter seasons), they're very worthwhile tours and you may be suprised at the fascinating stories you'll hear about the Chinese settlement of Victoria, relating to the Cariboo gold rush, opium dens, the sailors from the Barbary Coast and more.

Chinatown is just one more part of the diverse fabric that comprises our wonderful city, and we hope you'll take the time to explore it when you're here.