Chinatown in Binondo, Manila, may not be the cleanest, most pleasant place in the Philippines, but visitors usually leave happy, having found the best that the Filipino-Chinese community can offer.
As a digger of cheap but worthwhile buys, I tend to frequent Chinatown in Binondo, Manila. Of course, there’s the challenge of balancing price and quality, considering most of the products here are genuine fakes. Still, it is a good place to be familiar with because of the bargain prices.
Regular retailers, including bookstores and gift shops in malls, acquire most of their merchandise from Binondo, Manila. Chinatown is just walking distance away from Divisoria malls, 168 Mall, 11/88 Mall and 999 Mall — shopping paradise to people looking for the lowest prices.
When in Chinatown, it would be good to know that the most important street is Ongpin Street. Ongpin is home to many restaurants, hotels and shops selling goods from China.
On nearby streets are office supply stores, furniture stores, electrical supply stores, jewelry stores, and other types of shops. School and office supply stores, for instance, sell at prices that are less than half of tag prices at National Bookstore.
Binondo Church, or the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, is the most prominent landmark in Binondo, Manila. Located along Ongpin Street, Binondo Church is named after the first filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz, as this was where he served as altar boy (sacristan). Binondo Church boasts impressive interiors and an old architecture reminiscent of the Spanish era in the Philippines.
We chanced upon a wedding ceremony when we visited Binondo Church. The wedding was being conducted in Chinese, which is no surprise since most of the population in the area are Chinese.
Essential Food Trip in Binondo
Chinese cuisine is best experienced in Chinatown, Binondo. I will not deny that my favorite eating place in Binondo is estero on Ongpin Street. I haven’t really gotten to know if this place actually has a name. People merely call it ‘estero’ because it’s located beside an estero. Compared to the more prominent President restaurant, food is quite affordable, yet delicious. Of course, food and ambiance at President Restaurant on Ongpin Street will not disappoint.
Also on Ongpin Street is Eng BeeTin, which rightfully claims to be the home of the best-tasting hopia in town. They sell various types of hopia, including ube, nangka and cheese variations. My personal favorite is ube hopia. Eng BeeTin has a few stores in Chinatown, and some bakeshops even carry their hopia products. Ho-Land, on nearby Yuchengco Street, is another bakeshop famous for its hopia and other Chinese pastries and goods.
On a hot, sunny afternoon, we like relaxing at Lord Stow’s Bakery for some pasteis de nata, or what’s commonly called Portuguese egg tart. Lord Stow’s Bakery on Ongpin Street is the Philippine branch of the bakeshop that first became prominent in Macau.
People interested in feng shui can get free consultation at Sunrise store, which sells lucky charms and semi-precious stones. Store owner Johnson Chua is quite a familiar face to many as he ocassionally appears on TV whenever they are featuring feng shui or Chinese New Year. Sunrise store is located at the corner of Ongpin and Salazar street. Ongpin and Salazar streets are lined with many feng shui item stores. Prices are way lower than the mall-based World of Feng Shui store.
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