Liverpool’s Chinatown – a guide for visiting Europe’s oldest Chinatown in 2023


There are some amazing Chinatown areas in most of the biggest cities in the UK, but we'd say that Chinatown in Liverpool is easily one of the best that we've been to. It really does feel like a city within a city, and you could easily spend quite a bit of time exploring the area. Yes the food is great and there are restaurants here, but there is much more to Liverpool's Chinatown than that - it's actually home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe and definitely has that authentic feel to it. This is exactly why we wanted to publish a guide about the area. If you're planning to visit this area in 2023, this is what you need to know:

Where is Liverpool’s Chinatown?

You'll find Liverpool's Chinatown on Nelson street, which is at the top of Duke Street, to the south of the city centre. It's just a few blocks away from Liverpool Docks. The arch marks the entrance and can't really be missed once you head to this area.

What is the story behind Liverpool's Chinatown?

Liverpool's Chinatown is actually the oldest Chinatown in Europe, as there has been a strong community of Chinese people living in the city since the 19th century. Blue Funnel Line was a shipping company in the UK that hired many Chinese seamen, as the shipping line connected the major ports of Shanghai and Hong Kong to Liverpool. Although many of the Chinese workers chose to live on the shore near the ships, gradually over the years many of them decided to move further into the city. As the number of Chinese workers living in Liverpool grew, so did the number of Chinese businesses selling food and other goods for these workers to buy. Over the years, the Chinese community in Liverpool has consistently grown to the point where there was eventually a clearly defined area of the city which was almost exclusively populated by Chinese people. It wasn't until the arrival of the Arch from Shanghai that this area was officially recognised as Chinatown. Liverpool paved the way for many other cities across the UK to do the same.

What is there to see and do in Liverpool's Chinatown?

Despite being relatively small (especially compared to other Chinatown areas across the UK), there is quite a bit to see and do in Liverpool's Chinatown. Here are some of the highlights:

Admire the architecture and surroundings

Even if you're not planning to spend any money in Liverpool's Chinatown, the one thing we'd recommend anyone to do is just to walk around and admire the area. It's also small enough to explore quite easily. Chinese lanterns line the streets and immediately transport you, but it's the arch at the entrance which is the real showstopper. Given as a gift to Liverpool from Shanghai (the cities are twinned), it's a genuine Paifang arch which is the largest of its kind outside of China at 15m high. If you've got a moment to spare you can count the intricately designed 188 dragons and 12 pregnant dragons on the arch, which are supposed to symbolise good fortune.

Head to the restaurants

If you're willing to spend a bit of time in Liverpool's Chinatown, the number one thing we'd recommend you do is head to one of the excellent restaurants for some authentic Chinese food. North Garden is probably the best-known and most widely praised Chinese restaurant in the area, and with good reason too - it is excellent, and one of the highest-rated Chinese restaurants in the city according to Tripadvisor. But to be honest, most of the restaurants in the area will serve up a good meal, and if you're looking for somewhere fun and memorable then ChinaCity is definitely the place to head to. This restaurant doubles as a karaoke bar in the evenings, so you can sing off all the calories you've just consumed. Amazingly, it's open until 3am every day, and you'll usually see the same staff members on from opening (6pm) until closing. The 2 oldest restaurants in Liverpool's Chinatown - Ma Bo and Yuet Ben - don't look like much from the outside, but are both great places to head to for no-nonsense, traditional Chinese food. And if you've not got time for a sit-down meal, the Arch takeaway offers up the best food to go that you'll find in the area.

Get something for dessert

If your sit-down Chinese meal hasn't quite filled you up, you'll find plenty of options for an after-dinner sweet treat in Liverpool's Chinatown. The Bon Bon Bakery is the place to head to for sweet Chinese specialties like fruit slices, sweet dumplings, and rice balls. It's also got a great selection of cakes which are made fresh every day and can also be ordered for special occasions. Interestingly, there's also a place called The Bagelry in Liverpool's Chinatown which isn't actually a Chinese place, but which does serve up some Chinese-inspired dishes which are great for dessert, such as their peanut custard donuts.

Head to the supermarkets

One of the great things about many of the restaurants within this area is that they're actually very reasonably priced, so can visit them quite frequently without spending huge amounts. But if you'd like to save money by making your own Chinese food at home, you'll find all the ingredients you need at one of the excellent supermarkets in Liverpool's Chinatown. The Chung Wah Supermarket is probably the best in terms of finding the random ingredients that you'll struggle to find in your local Tesco - they've got everything here from authentic Chinese black bean sauces to the kind of salt and pepper seasoning that really makes a homemade Chinese chicken meal taste like the real thing. It's also a great place to head to if you're looking for authentic Chinese kitchen utensils, such as a large wok or a Chinese-style cleaver. There are some other supermarkets in the area, but you'll find that many of these are wholesale or cash and carry type establishments, which are still quite interesting to explore.


Visit some of the other Chinese establishments

There's much more than food to enjoy in Liverpool's Chinatown - in fact, often the more interesting places to visit are those which don't actually sell food. For example, there are a few nail bars in the area which are great to head to for really interesting designs and no-nonsense service. If you're Asian and you often struggle to find hairdressers who can cut your hair how you like, it's definitely worth checking out some of the hairdressers in Chinatown - Hk Hair Salon on Berry st is fantastic. If you want to buy some authentic Chinese clothing, then Unique on Berry St is a great place to head to for fashionable Chinese clothing at a reasonable price.


Spend Chinese New Year here

If there is one time to head to Liverpool's Chinatown, it's during Chinese New Year. Most of the establishments here go all out in terms of decorations and fun, and there is a real buzz in the area. You'll find a range of street festivities during the Chinese New Year period, with activities for both children and adults to enjoy. These typically include a Chinese New Year Market, Lion and Dragon costume dancing (our favourite part of the whole thing), Firecracker Displays, & more.


What should you know before visiting Liverpool's Chinatown?

The main thing to keep in mind about Liverpool's Chinatown is that many of the restaurants will actually be closed for lunch, so if you're going to head here for a bite to eat you're definitely better to do so in the evening.
Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to visit this brilliant area of Liverpool. If you're looking for other great areas of cities to visit, check out our guide to North Laine in Brighton.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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