Binondo is the oldest Chinatown in the world. A melting pot of the Filipino and Chinese, Binondo has a rich history and heritage dates as far back as the early years of Spanish colonialization. The food, landmarks, relics, customs and the thriving business scene are a signature of the community.
From visiting old churches to enjoying food in hole-in-the-walls, here are the nine things you should not miss when visiting Binondo, Manila.
Say a prayer in the old beautiful churches
Image from Primer.com
Another old church in the area is the Santa Cruz Church. Founded by the Jesuit friars in 1619, Santa Cruz Church enshrines the statue of Our Lady of Pilar and served the increasing Chinese Catholics of the time.
Did you know?
Binondo Church is also called the Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz after St Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint. St. Lorenzo Ruiz studied and trained in Binondo Church before he was sent as a missionary to Japan, where he was martyred for his faith.
Try the famous fried chicken of Sincerity Café
It might sound funny to eat a fried chicken when there are other Chinese delicacies around to try, but at Sincerity café, fried chicken is the must-try dish. Their home-style fried chicken is famous for its tender and juicy meat and oriental spice seasoning sold at an affordable price.
Location: 497 E.T. Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila
Hours: 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM (Monday to Sunday)
Must try Dish: Sincerity Fried Chicken (P160/half, P320/whole); Fried Oyster Cake (P200/small, P250/big)
Light an incense at a Chinese Temple
Image from Travelling Stilletos
Another temple in Binondo is the Kuang Kong Temple located on the second floor of a building in Kipuja Street. Kuang Kong Temple is known for its unusual fortune telling. Instead of a fortune teller, they have red wooden half-moons. According to the Chinese ritual, you ask a Yes or No question then dropped the half-moons. If the two halves face each other, your request will be granted. If the two halves face opposite sides, the answer is No.
These Chinese temples are open to the public, remember to be silent and respect the temple and those praying.
Enjoy dumplings galore at Dong Bei Dumplings
Image from Looloo
Location: 642 Yuchengco St, Binondo, Manila
Hours: 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM (Monday to Sunday)
Must try Dish: Kuchay Pork Dumplings (P150); Chinese Pancake (P200)
Take a Hopia home at Eng Bee Tin
Image from Esquire
Location: 650 Ongpin St, Binondo, Manila
Hours: 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Monday to Sunday)
Must try Dish: Hopia Ube (P52); Tikoy 4 in 1 (P300)
Walk Through the Past with Binondo Walking Tour
With a rich history and heritage, Binondo boasts not only authentic Chinese cuisine and customs but also ancient churches and cultural customs. When visiting Binondo for your next food crawl, incorporate a cultural aspect to it by adding a visit to the beautiful old churches, Buddhist temples, town plazas and museum. You will learn the history of the Chinese in the country, the Spanish government, and the brief British occupation.
The best time to visit is on Chinese New Year. Binondo streets are alive with Chinese lanterns, lion dances and special treats.
Relieve the Spanish Era at Intramuros
Image from Trip Savvy
Score great deals at Divisoria
Image from Good News Pilipinas
Today, Divisoria is regarded as a shopping mecca for cheap goods and services including fruits, vegetables, processed food, furniture, car parts, toys, clothes, shoes, tailoring services, key duplication, and fortune telling among others.
Haggle is the name of the game in Divisoria. Though items are sold cheap, you can still negotiate the price, especially when you buy in bulk. However, respect the vendor when he/she says its “fixed price”.
Marvel at Filipino fine arts at National Museum
To complete your Binondo Walk Through the Past, do not forget to visit the National Museum of the Philippines. The National Museum of the Philippines houses the treasures of history such as relics recovered by archeologists, dioramas depicting the revolution, and the masterpieces of Filipino artists like Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Vicente Manansala, and many more.
Admission to the National Museum is free. However, for the ultimate museum experience, book a guided tour in advance. A tour guide will explain the intricacies of the artwork, the intentions of the artist, and its significance in history.
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