The best way to explore Chinatown is on foot. Browse for fresh produce, fruits, and food at one of the popular markets, such as Oahu Market or Maunakea Marketplace. Wander past herbal medicine shops and acupuncturists. Get spiritual at Kuan Yin Temple or Izumo Taishakyo Mission Shrine. Immerse yourself in art in the galleries around Nuuanu and Bethel streets, or catch a performance at the Hawaii Theatre Center. Food options range from food courts to trendy restaurants by up-and-coming culinary stars, and there’s an eclectic assortment of nightlife options, too.
It’s easy to visit Chinatown independently, but a guided sightseeing tour will offer additional insights to this historical area. Options include tours focused on food; tours by foot, Segway, or bike; or the popular Circle Island tours. Opt for a private experience to fully customize your itinerary.
Things to know before you go
- Chinatown is ideal for art lovers, architecture fans, foodies, and nightlife enthusiasts.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as there’s much to explore in the area.
- Bring cash if you plan to shop, as some vendors won’t accept anything else.
How to get there
Chinatown is located just a few blocks away from Downtown Honolulu. There’s limited parking in the area so it’s best to take public transportation. The Waikiki Trolley Red Line also stops in Chinatown, plus a number of buses stop in the area.
When to get there
The Chinatown markets tend to be most active in the mornings. Art lovers should visit on the “First Friday” of the month, when many galleries, boutiques, and restaurants feature art exhibitions and free entertainment. The main event is in the evening but the partying continues late into the night. Chinatown is at its most festive during the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Hawaii Theatre Center
Originally opened in 1922, the theater was known as “The Pride of the Pacific,” and built to rival opulent theaters in major cities. Fully restored, it reopened as a state-of-the-art performance center, and is listed in the State and National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can take a guided tour or watch a variety of performances at the theater.
- Hawaii State Capitol
- Iolani Palace
- Aloha Tower Marketplace
- Ali'iolani Hale
- King Kamehameha Statue
- Honolulu Hale
- Kawaiaha'o Church
- Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives
- Oahu Cruise Port
- National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
- Honolulu Museum of Art
- Bishop Museum
- Kewalo Basin
- Ala Moana Beach Park