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Our favorite Chinatown activities include:
Visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, a peaceful collection of walkways, ponds, courtyards, and traditional buildings, modeled after classical gardens in China. The well-trained tour guides enlighten you about the garden’s history and design.
Take an Edible Canada Chinatown tour with food writer and Chinese food expert Stephanie Yuen, for an introduction to the neighborhood’s history, shops, and edible attractions. If you’d like, you can wrap up your tour with a dim sum lunch, where Yuen offers tips on what to eat.
Wander the streets, explore the produce markets, and pick up treats from one of the bakeries. Coconut buns from the Sun Fresh Bakery or “wife cakes” (a distinctive winter melon pastry) from Maxim’s – both on Keefer Street – are good choices.
Vancouver’s Chinatown is the second largest in North American; only San Francisco surpasses it. Located near the core of downtown and adjacent to Gastown, it is easily accessible by public transport via the Main Street skytrain station. It is always bustling with shoppers and locals taking in the many sights, sounds and smells of one of the city’s most unique neighborhoods – every few steps there are fresh vegetable stands, herbalists, barbeque ducks hanging in windows and shops selling traditional Chinese pieces, like silk robes and jade jewelry.
Food is an integral part of Chinatown. Bakeries serving up fresh sweet and savory buns and delicious breads and restaurants offering dim sum, with carts of steaming dumplings making through way through a dining room, are two popular choices. Here you can find cuisine from different regions of China – Szechuan, Cantonese and Hunan, to name a few. The offerings are abundant, from casual noodle joints to more upscale seafood houses. One of Vancouver’s most exciting restaurants in Chinatown is Bao Bei Chinese Brassier, which serves small plates of modern Chinese cuisine from the Taiwan, Shanghai and Sichuan provinces. With a no-reservations system, expect to wait for a table (but the inventive cocktail menu makes the time fly).
A walk through Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden, a replica from the Ming Dynasty era, is a cultural experience not found in many cities.