Celebrating Chinese New Year In Binondo

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travel, destination, Manila

We don’t really celebrate Chinese New Year at home that is why I was thrilled to experience it where all the festivities and the magic happens, in Binondo, Manila.

We checked out the Binondo Church first while waiting for the rest of the tour group who went on to explore some places while waiting for us. We saw the iconic purple engine sponsored by the famous Eng Bee Tin chain of shops. The little man experienced dragon and lion dances for the very first time and he was quite enamored with the colorful performers. Later on in our tour, we even get to  witness a different kind of dragon dance, with fireworks this time.

Chinatown is teeming with people who want to partake in the festivities, as well as with vendors selling charms, fruits and other wares related to Chinese New Year. I bought the little man a snake balloon, which we had to throw away after a few hours when it was punctured and carrying it around became inconvenient. We ambled on to Ongpin Street to see the famous Chinese stores there and went ahead to explore the Chinese Temple on Teodora Alonzo Street.

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It was my first time inside a Chinese temple. It sure has a different ambiance from the Catholic churches that I visited. We tried lighting Chinese sticks {incense} and prayed. Chinese temples also have huge statues of revered characters in Chinese worship, a photo of our National Hero Jose Rizal and comes with free popcorn and soft-served ice cream! Jared actually enjoyed snacking on popcorn while eyeing these cool tiger statues we saw outside the temple. Another unique feature of the temple will have to be the elevators. No need to take the flight of stairs to get to the 2nd 3rd and 4th floor where the temples are located.

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After our temple visit, we went straight to Sun Wah Restaurant right across the famous Ambos Mundos Restaurant for a late lunch. One peculiar feature of both restaurants are the pot-bellied pigs tied in front. These pets are believed to bring in luck to these businesses.

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When all of us are nourished with a hearty authentic Chinese meal, never mind that we had to wait a little while longer for our food to be served, we decided to proceed with our tour. We’ve witnessed a few more dragon dance performances and dropped by the Eng Bee Tin store where I bought a couple of deliciously-flavored hopia and posed with their pretty mascot, too! We also passed by a number of other famous shops along the way, including Salazar Bakery, where we also get a couple of pastries. We stopped by the infamous Estero restaurant, but it was jam-packed with people at the time we decided to check out other joints instead,  to have a rather late snack. We ended up in this hole in the wall that serves one of the best fresh lumpia that I’ve ever tasted. It was unfortunate that the name of the restaurant escapes me now, though.

travel, destination, Manila

the captivating dragon + lion dances

Our Chinese New Year experience is one great travel and gastronomical adventure and I wish to do this again next year! ^_^

Here are a few travel tips if you’d like to experience Chinese New Year in Binondo:

  • Bring extra clothing ~ It is sweltering at this time of year and all the walks and dining adventure will leave you sweating after a long day.
  • Charge your camera to make sure that you snap a shot of all the lovely eye candies
  • Bring an extra wad of cash especially if you intend to sample various Chinese cuisine and bring home charms and other pasalubong for family and friends
  • Travel with a group especially if you do not know the place much. It is very easy to get lost in all the many alleys and in the throngs of people who came to celebrate the occasion.

For more photos of our Chinese New Year in Binondo, you may check out my album here.

{Note: This Binondo Chinese New Year experience all happened last year but this post never saw the light of day until now. Enjoy}

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