SEATTLE — The Chinatown International District is the center of Seattle’s Asian American community, and it’s mostly made up of three districts: Chinatown, Japantown and Little Saigon. However, don’t let that fool you – many people from different backgrounds make the CID unique.
If you’re taking a walk around, you may hear Cantonese, Taishanese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and the list goes on.
About half of the establishments are eateries which means the other half provide retail options from a melting pot of cultures. From hip hop dancing to capoeira to tea houses, dim sum and poke there is no shortage of culture and pop culture within the CID.
If you’ve never taken a visit, here’s a quick list of landmarks to see:
- The Chinese Gate, Fifth and King (free): The Chinese gate is a relatively new gate. However, like most Chinatowns in the United States, it gives you a sense that you’re in the neighborhood. It’s worthy of an Instagram picture.
- Hing Hay Park, 423 Maynard Ave. South (free): Hing Hay Park is a great place for gatherings, and at certain times of the day you’ll see families and older generations sharing the space. This is a common space for people to play chess, cards, meditate, eat and practice martial arts. You can catch a mean game of table tennis there, too! Grab lunch at any of the restaurants and plan to sit down at Hing Hay.
- The Panama Hotel, 606 S. Main Street: The Panama Hotel and Tea House was built in 1910 by the first Japanese-American architect in Seattle and holds the last remaining Japanese bathhouse in the country. The hotel is rich with Japanese American history. It housed the belongings of Japanese families in Seattle once they were forced to evacuate to internment camps. Many belongings are still in the hotel’s basement, which visitors can see from a covered hole in the floor of the tea room.
- Danny Woo Community Garden, 620 S. Main Street (free): The Danny Woo Community Garden is the largest green space in the CID and Little Saigon area. It is an essential place for the neighborhood to access healthy food and stay in touch with nature. It was founded in 1975 and has nearly 100 plots that are cultivated by mostly elderly Asian immigrant residents of the neighborhood, but it is also home to a chicken coop, children’s garden, outdoor kitchen, and orchard.
- Tai Tung Chinese Restaurant, 655 S. King Street: Tai Tung claims to be the oldest Chinese restaurant in Seattle’s history. It also happened to be Bruce Lee’s favorite restaurant, where the actor would often sit and eat beef with oyster sauce. There is even a Bruce Lee memorial booth, where you can share the same plush blue bench the martial artist enjoyed a meal.