I’ve written in a post a while ago that there isn’t much to do in Manila and I still agree with it. Chinatown however should be on your list if your have spare time (provided you did Intramuros first)! During the brief British occupation of Manila, between 1762 and 1764, Binondo was bombarded on several occasions and some of its structures destroyed. It was a hub of Chinese businesses even before the Spanish colonial period. After the war and new development, most businesses began to move to the newer Makati. Binondo is said to have one of the biggest land values in Philippines.
There are Jeepneys that go to Chinatown from Vito Cruz. Just look for one that says Quiapo and then take a connecting jeepney to Binondo, the fare is 12 pesos (as of September 2014). The alternative method is to take a train to the Carriedo station (15 peso).
Both ways are good, but with the jeepney, you’ll get to stop at a local market in Quiapo which is in front of the Quiapo church. The church itself is worth a visit, and the market’s even better.
You’ll be dropped down in front of the main gate to Chinatown and the adventure begins!
This Chinatown isn’t the merry decorated one you see everywhere else. This was a trading city, and still is. The history and culture of the Chinese people that used to (and still) live here is well preserved. Just don’t expect fancy costumes and lanterns.
If there ONE FOOD i say you must have here, its the steamed buns. Not just any steamed buns, but the ones form this shop. The filling is made of lean pork meat that’s steaming hot and slightly crispy. I don’t know what else to say.
The same shop sells this glutinous rice wrapped in leaf thing that you can also see from the picture above. I was good, but because I brought it back and reheated it the next day, it was probably not as good as it could be. Very filling I must say, and of a huge portion too.
To be completely honest, I find the Chinatown to be quite boring if it wasn’t for the steamed buns. Then I found these, lechon kawali. This is a different version of the original lechon of Philippines.
My arteries were probably screaming, but hey what’s the point of coming so far only to worry about my circulation system? *excuses*
So what did I do? Went looking for more food. I opted for the healthier spring rolls (fresh lumpia) that is also quite a popular thing here. The best place to get it is at Quicksnack which can be quite hard to find.
They do seem to have other things on their menu that looked good, I’m just clueless about what to order. I was however stuffed, and decided to come back another day. I did come back a few weeks later but I couldn’t find this shop again
Guess some things are not meant to be.
What’s Chinatown without a few bits of exotic creatures? There’s one shop right outside of Quicksnacks that sells just this and quite a bit more.
All in all, it was an interesting place to spend 3-4 hours in. The journey from Vito Cruz/Makati via Quiapo made it all that much better!
PS : I still try to post every Monday and Thursday but when I’m busy at school, I skip. Priorities 😛
Thanks for all the lovely emails, and no, I’m not quitting the site