Many cities have Chinatowns – in fact, there may be one in the city you’re from! You’ll notice that when you look for Seattle’s Chinatown on a map that it has a special name: the “Chinatown-International District.” Wondering why? Because this neighborhood encompasses shops, restaurants and homes of people from all over Asia.
Throughout different times in the city’s history, the Chinatown-International District has housed Japantown, Chinatown and Little Saigon. There are also traces of influences from the city’s Filipino community. Although a majority of the residents are now Chinese, to honor each of these distinct cultural groups, “International” was added to the district’s name.
We love having visitors from all over the world on our Duck tours. Make sure to experience what makes our Chinatown so unique before or after your tour by checking out the following:
- Green Spaces:
There are several parks in the area to enjoy a moment of peace. Each park offers something different – from a community garden planted by the neighborhood’s elderly to a play and art area for kids. Check out: Danny Woo International District Community Garden, Donnie Chin International Children’s Park, Hing Hay Park, and Kobe Terrace.
Located over South King Street near 5th Avenue, the Historic Chinatown Gate looms over you at 45 feet. With various colors from blue to red in the Paifang style, you can marvel at its beauty and examine its tiles from southern China.
Built by a Japanese architect in 1910, this hotel and tea house is a piece of history that you can stay in. Much of the hotel has been preserved including the only sento (Japanese bathhouse) left in the United States. Sip loose-leaf brews and grab a pastry at their tea house before exploring the neighborhood.
This grocery store that sells items from all over Asia started as a small food shop in the back of a truck. After the Moriguchi family was held in internment camps in California during WWII, they came back to Seattle to open the Uwajimaya we know today. Shop here for specialty ingredients or yummy prepared foods from Korean BBQ to cream puffs!
Right next to Uwajimaya, you’ll find a book shop containing a whole lot more than books. Books Kinokuniya is headquartered in Tokyo so most of their offerings are in Japanese or English. Browse their manga, anime, and magazine isles before buying stuffed animals, stationary, and more.
Did you know that pinball dates back to the 1700’s? That’s a lot of time for a lot of versions to be made! The Pinball Museum in Seattle started as a means for collectors to share games with each other. You can sip (ahem, adult) drinks while playing and check out all of their machines – the oldest one dates back to 1934!
This institution is named after Wing Luke, the first Asian American elected to public office in Washington State. He wanted to start a museum that preserved the history of Asian immigrants who built their lives in Seattle, so after his death family and friends raised money to open it. The museum contains artifacts from photos to oral histories with representation from over 26 ethnic groups, and an exhibit on martial artist and film star Bruce Lee who is buried in Seattle.
Whether you’re craving sushi or hankering for Hong Kong delicacies, the International District is full of places to try. Here are a few different cuisines to sink your teeth into:
Vietnamese: Dong Thap
Japanese: Maneki (one of the city’s oldest restaurants!)
– Dim Sum: Jade Garden
– Cross-regional: Tai Tung
– Hong Kong/ Cantonese style: A + Hong Kong Kitchen
Laotian: Song Phang Kong
- Bubble Tea
This beloved drink gets a whole category of its own. If you’ve never had bubble tea, this is THE part of town to try it. The drink originated in Taiwan and is composed of tea (different flavors, cold or hot, milk or no milk) or a smoothie with various toppings from jelly to boba (little balls made of tapioca). Places to try it include Young Tea, Oasis Tea Zone, and Ambrosia Café.
Throughout the year, the International District holds many events during holidays celebrated throughout Asia. Some of the ones to keep on your list are:
- Night Market – September 2019
- Dragon Fest – July 2019
- Seattle Chinatown Lunar New Year Festival – February 2019
Let us know what you did to explore the International District after your tour! Although we’re partial to the delicious food, the history in this part of town is not to be missed.
*Did you know? Some photos that appear on this page are public domain! Neat!