Vancouver Chinatown

Chinatown in Vancouver

Chinatown street sign in Vancouver.

Being the second (or third, depending on who you ask!) largest Chinatown in North America gives you an idea as to size of this district, which was first inhabited by the Chinese in 1885. Thousands of Chinese and Asian immigrants were attracted to the area by the prospect of work, as gold mines, sawmills, lumber camps, railroad construction and more required large labor-forces.

Where is Chinatown?

Chinatown is at the northeastern end of the downtown area, situated to the south and east of Gastown. The major streets are Main, Pender and Keefer Streets.

Chinatown Attractions

Like most of Vancouver, Chinatown is a pleasant district for walking around and taking in the sights, sounds and smells. The streets really come alive during summer weekend evenings when the open-air night market takes place on Pender and Keefer Streets. Lovers of Chinese food will enjoy the many affordable restaurants in the area; dim sum is a local favorite!

Chinatown Highlights

Millennium Gate

The aptly named Millennium Gate was built in 2000 at the entrance to Chinatown, at the intersection of West Pender and Taylor Streets. Strangely, from outside of Chinatown the gate doesn’t look like anything special, but from the inside it is very ornate and definitely worth closer inspection.

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Park

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Park are located just a couple of minutes walk from the Millennium Gate. The main gardens have an entrance fee and include a guided tour, whereas the park is free to enter. Read more about the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Gardens and Park here.

Chinese Cultural Centre Museum & Archives

Next door to Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s you’ll find the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and Archives which are well worth a visit if you have a little longer to spend in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Here you can learn about the history of the city’s Chinese immigrants and discover that this often wasn’t a happy history.

Chinese Cultural Centre Museum & Archives
555 Columbia Street
Vancouver, B.C.
Chinese Cultural Centre Museum & Archives website
View map of Chinese Cultural Centre Museum & Archives

Sam Kee Building

No visit is complete without seeing Vancouver Chinatown’s Guinness World Record holder, the Sam Kee Building! This is the world’s narrowest commercial building, measuring just 4 feet 11 inches (1.5m) deep at the base. The building wasn’t initially planned like this when businessman Chang Toy, the owner of the Sam Kee Company, had bought the land previously, but in 1912 the City decided to widen Pender Street and seized all but 6 feet of the land. Toy didn’t let this stop him building his offices though and in 1913 this building was designed and built. The upper floor actually extends out over the street to make the most of the whole 6 feet of space, whilst the basement too extends out and originally held a public baths!

Sam Kee Building
West Pender street, 8
Vancouver, B.C.
View map of Sam Kee Building

For further information on Vancouver’s Chinatown, visit the Vancouver’s Chinatown official website.