Art/Style/Travel Diaries

My Binondo walking tour

I just wish Chinatown had more space for people to roam around—less cars

Year of Tiger balloons in Binondo (All photos by Medel Sablaya)

I was more curious than excited when I visited Binondo, Manila, for its Chinese New Year celebration this year. I’ve seen how it was, and I was looking forward to the possible changes. Would it be as festive and vibrant as it was in previous years, and would it attract people despite the pandemic protocols?

I decided to walk and leave my bike at home. I planned a walking tour ahead for an easy look and on-the-ground experience. My goal was to start from Ongpin St. just across from the Sta. Cruz Plaza fountain, and walk the entire stretch.

Sta. Cruz plaza leading to Ongpin st.

The age-old staple one goes to Chinatown for

Ongpin St., after all, is probably the busiest and most widely visited area in Binondo,  with its different shops, restaurants, jewelry shops, lucky charm stores and souvenir shops. It also has bakeries and drug stores for all kinds of imaginable drugs and tonics.

Tikoy shop at every corner

More charms and ornaments of lucky colors

The moment I got there, my curiosity was instantly satisfied. The entrance was packed with people, vendors, and cars. Every street corner had tikoy or glutinous rice cake shops; there was a long queue in the hopia and siopao shops, and sidewalk vendors sold gems, bracelets, charms, and souvenirs. Crowded, too, were the restaurants and noodle shops.

Sidewalk lined with good luck charms

Gold and red lanterns pave the walk.

I was satisfied taking photos of everything around me. I just wished they could have made Ongpin St. a walking street, and shouldn’t have allowed cars on it. That way, there would be enough space for everybody to walk freely and safely.

Vendors take a break.

Chinese New Year in the time of pandemic

Read more:

I bike, I see my Manila in lockdown

About author


He gives young stars tutorials in Filipino, plays tennis, climbs the mountains of Sagada, and now braves the streets of Metro Manila on a bike.

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