Chinatown in Melbourne is a thriving hub of Asian culture and cuisine. It’s home to some of the best restaurants, shops, cinemas and bars, as well as cultural institutions like the Museum of Chinese Australian History.
The food is amazing and the atmosphere is vibrant and exciting. You will be able to find a lot of different types of food here, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Filipino and even Australian-style Chinese food. It’s also a great place to go for dim sum, dumplings, or if you’re looking for some authentic Chinese street food!
Located in the Melbourne CBD, Chinatown is easily accessible by public transportation.
It also hosts many free annual events throughout the year like the Dragon Boat Festival and the Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) celebrations that draw thousands of visitors every February or March.
If you want to get away from the touristy areas of Melbourne and experience something more authentic, then this is definitely the place for you!
Read on for a comprehensive guide to visiting Chinatown in Melbourne Australia.
In 1853, during the gold rush era, Chinese citizens came over in boats from Hong Kong to work on the gold fields. Because there was no Chinatown yet, they built their own community around Little Bourke Street in Melbourne.
When the gold rush ended, many Chinese stayed behind and began to establish themselves in the area by becoming restauranteurs, furniture makers, storekeepers and herbalists.
In 1901 the racist “White Australia Policy” was established which stopped all non Europeans being allowed to immigrate to Australia. This made the Chinese population and business decline until 1947 when the policy was eased a small bit and the area could slowly begin to rebuild and develop again.
In the 1970’s, under the Gough Whitlam government, the policy was completely demolished and the Racial Discrimination Act was introduced.
Melbourne’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in the western world with the longest continuous Chinese settlement.
WHAT TO SEE
(201 Spring Street)
Tianjin, China is one of Melbourne’s “sister cities” and this garden was a gift from them. It’s located at the beginning of Little Bourke Street on Spring Street which marks the entrance to the Chinatown area.
(22 Cohen Place)
Open daily from 10am to 4pm, this museum has 5 floors of Chinese Australian history. It has the longest dragon in the world and has an exhibition area about the gold rush era.
Facing Heaven Archway
(106 Little Bourke Street)
A replica of a gate in Nanjing, this arch was gifted to the city of Melbourne to celebrate their 150th anniversary. It was made in China then reassembled here in Melbourne under the supervision of Chinese craftsmen. Walk through the archway to reach the Chinese Museum.
Dr Sun Yat Sen memorial statue
This large statue is looking at the Facing Heaven Archway and was erected in 2011 by the local Chinese community in memory of all the good he did in founding modern China.
Chinese Mission Church
(123 Little Bourke Street)
Built in 1872, this building is of architectural significance to Victoria as it shows an early example of brick polychromy. It was built by the Wesleyan Methodists who converted the local Chinese population to Christianity.
Sum Kum Lee Building
(112 Little Bourke Street)
Built in 1887 for a prominent wealthy Chinese Merchant, it operated as a business warehouse and then for the publishers of the newspaper Table Talk.
WHERE TO STAY
Most of the accommodation around here is upmarket hotels. They include the following:
Mercure Welcome Melbourne
Pullman Melbourne on Swanston
Mantra on Russell
Punthill apartment hotels Little Bourke
City Limits Hotel
HOW TO GET TO CHINATOWN MELBOURNE
It’s very accessible to visit Chinatown. There is so much public transport really close.
Tram (along Bourke Street, Swanston Street and Spring Street): 1, 3, 5, 6, 16, 35 (city circle), 64, 67, 72, 86, 96.
Bus (along Lonsdale Street): 302, 304, 905, 906, 907.
Train Stations: Parliament, Melbourne Central.
WHAT TO EAT
What street is Chinatown in Melbourne? Little Bourke Street.
When was Chinatown Melbourne built? In the 1850’s
Where is Chinatown located in Melbourne? In the central business district (CBD).
Where to find cheap parking in Chinatown Melbourne? Midcity Centre Care Park, Wilson Parking, Secure Parking.
Can you live in Chinatown? Yes. There are apartments to buy and rent in the area.