Chinese had been doing businesses in the Philippines a long time ago even before the Spaniards colonized the country for 333 years. It is only the Spaniards that made Chinese settle to Binondo for cultural assimilation. Thus, making the Binondo located in Manila the oldest Chinatown in the world.
While the events from the past could have been difficult for the Filipinos and Chinese during the colonization, we can now freely visit Binondo either by getting a tour or having a DIY tour with family and friends in Manila.
Having a do-it-yourself tour in Binondo is not a scary thing to do. The streets can be easily remembered through photographic memory. My friends and I dropped off at Mcdonald’s and from there we started taking photo of Carriedo Fountain near Santa Cruz Church.
Santa Cruz Church
Santa Cruz Church is a Roman Catholic Church in Manila built in the year 1619. It had a lot of renovation and reconstruction. It was made of stone and wood in the beginning. Right now, the church’s edifice is Baroque-inspired.
Arch of Goodwill
This is the very beginning of our Binondo journey. Arch of Goodwill is a symbolism of goodwill between the Chinese and the Filipino community.
Even before entering the Arch of Goodwill, there is a lot of jewelry shop to choose from. Binondo is one of the go-to place to buy gold necklaces, earrings, rings, etc. especially for people who love collecting jewelries. People also go here for engagement rings or wedding rings.
There are gold necklaces for sale that costs P1,800 we saw in the forefront. I got to buy a 24k gold pendant here for P3,500 discounted. There is a pair of earrings I like that costs P2,800. These are the ranges of the gold jewelries that can be bought in Binondo. I’m sure there is cheaper and more expensive than the prices I have mentioned.
ZCT Delicious Restaurant
This restaurant in Binondo is hole-in-the-wall type. According to the waitstaff, ZCT Delicious Restaurant is older than her but failed to tell how old the restaurant really is.
This restaurant is recommended by the girlfriend of my friend who lives in Binondo for a long while; she sure knows the best food to order. The place is not impressive but their food is good. We ordered mikibihon guisado (P130) and chami guisado (P130). There’s something about their noodles that’s good, I swear. It’s not dry and probably they’ve put some “Chinese” ingredients that make it very appetizing for us. However, if we have to choose between the two, mikibihon won our heart.
We’ve also tried the Chinese kekiam (P100) but don’t mistaken it as the same kekiam sold in food kiosks or the one bought in grocery stores. This kekiam is meaty and sweet which we also liked. On the other hand, their siopao is not as good as I thought it would be.
Lucky Charms in Binondo
Even when I was a child, I’ve known Binondo as a place to buy for lucky charms. While I find other stores intimidating, Fu-lai Antique Shop has an accommodating ate/staff to help me choose what I need – luck for career and wise-decisions. She’s not pushy which I think the reason that made me to come back here twice, the second with my mother around. I got here my tiger eye bracelet for P150 and citrine bracelet for P600. My mom bought something for health and wealth charms. They also have charms for love and others.
Fu-lai Antique Shop can be easily found since it’s a corner store. They do not only sell bracelets but also home decorations like Buddha, money tree, coy fish, and other home decorations for luck.
Shanghai Fried Siopao
Shanghai fried siopao (P22) is another must-try food in Binondo. Their siopao is not dry because the way it’s cooked has a strict compliance of time. It’s tasty and iteventually fill our stomach full. They are selling other products as well as seen in the picture below.
Bee Tin Grocery
Sometimes, getting into a foreign grocery makes me wonder what to buy. We’ve discovered in every Chinese grocery store, there’s wong tsai milk. It’s a red can with a drawing of a young boy. I believe it’s around 40-50 pesos and it tastes good. There’s also tea in red can which also tastes good.
This is where I also got to buy pork mahu for my former officemate. It costs P230 for a half kilo. Pork mahu is the pork floss that can be seen at the top of the breads of BreadTalk. That is what my office mate exactly did after I handed it to her.
Aside from that, I bought pork tapa for myself. It tasted like tocino. They also sell dried plum and other dried products. They also have tea, coffee, candies, etc.
Eng Bee Tin Chinese Deli
The hopia, tikoy/nian gao/ Chinese new year cake, mochi and other Chinese pastries are a-must buy for this store. I personaly like the custard hopia ube (this one should be kept refrigerated), tikoy roll pandan, and tikoy roll sesame. Its prices ranges from 50-60 pesos. I would love to try the tikoy for the upcoming Chinese New Year.
Eng Bee Tin Chinese Deli has a lot of branches in the metro. Aside in Binondo, they have other branches.
Another Catholic church that can be found in the area is Binondo Church. Binondo Church is made for the Chinese Christian during the Spanish era. While it is European baroque-inspired, the Chinese bell tower reflects the culture of the area.
Hong Bon Bridge
This bridge is on the way to Lucky Chinatown and also the way to take pictures of this mural. It is also a shortcut from Ongpin to Divisoria.
Lucky Chinatown Mall is not as old as other malls in the area. This is another good spot to take photos. This mall has a wellness store, feng shui store, Chinese restaurants, and more.
Hao Kang Hongkong Desserts
We capped off our day eating shaved ice desserts. I honestly forgot what this is but it’s showered in mang flavor with fresh fruits of kiwi, watermelon, and slice of mangoes.
If you have other recommended places to visit in Binondo, feel free to share your experiences in the comment box below. Happy Chinese New Year!