Chinatown & Haymarket
Sydney isn't the only global city with a Chinatown, but this one is bigger, better and boasts more than most thanks to the Chinese immigrants that started arriving in the 1800s. You can find everything here, from small specialist stores and sprawling Asian grocers to noodle bars in hidden food halls and tucked-away fine-dining restaurants. Not to mention lively markets and late-night karaoke.
Things to do
The pedestrian thoroughfare of Dixon Street is the beating heart of Chinatown and it really comes alive during the spectacular Lunar New Year celebrations for the traditional Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Mongolian lunisolar calendar. Celebrations go on for weeks and everyone is welcome.
Enjoy world-class shows at the historic Capitol Theatre, a beautiful heritage-listed venue on Campbell Street, built from 1893-1928. Check out the exciting events calendar for musicals, ballet, comedy, concerts and other performances or sign up for a backstage tour of the theatre.
Chinatown has something for every kind of shopper. Browse boutiques tucked away in arcades or flex your bargaining muscle at Paddy’s Markets, which dates back to colonial times. Upstairs, Market City is home to factory outlets and nearby World Square is filled with high street shops and restaurants.
A short walk from Chinatown, the Chinese Garden of Friendship is a tranquil oasis of pretty pavilions, waterfalls and lakes brimming with koi, winding paths and lush plant life nestled at the south end of Darling Harbour. Take a leisurely walk through the green space, before stopping at the onsite heritage-listed teahouse for some dumplings.
Eat & drink
If you crave Asian flavours, Chinatown's food experiences are as authentic as they get. The Friday night markets on Dixon Street are a taste of a bustling outdoor Asian food hall. The area around Pitt and Goulburn Streets is known as little Thai town, while Pitt and Liverpool Streets is nicknamed Koreatown.
Not sure where to start? Hit up the classics that have been around for a long time. For Cantonese, Golden Century does late-night live seafood and Emperor’s Garden makes some of the best Asian-style roast meets around. East Ocean is a yum cha mainstay, Arisun is all about Korean fried chicken, Mamak is known for its wafer-thin roti and people line up at Gumshara for tonkotsu ramen. For Thai, head to the beloved Chat Thai or the quirky Thanon Khaosan. For delicious Malaysian in a laneway street stall-style setting, go to Ho Jiak.
If you want to do as the locals do, eat your way around Asia at Eating World, Sussex Centre and Dixon House, three of the best food courts in Chinatown.
All that dining will work up a thirst. Bancho is a small bar with a focus on whisky and cocktails, Nakano Darling is a Japanese izakaya serving up Japanese whisky and sake, and Bucket Boys is all about craft beer.
It's an easy walk to Chinatown from Central or Town Hall stations, or you can take the light rail.