The city of Lima is one of the most bustling and charming cities in the entire Andean country. And among all its busiest neighborhoods, there is a door that leads to another world. We are talking about Chinatown, one of the most exciting and surprising neighborhoods in the capital. Inside, you will be able to appreciate oriental lanterns, foreign aromas and tastes, characteristic music, and the red color dominating most of its buildings. Chinatown is a portal to the massive culture and tradition that come from China. This neighborhood is one of the largest shopping centers in Lima. That is why together with the private travel experts of Machu Travel Peru we have prepared an article about everything you can enjoy in Chinatown.
Lima’s Chinatown or Barrio Chino is an interesting mix of influences and cultures. And it has an interesting history dating back to the 1860s. This charming neighborhood is not far from the historic district of downtown Lima. Today it is only a shadow of what it once was in the middle of the city. Despite this, it is a place where Chifas and signs with Chinese characters abound. Barrio Chino is one of the most picturesque, exciting, and delicious neighborhoods in Lima. It is a perfect place to find yourself. It is home to Chinese immigrants and the main Chifa food sector. At the same time, it is usually one of the main commercial centers of the city. Since it has a couple of markets that are worth knowing.
All about the legendary Chinatown in Lima
- What is Chinatown in Lima
- Things to do in the Barrio Chino
- History of the Barrio Chino
- Chinese influence in Peru
- How to get there
WHAT IS CHINATOWN IN LIMA
Peru is a melting pot of different cultures and Chinatown is a clear example of this. The Chinese culture is very present within the center of Lima and in its inhabitants. Many tours often overlook this area because the area is considered very busy. But if you go carefully and accompanied, I assure you that you will enjoy a pleasant experience. There is no best time to visit Lima, but if you do, make sure you get to know this neighborhood.
The Chinese immigrants who came to Peru came mainly from the Province of Cantón in the 19th century. The Chinatown is located near the Plaza Mayor of Lima, more specifically in the Jirón Ucayali. The main street of Chinatown is known as Calle Capon and is a commercial, financial and gastronomic center of Lima. Chinatown began to form when the Chinese immigrant population began to work on sugar cane plantations within Peru. But over time the population grew and they began to move to cities, giving rise to the famous Chinatown. Today, it is much smaller than it was previously and the Chinese presence is not as strong as in other years. Despite this, you can still appreciate numerous Chinese restaurants and symbols written in Chinese. If you are looking for things to do in Lima, you cannot miss a tour of this amazing sector of the city.
THINGS TO DO IN THE BARRIO CHINO
Despite being a large shopping center, Chinatown is home to numerous activities. Before embarking on some of the different day trips from Lima, it would be a good idea to search for supplies in Chinatown. Being a commercial area of great importance, Chifa restaurants are not the only thing you will find. Most Peruvians go to the neighborhood to buy their food and different items in the giant markets. It is even an excellent place to get spices, tea, and other products that come from the Asian country. Fortunately, you can enjoy endless activities in Chinatown. Among its most popular options you can enjoy:
A GASTRONOMIC TOUR OF THE MOST POPULAR RESTAURANTS
In Chinatown, you will find thousands of “Chifa” restaurants. Peruvian-Chinese food restaurants are named in this way. The combination of Chinese culinary elements mixed with Peruvian ingredients and traditions results in delicious Chifa food. The food is so popular you will find these types of restaurants wherever you go in Peru. And you can’t go to a better place to eat Chifa than in Chinatown. Since it is the birthplace of this wonderful fusion food. Some of the most famous and venerable restaurants in Chifa are located here. The San Joy Lao is one of the pioneers, first established in 1920. Other notable restaurants to experience are the China Room, Wa Lok, and the Capón Room.
EXAMINE THE DIFFERENT AND VARIED EXOTIC SPICES
While Chinatown is a fairly busy commercial center, you will also find places of great interest. In the middle of the markets, you can find stalls that are specializing in tea and spices. There you can find original and imported products directly from China and other Asian countries. This neighborhood is one of the best places to buy your favorite tea infusions. From incenses, infusions, flavorings, and other products that are worth knowing. In addition, in no other store in Peru, you can get these products.
STROLL THROUGH ITS STREETS DECORATED WITH CHINESE THEMES
The beautiful Chinatown and its main street are full of ornaments and decorations. Practically all the decorations are Chinese-themed. Including the benches that have quite a distinctive Chinese flair. But one of the most distinctive elements of the neighborhood is the Portal or Arch that is at the entrance. In the portal, there is a phrase that when translated says: “Under the blue sky, we are all the same.” Along the street, you will find many restaurants lined up in addition to the markets and galleries. The neighborhood also houses a Chinese Temple and in the surroundings, you can enjoy letter readings among other things.
UNDERSTAND PEOPLE AND THEIR CULTURE
Everyone goes to Chinatown, so it is a very popular neighborhood. Here you can see people from all over the city doing their shopping. You can watch the crowds looking for the deal of the day or shopping for their supplies for work and home. So it is undoubtedly one of the largest commercial and urban centers in Lima. And thanks to this, it is an excellent place to observe people and their culture. It is in Barrio Chino where you can take a look at the daily life of Peruvians as well as the great diversity of its population.
EXPERIENCE STREET FOOD
The Chinatown is not only a commercial center but also a gastronomic center. With its wide variety of restaurants of Chifa is no surprise that it is a gastronomic center for fusion food. But restaurants are not the only thing that abounds in this neighborhood, you will also find numerous street food stalls. From fresh Ceviche stalls to Anticuchos, you will find all the Peruvian delicacies in any of the corners.
BUY IN ITS DIFFERENT MARKETS
One of the main attractions of Chinatown is its crowded markets. The best thing you can do is shopping. Most Peruvians flock to the neighborhood to buy their food and household items. The advantage of the markets here is that they tend to have discounted prices compared to other markets in Lima. As soon as you enter any of the markets you will begin to hear megaphones and the different offers available.
Even though this corner of Lima is not usually included in the tours of the city, it is a place that is worth knowing. If you dare, we recommend you visit it accompanied. The place is usually full of people, so we recommend you pay attention to your belongings. Although if you wish, we can include this wonderful place in your itinerary. Within our Lima travel guide, you will find safe ways to explore the neighborhood.
HISTORY OF THE BARRIO CHINO
Peru has a strong influence on different cultures. Throughout history, Peruvian and Chinese cultures have been fused. The great combination of influences also gave rise to a great revolution within Peruvian gastronomy. Many Chinese people came to Peru in search of better opportunities. Many immigrants chose to work in a sugar mill on the coast of Peru. And some of its residents also settled in downtown Lima. By the 1860s, through Chinese import companies from Hong Kong and California, the Chinese had established their positions nearby. They are small businesses that cater to the Chinese population, such as small grocery stores, laundries, and restaurants.
CHINESE INFLUENCE IN PERU
The Chinese ethnic community in Peru is one of the largest in Latin America. An estimated 1.5 million people make up the Chinese community. And its de facto capital is the famous Barrio Chino. Very few tourists usually venture into these corners. But those who dare will find a rich mix of culinary and cultural delights! Like other Chinatowns in other countries, Lima’s Chinatown is a source of Chinese ingredients. And is considered a Chinese gastronomic center.
What happened to Peruvian cuisine after Chinese immigration is fascinating. Starting with the massive Chinese immigration, Peruvian cuisine saw several changes that greatly helped the local gastronomy. The great Chinese influences permeated the traditions and customs of Peru. Giving rise to the incredible fusion food that we appreciate today. Dishes such as Lomo Saltado and Chifa are great creations that emerged from Chinese methods and techniques. Lomo Saltado comes from Chinese cooking styles, where beef is fried in soy sauce. In Chinatown, there are many restaurants “Chifa” as they are known. Excellent places where you can try some of the delicious and traditional dishes of Peru.
HOW TO GET THERE
Chinatown is located in an emblematic area of the Historic Center of Lima. More precisely, it is located in the Barrios Altos. The Chinatown is mainly made up of the first block of Jirón Ucayali Street, in addition to other blocks of the Jirón Paruro. This neighborhood originated as a result of the significant influx of the Chinese population that came to Peru. Most came from the provinces of Canton and Sichuan.
If you have planned vacations in Lima, a tour of Chinatown is a mandatory stop. To get there, just take a taxi from anywhere in the city, although you can also walk from the historic center. You have to go one block south from the Plaza de Armas and then turn left at Jr. Ucayali. After approximately five blocks, you will be able to reach the Chinese Arch, the entrance door to Chinatown. Capon Street is a pedestrian street and the center of action in Chinatown. This is the Chinese Arch near Lima, also known as the Chinatown Arch. Calle Capon Street has a large number of Chifa restaurants and other markets to enjoy.
“LET CHINA SLEEP. FOR WHEN SHE WAKES, SHE WILL SHAKE THE WORLD.”
As you will see, Chinatown is an excellent place to start getting to know the great diversity that Peru is home to. It will give you an idea of the different influences and cultures that make up the Andean country. Together with the travel experts at Machu Travel Peru, we hope we have explained the basics of this unique neighborhood. If you want to know about this sector during your next visit, do not hesitate to contact our professional advisers. They will be more than willing to help you organize the trip of your dreams. With us, you will be able to know much more than the centers of importance in Peru. You will be able to know those overlooked corners that are important to our Andean culture.