Always lively, colourful, and buzzing, London’s Chinatown is one of the city’s coolest neighbourhoods and a must-visit for all gastronomy lovers.

Chinatown is an ethnic enclave in central London, Soho, which develops along and around Gerrard Street. The neighbourhood is a must-see among London’s districts and it is famous for its numerous Chinese restaurants (more than 80!), bakeries, cafés, food markets, and other small businesses.

Although the origins of modern Chinatown date back to the aftermath of the Second World War, the area as we know it today didn’t start taking shape until the 1960s. By the 1980s, London’s Chinatown already had its Chinese gate, street furniture, and pavilion, along with pedestrianised streets. However, the current Chinatown gate on Wardour Street, also called a paifang, was inaugurated only in 2016. Its design is inspired by the style of the Qing dynasty.

Chinatown in London
The street furniture and decorations make Chinatown pretty hard to miss.

The previous Chinatown, which had grown in the Limehouse area (East End) since the 18th century, was heavily damaged by the bombing during the Second World War. The physical damage to the neighbourhood led part of the community to relocate from the East End to Soho.

Shortly after, the success of the Chinese restaurants and supermarkets in the area, coupled with an influx of entrepreneurs and investors from Hong Kong, led to the current Chinatown becoming the epicentre of London’s Chinese community.

Today, Chinatown is renowned for being one of the best places to eat in London. What’s best is that, even if Chinese restaurants and businesses are still predominant in the area, you will also find plenty of other east Asian cuisines.

Walking the streets of Chinatown you can expect to find a plethora of traditional Chinese dishes from all regions of the country, as well as Korean barbeque, Vietnamese pho, Japanese sushi, or Taiwanese fried chicken. The dessert options are also mouthwatering, with a wide variety of sweet drinks and dishes like bubble tea, Filipino bilog, and Chinese yuan tang and pastry.

If you want some restaurant recommendations, we can suggest Gerrard’s Corner for all kinds of delicious dim sum, and Shu Xiang Ge for Sichuan-inspired hotpot. If you would like to try the staples of traditional Cantonese cuisine, like roast duck and char siu pork, then head over to Four Seasons. Cafe TPT is a small and modest spot, but their dai pai dong dishes are absolutely fantastic. And finally, if you still have some room left for dessert, we recommend you head over to Chinatown Bakery to marvel at the selection of Chinese breads and pastries.


Gerrard Street and surrounding area, Soho, London.

London’s Chinatown develops all along and around Gerrard Street, in the Soho district of the city’s West End.

Being in such and active and lively part of Central London, this neighbourhood is close to many other popular sights and landmarks. To Chinatown’s east, for example, you’ll find Covent Garden, with its theatres and Transport Museum.

Just a few minutes south of Chinatown are also Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square, the latter of which has two prominent museums (the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery). A little west of Chinatown is also London’s most famous junction, Piccadilly Circus.

Opening times

Although opening and closing times vary among individual businesses, the majority of restaurants and food venues in Chinatown open around midday (12:00 pm) and close around midnight (12:00 am). Of course, during the weekend and during particularly busy times, it’s common to see businesses open until much later and well into the night.

If you are lucky enough to be in London around the Chinese New Year, then Chinatown should be at the absolute top of your list of places to visit. Between the end of January and mid-February, you’ll get to see colourful parades, music concerts, stage shows, and traditional performances.


Chinatown is rather central, so it’s not hard to reach it by public transport. The first and most recommendable option is to go by Tube. The nearest Tube stop to Chinatown is Leicester Square, where both the Northern line and the Piccadilly line stop. Otherwise, you can take the Bakerloo line (or the Piccadilly) and get off at Piccadilly Circus.

If you prefer taking the bus, you can take lines 14, 19, 24, 29, 38, or 176. Here you can see a summary of the transport options available.

Method Underground Bus
Lines Northern, Piccadilly, Bakerloo 14, 19, 24, 29, 38, 176
Stops Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus -

You can obviously reach Chinatown by cab, but we don’t particularly recommend it, considering the area’s location and the heavy traffic conditions that are to be expected in central London.

Nearby sights

Piccadilly Circus - 400 m (0.3 miles) west, 6-minute walk

Covent Garden - 550 m (0.4 miles) east, 7-minute walk.

National Portrait Gallery - 450 m (0.3 miles) south, 5-minute walk.

National Gallery - 400 m (0.3 miles) south, 5-minute walk.

Trafalgar Square - 500 m (0.4 miles) south, 6-minute walk.

London Transport Museum - 850 m (0.5 miles) southeast, 10-minute walk.

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