Discover the passageways, temples, murals, shops and traditional Asian restaurants in this historic district established by Canada’s first Chinese immigrants.
In Chinatown Victoria you can admire historic architecture, sample traditional Chinese food or enjoy cultural festivities. This artistic part of the city’s downtown area is very popular with tourists. Come here to talk to fortune tellers, see Canada’s narrowest street and shop for unique garments.
From the mid 1800s onwards Victoria became a base for Asian immigrants looking for gold and labor in British Columbia. Many settled in the area around present-day Market Square and part of this district is still classed as Chinatown today. This National Historic Site is well preserved and has an authentic feel to it.
A fitting way to enter Chinatown Victoria is through the Gate of Harmonious Interest, a 1981 monument dedicated to Canada’s multicultural society. A whole century older is the the former On Hing and Brothers Store on Fisgard Street. Look up at the street murals depicting scenes from the district’s past to see how the first Chinese immigrants lived.
Be sure to visit Fan Tan Alley, in the heart of Chinatown, to walk along the narrowest street in Canada. At one point the street is less than 3 feet (1 meter) wide. Originally the home of illegal gambling clubs and opium dens, this passageway is now full of quaint stores.
To see more Chinese relics, look for the Yen Wo Society Building on Government Street. Climb the 52 steps to the top floor to arrive at one of Canada’s oldest Buddhist temples, which is dedicated to the god Tam Kung. See worshipers kneel in front of the shrine to seek his advice on important personal matters.
Come back to Chinatown during one of its many cultural events, such as the weekly Night Market in summer. Sample soft dim sum (dumplings) and crispy lumpia (spring rolls) and watch Asian dance and martial arts performances. In January or February, the parades of the Chinese New Year celebrations entertain the crowds. Find a schedule of events on the Chinatown Night Market official website.
Located downtown, Chinatown Victoria is within walking distance of all major city attractions and public buses stop nearby. Pay-and-display parking is available in the district.