Binondo Chinese New Year dragon dance
Guides and Itineraries,  Philippines

A Festive Guide to Binondo Chinese New Year Celebration

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The Chinese New Year is a widely celebrated holiday in the Philippines, not just among Filipinos and Chinese-Filipinos but even full-bloodied Filipinos themselves. For the last, the Chinese New Year is another way to welcome a new start and enjoy festivities such as delicious food and fireworks.

And Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world, located in the heart of Manila, is the place to be to experience authentic Chinese New Year festivities.

If it’s your first time to go to Binondo for the Chinese New Year, this guide can help you make the most of your experience.

What to expect

Kat at Binondo Chinese New Year

During Chinese New Year, Binondo gets exceptionally crowded with thousands of people celebrating the CNY.

You’ll find the streets decorated with festive red lanterns and vendors selling traditional food like tikoy, decorations, and lucky charms. Various performances are also held primarily in Ongpin Street and Lucky Chinatown Mall, including elaborate floats, dragon dances, and other fireworks lighting up the sky.

Tips Before You Go

1. Plan ahead

As mentioned above, Binondo gets extremely crowded during Chinese New Year, so plan your visit in advance. In fact, this 2024, an estimated 1.5 million people flocked to Binondo for the celebration.

Here are some things you may want to consider during planning:

  • Commute guide: It’s best to commute if you’re visiting during CNY, as it is almost impossible to get street parking and roads become standstill due to heavy traffic. If bringing a car, you may need to find a parking around Carriedo, Sta. Cruz, or other pay parking a few blocks away.
  • When to visit Binondo for the CNY: Check the lunar calendar for the exact date of Chinese New Year as it changes each year. Many people visit Binondo during the Chinese New Year proper, but if you prefer lesser crowd, visit a few days before the actual date. Don’t worry, you won’t miss a lot since festivities are held all week long.
  • How long to stay in Binondo: Day visits are okay, but we recommend staying overnight. Get to Binondo the day before the Chinese New Year and welcome the incoming lunar cycle with fireworks at midnight. The next day, enjoy the festivities including dragon dances, with the crowd.

2. Learn about traditions

Familiarize yourself with Chinese New Year customs and traditions, such as giving red envelopes (ang pao), lighting firecrackers to ward off evil spirits, and eating symbolic foods like tikoy (sticky rice cake).

3. Dress appropriately

Ongpin Street during Chinese New Year
With my friend Andrew at Ongpin Street.

Wear comfortable clothing — it can get hot especially as you mingle with the crowds! Wear a nice pair of sandals and rubber shoes good since you’ll be doing a lot of walking particularly along Ongpin Street.

It’s also recommended to wear red or other vibrant colors, as they symbolize luck and prosperity in Chinese culture. Avoid wearing black or white, as they are associated with mourning.

4. Protect your valuables

Binondo is known for petty crimes like theft, so always be aware of your belongings. Bring only important items like cash, phone, and/or camera.

For the record, we visited Binondo this 2024 Chinese New Year celebration and at the streets everyone’s phones were out. We always checked our valuables but didn’t really feel as afraid as in the past when it was not safe to take out your phone in public.

5. Bring a lot of patience

Binondo restaurant queue
Queue outside Chuan Kee.

Honestly, you’ll need a lot of patience and strength strolling along Ongpin Street and lining up in restaurants. Level your expectations and you can enjoy the Chinese New Year celebration!

Things to Do in Binondo During Chinese New Year

Here are the best things to do in Binondo during the Chinese New Year.

1. Visit temples and shrines

Start your day by visiting temples and shrines like the Binondo Church and Seng Guan Temple to pray for blessings and good fortune for the coming year.

2.  Watch the dragon and lion dances

Binondo Chinese New Year dragon dance

Don’t miss the colorful dragon and lion dances performed on the streets of Binondo. These dances are believed to bring good luck and prosperity to the community.

If you’re visiting on the holiday proper, you’ll find the dragon drances along Ongpin Street starting at 9AM onwards. Establishments such as Lucky Chinatown Mall also have a schedule for various performances, including dragon and lion dances.

3. Explore Ongpin Street

Binondo Chinese New Year photo walk
At Ongpit Street.

Take a stroll down Ongpin Street, the heart of Binondo, and soak in the festive atmosphere. Take portraits with the red lanterns at the backdrop, visit Chinese shops selling a variety of goods (ranging from lucky charms to herbal medicines), and buy snacks from food stalls selling traditional Chinese, Filipino, and other cuisines.

You’ll also find various entertainments at Ongpin Street. Aside from the dragon and lion dances, there are also fire dancers, cosplayers, and more during the new year festivity.

Watch a short clip of our CNY visit here:


Stayed 2 days in Binondo to celebrate the Chinese New Year. 🙂 #binondo #chinatown #chinesenewyear

♬ Gong Xi Fa Cai – Lux-Inspira

4. Indulge in Chinese cuisine

Food at Chuan Kee

Binondo is renowned for its delectable, authentic Chinese cuisine. Sample dishes like dumplings including the crowd-favorite xiao long bao, hand-pulled noodles, and other popular dishes at restaurants such as Wai Ying and Chuan Kee Fast Food.

Let us be honest with you though: you will need to queue for more than an hour to get inside the top-rated restaurants in Binondo during the Chinese New Year. If you aren’t there early, you can grab food at various food stalls along the streets.

READ: Best Restaurants and Food Stalls in Binondo

If you want to go on a more relaxed food trip, then visit Binondo in another time. Or look for underrated restaurants nearby, including those located in Escolta.

For organized food trips in Binondo, it’s easiest to book via Klook.

5. Shop for lucky charms

CNY tangerines
A vendor selling green tangerines.

Browse the stalls selling traditional Chinese New Year decorations and lucky charms. Items like red lanterns, tangerines, and golden ornaments are believed to bring prosperity and good fortune.

If you’re looking for crystal jewelries and decorations, take note that the cheap ones sold in the streets are made of plastic or glass, not actual crystals. For that, you need to visit reputable crystal stores in Binondo.

6. Watch the fireworks at midnight

One of the highlights of the Chinese New Year is watching the fireworks display. The grandest fireworks display is held at Jones Bridge, starting exactly at midnight and lasting more than 10 minutes.

Another place to watch fireworks is at the Lucky Chinatown Mall. Although it isn’t as grand, the mall offers a whole day of entertainment, including celebrity appearances, dragon dances, and the fireworks display. It’s also convenient for those looking for a tambayan before welcoming the new year.

7. Ask for blessings

Ongpin St buddhist shrine
At the Buddhist shrine.

Visit the Santo Cristo de Longos shrine in Ongpin Street, where you can light an incense stick and place it in front of the shrine for blessings.

The Chinese New Year is also a great time to reflect in the past year and write down your goals and aspirations.

Where to stay in Binondo

If you’re planning to stay in Binondo, here are the best hotels. Make sure to book in advance as the hotels easily get filled approaching the Chinese New Year.

How to get to Binondo

The easiest way to commute to Binondo is by the LRT Station. Get off at either Carriedo Station (Sta. Cruz Church) or D. Jose Station (Binondo Church). From there, it’s a few minutes walk to Binondo.

You can also take a jeep to Divisoria and then walk to Binondo.

If you’re bringing a car, here are the parking spaces available:

  • Mall parking: For secure parking, head to Lucky Chinatown Mall (open from 10AM to 9PM). It’s only a short walk to the food spots in Binondo.
  • Street parking: This is the cheapest option, as it only costs P50 for a whole day. However, it is difficult to find a free spot on weekends and holidays. An alternative would be the parking at Binondo Church.
  • Pay parking: You can find pay parking along Yuchengco St. and Escolta St. This is what we recommend especially if you’re visiting on a weekend.


With this guide, we hope we helped you plan for the Binondo Chinese New Year celebration! Do you have other questions or comments? Let us know in the comment section below!

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