In our last Binondo food trip, we decided to visit the Chinatown Museum. Opened in 2019, it is the first cultural museum in the Philippines. It aims to show the history and influence of Binondo, which is considered “the oldest Chinatown in the world.”
The Chinatown Museum is a must-visit for history lovers and also those looking for an interesting stop in their Binondo day tour.
Our visit to Chinatown Museum
After our initial food stops in the morning, my friends and I decided to take a short break on our eating spree and so we went over to the Chinatown Museum. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware of this museum until I read about it in another blog.
The Chinatown Museum in Binondo is located at the 4F of the Lucky Chinatown Mall. There were no other visitors aside from us, even though it was a weekend. We purchased our tickets and went inside.
The museum features 18 galleries that focus on the historical events around Binondo, starting from its establishment as a settlement for the Catholic Chinese during the Spanish Period to its peak as the center of commerce and trade in Manila and to its current state as a heritage town.
We saw an interactive map of Binondo showing its old and current street names, replicas of old buildings like the Binondo Church, products traded during the commerce period including woodcrafts, and more.
My favorite room in this museum is the botica. There is a signage for Watson’s and Co, which according to the museum staff is the first Watson’s pharmacy in the country. There were also dried herbs, spices, and mushrooms tucked in a wooden cabinet that you can smell — these were previously used for making tea and medicine. The staff also played a vintage gramophone in the room for us.
I also enjoyed the old-school bakery and restaurant where you can see realistic pastries and other food displays. Meanwhile, my boyfriend was fascinated with the art supply store showing old brushes and paints, as he is an artist himself. The old tram was also interesting to see. It reminded me of the trams in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan.
Lastly, I had fun with the hanging photo prints showing IG posts about Binondo. I think this is the most snap-worthy area in the Chinatown Museum (and I believe every museum should have one such area).
It took us around an hour to explore the museum. Honestly, I am not a big museum person myself. It was a bit sad seeing photos of the old Binondo with its clear estero and bustling community and then comparing it to what it is today. It’s also saddening to know that there are places dedicated to preserving history, but the current culture treats history as fiction.
Overall, our tour at the Chinatown Museum in Binondo was pleasant. I think it would be a good stop for families and kids, or for groups like us who are looking for other interesting stops in their Binondo food crawl.
Here’s a short video tour of our visit in Binondo:
About the Chinatown Museum
The Chinatown Museum is located at 4F Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 10AM to 6PM
- Rates: Regular – P150 / Senior – P120 / Students – P100 / Kids below 4 feet are free (Optional: Historian’s Passport – P50)
Interested in a Binondo food tour? Click here to join an organized Binondo food tour.
Here are important travel tips:
- It will take about 1 hour to explore the museum.
- Based on our experience, it is easy to walk-in since there are not many people visiting the museum.
For inquiries, you can contact Chinatown Museum – Facebook.
Have you been to the Chinatown Museum in Binondo, Manila? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below!
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Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).