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In 2011 Chinatown Vancouver was granted a National Historic Site and is the largest Chinatown in Canada.  The approximate street borders of Chinatown’s official area is the alley between Pender Street and HastingsGeorgia, Gore, and Taylor Streets, and extends well into the rest of the Downtown Eastside. Main, Pender, and Keefer Streets are the principal areas of commercial activity.

Established more than 100 years ago it has always been a place of distinct cultural history.  Between 1886 and 1920 saw the first Chinese immigrants settling in this area.  Canton Alley and Shanghai Alley were named in 1904 with Canton Alley serving as a point for trade, political, and cultural activities which fostered the growth and expansion of Chinatown.  In the past years, it has undergone a revitalization of public spaces and providing something for everyone.   The distinct character of buildings are preserved by a heritage designation with murals and window art telling the stories of early Chinese pioneers.   It can be argued that the role of the early Chinese settlers in Vancouver’s Chinatown area in the late 1800s and 20th century helped to bring the city onto the global map as a popular destination for contemporary Asian investment and immigration.  In Chinatown, you’ll find the old and new in perfect harmony. 

The completion of the Dr. David Lam Multipurpose Hall and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (developed by the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society) greatly enhanced Chinatown in 1986.

Chinatown is becoming more prosperous as new investment and old traditional businesses flourish.  Vancouver made a decision in 2011 to raise building height restrictions in Chinatown in order to boost its population density.  A limit of nine stories for most of the neighbourhood was set, with a maximum of fifteen stories along its busiest streets.  With unconventional smaller lot sizes, condo towers are being built for smaller scale and more affordable homes in Vancouver’s Chinatown.  

New high-rise towers are being constructed around the old Expo 86 site including International Village, which was built twelve years after Expo (1998) and is located next to the Stadium–Chinatown SkyTrain station.


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Chinatown Amenities

  • Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden – tour the history and significance of each Garden element
  • The Chinese Cultural Centre of Vancouver was founded in 1973 
  • There are many traditional restaurants, banks, open markets and clinics, tea shops, clothing and other shops catering to the local community and tourists alike.
  • International Village mall or commonly called Tinseltown was designed to be downtown’s answer to the Asian malls
  • The ‘China Gate’ on Pender Street was donated to the City of Vancouver by China after Expo 86. 
  • Stadium–Chinatown SkyTrain station