No other place represents the Chinoy experience in Metro Manila more than Binondo. For over 400 years, Binondo has been the spiritual home to the Chinese in the Philippines. The district has been a witness to the long and colorful history of the Chinese-Filipino, from its early roots as an enclave for baptized Sangleys, to its rise as a wealthy and prominent sector in Manila.

Binondo was founded in 1594 by Governor-General Luis Pérez Dasmariñas as a permanent settlement for the Sangleys, or Chinese immigrants, who converted to Catholicism. While there have been other Chinese settlements near Maynila before and during the Spanish Era, Binondo has persevered and grown through the centuries, and is now considered the oldest “Chinatown” in the world. Through fires, earthquakes, and world wars, Binondo has survived it all. Nowadays, Binondo is known for its vibrant Chinese shops and its amazing selection of Chinese restaurants and eateries.

Places of Interest

Also known as the Minor Basilica and National Shrine of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, Binondo Church was founded by Dominican priests in 1596 to serve their Chinese converts to Christianity.The original building was destroyed in 1762 by British bombardment. The present church was completed on the same site in 1852. However, the church was badly damaged during the Battle of Manila, with only the western façade and the octagonal belfry surviving.

Ongpin Street is easily Binondo’s most popular street, and with good reason. Chaotic and colorful, the street best captures Binondo’s Chinatown spirit, and is home to many vibrant Chinese businesses and eateries.  Formerly known as Calle Sacrista, the street was renamed after Román Ongpin, a Chinoy businessman and philanthropist who supported Filipino revolutionaries against both the Spanish and American forces. A statue in honor of him can be found besides the Binondo Church.

Say a quick prayer and make a wish at the replica of the Santo Cristo de Longos, located at the corner of Tomas Pinpin and Ongpin Streets. The original Santo Cristo de Longos was found in a well in present day San Nicolas, and the Christ figure eventually found a permanent home inside Binondo Church. The replica is a good representation of the melding of religious beliefs in Binondo, as people traditionally light incense to honor the miraculous figure the replica represents. 

No trip to Binondo will be complete without dropping by the Eng Bee Tin flagship store. Founded in 1912 by Chua Chiu Hong, the business was barely surviving in the 80s until Gerry Chua, grandson of Chua Chiu Hong, took over the business and introduced Ube Hopia to the local market. Eng Bee Tin is a pillar in modern day Binondo, as the company and its other businesses support Binondo in many ways.  

“There’s no business like the family business for the Binondo Girl. She works hard and drives a hard bargain, all in the name of prosperity, honour, and steamed pork buns. The business may boom, the business may bust, but what’s most important to her is the joy of the grind.

“Binondo” sticker copy, written by Kenny Tai

Edited by Carlos Celdran

Where to eat

Cafe Mezzanine

Chuang Kee’s more refined brother. But don’t let the modern trappings fool you, Mezzanine Cafe is a bastion of Hokkien and cantonese favorites. Their Kiampong is the best in Metro Manila.

Ongpin Street, Binondo, Manila

Chuang Kee

They call themselves “The Chinese Fast Food”, and they are not wrong. Delicious and cheap Chinese food, brought to you in a flash.

Ongpin Street, Binondo, Manila

Dong Bei Dumplings

Oh lord, thank you for these delectable dumplings. Dong Bei is the epitome of the hole-in-the-wall, but the food is amazing. Get a seat near the entrance so you can watch the staff roll and fill up hundreds of dumplings right in front of you.

Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila

Wai Ying

If you want fantastic dimsum, this is where you go. Wai Ying has an amazing menu, but their dimsum is best in class and very, VERY hard to beat. Get ready to line up during lunch time though.

Benavides Street, Binondo, Manila

Shanghai Fried Siopao

This could not get any simpler. The store’s name is Shanghai Fried Siopao, and they sell Shanghai Fried Siopao. That’s it. That’s the blurb. Truth be told, they do sell other products, but those fried siopaos are insane.

Ongpin Street, Binondo, Manila

Diao Eng Chay

Most Manilians will know Diao Eng Chay by its acronym DEC, and if you’re getting your mind blown right now, you’re welcome. This is the flagship store of the ubiquitous Chinese Store, and it’s a treasure trove of goodness.

Salazar Street, Binondo, Manila


Masuki has two basic products: The Mami and the Siopao. The Mami is their headliner here, with that pungent aroma hiding a clean yet flavorful broth and firm noodles. Their Siopao is freaking amazing too, as Masuki will remind you what an Asado Siopao is supposed to taste like.

Benavides Street, Binondo, Manila

Ying Ying Tea House

Ying Ying is Binondo on steroids, as it has everything, everything, you can ask for in a Chinese restaurant. Fantastic dimsum, great rice dishes, succulent entrees… Ying Ying might be the only resto you need to visit in Binondo. 

Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila

Quik Snack

Quik Snack is unique even by Binondo standards. The menu has a lot of Indonesian influence, which you can readily see in some of their dishes. Pancit with peanut sauce and Satay come to mind.

Carjaval Street, Binondo, Manila


While overshadowed by Eng Bee Tin (And come on now, how can you compete with that), Polland has a loyal clientele who swears by their hopia. This resto also has very interesting and flavorful products.

Benavides Street, Binondo, Manila

Keep Exploring!

About the Manila Girls™

The Manila Girls are humorous and sarcastic personifications of popular districts and locations in Manila and beyond. While the Girls appear cute and adorable, their appearance and depiction reflect the current state of the areas they represent. Miss Escolta look dapper yet highly disheveled, Miss San Nicolas has a peg leg, Miss España gleefully jumps across flooded waters, and so on and so forth. The frankness of the statements the Manila Girls make stand in stark contrast to their cute appearance, making it easier to absorb the message the Girls are trying to convey. 

The Manila Girls are a creation of Kenny Tai under her Akim brand. 

Copyright 2021