If you're a fan of Chinese food, you probably enjoy exploring the Chinatown of each city you visit. Some Chinatowns are better known than others, but just because they're the biggest and most famous doesn't mean that they have the cool factor. So what are some of the coolest Chinatowns in the world?
1. Havana, Cuba
You might not think of a Caribbean island as being a likely spot for an interesting Chinatown, but the Cuban capital has one of the most interesting Chinatowns in the world. The Chinese population in Cuba actually declined after the 1959 revolution when the newly-installed Castro government seized many foreign-owned assets (including restaurants and shops owned by Chinese migrants). Many Chinese migrants simply left Cuba. Havana's Chinatown still exists (Barrio Chino de La Habana) and it's here that you can explore a little-known part of Havana. There are still a number of great restaurants, since of course not everyone left after the revolution. Barrio Chino de La Habana combines history with some sensational food.
2. Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne's Chinatown is truly something else. Located in a veritable maze of alleyways just off Russell Street, it's more enclosed than Sydney's Chinatown and Brisbane's considerably more compact version. This gives the area a feeling of adventure, and you can spend a happy afternoon exploring the district, without leaving the heart of the city. Variety is key in Melbourne's Chinatown, and you can find both bargain basement meals and many fancy fine dining options.
3. Berlin, Germany
The key Chinatown in Berlin is located in the district of Lichtenberg, in what was once East Berlin. The socialist policies of the East German government made the country an easy place to migrate to from China and North Vietnam. The Berlin Wall might have come down quite some time ago, but there is still a heavy Chinese presence in the German capital. If you're hungry for some traditional Chinese food at a reasonable price, head to Herzbergstrasse in Lichtenberg and follow your stomach.
4. London, England
London's original Chinatown was along the banks of the River Thames, which was pretty much the first spot Chinese settlers arrived in England in the 18th century. This diminished in size as the Chinese community integrated into the city, and the current Chinatown is in the central London district of Soho. This was a planned development and has been around since the 1950s. There are numerous small Asian grocery stores and souvenir spots, but the real drawcard is to find a great Chinese restaurant. There are a lot of curiously inexpensive all-you-can-eat buffets aimed at tourists (Leicester Square is just a few minutes walk away, after all), although there are a number of hole-in-the-wall authentic eateries and yum cha restaurants.
Be sure to check out restaurants like Han Palace if you happen to travel to these cities. Your stomach will thank you for it!