Darling Harbour: the Charms of Chinatown

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If you're on holiday in Sydney, a visit to Darling Harbour is a must. After all, it's Sydney's most happening place for tourists with restaurants, museums, the Aquarium, shopping, dining and great nightlife. But while you're there, take time to explore some of the surrounding areas, especially the colourful welter of Chinatown which borders Darling Harbour to the south. Here in this area of oriental architecture, street lanterns and ornate doorways, you can get away from the mainstream tourist mode and find some great shopping and eating.

Sydney's Chinatown is located in Haymarket, between Central Station and Darling Harbour. Chinatown has stood at this location since the 1920s. Previously, it was located in the Rocks and later shifted to near Market Street in Darling Harbour.

Chinatown comprises 13 streets with Dixon Street, a pedestrian street mall with numerous Chinese restaurants, being the hub. At the eastern side is George Street, one of the city's major thoroughfares. On the corner of George Street and Hay Street stands a sculpture formed from a dead tree trunk. Named Golden Water Mouth, it's a symbol of luck for the community.

Other interesting sights are the Chinese places of worship. These are located away from the commercial Haymarket area and include the New South Wales Evergreen Taoist Church and the Sze Yup Temple on Edward Street.

There are many interesting sights in Sydney's Chinatown, but the main draws here are the shopping and eating.

Chinatown is a real shopping treat with many ethnic stores selling imported clothing and home wares, fragrant Chinese herbs, and exotic foodstuffs including duck, goose, Asian vegetables, and dried mushrooms.

Chinatown's largest shopping complex is Market City which houses boutiques, restaurants, cinema and a flea and produce market known as Paddy's Market from Fridays to Sundays.

Paddy's Market houses Sydney's biggest Asian supermarket selling all kinds of gifts, home wares, jewellery, and clothing from factory outlets.

Market City itself is a glitzy place more reminiscent of Singapore than old Shianghai. It's the shopping place of choice for local Asia youth in search of the latest fashions.

The other main reason for visiting Chinatown is for eating with most of the restaurants located along Dixon Street. All together, there are more than 60 restaurants and food court stalls around Chinatown. Other than cuisines from all regions of China, they also serve Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Malaysian dishes.

A special treat in Chinatown is yum cha (dim sum). These are collections of steamed dumplings served with tea. Yum cha are served in baskets wheeled around on trolleys. They make a fine breakfast or lunch.

Chinatown is an especially good place to visit till late at night as its restaurants tend to stay open late. A bowl of Chinese rice porridge makes a wonderfully sustaining supper.

Basing your Sydney holiday in Darling Harbour makes great sense. It's right at the centre of things, is packed with places to see and things to do, and is just a hop from many of Sydney's beguiling districts like Chinatown. You'll find a wide range Darling Harbour hotels to choose from including the Star City Hotel and Apartments Sydney and the Ibis Hotel Darling Harbour.
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