Historically, Chinatowns were places of cultural insularity—starting points where people unfamiliar with their host city’s language and customs could find solidarity with others like themselves. Honolulu’s Chinatown is one of the oldest in the United States, with the first arrival of Chinese to the islands in 1778.
During the earlier part of the 20th century, Chinatown expanded its defining characteristics, becoming a bustling nightlife and red light district. While it was commonplace for Chinatowns in major U.S. cities around this time to be ghettoized and laden with brothels, gambling, and opium dens, the onset of World War II and the location of Honolulu as a military hub only increased vices like drug use, prostitution, and gambling.
Starting in the early ’90s, an influx of new, local businesses began to revitalize the area. Although Honolulu’s modern Chinatown maintains a sense of its gritty past, the neighborhood today is increasingly diverse. Within a pedestrian-friendly area of about 15 city blocks, discover contemporary bars, boutiques, restaurants, and galleries—all locally owned by a set of visionary entrepreneurs who continue to see the value of Hawai‘i’s arts district.
Chinatown is an arts and culture publication that amplifies the bold, unconventional voice of urban downtown Honolulu. A gathering place for the community, this 112-page city guide highlights the creative lifestyle that can be found within Chinatown.
PO Box 38181
Honolulu, HI 96837