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“Decent Chinatown, although dirty, and a bit dodgy in places.” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Chinatown International District

Chinatown International District
Yesler Way and Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104 (Downtown)
206 382 1197
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Ranked #135 of 178 Attractions in Seattle
Type: Neighborhoods, Cultural
Activities: City walk sightseeing
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Owner description: Seattle's oldest neighborhood is rich with history and serves as the cultural hub for Asian-Americans in the area.
Plano, Texas
Top Contributor
112 reviews 112 reviews
45 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“Decent Chinatown, although dirty, and a bit dodgy in places.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2013

When you arrive in Chinatown/International District, you should come by transit. When you arrive in the transit tunnel, you are greeted with some colorful origami art that graces the walls of the tunnel. When you walk up the steps to street level you will see the great decorative entry way. This, is probably the most photographed part of Chinatown next to areas around the park. There are several great places to eat in the area and an excellent Asian supermarket down the street. The area is a little dirty and sometimes dodgy around the transit station, but still safe.

Visited August 2013
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Mount Dora, Florida
Top Contributor
208 reviews 208 reviews
29 attraction reviews
Reviews in 95 cities Reviews in 95 cities
316 helpful votes 316 helpful votes
“Better Than Expected”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2013

It has probably been thirty years since I first explored the exotic shops of Chinatown in Seattle. Preparing for my most recent trip I read a few reviews of the area, and almost elected to simply avoid going there. I have seen my share of homeless drug addicts in other neighborhoods, and did not need to deliberately seek them out.

In search of authentic dim sum; however, it appeared as if we would venture into this area. With grandchildren carefully in hand we left the car and looked over the streets carefully. We saw no homeless people. There were really almost no people except for a few delivery people, and a man with a huge bouquet of flowers. (We wondered for what sin was he atoning, or perhaps it was just a new love?)

We stopped to visit a gift shop and gallery, where we found the appropriate Asian items from parchment printed banners to bamboo mats. I always want to redecorate my entire home in Asian minimalist decor when I am in one of these stores. Then we went into one of the Asian drug stores where you can find dried components of many animals and vegetables and fruits that you would not normally associate with healing. This store was doing a brisk business so I assumed that some people must find these ingredients effective. I was tempted to ask for a cure for my bunion, but there seemed to be a language barrier. No one spoke any English.

We walked past several restaurants which I recognized, as I had spent hours trying to select the best dim sum restaurant. Everything, including the restaurants had that sad, run-down look that neighborhoods acquire when the last two generations have moved to the suburbs leaving only old grandmothers, empty shops, dusty streets and festive memories. There were just enough shops open to give a visitor a reason to walk through the area.

Then we discovered the Uwajimaya Supermarket. What a find! We entered through a food court selling all manner of what appeared to be quite authentic Asian food in a fast food environment. There was also a hamburger shop, but not of a name we recognized.

Then we entered the supermarket. They had a little bit of everything Asian, and is some cases, lots of everything Asian. I had no idea there were so many varieties of noodles that they would occupy both sides of an entire aisle. I did not have any idea how to prepare them or what to serve them with, but felt an overpowering need to take home at least six packages because I might never find them again. The same feelings took over when I encountered Japanese Mayonnaise in a plastic pouch.

I have to save an entire paragraph for the fresh fish, meat and produce sections. The fish looked beautiful, and was significantly less expensive than what we would later see in Pike Place, and cheaper than our local Safeway as well. The meat department had all of the standard items, plus a few more exotic things. We passed on the chicken feet. The produce department had at least 15 fruits and/or vegetables we had never seen before. There was also a huge section of sushi that looked freshly made.

If we had not been satisfied with the food, there was also an area where cookware, china, home decorating items, and many other Asian items could be located. You could buy a rice cooker, a set of soup dishes, a soup mix, and soup spoons and take it all to a room where it would be beautifully gift wrapped. I was disappointed I did not have a wedding invitation that needed a gift. What a unique place to go shopping.

We managed to leave without requiring a loan, but we brought home many things to fill our cupboards. I hope we can figure out how to use most of them.

After tempting our appetites at the supermarket we went looking for our dim sum restaurant, the Harbor City, where we enjoyed all of our old dim sum favorites and a couple of new selections as well.

We left Chinatown rewarded for our efforts. We had bulging shopping bags and full tummies. Our grandchildren had experienced a tiny cultural experience. No one has asked us for money. We saw no one closing in on a drug operation, and there were no homeless people making out beds in the doorways of empty shops.

Chinatown in Seattle is a shadow of its former self, and much less vibrant than it was 30 years ago, but the same could be said of me. Obviously there is not enough of an Asian population seeking an urban environment to sustain it. Still, I would certainly visit again, and often. I want to soak up as much culture as this little area still has to offer, and I would certainly recommend it to other visitors to Seattle.

Visited July 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami Beach, Florida
Top Contributor
232 reviews 232 reviews
54 attraction reviews
Reviews in 71 cities Reviews in 71 cities
92 helpful votes 92 helpful votes
“Nothing to write home about”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2013

Feels like most other large city China town districts. Interesting mix of shops and restaurants, enough to do for a couple of hours before moving on. After two hours though, you want to come back....very odd ; ).

Visited July 2013
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Scottsdale, Arizona
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
28 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Every big city has an authentic Chinatown”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2013

Easy metro ride to see a beautiful Chinese gate and numerous dim sum restaurants. Worth the trip is you want authentic chinese food well worth the trip

Visited May 2013
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Sheboygan
2 reviews
“CHINATOWN????”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2013

I am very shocked at this area that they call Chinatown. As some have said, its horrible. There's tons of homeless people on the streets... more than people here to shop or eat. There's a corner bar on King Ave that seems to be really busy tons of drunk people. The rest of the area is small shops. I don't even feel safe to walk around. So stayed in my hotel. One good thing is that my hotel is less than a block from the bus station so easy access to anywhere you want to go in Seattle. Busing in Seattle is awesome.

Visited June 2013
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