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Tourism

Lunar New Year in the Philippines Draws Crowds to One of the World’s Oldest Chinatowns

February 8, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — Crowds are flocking to Chinatown in the Philippine capital to usher in the Year of the Wood Dragon and experience lively traditional dances on lantern-lit streets with food, lucky charms and prayers for good fortune.

Still recovering from the pandemic years and struggling amid global economic concerns, Chinese restaurants and shops in the area brimmed with festive lights and decor ahead of the Lunar New Year on Saturday, hoping to cash in on an influx of tourists.

Lamp posts in Manila’s riverside Binondo commercial district, said to be one of the oldest Chinatowns in the world, feature dragon decor with tails curled around the poles. In a crowded mall, a huge dragon hangs over selfie-taking shoppers.

People line up for food at Binondo district, said to be the oldest Chinatown in the world, in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024 Crowds are flocking to Manila’s Chinatown to usher in the Year of the Wood Dragon and experience lively traditional dances on lantern-lit streets with food, lucky charms and prayers for good fortune. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
A giant wood dragon is displayed at a mall at Binondo district, said to be the oldest Chinatown in the world, in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday Feb. 6, 2024, Crowds are flocking to Manila’s Chinatown to usher in the Year of the Wood Dragon and experience lively traditional dances on lantern-lit streets with food, lucky charms and prayers for good fortune. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna lit a “money tree” and led a ceremony to mark what she and other officials said was the 430th founding anniversary of the Binondo district.

Dragon dancers performed to the beating of drums at the event, which was capped by fireworks.

A monk holds a rose during ceremonies as part of their observance of the coming Chinese New Year at the Seng Guan temple at the edge of Manila’s Chinatown, Philippines said to be the oldest in the world, on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, business establishments large and small were forced to shut down, and Chinatown resembled a ghost town. But the crowds returned in force this week, with traffic jams and parking lots crammed with SUVs.

Each year is named after one of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac in a repeating cycle. The Year of the Wood Dragon, which local Chinese hope will bring abundance, follows the Year of the Rabbit.

A ferry boat passes by Binondo district, said to be the oldest Chinatown in the world on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Fireworks lit up during celebrations for the 430th anniversary of Manila’s Chinatown, said to be the oldest in the world, at the capital’s Binondo district, Philippines on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Dancers in costumes cross a street as they participate during the 430th anniversary of Manila’s Chinatown, said to be the oldest in the world, at the capital’s Binondo district, Philippines on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Dancers perform in front of the centuries-old Minor Basilica and National Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz during celebrations for the 430th anniversary of Manila’s Chinatown, said to be the oldest in the world, on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, Philippines. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

 

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